Summary: What is the significance of blood in the Bible? We see sacrifices in the OT and in the NT all involving blood. Why?
Hebrews: Chapter 9
November 2nd, 2008
Blood in the Temple
Through the majority of the book of Hebrews there is a single dominant theme: the superiority of Christ. Hebrews 1 and 2 Jesus better than the angels, Hebrews 3 Jesus better than the Moses, Hebrews 4 Jesus better than the law, Hebrews 5, 6, and 7 Jesus better than the High Priest and the Levitical priesthood, Hebrews 8 Jesus covenant is better than the old covenant. What we see in Hebrews 9 fits right in with that theme: Jesus blood is better than the blood of sheep and goats.
When you look through the Old Testament one thing you may notice is there’s a lot of blood. The Levitical priests made all these sacrifices and for every animal they killed they would drain the blood and sprinkle it as a form of ceremonial cleansing. There is blood everywhere in the Old Testament. Kill a lamb and spread its blood over your doorway, sprinkle the people of Israel with blood, drain the blood of animals offered for sacrifices. In the Old Covenant blood is everywhere. It plays a significant role in the lives of Israel. There is blood in the temple. Sacrifices are being offered, blood is being sprinkled. The temple was a bloody place. Priests are making all these sacrifices and draining the blood of the animals they kill but why? Why did they drain the blood? Leviticus 17:11 shows us the answer to that question. As part of the covenant God made with Israel they were instructed to avoid blood as we see in verse 11:
Lev 17:11 For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.
The life of a creature is in the blood. Have you ever considered what this means? What is the connection between life and blood? Life is one of those complicated words that you cant really define without using the word. Life is the act of living. Life is being alive. Science doesn’t really have a good description of what life is. There are certain qualifications they have to differentiate between something that is alive and something that is not but for all their efforts they do not have a great definition of life. Consider this: what if life could be defined in the blood? We know that life is in the blood. Not just Biblical as some Spiritual platitude but medically life is in the blood. There are some parts of your body you do not need and some organs you can survive without. Blood however is essential. If every part of your body was in perfect health but you had no blood you would not have life. Blood is the vital transportation system of the body. It delivers minerals, vitamins, nutrients, perhaps most importantly oxygen to your cells and organs. Without blood your body could not get the oxygen it needed and you would die.
Blood is a vital part of life. It helps clean the body by carrying toxins to the liver to be filtered out. It helps keep the body hydrated, fight infections, and to patch up holes that we get from time to time. Blood is useful for cleaning, defending, healing, and giving life to the body. So we see the significance that blood has to life. Blood may not be the best definition for life but it is vital to it. The life of any creature of any living thing is in the blood. Your life, my life, it is in the blood. Life is in the blood. What is truly marvelous about blood though: is that blood can be taken from one person and given to another to keep them alive. You can actually give someone life by giving them blood.
So in Hebrews 9 when the blood of Jesus is compared to the blood of bulls and goats this is a significant comparison. Blood is very important. So let’s look at what Hebrews 9 says about the blood of the covenants starting in verse 13:
Heb 9:13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. Heb 9:14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! Heb 9:15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.