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Chapter 40

 

The Blood

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them; This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, saying, What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people: To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the LORD. And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the LORD. And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations. And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off. And every soul that eateth that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean. But if he wash them not, nor bathe his flesh; then he shall bear his iniquity.”  (Leviticus 17:1-16)

 

There is a scarlet thread running through the Word of God, like the cord Rahab hung out of her window. That scarlet thread, by which the 66 books of Holy Scripture are bound together, a scarlet thread that unifies everything written upon the pages of Inspiration, is the blood, the precious blood of Christ.

 

Constant Theme of Scripture

 

The Scriptures speak constantly about the blood. It is written in the books of the law, “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” God told Moses, “The blood shall be to you for a token.” He said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” When the high priest went into the holy of holies on the Day of Atonement, he went in with blood. No one can come to God without blood atonement.

 

            When our Lord Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, he took the cup of wine, held it before his disciples and said, “This is the blood of the New Testament, shed for many for the remission of sins.” In Hebrews 9:22, we read, “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” That makes the blood a matter of infinitely immense importance.

 

            These days, it is common for preachers, churches, theologians, and hymn writers to say as little as possible about the blood. We have become so educated, refined, and sophisticated that talking about blood is considered improper, unsophisticated, and crude. But it is still true that “without shedding of blood is no remission.” But God declares the blood of his dear Son a matter of infinite importance and something indescribably precious (Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18-21).

 

What can wash away my sins?

Nothing, but the blood of Jesus!

What can make me whole again?

Nothing, but the blood of Jesus!

Oh! Precious is the flow

That makes me white as snow!

No other fount I know —

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

 

————————————————————

 

E’er since by faith I saw the stream

Thy flowing wounds supply,

Redeeming love has been my theme,

And shall be till I die!

 

            The shedding of Christ’s precious blood was and is absolutely essential to the saving of our souls. Let us ever cherish the blood of Christ as that which is precious above all things. As nothing in heaven or earth is as precious to the triune God as the precious blood of Christ, let nothing be so precious to us as our Savior’s precious blood!

 

Fenced by God

 

In this 17th chapter of the Book of Leviticus, the Lord God put a fence around the blood, setting it apart from all other things and protecting it. This chapter has nothing to do with the imaginary sanctity of animal life. It has nothing to do with the ordinary hunting and killing of animals. It has nothing to do with possible health risks involved in eating red meat, or even with eating red meat rare. Leviticus 17, like all the rest of this Inspired Volume, is all about the gospel. It is all about Christ. The law of God here speaks about animals killed and offered as sacrifices to God. As such, they are sacrifices pointing to and typifying our Lord Jesus Christ and his sacrifice of himself for our sins.

 
            There are three things revealed in this chapter. They are lessons of tremendous importance. We must learn them. Without the knowledge of these three things, we will never understand the Book of God, the gospel of God, or the work of God. These three lessons are vital.
1.    All worship except the worship of God through the blood atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is idolatry, here called “making sacrifices unto devils” (v. 7).
2.    Atonement is in the blood.
3.    In this Gospel Day, in this Day of Grace, God’s Altar can be found anywhere.
 
Idolatry
 
All worship except the worship of God through the blood atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is idolatry. Christ is the Way. There is no other. Christ is the Truth. There is no other. Christ is the Life. There is no other. Will we ever learn this? Christ is the Door. There is no other. All who attempt to come in some other way are thieves and robbers, thieves who would rob God of his glory. And God will not tolerate them. Hear what he says about this in verses 1-10.
 

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them; This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, saying, What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp.” (vv. 1-3)

 
            The idolatry Israel learned from the heathen, following the counsel of Baal, was mixing the worship of God with the worship of idols, sacrificing to devils (Numbers 25:3; Deuteronomy 32:17). Blood rituals, often involving both human sacrifice and the drinking of blood, have always been a part of heathen religion. The children of Israel were here forbidden such base practices. 
 
            The law here given is a law regarding the worship of God. After giving the law regarding the Day of Atonement, the Lord God gave this commandment to the children of Israel. It was a commandment he required every Israelite and every stranger who sojourned among them to observe. Any who refused to do so were to be cut off from among the people of God, put out of the camp, and banished from the church and people of God.
 
