As has been made clear through this series on the uniqueness of the Blood of Jesus, we, the human race, cannot EARN our salvation. We have looked at Scriptures showing the importance of allowing the Spirit of God to rule in our lives as LORD so that we can evidence the freedom bought for us at the cross of Calvary. The good news of the Gospel of Christ is that our total freedom has been bought and paid for by the Blood of Jesus on that humiliating and cruel cross! Nothing but the Blood; nothing else can save! As we have seen the Blood of Jesus has set us free to fulfill God’s perfect plan for our lives…even after we’ve sinned so badly that seemingly no god could forgive! This is where Christianity and every man-made, demon-inspired “religion” differ. Unfortunately, almost every religion on earth has “works” as the basis of acceptance by God, completely contrary to His provision of salvation.
Why does God’s word put such an emphasis on the value of blood? I would like to present some biological facts in hopes that it will help us to understand more the matchless love of our Creator GOD in His design of the substance that keeps us alive…our blood, and some of the amazing features of this blood that none of us can survive without. As we understand a little more about what is really in our blood and the amazing system God has created within us, it will help us to have some appreciation for some of the reasons God values blood as He does. Note: A great deal of the physiological information that I am going to share comes from an excellent book co-written over 30 years ago by Doctors Philip Yancey and Paul Brand titled “In His Image.”
A five year old child once asked: “What does my blood do all day?” That’s an excellent question. A great analogy found in Brand and Yancey’s book puts it this way:
“Imagine an enormous tube snaking southward from Canada through the Amazon delta, plunging eastward through every jungle, plain, and desert in Africa, forking near Egypt to join all of Europe and Russia as well as the entire Middle East and Asia–a pipeline so global and pervasive that it links every person worldwide. Inside that tube an endless plenitude of treasures floats along on rafts: mangoes, coconuts, asparagus, and produce from every continent; watches, calculators, and cameras; gems and minerals; forty-nine brands of cereals; all styles and sizes of clothing; the contents of entire shopping centers. Four billion people (7.5 billion today in late 2015) have access; at a moment of need or want, they simply reach into the tube and seize whatever product suits them. Somewhere far down the pipeline a replacement is manufactured and inserted.”
This kind of pipeline really does exist within every single human being on earth. It however does not service 7.5 billion human beings, but one hundred trillion (100,000,000,000) cells in the human body. This blood pipeline delivers an endless supply of oxygen, amino acids, nitrogen, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sugars, lipids, cholesterols, and hormones surging past our cells, carried on blood cell rafts or suspended in the fluid. Each cell has special withdrawal privileges to gather the resources needed to fuel a tiny engine for its complex chemical reactions.
What is additionally fascinating is that this same pipeline removes refuse, exhaust gases, and worn-out chemicals. The body dissolves its vital substances into a liquid to move them more efficiently. Five or six quarts of this all-purpose fluid is enough for the body’s one hundred trillion cells. On pages 56-58 of the book I found these fascinating facts:
“A view through a microscope clarifies the various components of blood but gives no picture of the daily frenzy encountered by each cell. Red cells, for example, never sit motionless. From their first entrance into the bloodstream they are pushed and shoved through rush hour traffic. Beginning the cycle at the heart, they take a short jaunt to the lungs to pick up a heavy load of oxygen. Immediately they return to the heart, which propels them violently over the Niagara Falls of the aortic arch. From there, highways crowded with billions of red cells branch out to the brain, the limbs, and vital internal organs.”
“Sixty thousand miles of blood vessels link every living cell; even the blood vessels themselves are fed by blood vessels. Highways narrow down to one-lane roads, then bike paths, then footpaths, until finally the red cell must bow sideways and edge through a capillary one-tenth the diameter of a human hair. In such narrow confines the cells are stripped of food and oxygen and loaded down with carbon dioxide and urea. If shrunken down to their size, we would see red cells as bloated bags of jelly and iron drifting along in a river until they reach the smallest capillary, where gases fizz and wheeze in and out of surface membranes. From there red cells rush to the kidneys for a thorough scrubbing, then back to the lungs for a refill. And the journey begins anew.”
