The Bible is a BLOODY Book. From cover to cover blood is a common theme. When Adam & Eve sinned in the garden, God KILLED an animal to cover them with clothing—the FIRST picture in the Bible of a sacrifice for sin. Cain & Abel each made an offering to God. God rejected Cain’s sacrifice of vegetables, but He accepted Abel’s sacrifice of a sheep that had been sacrificed. Cain then became angry & killed his brother Abel out of jealousy, and God said to Cain, “the blood of your brother Abel is crying to me from the ground.” The penalty of Cain’s sinful sacrifice brought a curse upon him…
Many years later, after the Israelites had escaped Egypt and were wandering in the desert, God instructed Moses to build a tabernacle (a worship place) which could be broken down & carried with them wherever they went until reaching the promised land.
The Tabernacle contained several different pieces of furniture. The first piece that anyone would see when they walked through the gate into the court of the Tabernacle was the Brazen Altar (or literally “Slaughter Place”). It showed the people of God that in order to enter into God’s presence you had to pass by the blood stained altar or not at all. Here animals were slaughtered & then burned on the altar to cover the sins of the people and to serve as a reminder that a holy, perfect God requires blood sacrifice to enter into His presence.
Even at the altar of fragrant incense in the tent of meeting blood is found. God’s instruction for Moses in Leviticus 4:7 is as follows:
And the priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of fragrant incense before the LORD that is in the tent of meeting, and all the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
This picture that the Israelites would see FIRST when they came into the tabernacle was a bloody altar. But why?
“Blood is the life-giving and life-maintaining fluid that circulates through the body’s heart, arteries, veins, and capillaries. Because blood leaves an indelible stain, Native Americans used it for paint. One pint of blood can save three lives. Here is an undeniable and important fact: Blood gives and maintains lives.” (Bloodwork, Anthony Carter) When blood is spilled, literally the LIFE is poured out. God’s perfection DEMANDS blood sacrifice for sins to be covered. Still, all of these blood sacrifices could not CLEANSE people from their sins. Hebrews 10:1-4 tells us:
For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
God, who is pristine in His holiness, requires blood sacrifice for sinful humanity to come into His presence. It is a sacrifice to come before Him. Yet, these animal sacrifices could not make people clean. They could not TAKE AWAY sins. These sacrifices had to be made over & over for sin but there was also the constant reminder that internally you are unclean.
What Difference Does It Make?
If sins are covered, what difference does it make if we are CLEAN on the inside or not? The difference is that God never intended to just make us aware of sin, or to cover sins. In the Old Testament, God promises that He is going to cleanse us from our sins. (see Jeremiah 33:8 & Isaiah 1:18, for example).
There are various “types of Christ” throughout the Old Testament that give partial pictures of what the Messiah would be like and what He would accomplish. The sacrificial system is one of these “types” that prefigures what Jesus would actually accomplish. Yet, Hebrews says that these things (including the OT sacrificial system) are shadows of what was to come; Jesus is the substance. In fact, when Joseph first hears that Mary will give birth to the Messiah, the angel tells him, “you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
When John the Baptist sees Jesus walking alongside the Jordan River, John exclaims, “Behold, the Lamb of God who TAKES AWAY the sins of the World” (John 1:29). (He doesn’t just cover sins…).
The reason we are focusing so much on blood is because the “blood of Jesus” is mentioned in the writings of the New Testament nearly three times as often as ‘the cross’ of Christ and five times as frequently as the ‘death’ of Christ. The following verses explaining what the blood of Jesus accomplished for believers:
Acts 20:28 Jesus purchased the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Revelation 1:5 from Jesus Christ the faithful witness… loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood…
Romans 5:9 Since, we have now been justified (acquitted) by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath…
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption (deliverance) through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses…
Ephesians 2:13 in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Colossians 1:20 Jesus has made peace with us making peace by the blood of his cross.
Hebrews 9:14 the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, will purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
Hebrews 13:12 Jesus suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
1 Peter 1:18-19 you were ransomed (released/liberated/set free) from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Hebrews 10:19 we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus.
Hebrews 12:22-24 you have come to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, & to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground “revenge, revenge, revenge!” However, Jesus’ blood cried out from the ground “redemption, redemption, redemption!”
Anthony Carter in his book Bloodwork: “There are times in our lives when we do not feel the ongoing, progressive nature of our sanctification. We may even get the sense that rather than progressing, we are regressing due to our perpetual struggle with indwelling sin. It is during such times that the gospel reminds us that our sanctification does not happen because we are willing to shed our blood but because Christ was willing to shed His. It is not our blood and sacrifice that has pleased the Father; it is the blood of His beloved Son.”
Lastly, Revelation 7:14 gives us a wonderful example of the identity of saints in the future when it states:
They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
If Native Americans use blood as paint because it leaves an indelible stain, how much sense does it make to wash garments in blood in hopes that they will become white? It makes absolutely no sense–unless it is the blood of Jesus because it washes everything it touches to immaculate spotlessness.
And that would make Billy Mays green with envy.
There is POWER in the BLOOD!