            Remember the context. The Lord God had just finished declaring to Israel that they were to observe the Day of Atonement every year on the tenth day of the seventh month. This was made as an everlasting statute, a statute to be observed throughout the Old Testament era (Leviticus 16:29-34).
 
Typical of Christ
 
Of course, everything required in this statute was typical of and portrayed our Lord Jesus Christ in his great work of redemption. In those last verses of chapter 16, we are given a picture of the believer’s experience of grace. On that great and glorious day, the high priest made atonement for the holy sanctuary, the tabernacle of the congregation, the altar, for himself, for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation of the Lord. — That is a picture of particular redemption. By the sin-atoning blood of Christ, God’s Israel has been cleansed, made clean, from all sin before the Lord God (1 John 3:5).
 
            Those for whom atonement was made were required to afflict their souls and do no work at all “by a statute forever” (Leviticus 16:29, 31). — That is a picture of faith in Christ.
 
            That great and glorious day, when Israel saw redemption accomplished and sin put away by God’s sacrifice, was “a sabbath of rest…by a statute forever.” — That is a picture of the blessed rest of faith. Not only do we cease from our works, we rest in him who has done all for us. In those days of legal, ceremonial worship they had a sabbath day, but no sabbath rest. In this Gospel Day we have no sabbath day, but in Christ we have the blessed sabbath rest of faith in him (Hebrews 4:9-11).
 
            It is in this context that God gives his commandment regarding blood. I repeat, he is not talking about the sanctity of animal life. He is talking about worship, the sanctity of his throne, the sanctity of Christ’s precious blood, the sanctity of Christ our sin-atoning Sacrifice. He is not talking about diet. He is talking about worship. He specifically mentions the killing of an ox, a goat, or a lamb, because those were the animals Israel was required to sacrifice at his altar, by which Israel worshipped him.
 

“And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people.” (v. 4)

 
            This is a prohibition against idolatry. God did not make a prohibition against hunting, eating the meat of animals, or wearing the skins of animals. The prohibition was against idolatry, sacrificing to devils. All false religion is sacrificing to devils. All will-worship is sacrificing to devils. All freewill/works religion is sacrificing to devils. Verse 4 is talking about the offering of a sacrifice in the open field, despising the ordinance of God.
 

“To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the LORD.” (v. 5)

 
            All men naturally presume that it is perfectly acceptable for us to worship God as we please. Surely God would not object to a man offering a sacrifice to him in the open field. What could be wrong with that? It couldn’t hurt, could it?
 
            Yes, it could. It was an act of idolatry to offer a sacrifice somewhere else. It was despising God’s altar, God’s priest, God’s sacrifice, and God’s Word. It was an act of defiance, revealing a man’s contempt for God. It was nothing less than robbing the Lord Jehovah of his glory, and ascribing and giving to Satan that which was due to God alone. It is called sacrificing to devils (Deuteronomy 32:17).
 
            A man might ask, “But can I not offer a sacrifice in one place as well as another? Can I not come to God any way I wish, so long as I am sincere?” The answer is this: — God promised to meet his people on the mercy-seat, between the cherubs (Exodus 25:22). To offer sacrifice somewhere else showed contempt for God. He calls it devil worship, an act of the worst form of adultery in the world, whoring after other gods.
 

“And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations.” (v. 7)

 
            The lesson should be plain to all. — There is one place God has appointed where he will meet sinners. That place is the cross of Christ, the antitype of the brazen altar. There and there alone God’s claims are met. To reject this meeting-place is to bring down judgment upon ourselves. It is to trample underfoot the blood of Christ, make the blood of God’s dear Son a common thing, do despite to the Spirit of grace, and defy the just claims of God, arrogating to ourselves a right to life which we have forfeited by sin. — God meets sinners only on his Mercy-Seat, the crucified Christ!
 
            Only the precious blood of Christ is acceptable to God. Only his sin-atoning blood is “a sweet savor unto the Lord.
 

“And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the LORD.” (v. 6)

 
            The blood and the fat belonged to God. Our blessed Savior fully recognized this. As a man (the God-man, our Mediator) he surrendered his life to God the Father. He voluntarily walked to the place of sacrifice and there gave up (laid down) his life, poured out his precious blood, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life. The fragrant sweet incense of his infinitely excellent sacrifice ascended up to God and satisfied his holy, infinite justice for us. Blessed, blessed Savior! The incense of your precious blood shall never cease to prevail with God for us!
 
