Animal sacrifices, circumcision, murder, the blood of Christ … why does the Bible talk so much about BLOOD?
Leviticus 17 & 18
Leviticus 17 & 18:
The sacrificial law
Blood … blood … blood … why does the Bible talk so much about blood?
When Adam and Eve sinned against Him, God Himself shed the blood of animals and symbolically covered their nakedness with the skins (Gen. 3.21).
When God confronted Cain for murdering his brother, He said, the voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground” (Ex. 4.10).
God commanded animal sacrifices of all kinds to cover the people’s sins and we see here in chapter 17 that He took it very seriously when that blood was offered to demonic gods (vv. 3-4, 7).
God commanded the men of Israel to be circumcised as a sign of the covenant they had with Him (Gen. 17.9-14) … more blood.
Not everyone understood; in Exodus 4 Moses’ wife called him a “bloody husband” when her son was circumcised (Ex. 4.25-26).
Then there were commands not to eat meat with the blood, commands to sprinkle blood, and just before the exodus, blood was applied to the frame of the door to protect God’s people (Ex. 12.7, 22).
And the New Testament is dominated by the importance of Christ’s shed blood.
Blood represented life. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood …” (v. 17.11). Without blood there is no life, only death. In the garden God told Adam and Eve if they disobeyed they would “surely die” (Gen. 2.17). While they did die spiritually and would eventually die physically, in His mercy He allowed the animals to die in their place temporarily.
Since all men sin, God ordained animal sacrifices to cover their sins, as well, giving them more time to come to know Him, because He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2.4).
God is the creator of life and life giving blood. His people were to understand and see blood as holy.
But as we’ve seen the blood of bulls and goats could never do away with sin, only cover it temporarily. Only another man could actually die in someone’s place. But not just any man, in order to satisfy the justice of God, He had to be a perfect man. So God allowed His Son to be implanted in the womb of a young girl. Her son would be all God (perfect and holy) and all man (flesh just as we are), the perfect sacrifice.
When He allowed His blood to be shed on that cross, it was the final sacrifice. As He died He said, “It is finished.” Man’s sin was done away with not just covered. But partaking of that fact is not automatic.
Ephesians 2.8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” God’s grace is readily available, but we must receive it by faith … faith in His grace … faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ … faith in the power of His blood!
The moral law
So if the sacrificial laws no longer need to be adhered to, what about the moral laws having to do with sexual sin and perversion covered in chapter 18? Unlike the ceremonial, sacrificial laws, the moral laws were repeated and strengthened in the New Testament.
Leviticus 18 addresses:
… incest (vv. 6-18). In the New Testament the Apostle Paul said such things shouldn’t even be named among God’s people (1 Cor. 5.1-3).
… adultery and fornication (v. 20). The New Testament addresses these sins repeatedly (Matt. 5.27-28; Gal. 5.19-21; Eph. 5.3; 1 Thess. 4.3-7 and many more).
… sexual perversion that involved the sacrifice of children (v. 21) saying it profaned His name. This hardly needs addressing, but when the woman at the well wanted to debate religious practices Jesus said those who worship Him must worship in spirit (sincerity) and in truth (the way God says He should be worshipped) (Jn. 4.24).
… homosexuality (v. 22). God confirmed this prohibition in the New Testament by listing it at the bottom of the downward spiral of sin in Romans 1 (vss. 26-27).
… and bestiality (v. 23). The New Testament condemns any sex outside of the marriage relationship. Hebrews 13.4 says the marriage bed is undefiled, but all other sex is referred to as immorality.
I want to make one last point. Often when someone wants to argue about whether homosexuality is wrong, they bring up verse 19, “Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness as long as she is in her customary impurity.” The argument goes if that’s no longer a sin, how can you say homosexuality is?
First, that command may have been tied to the other prohibitions about blood. But the main point I’d like to make is that in Leviticus 15.24 the penalty for sleeping with a woman during menstruation was for the man to be unclean for seven days. The penalty for sexual immorality was death!
Fear of the Lord
“Whom shall I fear? … Of whom shall I be afraid? … My heart shall not fear; … In this I will be confident.” We continue to see David’s faith and trust in the Lord even in the face of great adversity. Something we need to remember during the difficult times in our lives.
But while we are not to fear man, we are to fear God. Psalm 33.18 says, “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy.” The fear of the Lord is not a cowering fear; it’s a reverential respect; it’s awe. It’s understanding that He is God and we are not. He’s the creator. It’s respect for His Word and a willingness to submit to His authority.
Walking in security
“He who walks with integrity walks securely, but he who perverts his ways will become known.” We sometimes believe wicked people get away with “murder,” but this verse reminds us that sin will be revealed and dealt with in God’s time.
Growing in understanding
In verse 24 Jesus said, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.”
“Hearing” in this passage is more than a casual hearing. It’s hearing with a desire to understand and apply what we’ve heard. That desire to understand will drive us to study the Scriptures, pray for understanding and seek out truth. The phrase “more will be given” reminds us that as we apply the truth we have, more truth, understanding and wisdom will be given to us.
Sometimes it’s hard to hear the truth about things that are so common in our world today, like homosexuality and other sexual sins. I pray that you will diligently search the Scripture for yourself and trust that the God who created us, knows what is right and good.
But while we need to settle these truths in our minds and be willing, if necessary, to stand up for the truth, we must also seek to be like God in how He deals with sinners: patiently, mercifully, and always willing to forgive when there is genuine repentance.