I strongly believe that the Bible must always be taken literally unless the context makes it clear otherwise. We must understand that concepts are being taught in the Word of God about the Blood of Christ, the most unique Blood in the entire universe. For the purpose of salvation of man, this Blood is much more than a biological substance. Jesus’ physical Blood was very real, but the power of this Blood carries great spiritual significance–a significance that is carried into eternity.
It will be beneficial at this point of this study to take a quick historical look at the Blood from the beginning of the Bible in Genesis to the very end of the Bible in Revelation. There is a bright red thread that runs from the very beginning to the very end, and it is “The Blood.”
I briefly mentioned the story of Cain and Abel in part one of this series, but would like to go into more detail. Nearly everyone knows the basic details of the story of the first murder. At the time, both Cain and Abel were adults. Abel was a shepherd and Cain had become a farmer. Both men came before the Lord with an offering. Abel brought a lamb, a “firstling” of his flock, and offered it to the Lord as a burnt offering. Cain, however, brought some of the produce from his garden. At first glance a person reading the story would wonder what the difference was with the offerings brought before the Lord. Why would God chose one and reject the other? After all, each man brought an offering from the work of his livelihood. Yet, God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected what Cain brought.
At this time, a sacrificial system had already been set up by God and taught by Adam to his sons. Even though the word “blood” had not been used before Cain killed his brother Abel, blood had already been spilled. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness and then hid from God. After God dealt with them over their disobedience, He provided skins for them to wear instead of their fig leaf aprons. This meant that an animal had to be killed to provide the furs.
Cain and Abel both knew that blood sacrifices would now be required to “cover” their sins as fallen man. Here is how this passage reads in Genesis 4:2-11:
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.” Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. and the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. so the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Now Cain talked with Abel his brother and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” And He said, “what have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.” (NKJV)
Here we learn right away that the requirement to cover sin was the blood sacrifice of a perfect lamb, its very life, as an offering to God. This is an exact parallel to the perfect Lamb of God (Jesus), who would be sacrificed for the world four millennia later. We are reminded of this in Revelation 13:8 when it describes fallen man worshipping the antichrist during the Great Tribulation.
All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (NKJV)
The next major example in the Old Testament involving “blood” is during the days of Noah. It was now about 1700 years since the creation of Adam and Eve and the world population had multiplied greatly. Because of the extremely long lives people lived during the pre-flood days, experts estimate that the world population at that time likely was somewhere between three and nine billion people. As a comparison, today’s world population is near 7.5 billion. The world in Noah’s generation was extremely violent and evil everywhere. Contributing greatly to the corruption of the world was the vile mating of some of Lucifer’s fallen angelic cohorts with human women. Genesis 6 tells us that the products of these reprobate unions were the “Nephilim”. These were the strange giants that became known as the “mighty men of old.” This is where all of Greek mythology comes from. In fact, the Romans, Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians all had versions of these legends. The legends were in fact based on real events.
In short, man had fallen into such a malignant depravity that God decided to wipe the human race off the face of the earth. In the days of Noah, the worship of demons and pagan gods was the order of the day. Human sacrifices, homosexuality, beastiality, and canabilism were common worldwide. In spite of the prophets God sent to warn the world of His judgment coming if man did not repent, it seemed man’s conscience was so seared that the entire human race was living in total rebellion against God. Genesis 6: 1-8 describes it this way:
Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. ANd the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and he was grieved in His heart. so the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (NKJV)
Genesis 6:9 tells us that Noah’s generations were perfect before the Lord. In the original Hebrew, this means that Noah’s family line did not have any genetic corruption or mutations brought about through the wicked cross-species mating by the fallen angels and the human women they chose for themselves. The product of these unions were hybrids who were obviously only part human. What many fail to understand is that this was one of the attempts Satan made to keep the Messiah from being able to become part of the human race in order to save it. If the entire human bloodline was corrupted, there was no way for the Messiah to ever come. God stopped Satan before he was able to accomplish this by setting Noah and his family aside as the way to restart the human race.
Now here is what is important to our subject. After the flood came and washed the entire globe clean of the wickedness that had taken over, the first thing that the prophet Noah did after exiting the ark was to build an altar to the LORD. As the human race was starting all over, the first thing that was needed was a blood sacrifice, and that is exactly what Noah did. Genesis 8 tells us:
So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his son’s wives with him. Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark. Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. The the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.” (Genesis 8: 18-21, NKJV)
As we skip ahead in ancient history, we come to another key character in God’s overall plan. Right in the middle of an area steeped in pagan worship, God approached a man named Abram. We discussed Abram in part one of this series, having to do with the covenant God made with him while Abram was in a trance, watching but unable to actively participate in what should have been his part of the covenant. Here in part two I would like to bring up the biggest part of Abram’s problem with the covenant God had made with him. God had told Abram that he would be the father of nations. He was 75 when God promised him this and about ten years later decided that he might have to help God out a bit. He, his wife Sarai (later Sarah), and Sarai’s servant woman Hagar agreed that Abram would have the child through Hagar. Soon after, Hagar became pregnant and had Ishmael.
