fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Christ, our passover–part one


Christ, our passover–part one by Julie McAllen

For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed (1 Cor 5:7)

It is Holy Week. Christians world wide are preparing their hearts to reflect on the last week of the life of a man whose story has caused more discussion, debate, discord, division, delight and desire than any other in history. Though the events happened 2000 years ago, we each fall into the same categories of response as the people of his day. Some thought he was a blasphemer to the Holy God of Israel, others thought he was the fulfillment of what the Jewish nation had been seeking, and some thought he was just plain nuts. Who is this man Jesus Christ? Was he just flesh and blood or was he something more?

Jesus Christ was fully man. Christians and non-Christians alike believe this. The difference is that one group claims their sins were forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus. We claim there is power in the blood and commemorate this with communion wine poured out for forgiveness of sins and the mediation of a new covenant.

When I had my first communion as a believing Christian, it was out of obedience to something I prayed often about for further understanding. I found help in going back to the Old Testament to see how the Jews were taught to view blood. By studying this, I have a greater appreciation for the blood shed for me.

I’d like to break this up into two parts beginning with the Old Testament laws on blood and finishing with the fulfillment in Christ our passover in part two.

Earliest recorded sacrifice of blood

After the sin of Adam and Eve: In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, (Gen 4:3, 4)

It’s been debated as to what God was pleased with, the physical sacrifice presented by Abel or his attitude at the altar, but I believe it was both. Abel, by his pure faith presented to God a physical sacrifice worthy of God’s approval. That sacrifice was one of blood, the firstborn of his flock.

By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead. (Hebrews 11:4)

How might Abel have known this before the laws on blood were given?

Blood is Sacred, it represents God’s justice

By Noah’s day, God spoke His laws concerning blood.

“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. (Gen 9:4-6)

In a culture where hunting is life to it’s people, they become keenly aware of the connection between their own survival through the death of a slain animal. Yet, here God allows the eating of meat but not the blood itself. How sacred life and blood are to God! It represents the very life of a person and if blood is shed, the perfect price to be made is equal blood. God is holy and in his perfect equality and justice, He set forth His ideal payment as eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot (Exodus 21:24)

Blood saves

By Moses day, God was revealing a deeper connection through blood using Moses as a mediator.

Remember, God had promised a seed to bless all nations through Abraham. The promise continued through Isaac and Jacob. Jacob’s son Joseph was sold into Egypt where later the Israelites became many and were enslaved. Moses was called to liberate the people and proclaimed the 10 plagues against the hard-hearted Pharaoh to let the people go. The last of the 10 plagues was death to the firstborn of Egypt. Moses instructed the Israelites to put the blood of a lamb on their door frames so that the angel of death would pass over their houses (Please read Exodus 11-12).

Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning. (Exodus 12:22)

What would you think if a terrible plague were running rapant in your neighborhood with death all around and someone said, “here, paint some blood on the door of your house.” I wonder what they were thinking as they obeyed? Why blood? Why did God ask for blood as their protection from death? How does the God of Israel view blood?

Blood seals a covenant

Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:4-8)

As the priesthood formed, Jehovah revealed more qualities of the blood sacrifices.The book of Leviticus contains instruction on how the priests conducted worship at the tabernacle on behalf of the people. Leviticus chapters 1-7 even gives instructions on selecting the most perfect of animals for these offerings. The emphasis throughout is on God’s holiness.

I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. (Lev 11:44)

Why is God concerned with the Israelites holiness? How does this connect to the promise given to Abraham of a seed to bless all nations?

Blood purifies

4 the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the one to be cleansed.

6 He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water.

51 Then he is to take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet yarn and the live bird, dip them into the blood of the dead bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times.

52 He shall purify the house with the bird’s blood, the fresh water, the live bird, the cedar wood, the hyssop and the scarlet yarn. (Lev 14:4, 6, 51-52)

Blood atones for sin

14 He is to take some of the bull’s blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover. 15 “He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull’s blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it.

21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat’s head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. (Lev 16:14, 15, 21, 22)

Blood is life and makes atonement

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 atonementfor one’s life. 12 Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood.”

13 ” ‘Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, 14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.” (Lev 17:11-14)

I find it difficult to grasp that sprinkling blood throughout the house can purify it. My modern thinking does not equate messy blood with cleanliness. It’s difficult to understand how a goat could carry the Israelites sins into the desert. I wonder if they thought so too. Do you find it difficult to grasp that blood painted on the doorposts saved those inside from death? Do you find it hard to grasp that your sins are forgiven through the shed blood of Christ? I do. The Israelites obeyed and had proof that the angel of death had passed over their houses and they were saved. Even if it is hard to understand, God has given us ample proof throughout His word that blood is sacred to Him, it seals covenants, purifies, atones for sin, and is life itself. I believe in the saving power of the blood of Christ. Though it is difficult to understand, I claim it as I reflect on his words ” I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The life is in the blood.

Though it was His divine plan all along to send his son to die, God allowed Satan to think he had defeated the Promised seed by shedding his blood and yet it is this blood of Christ that redeems us. Amazing. As I reflect on the life, death, and resurrection of my Lord and Savior this week, I am peering into the history of God’s view of blood and the lessons given to His people Israel. In part two, we shall see how Jesus himself fulfills all these qualities of sacred blood.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

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April 5, 2009 - Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions | , ,

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