Life in the Blood

Mountain climbing--have you ever tried it or perhaps know someone who has? I read a story some time ago about eight climbers who were in the Swiss Alps. The lead climber lost his balance and fell. His weight pulled the two climbers behind him off the face of the mountain also. The five climbers below braced for the jolt. However, instead of being able to save their fellow climbers by supporting their weight at the end of the rope, they watched helplessly as the rope became taut and then surprisingly snapped in two (resulting in the three climbers falling nearly a mile to their deaths).

The five remaining climbers, after reaching a point where they could rest and analyze the rope, noted that there was no red strand running through it! The normal rope they used had an identifying red strand through its center. It could have withstood the extreme tension and would have prevented the deaths of their friends. The rope they used that day, however, was a fake. It was an imitation and a weak substitute for the real thing. It cost three men their lives.

Let's compare that red strand that should have been in the rope to a red strand that runs through God's word. The red strand of the Bible is blood. If we leave the red strand out of the rope, it becomes weak and unsafe. Likewise, if we leave blood out of God's word, we are lost without its power to save! Blood is an extremely important biblical subject. It is mentioned approximately 400 times in 40 books of the Bible. Today's lesson addresses the significance of blood in God's word. Physical life and spiritual life are both in the blood!

For as long as sacrifices have been made to God, shed blood has been important. We can see this in the offerings that Cain and Abel made to the Lord in Genesis 4:3ff. God was pleased with Abel's sacrifice because Abel obeyed Him (cf. Heb. 11:4; Rom. 10:17). God had evidently commanded an animal sacrifice (which required the shedding of its blood), and Cain tried to substitute a bloodless offering from that which he had harvested from the ground. Consequently, "the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering" (Gen. 4:4,5).

Over 1500 years later, after the flood had cleansed the Earth of widespread wickedness, Noah and his family emerged from the ark. "Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, 'I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done" (Gen. 8:20,21). As we can see from his actions, Noah understood the importance of blood sacrifices.

Several hundred years later, God made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15. The significance of blood is clearly demonstrated as the patriarch cut the sacrificial animals in two and witnessed God, in the form of fire, passing between the pieces to seal the covenant. Later in his life, Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his promised son as a burnt offering (Gen. 22). It was a test of his faith, and Abraham passed the test. He was willing to shed the blood of his son, although God prevented it at the last minute and supplied a ram instead.

Perhaps the most notable Old Testament passage related to blood pertains to the establishment of the Passover (which occurred during the last days of the period of Egyptian bondage for the Israelite nation). Consider what the Lord declared in Exodus 12:3-13 concerning the Passover - "On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire--its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And where I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt." The blood was critically important for their physical salvation on that occasion. Without the protection of the blood, there would be loss of life.

There are many other passages that underscore the important of blood in the Old Testament. A casual look into the book of Leviticus, for example, reveals numerous references to the blood that was shed via the various offerings. Special emphasis should be given to the context of Leviticus 17:11, where the LORD prohibited the eating of blood and went on to declare - "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." Without blood, there could be no physical life or atonement for mankind. We will comment further on this important truth under our next major point.

When Jesus walked the Earth, animal sacrifices were still being offered to atone for man's sins--as had been done from the beginning. However, according to the New Testament, the atonement the blood of animals could provide was limited. In fact, the writer of Hebrews affirmed - "It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins" (Heb. 10:4). This subject is a rather deep one biblically. It appears that although forgiveness of sins was possible for those who lived prior to Christ, the actual atonement for sins, in the ultimate sense, was based upon Jesus' blood and not the blood of animals (please consider the two most recent daily lessons on this theme from June 8 and June 9, 2006 for a more in-depth study).

The apostle Paul taught the significance of blood to Christians in that Christ is our Passover (I Cor. 5:7). We have studied the many similarities between the Passover in Moses' day and Jesus Himself as the Christian's Passover in our feature lesson from February 11, 2006.

It cannot be denied that blood has always been important in God's plan for saving man. Have you ever stopped to think about the many ways Jesus could have died without shedding His blood? But, a bloodless death was not the Father's will. A study of the death of our Lord Jesus shows He suffered greatly on our behalf and shed His blood in a variety of ways. The crown of thorns certainly caused Him to bleed. The brutal scourging He endured caused much blood shed. And, of course, there was the crucifixion itself and the spear that pierced His side after His death. All of these elements are related to bloodshed. Jesus Himself declared - "This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28). The writer of Hebrews stated - "Without shedding of blood there is no remission" (Heb. 9:22).

May we never forget that Jesus didn't just die on the cross--He shed His life-giving blood there! I Peter 1:19 teaches that we have been redeemed by "the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." Paul taught in Ephesians 1:7 - "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." It is through His blood that He purchased the church (Acts 20:28); that is, He bought us at a price (I Cor. 6:20). The living creatures and elders, who fell down before the Lamb of God to praise Him, sang of His worthiness. Specifically, they stated - "For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood" (Rev. 5:9,10).

All humans have life in the blood physically (Lev. 17:11). Without blood, we could not exist. Spiritually, the same can be said. The Bible is powerless to save man without the "red strand" of blood running through it--specifically, Jesus' blood.

Dear friends, what about you spiritually? Do you have spiritual life through the blood of Christ? What is your response to the death of Jesus? Do you honor His death by your faith and obedience to His will? Or, have you rejected Him and disregarded His atoning blood? Please contact us if we can help you get right with the Lord and find eternal life. Jesus loves you and desires to wash your sins away "in His own blood" (Rev. 1:5).

Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.