By Fran Gardner Mora
Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22
Have you ever watched an animal sacrifice scene in a historical documentary or show and marveled at just how horribly pagan and offensive the ritual was – and then thought, “These people were barbaric! What kind of god would …”
… And then you’re tracking along through Exodus and Leviticus and [insert the sound of screeching tires here] you come right up into chapters of scripture that detail the exact order of events when offering sacrifices to our God – and they include animal slaughter, catching blood in bowls, and sprinkling people and surfaces with the blood!
Because of my love for understanding God’s Word and my analytical nature, I found myself doing a deep dive into the possible answers to the question, “Why?” I didn’t hit the Internet or check the commentaries because I wanted the Holy Spirit to place His illumination on the subject.
I saw that the blood was sprinkled on people and smeared on specific parts of the body (ears, thumbs, big toes, etc.), which means that the blood of the sacrificial animal would have, undoubtedly, gotten on their clothes. Also, when men brought animals to be sacrificed, they had to slaughter them at the place where they burnt the offerings, which was a messy task! At this time in history, clothes were not washed very often, so these people would have walked around for days, or maybe weeks, with the stains – and the smell – of the blood on their person. Very disgusting! The priests, however, were told to wash their garments if they got blood on them.
Scripture also tells us that life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:14). But once the blood leaves the body, life leaves the blood, and it becomes putrid. So, sin causes this cycle of death and waste that destroys both the innocent and the innocence. In the sequence of events that were prescribed for sacrificial atonement, it seems that God wanted us to be conscious of His blood covenant with us. But, perhaps God was also demonstrating that atonement for sin is very costly and that we should bear the smell of the sacrifice in our nostrils as a reminder that life is sacred. It’s no small thing for one life to be slain for another, whether it’s a full-growth bull or a tiny dove.
But Jesus ended the requirement of wearing the stench and shame of our own sin. By pouring out His righteous and precious blood and taking the cup of the sins of humanity, He placed the seal of redemption on us and gave us the only way back into the Fathers holy presence. His blood carries eternal life, washes away all other blood and guilt, and restores our purity and innocence. We are free to hope because we are validated by this new covenant and not bound by lies. We are free to love because we can move in the graciousness of God and not be bound by fear. We can live to the fullest because we can drink from the flow of living water and not be limited by thirst.
Oh, Jesus, I love you. The only thing that I can ever do to thank you for my salvation is to serve You by humbly serving others, to honor You by being a reflection of You to those around me, and to glorify You by making Your influence over my life known. Holy Spirit, help me to do this well. Increase my measures of faith and perseverance, place before me anointed opportunities, and breathe into me a mighty, fresh wind. Amen.
And to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12:24