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Leviticus 17:1-16 (The Sanctity of Blood)

Oct 29, 2017   //   by Charlie Garrett   //   Leviticus, Leviticus (written), Old Testament, Sermons, Torah, Torah (written)  //  No Comments

Leviticus 17:1-16
The Sanctity of the Blood

Some years ago, Louie Giglio, did a now very famous sermon on the substance known as laminin. The technical definition of laminin is that it “is the most abundant glycoprotein molecule found in basement membrane, [it] has multiple functions in eukaryotic tissues. It serves to attach epithelial cells to basement membrane, aids development and migration of specific cell types in growth and maturation, and has been implicated in tumor metastasis and some types of infection.” (PubMed)

In essence it could be equated to a glue for holding cells to a foundation of connective tissue in the body of animal life, including humans. This glue then ensures proper functioning of the cells. And… it has a shape amazingly similar to the Christian cross.

That was all Louie needed to whip together the wonderfully inspiring sermon that was based on this substance. His conclusion is that it confirms Colossians 1:17. That speaks of Jesus and says, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”

The word “consist” there is translated by the NIV as “hold together.” It is an uplifting sermon, and one will go away from it feeling much better about life because it is, after all, a life application sermon. There is nothing wrong with this for the most part, but we need to remember that the truth of the Bible isn’t based on the shape, or lack of shape, of anything in the human body.

Nor is it dependent on anything else which is unknown to be true. In other words, until Louie Giglio did the sermon, the truth of the Bible was never in question because of there being laminin, or there being no such thing as laminin. One could say that the Bible is confirmed as true because a substance (we will call it Trinitarium) is discovered inside atoms which is the basis for all generated power, and which is shaped like the Trinity model used by seminaries to explain the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This then would logically and completely confirm Romans 1:20 which speaks of God’s eternal power and Godhead, wouldn’t it. Well, as no such thing is yet discovered, then that would imply that Romans 1:20 isn’t yet true, and it won’t be true until we find Trinitarium. I really hope we find it soon…

Text Verse: “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:19, 20

I’m not into life application sermons, and other than the intro to sermons, I don’t like to get far from the word, unless it is to demean my own physical appearance, or to make note of how exceptionally lovely my wife and this congregation are. The Bible doesn’t need me to make stuff up in order for it to be sound, reasonable, and self-confirming.

We’ve been through so many internal confirmations of Scripture in the past, that – really and honestly – only a fool would say, “This book has no merit at all.” As a text verse, I shied away from Louie’s Colossians 1:17, and I went right to the heart of the matter. The truth of the cross isn’t found in something that looks like the cross, be it laminin or an Egyptian Ankh, or any other random or purposeful fabrication of something.

Rather, the truth of the cross is found in what it symbolizes – reconciliation between God and man. One can logically determine what God’s divine attributes are. He can then logically determine that there is no peace with God because in order to make nice with one attribute, He would have to violate another one of His attributes. In other words, there is a tension which exists between God and man which cannot be resolved apart from what God has done in Jesus Christ. This is logically so. Everything about God is logical, it is orderly, and it results in inescapable truths.

The resolution to this tension exists, it cannot be resolved by us, and yet it can be resolved. God tells us how, and then he shows us what that resolution actually looks like. Laminin bears an uncanny resemblance to it, but my hope in what God has done is not based on something as dubious as that. My hope, and what should be your hope too, is based on the cross of Jesus Christ, and the blood which was shed there.

There is sanctity in the blood, there is power in the blood, and the blood itself makes atonement through the soul that is in it. What that means will be explained to you in our verses today. They are verses which, as always, point us to the Person and work of Jesus Christ. It’s all to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Blood at the Altar of the Lord (verses 1-7)

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

Chapter 17 begins the second major section of the book of Leviticus. The first major section went from chapter 1 to chapter 16. As we saw, it covered mostly laws for sacrifice and for purification, all of which culminated in, and were highlighted by, the laws for the Day of Atonement in Chapter 16.

This second major section will go from chapter 17 to the end of the book in chapter 27. For the most part, these chapters will look to the process of sanctification in the lives of the people. The regulations to be laid down will govern common, everyday life. They are intended to instill in the people holiness as they live in the Lord’s presence. This section will be highlighted in the instructions for the sabbatical years and the year of jubilee.