Later, as if Ishmael had not been born, God appeared to Abram when he was 99 years old and informed him that Sarai, his wife who was now 89, would give birth the next year to the promised son which would be the first of innumerable descendants. At this time, God also changed Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah. Sarah delivered a child at 90 years when her body was beyond child-bearing age!
Abraham, in spite of his joy at the promise of Isaac’s upcoming birth, really loved his son Ishmael and so asked God for His blessing on him too. God then promised that he would multiply Ishmael as well but that the covenant promise was through Isaac and his descendants, not Ishmael. Isaac’s lineage brought Judaism through Jacob (whose name was later changed to Israel), Through the lineage of Ishmael, we now have the Arab peoples and Islamic religion. Because Abraham tried to rush God’s promise we today have about 1.6 billion Muslim people living in the world who hate Christianity and Judaism with a hatred that can hardly be comprehended. They have been in a continual struggle with the children of Israel, Abraham’s descendants, for the last 4,000 years.
Getting back to our subject, when Abraham’s son Isaac was a teenager, God asked him to take his only son Isaac to a mountain and offer him as a burnt offering to the LORD! Genesis 22 gives us these details:
Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. The on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, “stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.” (Genesis 22:2-5, NKJV)
In Hebrews 11:17-19 we see how God viewed the faith of Abraham. This obedience of Abraham became a supreme example of the sacrifice later to be made by Almighty God Himself.
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.
In this Old Testament story, God asked Abraham to do something that was completely against His own principles. Human sacrifices were common in pagan culture but were never allowed among God’s people. Yet, Abraham was asked to take his son Isaac, his son of promise, and offer him as a sacrifice to the Almighty! But, as with everything that God does, there was a very specific purpose for what He asked of him. It was part of the continuous blood thread going through the Scriptures.
God’s wording to Abraham is worth noting. He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love…” Even though God had promised Abraham that he would prosper Ishmael, making him great and multiplying his descendants in response to Abraham’s request, God only recognized Isaac as Abraham’s true son. This is because Isaac was a shadow of God’s only Son, Jesus, who would enter the human race many years later in order to become the supreme blood sacrifice for all of mankind.
Only through the blood sacrifice of a life could God fulfill His entire promise to Abraham and establish His covenant. When Abraham willingly obeyed God by offering his only son, then God accepted that and spared his life. Yet, blood was required. This is where God provided a substitute for Abraham. God, knowing that Abraham would obey, had already arranged for a ram to be caught in a thicket. An angel stopped Abraham just short of taking Isaac’s life and directing him to sacrifice the ram instead. And, the thread continues…
After about 400 years had passed after Abraham was given his promise, Abraham’s family had multiplied so much that it had become a nation of between two and six million people. Most of us have read the story of Joseph, Jacob’s son who became second in command under the Egyptian pharaoh. While Joseph was alive, the Israelites had favor with the pharaoh but in time there was a new pharaoh who did not remember the history of the people. Because of their great numbers, the Egyptians became afraid that they would be overrun by the Israelites. The Israelites became enslaved to the Egyptians and soon were crying out to God to save them. This is when God found another man for a special job. When Moses was eighty years old and herding sheep in the Midian desert for his father-in-law Jethro, he had an unusual encounter with God. God spoke to him out of a burning bush and commissioned him to go back to Egypt to lead the Israelites out of the land.
This was of course no easy task. The ruling pharaoh was not interested in losing the massive slave labor force he had working for him, so when Moses told Pharaoh to let the people go, the pharaoh became obstinate and refused. God already knew this is what the man was going to do and so He had ten plagues prepared which would essentially twist the Pharaoh’s arm until he gave in. I won’t go into the first nine plagues but would like to discuss in detail the tenth plague. This is the one that continues the thread we have been following. The very thing that Abel, Noah, and Abraham had learned about the blood, now needed to be learned by the entire Israelite nation. Let’s read what happened when the death angel came to visit the land of Egypt that fateful night of Israel’s deliverance when the Passover was instituted:
Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. They shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in the fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire–its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on your to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat–that only may be prepared by you. So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread. Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, . And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. It will come to pass when you come to the land which the LORD will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ So the people bowed their heads and worshipped. Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. (Exodus 12:1-28, NKJV)
The Passover is still one of the most important and grave ceremonies for the Jewish people. Because of the fact that most Jews do not recognize Jesus Christ as the Messiah, they don’t really understand the meaning of the Passover. The Passover points to Jesus and His crucifixion on the cross which was the blood sacrifice necessary to atone for the sins of the world. The Israelite’s freedom from Pharaoh and the slavery they were enduring was “bought” through a blood sacrifice. Every Jewish family knew of this blood sacrifice because all had to participate in it if they were going to be freed. This sacrifice, if they followed God’s specific instructions also gave them protection from the death angel that was going to ravage Egypt that night.
Every bit of the storyline, including every single detail, was a shadow of the real blood sacrifice that would happen still in the future when God would take on the body of a man and present Himself as the innocent Lamb of God.
To be continued in Part 3