Summary: Why were the blood offerings done in Leviticus
“Why All The Blood?”
Intro: Can I be very honest with you? I’m rot really a generous, giving person. In our marriage that’s Ronda. For me, giving is intentional, I have to think about it. For her, it’s spontaneous, it’s part of her nature, who she is. Often, when we go to visit someone, especially if it’s for a meal, Ronda’s first response is “what can we bring?” If they say, “Nothing, just come” often she still chooses to bring some form of housewarming gift along. Why? Because she wants of offer a gift that shows respect and consideration of the other person.
Recently we had someone over and they brought us a jar of apple butter, and the lid had a beautiful cross-stitch about friends. I won’t say who it was, but if you ask the Reynolds over, you might get one too!
As we’ve read in the book of Leviticus this week, we have seen the idea of offering a gift just to maintain good friendship: but not with your neighbor, but with God. It’s often easy to get “bogged down” in reading Leviticus because we don’t understand all those offerings and what that whole system was all about. But the idea is really a simple one when we step back from looking at all the specific details. Think with me about a cherry cheesecake.
By the way, Jane Reeves made me a wonderful cherry cheesecake the other week for my birthday. It was this huge, beautiful thing. I enjoyed every bite of it. But think if I would get bogged down trying to differentiate between the ingredients: when I use cinnamon in an apple cheesecake or if I use orange rind or extract of lemon. Yes, those details matter to the chef who makes it: but if we focus on the ingredients, often we miss the beauty of the cheesecake. Once we enjoy the cheesecake, we can ask about the ingredients.
Back to Leviticus. It’s easy to lose sight of the focus of the book in thinking about all the tedious details. But as we look at all these offerings, we see they are ways of giving God worship. They were the way that the Jews offered reverence and respect, and they were ways the Jews could show God their love for him, giving him gifts out of the gratitude of their hearts.
Yet, we see most of these offerings had to do with killing animals, shedding the blood and scattering the blood. We live in a society that doesn’t see much blood in relation to our food. We see lot’s of blood on TV in association with “FUN???” But we open up the wrapper of our hamburgers and there is an overcooked patty with no resemblance of blood in it. Sometimes we wonder whether it’s meat or cardboard. So, why all this focus on blood in the book of Leviticus???
The answer if found in Leviticus 17:11. One of the key verses in Leviticus.
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.
I. The Blood is a reminder that we are sinful.
Animal sacrifices were used as a way to cover the sin of the people. The sacrificial system was necessary because the nation of Israel was filled with millions of sinful people. Think about it: they pass through the Red Sea, parted by the power of God, and the people say, it would be better for us to be back in Egypt. The elders go up to the mountain and see God, and they come right back down and tell Aaron to make them an idol to worship.
And let me be quick to say, that we are no better than our forefathers. We are a sinful people as well who need the cleansing and forgiveness of God.
*God demands holy followers. Our memory verse for last week, Lev. 19:2 - Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” This reminds us that God wants followers who will be like him.
**By the way, I hope you will look in your bulletins each week for the memory verse and try to commit it to memory. This week’s is a blessing. If you want to bless people, here is the way to do it.
Numbers 6 - The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face towards you and give you peace."
The blood sacrifices were a reminder to the people that they were sinful and God wanted them to be holy as he is. That was the reason in the middle of Leviticus we find all the laws of cleanness and purification, all the dietary restrictions -- to remind us that God is holy. Yes, there were also health and hygiene issues involved whereby God was protecting the Israelites, but it also showed the need to be pure. The Israelites purified themselves through the sacrificial system. The blood was a reminder to the people of their sinfulness.