These eleven final chapters, which form this major section, are subdivided starting with Chapters 17-20 which deal in matters concerning the general holiness of the people. In these chapters, a great distinction between Israel and the heathen people of Canaan is made. In essence, “They do evil things, but you are to conduct yourselves in holiness.”

Chapters 21 & 22 deal with holiness in relation to the priests and their offerings. Chapters 23-25 mostly cover the feasts of the Lord, and the years of Sabbath and Jubilee, but which also cover a few other important points. Chapter 26 bears words spoken in the first person to the people of Israel by the Lord. Those words define the anticipated blessings and curses which will come to pass based on their conduct as His chosen people. And finally, Chapter 27 will cover vows which are made by the people.

It is Moses who is first addressed in opening this section. As the designated lawgiver, the Lord speaks directly to him, but with words which then follow on to the entire congregation, as is noted in the next words…

“Speak to Aaron,

Words for the mediator of the covenant; for the high priest who will oversee the covenant; and for the one who is to render judgments in accord with that office of overseer.

(con’t) to his sons,

Words for the priests who will perform the regular duties of the priesthood, including whatever son of Aaron who will eventually assume the position as high priest.

(con’t) and to all the children of Israel,

This is the first time that this specific phrase is made. What Moses is commanded includes words for the entire congregation as well. In designating these three categories in one sentence, the requirements are for all alike. In essence, the priestly class, including the high priest himself, are placed on the same level as any other in the congregation. The words are binding on all without distinction. Though the priests may administer the law for the people, they are equally bound to every precept of the law.

(con’t) and say to them, ‘This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, saying:

The words are from the mouth of the Lord, having passed through Moses the lawgiver, and which are now to be presented to the entire congregation without distinction. As the instructions for the Day of Atonement were just given, these words must be taken in relation to that. Laws are forthcoming which will actually necessitate that most solemn annual occurrence to be conducted. The stern hand of the law will be made known, but the provision of grace for ignorant violations of the law has already been revealed.

“Whatever man of the house of Israel who kills an ox or lamb or goat in the camp, or who kills it outside the camp,

The meaning of the words of the thought now being presented are widely debated. For now, and concerning just verse 3, instructions are being given concerning the slaughtering of an ox, lamb, or goat – either inside or outside of the camp.

The word used for “kills” is shakhat, meaning “to slaughter,” but it is not necessarily a sacrifice. It is simply the killing of an animal. The word for “camp” means just that. In this case, it is the camp of people currently traveling on their way to Canaan. It is used when the people are in the land of Canaan when designating a camp of people who are prepared for battle, but it is not a word used to speak of the entire nation of Israel in the land of Canaan. Understanding these words will help clear up scholarly confusion.

and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting to offer an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord,

While Israel is in the camp which surrounds the tabernacle, and until the time they would come to the land of Canaan and begin to live in cities, it was required that these sacrificial type animals were to be slaughtered as an offering to the Lord.

Some scholars say that this means that “when” they are slaughtered as sacrifices this was the case, but if they were simply killed for food, this was not the case. Thus, it would be ensuring that sacrifices were only made to the Lord, and only at His temple. This is not correct. The law, rather, is for any of these animals, regardless of whether it is a sacrifice or merely for food. It was to first be offered as an offering to the Lord. This is certain because of the word used which simply means “to slaughter.”

However and despite this, the implication is that the animal – regardless if it was only meant to be eaten – was considered as a sacrifice by the people. As they were not in a habitable land, any slaughter of such an animal would be considered a rarity. They were fed with manna, and there was no actual need to slaughter such an animal, and so any such slaughtering would be considered as a sacrifice by the one slaughtering it. Therefore, it had to be first offered to the Lord.

(con’t) the guilt of bloodshed shall be imputed to that man.

Because of the implied use of such an animal as a sacrifice, a person would be guilty of bloodshed if it was not presented first to the Lord. This is actually seen when speaking of the people in Isaiah’s time, where first the term shakhat, or “slaughter” is used, and then the term zabakh, or “sacrifice” is then used –

He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man;
He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck;” Isaiah 66:3

(con’t) He has shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people,

If anyone so slaughtered an animal without first offering it to the Lord, then the guilt of bloodshed was upon him, and he was to be cut off. In this case, “cut off” means death. If a person was guilty of bloodshed, implying the blood of a man, the penalty was death.