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
‘Til all the ransomed church of God,
Be saved to sin no more!
 
            God required that the blood of the sacrifice offered anywhere except upon his altar be imputed to the man who shed it. Though it was only the blood of an animal, yet being shed as a sacrifice for man and typical of the blood of Christ shed for us at Calvary, the blood was sacred and precious to God. That blood he required to be offered to none but himself, and offered only upon his appointed altar by his appointed priest, and at his appointed time. Anyone who defied his sacrifice was to be punished as a murderer, because in God’s sight idolatry is as equally heinous as murder (Isaiah 66:3).
 
            All false worship is idolatry. Will we ever learn this lesson? God will not be worshipped except upon his Altar, through his Priest, by the merits of his Sacrifice — the Lord Jesus Christ!
 

“And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations. And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice, and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer it unto the LORD; even that man shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.” (vv. 7-10)

 
            The idolater was to be cut off from the congregation, not merely excommunicated from the church of God, deprived of the privileges of his house, but even put to death. He was guilty of blood[1], that is, of death. Therefore, he was to be put to death, either by the hand of the congregation (when the offence was known by men), or by the immediate hand of God (v. 10), as Uzza was when he touched the ark.
 
            The application to us in this Gospel Age is clear. — We must worship God in the way he has prescribed and cut ourselves off from all idolatry and all idolaters (Leviticus 17:5; 2 Corinthians 6:14 - 7:1; Revelation 18:4). We must come to God trusting Christ alone (Ephesians 1:3-7; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 3:3).
 
Atonement in the Blood
 

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. And whatsoever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off. And every soul that eateth that which died of itself, or that which was torn with beasts, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean. But if he wash them not, nor bathe his flesh; then he shall bear his iniquity.” (vv. 11-16)

 
            I call your attention to verse 11. Understand verse 11 and the rest of the chapter is plain enough. Look at this 11th verse line by line.
 
            “For the life of the flesh is in the blood.” — That is stated three times in verses 11 and 14. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out. — No Blood, No Life! Blood nourishes and sustains the whole of life physically. When an animal was sacrificed upon the altar of God, a life was sacrificed. When the Lord Jesus Christ poured out his life’s blood upon the cursed tree for us, he gave himself. Giving his blood, he gave his life! His perfect life was sacrificed. His righteous life, a perfect righteousness, was sacrificed. A man’s perfect life was sacrificed. God was sacrificed (Acts 20:28; Galatians 2:20-21; 1 John 3:16).
 
            These blood sacrifices in the Old Testament signified much, much more than most ever imagine. And the pouring out of Christ’s precious blood displays the very same thing as those sacrifices did.
 
            The sacrifice of a life declares that life belongs to God. Life is God’s prerogative. He kills and he makes alive, both physically and spiritually. He is the Lord of life. Life belongs to him. He gives it and he takes it, as it pleases him. He declares, “I am the Lord, the God of all flesh” (Jeremiah 32:27). Man must not to feast upon that which is God’s. The sacrifice was not made to satisfy man, but to satisfy God. The blood of the animal slain was either to be brought to God’s altar or poured out like water upon the ground, returning to God.
 
            Coming to God, by faith in Christ, we acknowledge that we have robbed God of our lives. We have taken that which properly belongs to God and consumed it upon our own lusts. Bowing to him, we consecrate our lives to him, gladly taking Christ as our Lord. We lose our lives to our Savior. That is what faith is in its essence. It is giving up my life to Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
 
            The sacrifice of life declares the horrid enormity of our sin. Oh, what a horribly, infinitely evil thing sin must be, if God (ever good, ever gracious, ever merciful, ever loving) should require the life of his own darling Son to put away sin!
 

            “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar.” — Look away, yonder to Calvary. Behold, Christ’s precious blood poured out upon God’s altar. Hear the Lord God speak. He says, “I have given it to you!” What a blessed word of grace! — Christ is mine!

