Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Blood and Redemption

Medical science affirms what the Bible proclaims, that life is in the blood. God gave the animals as food for Noah and his family, but gave the admonition, “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (Genesis 9:4). This prohibition against eating blood was repeated under the Old Law, as the Israelites were warned, “Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life; you may not eat the life with the meat” (Deuteronomy 12:23). In both prohibitions the reason for the limitation is given, life is in the blood.

Interestingly, this prohibition against eating blood is given further explanation in the Lord’s words to Moses, recorded in Leviticus 17:10-12, “And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats 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 atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’”

It has always been God’s intention to allow blood as a means of gaining atonement for the souls of men. As blood is sanctified for this important work, it was not to be eaten. To the one who disregarded this admonition, “Whoever eats it shall be cut off” (vs. 14).

The shedding of blood for atonement is a central theme of scripture. Early on, God revealed that it was necessary. Such sacrifices were made by Abel (Genesis 4:3-4), and Noah (Genesis 8:20-21), and a blood sacrifice was the means by which the Israelites were spared in the final plague visited upon the Egyptians in Exodus 12. The Hebrew writer recognized the importance of blood in the redemption of man, and wrote, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (9:22).

Some may ask why? Why is it necessary for a life to be taken for remission to be possible? It has to do with fairness and justice. First, sin is much more serious than most seem to think. Man’s tendency is to minimize sin, both with regard to its heinous nature, and its consequences. The Bible does neither. The Bible uses words like lust, corruption, defilement and evil to describe sin, and gives the Devil as its source (cf. 1 John 3:8). Sin is so bad, that the penalty for committing it is death. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Second, God’s justice must be satisfied. This is a matter of fairness. So much emphasis is placed upon the mercy and grace of God. But, this important fact must be understood, God’s justice makes necessary that a sufficient penalty be paid for man’s sin (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:1-10). It is God’s mercy that allowed the Blood of Jesus Christ to be that penalty, rather than a man having to pay his own penalty for sin. This is grace. “For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8).

Under the Old Law God made provision for this need of atonement by instituting the system of animal sacrifices. However, that system served only as a type, foreshadowing the final payment for the penalty of sin. The blood of animals was simply not a sufficient payment for the sins of man. The Hebrew writer states the matter clearly, “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (10:1-4).

Ultimately, only the shed blood of the Son of God could satisfy God’s justice. “By that [God’s] will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).

We are so grateful to God that He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross of Calvary, shedding His life blood as the price of atonement for our sins. We are thankful to Jesus that He willingly died for us. It is only through His atoning blood that we can rejoice as “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7; cf. Romans 8:16-17).