But the question is, “Why would slaughtering an animal in this way bring on blood guilt?” The answer is that an animal sacrifice is typical of the one, final sacrifice of Christ. To kill an animal as a sacrifice, but not present it to the Lord, would be a denial that only Christ’s blood is sufficient to save.

The Israelites were just coming out of Egypt where they had participated in the religious worship of the Egyptians. They were now to have those false systems of worship purged from their lives, and to only make offerings to the Lord. In failing to do so, they would be denying the Lord who redeemed them, and that their redemption is only fully realized in the coming of Christ.

In the section of Leviticus which concerned dietary laws, the question of “what” could be eaten was defined. Here in this chapter, the question of “how” something could be eaten is now defined. This is the first of such instructions, pointing directly to the coming Person and work of Christ.

to the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they offer in the open field, that they may bring them to the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to the priest, and offer them as peace offerings to the Lord.

This verse explains the difficulties of verse 4. The word zebakh, or “sacrifice” is now used. In fact, it is used four times in this verse. It first says, “that they may bring their sacrifices which they sacrifice.” Then at the end, it repeats itself saying, “and sacrifice sacrifices.”

Any slaughtering of such an animal, whether it was actually intended as a sacrifice or not, was deemed as such by the Lord. He has provided manna, and He will provide meat for the people as well, and so their needs are met. Anything beyond that is to be deemed by the Lord as a sacrifice, regardless of its end use in the minds of the people. Therefore, they are now to be fully considered as sacrifices, requiring priestly rites.

In this verse, there is a contrast between the “the open field,” and “The door of the tabernacle of meeting.” The words in Hebrew are pene ha’sadeh, and petakh ohel moed. One is literally, “the face of the field.” The other is “door tent of meeting.” The reason for this contrast will be explained in verse 7. In the case of these sacrifices, they were to be brought to the tent door, to the priest, and offered as “peace” or “fellowship” offerings to the Lord.

If you remember, it is an offering where there is a mutual sharing between the Lord and His people, just as in our Lord’s Supper today. Thus, this peace offering is, in type and picture, an anticipatory look ahead to what we now look back on –

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

These peace offerings were an anticipatory commemoration of the body and blood of Christ. They were proclaiming the Lord’s death till He came; we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again.

And the priest shall sprinkle the blood on the altar of the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and burn the fat for a sweet aroma to the Lord.

This is describing the part of the peace offering which is for the Lord. Without giving all of the types and pictures of Christ which were minutely detailed in Chapter 3, it is enough to say that the blood is typical of Christ’s blood, and the fat – of which there are specific parts mandated solely to the Lord, picture the most intimates aspects of Christ. They are the essence of who He is. These were returned to the Lord.

The word “sprinkle” for what is done with the blood is incorrect. It was cast, or splashed, upon the altar, not sprinkled. It is to signify a complete surrender of Christ’s will to the Lord. Along with the casting of the blood, the fat – the essence of Christ the Man – was to be burned to the Lord as a fragrant offering, a sweet aroma to the Lord. It is Christ upon the altar as Paul notes –

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:1, 2

Further, this is now the third time that the pethakh, or “door” of the tent of meeting is mentioned in three verses. But this time is is used in conjunction with mizbakh Yehovah, or “altar (of) Yehovah.” It is the altar of sacrifice which is set before the door. The sacrifice at the altar is what symbolically allows access through the door.

Here we have three specific pictures of Christ. He is the Altar of the Lord; He is the Sacrifice; and He is the Door. Along with these are the many other references – the blood, the splashing of the blood, the tent of meeting, etc. Each and every one of them is directing us to Christ Jesus.

They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot.

The public “altar of Yehovah” of verse 6 is named as a direct contrast to the many private altars which were used by the people when they offered to the seirim, or goats, signifying “demons.” The word saiyr, or “goat,” literally means “hairy goat.” It is the same animal which was used in Chapter 16, and presented before the Lord for selection by lot, one for the Lord, and one for Azazel.

What this is telling us, is that Israel had been sacrificing to demons in the open fields. This was to the Lord a form of harlotry. Just as a person leaves their spouse and goes into a harlot for intimacy, thus denying the spouse their marital rights, so Israel had gone to these demons for intimate worship, denying the Lord His rights as their betrothed Husband.

