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Topic: Why Blood?
NOTE: This article was originally posted on the ‘Under his Influence” Radio Show web page, in connection with a broadcast about the necessity of Christ’s blood in our redemption. Here, I (Mark) have expanded and acclimated it for use on this website. The link above is the original recording of the radio show aired on 03-29-14. To go to the recording of that podcast of the show, simply click on the link above.
Part of our view of the necessity of blood in general (and Christ’s blood specifically) is taken from several facts, which admittedly could be interpreted differently, but so far it has passed all our litmus tests for truth. Let me first lay down these thoughts from the scriptures before you and then reveal how, in our opinion, it is the answer to the very important question of “Why Blood?”
Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.”
As we stated in the radio show, the word life in this verse is the Hebrew word ֶ nep̱eš. Its a feminine noun meaning,… breath, the inner being with its thoughts and emotions. It is used 753 times in the Old Testament and in this verse of Lev. 17:11, the word is being used as a synonym for soul or character. THIS is very, very important, for it unlocks a large part of the mystery as to why blood was necessary to save us.
So here in Leviticus, God is saying that the “soul” or “character” of all flesh is in its blood.
The prophet Isaiah draws the connection so tightly that it practically makes the point for us, for Isaiah uses the words soul in place of the word blood. Would it surprise you to realize that the word blood is NEVER EVEN MENTIONED in Isaiah chapter 53?
Let’s read the verses in that passage which specifically address Christ’s offering for sin…
Isaiah 53:10-11, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shall make HIS SOUL an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the travail of HIS SOUL, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.”
Let me be VERY CLEAR, we believe that it was in fact the BLOOD of JESUS CHRIST that erradicated sin. We believe whole-heartedly that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin. Remember our verse in Leviticus 17:11, “For the life (soul or character) of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life (or character).”
So in mentioning this we are NOT casting doubt upon the necessity of the Blood, but addressing WHY blood WAS 100% necessary for the elimination of sin and it’s tyrannical reign over mankind. We are simply allowing the scriptures themselves to interpret and further deepen our understanding of the necessity of blood.
The idea of the soul or character of the flesh being in the blood is hinted at in Genesis and in Hebrews when the blood of Abel and of Christ are said to have a voice crying out either vengeance or forgiveness. These are cognitive thoughts and emotions which are associated with the soul of man.
Let’s look at these verses…
“Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s guardian?” Then He said, “What have you done? Your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground!” ~ Gen 4:9-10
“…to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” ~ Heb. 12:24
What is the soul?
Well this is a loaded question but one that is necessary to address since we are showing the connection the Scriptures make between the soul and the blood. So, if you will indulge me I will make my description as brief as possible.
There are essentially three different views of man.
- Monism – The humanistic belief that the body is all there is to man. There is no spirit and no soul. Nothing exists beyond the natural, “seen” realm.
- Dichotomy – This is the belief that man is a spirit who lives in a body. The “soul” of man is a man-made division which does not actually exist since the “soul” is actually part of the spirit. To the Dichotomist there is no separation nor distinction between the soul and spirit in any way.
- Trichotomy – This is the belief that human beings ARE a spirit, they possess a soul and live in a body and that all three parts are separate and distinct from each other but are required in order to make up the whole of a person.
[Also see Dichotomy or Trichotomy – what people are made of]
Which particular belief you hold too is of little consequence in most issues, until you begin to deal with mankind and sin. Once you begin to look deeply into this topic, I believe it becomes obvious that man MUST have three parts which are interdependent yet completely separate from each other. For more on this topic, please see the article called, Dichotomy & Trichotomy the Essence of Man.
In any case, it is my contention that the bible insinuates that there are three parts to man. The Dichotomist and the Trichotomist both agree in the existence of both the body and the spirit, so keep that in mind as we look at the following scriptures, which I believe illustrate a third part…the soul.
“May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23
“I say then: Walk in the spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” ~ Gal. 5:16-18
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” ~ Hebrews 4:12
The passage in Galatians is less obvious, yet I believe all three parts are recognized in these verses. You have the reborn human spirit of the Christian and their flesh both exerting opposite influences upon the soul…or what the Christian “wishes” to actually do.