 
            The Lord Jesus gave his life’s blood for us to God the Father; but the Lord God has given his Son’s precious blood to us.
Š      We are justified by the blood (Romans 5:9).
Š      The wrath and justice of God has been satisfied by the blood (Romans 3:24-26).
Š      We are reconciled to God by the blood (Ephesians 2:13).
Š      Every blessing of grace comes to us through the blood (Colossians 1:14, 20).
Š      Our consciences are purged from the guilt of sin by the blood (Hebrews 9:12-14).
Š      We have access to God by the blood (Hebrews 10:19-20).
Š      We are sanctified by the blood (Hebrews 13:12).
Š      We are cleansed by the blood (1 John 1:7).
Š      We will, one day soon, stand before the throne of God perfectly purified by the blood (Revelation 7:14).
Š      We will triumph over sin and death, over hell and the grave by the blood (Revelation 12:11).
Š      We will glorify Christ forever, singing and praising him because of the blood (Revelation 5:9).
 
The Token of the Blood
 
The Lord God says, “the blood shall be to you for a token!” It is a token God has given us, by which he constantly speaks to us.
 

“And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:13)

 
            I trust God’s seeing of the blood more than I trust my seeing it. It is God’s seeing the blood that is the token of grace. The blood is a token of God’s willingness to save sinners, a token of assured acceptance, a token of God’s infinite love. — Ancient Love! — Intense Love! — Almighty Love! — Unlimited Love! — Immutable Love! — Persevering Love! — Free Love! — Indestructible Love! — Saving Love! — God’s word to his chosen is, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you!
 
Blood’s Efficacy
 

Read Leviticus 17:11 again. — “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”  The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was shed at Calvary for one specific purpose. — “To make atonement for your souls.” Will it do the job? Is it enough? Let’s see.

 

            “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Yes, the blood of Christ poured out upon the cursed tree accomplished precisely what God intended. His blood made atonement for his people. Just as the blood of the paschal lamb made atonement for the whole congregation of Israel, so the blood of Christ our Passover, who was sacrificed for us, made atonement for all God’s Israel (Romans 5:6-11).

 
            Atonement is God’s gift to his people. This atonement is in the blood, and only in the blood. “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” It is not the blood and something else. The word is most explicit. It attributes atonement exclusively to the blood. “Without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). — It was the death of Christ that rent the veil. It is “by the blood of Jesus” we have “boldness to enter into the holiest.” “We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). Christ made peace by the blood of his cross.” “Ye who were afar off are made nigh by the blood of his cross.” “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). All the saints of God have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
 
            The blood of Christ is the foundation of everything and the fountain of everything. — “It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” This is conclusive. Only in this way can God be both “a just God and a Savior.” Only by the blood can he be both just and the Justifier of all who believe.
 
            Read the Bible one more time. From Genesis through Revelation, you will find that the only ground upon which God almighty can or will deal with sinners in grace is through “the blood that maketh atonement for the soul.” The blood of Christ is revealed as the one and only foundation of righteousness.
 
            As it is the only foundation upon which we can come to God, so it is the only fountain by which grace flows to us. We get pardon, peace, life, and righteousness, all by the blood, and nothing but the blood.
 
            Precious, precious, precious beyond expression is the blood of Christ! — “It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul!” The blood of Christ is so precious in God’s sight that he will allow nothing to be added to or mingled with it. — “The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”
 
God’s Altar
 
In this Gospel Day, in this Day of Grace, God’s Altar can be found anywhere. Before the law was given at Sinai, before the worship of God was established at the tabernacle in the wilderness and then the temple in Jerusalem, during the Patriarchal Age, men who believed God raised up altars to him wherever they were when God met them. There they worshipped (Genesis 8:20; 12:7-8; 13:4, 18; 22:9-13; 26:25; 28:18; 35:1).
            Then, after the giving of the law, God directed his worshipper to worship him only at one altar, pointing to Christ our Altar.
            But in this Gospel Day, in this day of grace, the Lord God declares that incense and a pure offering is to be offered to him in every place (Malachi 1:11), because his Israel (his elect people) is found everywhere and our Altar is Christ. I bid you, come to God’s Altar where you are, every day, throughout the day, and worship God by his Sacrifice, through his High Priest, upon his Altar, the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:10-15).

 

 

 

 

 

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[1] He who was guilty of blood was guilty of the blood of God’s sacrifice, Christ. That blood was imputed to him. Therefore he was cut off (Hebrews 10:29), because he bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people” (Leviticus 17:4).