The word “harlot” here however, certainly carries a double force to it. When sacrifices were made to demons, it also carried with it the idea of pagan revelry and licentiousness. This was seen in the incident of the golden calf.

The open spaces are contrasted to the altar of the Lord. Private sacrifice to the demons is contrasted to public sacrifice to the Lord. Intimate perverse conduct, is contrasted to intimate holiness and fellowship. What had been was no longer to be allowed. There can be no fellowship between the Lord and demons. Paul explains –

Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?” 1 Corinthians 10:18-22

(con’t) This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.”’

The meaning of these words must be considered in context. In Deuteronomy 12, the mandate that these particular animals be brought to the sanctuary is terminated. There it says –

When the Lord your God enlarges your border as He has promised you, and you say, ‘Let me eat meat,’ because you long to eat meat, you may eat as much meat as your heart desires. 21 If the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, then you may slaughter from your herd and from your flock which the Lord has given you, just as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your gates as much as your heart desires.” Deuteronomy 12:20, 21

These are the same animals which are now forbidden in Leviticus to be slaughtered except in the presence of the Lord. And so the words, “statute forever” are not speaking of the slaughtering of the animals, but of the offering of the animals to the hairy ones, or demons. Instead, they were to always be offered to the Lord alone.

Before continuing on, three main points must be raised concerning what has been seen. First, is that these verses are given as pictures of Christ’s coming ministry. That has been clearly presented.

Secondly, we are to see the failure of the people under the law to meet these requirements. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, it is shown that the people failed by offering to demons. It is recorded specifically in Jeremiah 13:27, Ezekiel 20, and in Hosea 9:10 & 12:11 – among other places. But more directly, it is recorded in Amos 5:25 that the people even continued to offer to these demons in the time of the wilderness wanderings. This is repeated by Stephen in Acts 7.

This continued failure of the people, from their very inception of being called under the Law of Moses is noted to show them their need for grace – thus the Day of Atonement, and thus Christ whom that prefigures. It was intended to then show them, and us, that the law is incapable of saving anyone. And it was intended to show us our desperate need for something else – again, to lead us to Christ.

And thirdly, it is then to show us that only Christ can bring us to God. The pethakh ohel moed, or door of the tent of meeting, is the only access which is given for us to meet with the Lord. As Christ is that Door, then we must go through Him, and none other, in order to be right with God.

The soul of the flesh is in the blood
And it is this then that makes atonement for you
Only through the precious, crimson flood
Can you be cleansed, spotless, and new

There at the Altar, the blood is cast
And it is this Sacrifice which will open the Door
Through it is new life; gone is the past
Through that death, comes life evermore

Be sure and know that there is but this One way
No other avenue can reconcile you to Me
But in coming through My Son, you start a new day
One which will continue unabated for all eternity

II. The Soul of the Flesh is in the Blood (verses 8-16)

“Also you shall say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice,

These words now go to any specific burnt offering or sacrifice. The previous verses looked to any slaughter of an animal in general, which was to be taken by the Lord as an intended offering of fellowship with Him instead of a demon. Now, any Israelite man, or even a foreigner, was instructed concerning any burnt offering or sacrifice they might make. A new limitation is placed on them…

and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to the Lord, that man shall be cut off from among his people.

When such an offering is made, but it has not been brought to be presented to the Lord at the door of the tent of meeting, it is to be considered an offense worthy of excommunication. Rather than death, excommunication is probably intended here. Three times in this chapter, it says man’s offense is worthy of being “cut of from his people.” However, only here is “people” plural in the Hebrew. Thus, rather than being cut off from the body of people, Israel, it seems to imply the body of people which are his father’s kin.

Only the Lord’s appointed place of worship was acceptable for burnt offerings or sacrifices, and only the Lord’s designated priest was acceptable to handle such. To fail in this would be a grievous offense, worthy of excommunication. The reason for this prohibition is that no person was any longer allowed to mediate for himself or his family. In the past times, this was the head of the household’s responsibility. No longer would it be so in Israel.

This then looks forward to Christ as the sole Mediator between God and man. There is no end-around to be made where we can go directly to God apart from Christ. Only through Him as our High Priest, and only through a sacrifice or offering that is in anticipation of His coming, could Israel find access to God, and also be able to remain in fellowship with his own people.