Where do we “feel”, “wish” and “decide”? In the soul.
Typically the soul is also divided into three parts, that of the mind, will and emotions. These are the parts with which we make decisions for or against godliness. It is the part of man which decides to do good or evil, wants to do good or evil and longs to do good or evil. It is the seat of the character of man. This is why we mention the soul, for it is the expression of the character of the man and scripture tells us that this character is in the blood.
As a child of God, our souls are being influenced (grace) by God from within and our spirits are now alive to God so that we now have a “bend” or inward tendency towards godliness, but the feelings and desires for both good and evil are still emanating from the soul.
The idea that the character or tendencies of our person is found in the soul and blood doesn’t sound sensible at first, but the Bible hints at it in other ways as well and so does modern science. We will look at that later.
Sacrifice & Offerings
As you know the sacrifices God required from Israel were essentially a living drama of what God would do for us in and through His Son Jesus. In fact, all of the “holy convocations” were understood largely as dress rehearsals, for that is one of the meanings of the Hebrew word Miqura which is translated as convocations.
Lev. 23:37, “These are the feasts of the LORD which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day”
We know that these sacrifices could never take away sin as did Jesus’ blood, but they did atone (cover) for their sins.
Heb. 10:10-14, “It is through that divine will that we have been set free from sin, through the offering of Jesus Christ as our sacrifice once for all. And while every priest stands ministering, day after day, and constantly offering the same sacrifices–though such can never rid us of our sins— this Priest, on the contrary, after offering for sins a single sacrifice of perpetual efficacy, took His seat at God’s right hand, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be put as a footstool under His feet. For by a single offering He has forever completed the blessing for those whom He is setting free from sin.”
Yet even these Old Covenant sacrifices had to be pure and spotless and innocent. Of course all animals are innocent for they were made subject to futility by mankind (Rom. 8:20) not by personal choice. But the innocence we are speakin of is more one of general character. One would hardly see a preditor as an “innocent” sacrifice. Not because their method of feeding themselves or their offsrping is truly sin, but becuase it is harmful, agressive, violent and ultimately deadly. Sheep, bulls, goats are all largely non-aggressive (with certain exceptions in the case of a bull) pastoral herd animals who graze. So this was a picture of a non-aggressive, unselfish, meek and mild person who is not preditory in nature.
Sounds a lot like Jesus.
So these animals used as types and symbols of Jesus tell us that Jesus’ blood had to be pure and holy in terms of character and sin.
This is where the virgin birth becomes imperative.
The Pure and Innocent Blood of Christ
The soul or character of the flesh is in the blood. God said so 4,400+ years ago when He spoke the words recorded in Leviticus. Yet, in our day we have been able to verify that a percentage of tendencies towards behavior are genetically inherited…not learned. THIS DOES NOT MEAN that a person is bound to a particular character tendency, but that genetically they are more predisposed to that tenancy because of their genetics. Again, I feel it necessary to press this issue. While some (not all) proclivities towards certain behaviors are clearly genetic, one always has a choice to “give in” to their urges and tenancies or not.
For example: If a person is genetically predisposed to anger, it does NOT mean that they have no choice. This has also been clearly demonstrated by genetic studies. One web site which offers a few examples of these predispositions can be found HERE.
While there is a glut of information about this, some true and validated, some sordid and apocryphal. One only has to do a Google search on behavioral genetics to read more on the topic. However, one thing that is indisputable is that a predisposition towards behaviors (which the Bible calls sin) is passed on in the blood from the father.
Why the father?
[NOTE: If you ever get the chance to watch the video “The Miracle of Life” by the Discovery Institute,
I encourage you to do so. In it, some of this is explained.]
The scriptures say that God visits the sins of the Father upon the children to the third and fourth generation. Now this is not saying that God forces each generation to sin in a manner like their fathers, nor is it saying that the children “pay” for the sins of their parents and grandparents up to four generations. While children are definitely effected by the sins of their parents – particularly their fathers, they do not pay for them. This is made clear in 2Kings 14:6 and 2 Chron. 25:4 which say,
“Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sins”.
