Summary: Talks about martyrs & the things that the blood brings: responsibility, sacrifice, justice, protection & life
The Battle of the Blood
TEXT: Hebrews 11:32-12:4
In the scriptures, you can see 3 major points of Jesus ministry: (1) Christ will have a church in this world; (2) His church will be mightily attacked; (3) None of the devil’s attacks will destroy it. The portion of Scripture in Hebrews begins telling awesome stories of victorious warriors for God. It speaks of miracles & feats of power exercised in common men & women. But in the middle of the passage, it seems to take a turn from the victorious point of view, to the persecuted one. It begins describing the negative side of discipleship. It talks about horrific acts of persecution & violence against prophets & people of God.
The prophet Isaiah is the one spoken of in the passage of being sawed in half. Jesus mentions the prophet Zechariah running to the altar of God to find protection & being murdered in the temple between the porch & the altar. The Bible talks about the stoning of Stephen & the beheading of John the Baptist & the Apostle James. We also learn from historical accounts of other martyrs: The Apostles Matthew, Jude, Bartholomew & Paul were beheaded. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross. Simon Peter said that he was unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus & requested that he be crucified upside-down. The Apostle Matthais was stoned & then beheaded. James the brother of Jesus was thrown down from the Temple tower; He managed to survive the fall, so his head was bashed in with a club. Mark was dragged to pieces. Thomas was tortured, impaled with spears & thrown into the flames of an oven.
Much blood has been shed to create the church of Jesus Christ. In church, we talk about the blood in reference to sacrifices & to Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. We need to consider several things to fully understand how important the blood is.
1.The Blood brings justice: In Genesis 4, Cain murdered his own brother over God’s acceptance of a sacrifice. In Hebrews, the murder gives the graphic description meaning that he slit his throat. God said to Cain, “What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” In Genesis 9:6, God gives the decree of justice: “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed.”
Joseph’s brothers devised a plot to kill the dreamer, but instead the sold him as a slave to nomads. Then they convinced their father Jacob that he was dead. Years later, Joseph is in power in Egypt & decides to teach them a lesson. Joseph demands that the men bring Benjamin to him. The brothers were afraid that if anything were to happen to Benjamin, it would kill their father Jacob. The brothers said to themselves, “It’s because of what we did to Joseph, that this is happening to us.” Reuben spoke up & said, “See, I told you! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.”
God tells us in Isaiah 26:21 that the earth will tell him all of the blood that has been shed on her and she will hide the dead no longer. The innocent blood will bring God’s justice! In Deuteronomy 32:43, God tells Israel, “Rejoice, O nations, with his people, for I will avenge the blood of my servants; I will take vengeance on my enemies…” God was saying, “They’re no longer just your enemies. They are mine too.”
On April 16, 1948, the great missionary Jim Elliot wrote these words: “Father, take my life, even my blood if You will, and consume it with Your enveloping fire. I would not save it, for it is not mine to save. Have it, Lord, have it all. Pour out my life as a sacrifice for the world. Blood is only of value as it flows before Your altar.” Eight years after penning this in his diary, Jim Elliot & his 4 partners would be martyred by the Auca Indians of Ecuador. Fortunately, Jim’s wife, Elisabeth, would not give up hope for the salvation of these people. These Indians were so amazed at her resolve & dedication to Christ, she led the tribe to Jesus Christ.
You may say, “But what about all of those Christian people that were lost in the attacks of September 11th, 2001?” If they were Christians, they weren’t lost; they were promoted. “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” And don’t worry, God will make sure that those responsible will receive their punishment in this life & in eternity. The blood brings justice.
2.The blood also brings protection: In Exodus 12, God has punished the Egyptians for their unbelief & cruelty towards the Israelites. On the last day of that punishment, God tells the Israelites to take a lamb & slay it (slit it’s throat) to drain all of the blood out of it. Then they took the blood & applied it to the doorframes of their homes. Exodus 12:23 says, “When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on to top & sides of the doorframe and he will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses & strike you down.”