10 ‘And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people.

The eating of blood was forbidden all the way back in Genesis 9. In fact, it is the very first prohibition given to man after the flood of Noah. All animal life was given to man to eat, but no flesh with the blood in it could be eaten. Thus, the eating of blood here includes the eating of flesh which had not been bled out first. This applied to the Israelite as well as to the stranger who dwelt among the people. This was necessary in the camp of Israel during the wilderness wanderings, but later when they were about to enter the land of Canaan, this rule was relaxed in Deuteronomy 14 –

 “You shall not eat anything that dies of itself; you may give it to the alien who is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner; for you are a holy people to the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 14:21

For the Lord to set His face against someone means, literally, to pour out His anger on him. In this, there were two ways this could happen. If it was known by others that he had done this, he would receive the just punishment from the leaders. But if done in secret, the Lord Himself would pursue and render judgment on him.

11 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.’

In this verse, one word is translated as both “life” and “soul.” This somewhat confuses the sense of what is being said. The Hebrew reads, “For soul the flesh in (the) blood it.” The blood is actually the seat of life within the flesh of the body. A person can lose the use of their legs, but the legs still live. But if the blood is cut off from them, they die and corrupt.

Understanding this about the blood gives us the first reason for the prohibition. The nature of the blood being the soul of the flesh is the first reason for the command. And secondly, the Lord says it is because, “I have given it to you to make atonement for your soul.” Blood is consecrated by the Lord for sacrificial worship.

And then with that understanding, we come to the final clause. Many translations say, “for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” But what the Hebrew is saying takes us back to the use of “soul” in the first clause. Because the blood is the soul of the flesh, it is what provides atonement. Therefore, rather than saying it makes atonement for the soul, meaning the one being atoned for, it says, “the blood itself makes atonement through the soul that is in it.” It is speaking of the soul of the blood in the sacrifice, and what it does in relation to the atonement process. Although seemingly nitpicky, it means that something must die, giving up its soul, in order for atonement to be made.

If merely blood itself could provide atonement, one could bleed out a quart of blood, keep living, and atone for sin. But it is the soul of the flesh itself, which is the blood, and which animates the flesh, that provides atonement. The validation that death has occurred through the shed blood provides atonement. It is why Paul says this about Christ in Romans –

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.” Romans 6:5-7

As Christ died for our sin, then we who are in Christ have died with Him. Our sins are once and forever atoned for. Therefore, the prohibition against eating meat with blood in it no longer stands. It was a type and picture of Christ alone until He had finished the work of the law. If you are one to eat bloody steaks, you are free to do so. It doesn’t personally interest me. Mine are pretty much chewy leather, but should my preferences ever change, so be it.

The prohibitions in Acts concerning blood were for a set purpose, and are not repeated in the prescriptive letters of the epistles. It is those letters, especially those of Paul, from which we derive our church-age doctrine. Thus this prohibition is no longer in force.

12 Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’

The prohibition of eating blood was given because it is the vehicle of life. For this reason, the Lord reserved all blood to Himself. To eat the blood was to assimilate into oneself something which belonged to Him alone. It was therefore idolatrous to use it in any other way than designated by Him. If it was not used in the rites of the tabernacle, it was to be poured out and covered with earth.

13 “Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust;

Up to this point, only the animals of sacrifices have been discussed. There was the positive command of offering the blood to the Lord, but there was also the negative of not eating the animal’s blood. This negative command now continues to extend, coming to agreement with the prohibition given to Noah so long ago. Any creatures which were clean and used for food by the Israelites were to have the blood drained out first, and then that blood was to be covered with dust.

This prohibition also extended, as before, to the strangers who dwelt among Israel. If any such stranger didn’t follow this practice, it would then quickly spread to the people of Israel, causing them to fall into sin by their failure to act in accord with the law. There is a sense of finality in the words here. The first time that aphar, or “dust,” was used in the Bible was in Genesis –

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.” Genesis 2:7

Immediately after that, in the same verse, it then says,

and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”

From the dust man was made, but he wasn’t yet alive. Only in the breathing of the Lord into the nostrils of man did he become a nephesh khayah, or “soul living.” Therefore, when eating an animal, the life was to be poured out and covered with the dust. In man or animal, when the life is poured out, the dust reclaims ownership over what is left.

