“But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.
And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man.
From his fellow man I will require a recking for the life of a man.
‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed,
for God made man in his own image.”
Someone I love and cherish once said to me, “I don’t understand about the blood of Jesus. Why is it so important?”
This topic of blood, used in animal sacrifices and compared to Jesus’ death, has caused many to question why God ever started the cycle of sacrifices in the first place. Why did He demand a gory sacrifice? Why did He require the death of an animal to appease his anger, or to satisfy man’s need for forgiveness? What is it about the blood of a living thing that has such importance?
First, let me clarify. God is not this angry entity in the sky that has asked us to kill for him. He didn’t create the animals with the intention of us killing them as a sacrifice for our wrongdoings. He isn’t an angry being in the clouds that demands death. In fact, the truth is quite different.
Blood is the symbol of life, and is life itself. God created man and the animals, detailing every centimeter of our bodies, by providing capillaries, veins, arteries, and a very strong muscle to pump the life-giving oxygen-rich blood through our bodies. He knows that when it stops moving or is gone, we are dead. We will be lifeless.
Blood is sacred to God. We are sacred, and the animals are sacred. It allows us to be present, in the flesh, and we as humans are able to commune with the Lord and with each other as living beings, where He created us to reside and have dominion.
But then sin entered our existence here. So the Lord provided physical animal skin clothing to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness. Thus the original animal sacrifice. God himself provided the first sacrifice on record. This is also symbolic of the future need of our sinful selves needing to be covered by the sacrifice of another…
Next, Cain killed his brother Abel. God said, “The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.”
It was because of Abel’s blood being shed by Cain that the ground is cursed and he was driven from God’s presence.
It is because of Jesus’ blood being shed by man that we can experience His blessings and forgiveness, and be in The Lord’s presence.
An animal sacrifice in God’s eyes is: an exchange of one’s perfect life for the life of another. You see, the animal each person brought to the altar had to be the first-born, and without blemish. (Jesus fulfilled this too.)
Noah was the first person to bring a burnt offering to God. This was immediately after they came out of the ark onto dry ground. He offered clean animals and birds. But what is a burnt offering versus others?
A ‘burnt offering’ is described as an offering of an animal that is completely and totally burned on the altar. It is consumed by the fire until it is gone. After Noah’s offering, it says, “The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma.” Now does this mean God loves a good steak? Well, no, it means He recognizes the death of the animal and it’s aroma (as a type of resurrection), and accepts it on behalf of another. It is an atonement made – one giving its life for another, by its blood being shed and offered freely.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life…For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life.”
Leviticus 17:11, 14a
Just as the Lord provided Abraham with a living sacrifice rather than Abraham’s own son, so has He provided for us a living sacrifice – HIS son. Thank you for being so great of a God and making a way for us to be redeemed!
OT – God required a blood sacrifice (rams, goats, etc..) as an atonement for an Israelite’s sin. Obedience to God’s law covered them.
NT – Jesus came and made that sacrifice once and for all, God’s free gift to mankind. The blood of Jesus covers ALL who accept Him, repent and believe.
Jesus said, “IT is finished,” not, “I am finished.”.
The difference is: God’s plan of redemption and salvation vs. a prophet’s/teacher’s/ordinary man’s death.
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify of the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”
Food for thought: Jesus Christ died for us to have the chance to accept His free gift of forgiveness and to live as our God asks us to; holy and upright.
Fun facts: Donating your blood can improve your health and the health of others, including cancer patients, emergency situations, and anaemic people. The benefits far outweigh the risks and time taken. By law you can donate only 480 ml. every 56 days due to tim wit takes for your body to recoup afterwards. The amazing thing is, our body replaces all of the blood volume lost within 48 hours! It does take 4-6 weeks though for the red cells to rejuvenate.
Photo by: Luke Stackpoole – Sheep in meadow