Links Daily Devotional

Life in Blood

“‘For the life of the creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.’” (Leviticus 17:11, NIV)

“No blood.”

It’s a common enough expression for a hole that is halved in match play setting, especially when there’s “something on the line.” Hear it literally, as a newcomer to the game might, and you’d wonder what’s so serious about this little game. That’s because from the skinned knee in childhood to the hospital lab as ailing adults, blood is a sign of serious business.

In God’s biological design of the world, blood has also always been a most serious matter. Life, we learn from the Torah, is in the blood.

There is no way for sinful people to appease the One True God.Many times we may ask the question of cross-application from the Old Testament law to New Testament doctrine. It’s hard to miss the connection here, though, if you possess even the most elementary understanding of the work of the cross.

In the Old Testament, the blood of a sacrificed animal was drained and sprinkled on the altar. The blood of animals was not to be consumed; the purpose of blood was far more holy. This purpose was atonement, wherein a sin (or a year of sin, in the case of Yom Kippur) was met by a sacrifice approved by God.

Those outside the understanding of the faiths, both Jewish and Christian, sometimes suggest the shedding of blood in sacrifice is “appeasing God.” This is to say that God (or the gods, as the argument can go) is a being prone to whimsy and rage, needy of a “chill pill” in the way we might give a baby a pacifier. This may be true in classic mythology, but it fails to recognize that there is no way for sinful people to appease the One True God. What he established through the sacrificial system was not a practice of placating his anger but of somberly recognizing our sin in humility and honoring him as the one who can wash it away. This he has done by his Son, which is where we make the strong connection to the accounts of the New Testament Gospels.

As Jesus prepared to go to the cross, he did so with complete recognition that he was to be the “once for all” sacrifice, whose blameless blood would make lasting atonement. This is why Jesus, in the Passover meal on the eve of his death, declared the wine to be “the blood of my covenant, which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

The life of the creature is in its blood, but life eternal is in the blood of Jesus. It’s a serious doctrine and one we must cling to if we are to approach God rightly.

Jeff Hopper
May 11, 2016
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