This is true with but one exception. It is Jesus, the Lord God who breathed life into man. And yet, He then descended from the man He breathed life into. In the shedding of His blood upon the ground from which His earthly body came, He gave up His soul, and yet the ground found no victory over Him. The life returned, the soul reanimated, and by the power of the Lord God, He walked out of that tomb. Atonement for us was made with the pouring out of His soul, and yet He lives. Only in Him is true and eternal life. This is why He stated the following –

 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” John 6:53-58

14 for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.’

Again as before, the word “soul” is used three times in this verse, not the word “life.” It says, “for the soul of all flesh is its blood with its soul (meaning its blood and soul together). Therefore, I said to the children of Israel, you shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the soul of all flesh is its blood.”

The animals here in discussion are not sacrificial animals, and yet, the prohibition still stands. It shows that it is the soul of the animal, meaning the blood, where the focus is directed. If one were to eat the soul of the animal, it would be for the purpose of life. But Colossians 1 tells us that only Christ is the true Source and Sustainer of life. Therefore, blood was forbidden. The physical aspect of what is presented is showing us spiritual truths concerning Christ.

15 “And every person who eats what died naturally or what was torn by beastswhether he is a native of your own country or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Then he shall be clean.

No reason for this allowance is given, but it clearly shows that the prohibitions here are spiritual in nature, and this for several reasons. An animal which died by itself, or one which was killed by other beasts, did not have the blood drained out of it. The animal is dead because its lifeblood has stopped flowing.

To eat this animal cannot be compared to eating blood itself, because the soul had departed. And yet, it is still true that the blood remained in the animal. Such meat was forbidden to be eaten in Leviticus 7:24. But if it were out of necessity, accident, or trickery by another, or whatever other reason, the person was merely considered unclean.

As there was no intent here, but because he still ate something forbidden, it shows the spiritual nature of the mandate. And then secondly comes the means of purification from defilement. The first is washing the clothes, and the second is bathing. Both of these are external acts. They have absolutely nothing to do with what went into the man. And yet, they are required in order to be considered purified.

And finally, the last part of the purification was to wait until sundown, at which time he would be clean again. If he ate his meal at 6:55 pm, and the day started at 6pm, then he would be defiled for 23 hours and 5 minutes. If he ate and then washed at 5:45pm, then he would only be defiled for 15 minutes. Clearly this shows us that the defilement is spiritual and not actual. Further, it pertained to an Israelite and stranger alike. In order to be considered clean, the command stands for both.

As we have seen already, the washing of the garments points to trampling out sin in one’s life. The bathing points the purification of one’s life by Christ. And the evening time points to the time that Christ died and was placed in the tomb. With His death and burial, all defilement of man was truly washed away. This ceremonial period of defilement simply looked forward to the cleansing from all defilement provided by the Lord.

*16 But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his guilt.”

What this means is that he was guilty of sin because of not going through the necessary purification rituals. In this case, he would have to offer an offering for his sin in accord with the trespass offering of chapter 5. If he failed to offer that, and if he then defiled the sanctuary, or ate of sacred things such as the tithes, then he would be subject to even greater punishment.

Again, as we close out this section, we need to think on why we have been shown these things. It is the same as earlier. First, we are being shown pictures of what lay ahead in the ministry of Christ. Those have been clearly laid out. Secondly, we are again to see the failure of Israel in meeting these requirements. In 1 Samuel 14, we will read this –

Now they had driven back the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon. So the people were very faint. 32 And the people rushed on the spoil, and took sheep, oxen, and calves, and slaughtered them on the ground; and the people ate them with the blood. 33 Then they told Saul, saying, ‘Look, the people are sinning against the Lord by eating with the blood!’” 1 Samuel 14:31-33

Likewise, in Ezekiel 33, the Lord accuses the people of eating meat with the blood as one of the offenses which brought their destruction upon themselves. Although we have only gone through a minor number of the laws pertaining to the people of Israel so far in Exodus and Leviticus, there are none that they did not violate at some point in their history.

It is the constant and continued failure of Israel under the Law of Moses which shows us the need for God’s mercy and grace. Israel rejected that offering when Christ came among them, but it is still available to us and to them; for any who will simply reach out and receive it.