So what does “visit” mean? Well it is a tough word to tack down, but given the potential meanings and eliminating those which scripture will clearly not allow, it seems to me that it is saying that God “looks for” the sins of the father in the children for up to four generations.
If this is true…then why? Why would God look to see if the sins of a father “revisit” the family through the descendants if that was not a likely thing to happen?
Now we might be inclined to believe this would be true due to exposure to the father’s sin and that no doubt plays a part, but it seems to run deeper than that is where modern science has revealed much that helps us.
Perhaps the most clear example of tendencies being passed on in the blood (or we might say genetically ) is by the observation of identical twins who are separated at birth.
The ways in which the lives of identical twins who never met each other are nonetheless similar to one another is nothing short of eerie.
Time an again identical twins separated at birth will at some point find each other… an overwhelming number do so on vacation!
Why on vacation? Well, one reason for this is that where a person lives is not always a matter of choice, but is usually largely influence or even decided based upon practicality and expedience.
For example, I live in Florida and do not like it here in virtually any way, but it is where I was born, it is where my family is and it is where I have found employment…so consequently it is where I live!
Where people vacation however is, more often than not, a matter of choice – as is often the time of year they choose to vacation.
This is not however the only things these twins find in common. A good number find that they are interested in the same type of people for marriage, they share interests and participations in the same hobbies, if they have pets they are nearly always the same type of animal and often the same breed. Even down to the names they give tot heir pets and children there are either similar or identical! On and on the similarities go and these are people who had never met each other and whose upbringing may have been radically different from one another.
What does that tell us? Many of our tendencies which lead to the decisions we make are in our blood.
Why the Seed of the Woman?
Well first off, if you are not familiar with that phrase let me acquaint you.
At the fall, God spoke His judgment upon all males in Adam and all females in Eve. Then He spoke a little crypticly about His plan for their redemption. God was going to have a baby! He was called, “the seed of the woman”. Well, women do not have seeds…they have eggs, men have seeds! Precisely! God was saying that the One He was going to send to save them from their sins was going to be born THROUGH a woman WITHOUT the tainted sperm of fallen man. The Messiah would be born through a virgin!
Now, God has so designed the female body that miraculously, the baby is nurtured and fed and protected by antibodies from the mother – without one drop of her blood ever reaching the baby. This is IMPORTANT! In fact, it is imperative for without this miraculous design, redemption would have been impossible.
There is increasing evidence that the blood that flows in an infant comes from the father. The mother clothes the baby in flesh, but the sperm of the man, supplies the genetic material and the “spark of life” if you will, from which the babies blood is formed. This is why the world did not fall under sin when Eve fell. We all died IN ADAM – for from his blood, came all mankind and so therefore all men fell – 1 Cor. 15:22.
If Eve alone had fallen, the fall would have effected Eve alone, however, when Adam fell, the blood of all mankind was tainted and THAT is where the character or soul of all flesh is found. This is why it takes blood to cleanse sin!
This is why God cut the covenant with the MEN (not the women) in their foreskin. It was a sign of a perpetual (through offspring) blood covenant.
However, if Jesus had been fathered by Joseph then the same inclination towards sin and death would have been in His blood making it wholly inadequate as an offering for sin.
It isn’t that God could not have animated the body of a baby from Joseph and Mary’s union with the spirit of Jesus (the living Word) and it still be God – for God is spirit. Where the flesh comes from is inconsequential. A baby from Joseph and Mary would have supplied the flesh and God could have inhabited it IF sin were not in the blood. However, it seems to us that the proclivity towards the lust of sin is in the flesh through the blood and therefore God had to create life in Mary supernaturally or redemption would have been impossible.
If this is true, then the connection between blood and redemption becomes crystal clear. Blood was not an arbitrary selection by God as the means of salvation from sin, it was by design!
This is why God makes SO MUCH about the blood of Christ and the physical body of Christ. The body was the seed of the woman, but the blood was the life (or soul) from God.
Truth is, there is much more to this, which brings in a connection between the spirit of man and his bones, but I thought this sufficient enough to explain our statement and to answer the question of, “Why Blood”.
We’d love to hear from you, so whether this blog was helpful to you, stirred up more questions or even if you have good reason to disagree – Let us know by writing us or by leaving a comment below.