“Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”
The Old Testament, particularly the Book of Leviticus, is positively dripping with blood. The blood sacrifices are prescribed there with ghastly precision. Students of the Scriptures know why this is so. In the beginning, God made the world “very good” (Genesis 1:31) and He entrusted the created order under the sun to His special image-bearers, Adam and his wife (Genesis 1:26-27). It was a world super-saturated with goodness, harmony, and life. Of course we remember what happened to that world. It was smashed and destroyed by man’s deliberate and intentional sin and rebellion (1 Timothy 2:14). The wages of man’s sin was death (Genesis 3:19; Romans 6:23a). As our progenitor and federal head, Adam implicated all of us in his rebellion and its awful consequences. “By one man sin entered into the world,” explained Paul, “and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). The life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11). For a guilty sinner to come into the presence of a holy and righteous God, an innocent substitute must be sacrificed. In the Old Testament, an innocent animal would be offered in order to provide temporary protection from God’s constant, hot, hostility to sin. God would see, momentarily, not the guilt of the sinner, but the innocence of the animal that was sacrificed. He would also see the offerer’s faith, which in God’s economy means imputed righteousness (Genesis 15:6). In the light of New Testament revelation, we understand that, even though there was efficacy to the sacrificial system of the Old Testament, it was also pedagogical. It taught us about the inadequacy of the system itself (Hebrews 10:1-4) and it looked ahead to Christ, the Supreme sacrifice Who cleanses us from all sin and unrighteousness. The writer to the Hebrews asks, “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14). The idea here is that in Christ we are cleansed and complete (Colossians 2:10); our own efforts have nothing at all to do with our standing before God. This is where Christianity differs from all other competing faith systems. It is the difference between “do” (as in false religion) and “done!” (as in Christianity with its emphasis on the finished work of Christ). Let us reflect upon (and rejoice over!) the fact that Christ has by Himself purged our sins (Hebrews 1:3). Neither human effort nor the passage of time can wash away our sins and make us acceptable to God. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can do that!