And thirdly, it is then to show us that only Christ can bring us to God. The carefully selected wording of the soul of the flesh being the blood, and that “the blood itself makes atonement through the soul that is in it,” is speaking of the soul of the blood in the sacrifice, and what it does in relation to the atonement process.

As the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin, then everything that we have looked at here today is ultimately pointing to the One, final, and complete sacrifice of Christ Jesus for the sins of man. This is the entire point of this chapter being placed first after the Day of Atonement passage. It is only Christ, or it is no relationship with God. There are no alternatives, and there is no reliance on a law which merely condemns those who are under it.

Thank God for His giving of Christ for our many transgressions. Thank God that He provided a way back for those who are willing to accept it. And thank God that we are freed from the burden of this law because of the complete and acceptable fulfillment of it by the Lord. Through Him, we are accepted, fully and forever, into the family of the redeemed. Come to Christ, and enter through the Door of salvation into a new and better promise.

Closing Verse: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” Romans 10:4

Next Week: Leviticus 18:1-30 Laws for morality so as not to become beguiled (In These, Israel Will be Defiled) (31st Leviticus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if you have a lifetime of sin heaped up behind you, He can wash it away and purify you completely and wholly. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Sanctity of the Blood

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying
These are the words He was then relaying

Speak to Aaron, to his sons
And to all the children of Israel, and to them say
This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, saying:
Hear the words conveyed to you this day

Whatever man of the house of Israel
Who kills in the camp an ox or lamb or goat
Or who kills it outside the camp
Now you are to make careful note

And does not bring it to the door
Of the tabernacle of meeting, according to this word
To offer to the Lord an offering
Before the tabernacle of the Lord

The guilt of bloodshed shall be imputed to that man
Blood he has shed
And that man shall be cut off from among his people
Away from the people he shall be led

To the end that the children of Israel
May bring their sacrifices, in obedience to this word
Which they offer in the open field
That they may bring them to the Lord 

At the door of the tabernacle of meeting, so heed this word
To the priest, and offer them as peace offerings to the Lord 

And the priest shall sprinkle the blood
On the altar of the Lord at the door
Of the tabernacle of meeting
And burn the fat for a sweet aroma to the Lord for sure 

They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons
After whom the harlot they have played
This shall be a statute forever
For them throughout their generations, it shall be obeyed

Also you shall say to them:
Whatever man of the house of Israel
Or of the strangers who dwell among you
Who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, as well

And does not bring it to the door
Of the tabernacle of meeting, as I say to you
To offer it to the Lord
That man shall be cut off from among his people, this you shall do

And whatever man of the house of Israel
Or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, so I now say
I will set My face against that person who eats blood
And will cut him off from among his people; it shall be this way 

For the life of the flesh is in the blood
And I have given it to you upon the altar, to this extent
To make atonement for your souls
For it is the blood that for the soul makes atonement

Therefore I said to the children of Israel
No one among you shall eat blood, as to you I say
Nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood
Pay heed to My word this day

Whatever man of the children of Israel
Or of the strangers who dwell among you
Who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten
He shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; so he shall do

For it is the life of all flesh
Its blood sustains its life, this precept is true
Therefore I said to the children of Israel
You shall not eat the blood of any flesh; this you shall not do

For the life of all flesh is its blood; pay heed to what I say
Whoever eats it shall be cut off; so it shall be this way

And every person who eats what died naturally
Or what was torn by beasts as well
Whether he is a native of your own country or a stranger
He shall both wash his clothes and bathe in water, as to you I tell

And be unclean until evening
Then he shall be clean
But if he does not wash them or bathe his body
Then he shall bear his guilt; in him guilt shall be seen

How splendid and wonderful it is, O God
That we have been been freed from the burden of the law
So many failed in the walk that they trod
And upon them sorrows of punishment they did draw

But through Christ there is now release and favor
In Christ, we have a glorious and eternal hope
Through His work alone, can we heaven’s delights savor
And so on Him we have set the sighting of our scope

Our eyes are fixed, our hope is set
In Christ alone is our joy and desire found
In Him our assurance of heaven is met
And so to You through Him we sing our joyous sound

Praise God; praise Him all saints, sing forth your praise
From this time forth, and even for eternal days

Hallelujah and Amen…

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