A Bloody Mess
Having looked into the tearful eyes of parents whose children have abandoned the Faith, I have learned there are a million miles between our children “going through the motions” in reference to their spiritual lives versus our children possessing hearts that dictate their actions. In this column, I plan to share with you what I hope to instill in the hearts of my own children and those whom I love.
Worship settings today are relatively clean. Many auditoriums are fully carpeted with padded pews and air-conditioning. Flowers decorate the front of the auditorium as polished preachers, dressed in formal attire, stand behind large podiums. On any given Sunday, New Testament Christians can be seen wearing their finest clothing as they lift their voices in song to God. However, this “sterile” environment has caused many Christians to forget about the necessity of blood in our worship. I think many have forgotten blood is required for the remission of sins. The writer of Hebrews noted, “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).
Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about blood.
From a young age, your dad was always intrigued by blood. During your lifetime you will encounter many people who get queasy (or even faint) at the mere sight of it. For some reason I was always drawn to it. Working in the emergency department, I witnessed firsthand more than my fair share. I can still immediately recognize the unique smell of iron-rich blood. The blood that has always held my interest is also a key component to the forgiveness of sins.
Approximately 4000 years ago, God took the Israelites out of Egypt and organized a priestly form of worship that was strongly dependent on animal sacrifices. Blood became a very real and a very prominent reminder of their obedience to God. We learn there were voluntary offerings (burnt offerings, meal offerings, and peace offerings) in which animals were bled and burned (Leviticus 7:12-18). There were also compulsory cleansing offerings (sin offerings and guilt offerings) that involved the blood and sacrifice of animals (Leviticus 4:1-6:7).
In order to truly appreciate the importance of this blood, consider what God said to Moses: “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” (Leviticus 17:11). In the prior chapter, we learn that part of the Day of Atonement required Aaron to “take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around” (16:18). This helps explain one of the major differences we see between the Tabernacle (or Temple) and our modern auditoriums. Unlike modern church buildings, the tabernacle was fashioned for offering daily sacrifices to God in order to keep this nation clean and acceptable to God. Think of it as a butchering and burning place rather than a room full of pews. Animals were routinely killed, cut up, and burned in an effort to make the Israelites clean. Blood was a part of how they presented themselves worthy of God’s presence.
However, the blood could not completely eradicate sins. We learn in Hebrews 11:4, “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” It would be Christ’s crucifixion that eventually nailed the Old Law to the cross (Colossians 2:13-15) and His blood that forgives our sins. “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:11-12).
When Jesus went to the cross, He became a spotless sacrifice for the sins of mankind. The Bible describes it as, “The precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). The priestly nation and sacrificial system was abolished with His blood. “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:11-12). Suddenly the need for blood sacrifices disappeared and people could address God directly with Jesus as their mediator. Hopefully you can see why their form of worship changed dramatically.
We come into contact with the blood of Christ when we are buried in baptism (Romans 6:3-4). It is that blood that is able to continually cleanse us: “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). So the next time you scrape a knee or cut a finger, take a second to consider what His blood did for us—and how special that His blood truly is.