“A person can live a day or two without water and several weeks without food, but only a few minutes without oxygen, the main fuel for our hundred trillion cells. Heavy exercise may increase the demand for oxygen from the normal four gallons up to seventy-five gallons an hour, prompting the heart to double or even triple its rate to speed red cells to the heaving lungs. If the lungs alone cannot overcome the oxygen shortage, the red cells call up reinforcements. Instead of five million red cells in a speck of blood, seven or eight million will gradually appear. After a few months in the rarified atmosphere of Colorado’s mountains, for example, up to ten million red cells will fill each drop of blood, compensating for the thinner air.”
“The pell-mell journey, even to the extremity of the big toe, lasts a mere twenty seconds. An average red cell endures the cycle of loading, unloading, and jostling through the body for a half million round trips over four months. In one final journey, to the spleen, the battered cell is stripped bare by scavenger cells and recycled into new cells. Three hundred billion such red cells die and are replaced every day, leaving behind various parts to reincarnate in a hair follicle or a taste bud.”
I must add a thought here concerning the human heart, which is the pump that makes sure that this process continues throughout a person’s lifespan. There are now primitive artificial hearts being made available to people whose hearts are failing and cannot find an adequate replacement. The requirements of a man-made machine completely fulfilling all that our Creator-built heart accomplishes are staggering! Here is what is needed to accomplish what the normal human heart does:
- Fluid pump with 75-year expectancy (2,500,000,000 cycles).
- No maintenance or lubrication required.
- Output: must vary between .025 horsepower at rest and short bursts of 1 horsepower determined by such factors as stress and exercise.
- Weight: not to exceed 10.5 ounces (300 grams)
- Capacity: 2,000 gallons per day (7571 litres)
- Valves: each to operate 4,000-5,000 times per hour
“The components of this circulatory system cooperate to accomplish a simple goal: nourishing and cleansing each living cell. If any part of the network breaks down–the heart takes an unscheduled rest, a clot overgrows and blocks an artery, a defect diminishes the red cells’ oxygen capacity, and life ebbs away. The brain, master of the body, can survive intact only five minutes without replenishment.”
These were the words of a professional surgeon. Every surgeon knows that the flow of blood is crucial to life. Small cuts in human flesh will automatically seal themselves off and there is little blood loss. However, when arteries are cut, or worse yet, veins, the loss of blood can become catastrophic, if not quickly stopped.
Blood has always had a mystical aura about it throughout history. People have drank it, thinking that it would give them special power. Ancient peoples sometimes sealed contracts by slashing themselves and mixing their blood. Children often even “seal” their undying loyalty and friendship by making small cuts in each other’s hands or fingers and rubbing each other’s blood together. Most ancient cultures were accustomed to blood sacrifices. Earlier in this study we discussed the sacrificial system that Almighty God had required from the Israelites, a requirement that was no longer needed once the Messiah became the supreme sacrifice for the whole world. Many cultures today still have a sacrificial system because they are not acquainted with the sacrifice that was provided by the Messiah 2,000 years ago. This includes Islam today. The sacrifices of animals as payment for sins on the Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) accounts for about 100 million sacrifices annually. This is included as a regular event during the annual hajj to Mecca. Those that have found that the full price has already been paid by the Blood of Jesus no longer have to sacrifice another animal for the rest of their lives!
The more I learn about the properties of blood which flows through my body, the more I find myself praising and worshipping the One that created me. The physical facts mentioned earlier are just the beginning of what the Almighty has built into the system of our human body. It is no wonder that God has such strict laws concerning the taking of another human being’s life. One of the things that fascinates me is how blood not only feeds the body’s many needs, but also how it cleanses it. This takes me back to the Old Testament and the ordinances God gave Moses for the people of Israel. In Leviticus 14 we find this instruction concerning the cleansing of a leper:
This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: he shall be brought to the priest. And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper, then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field. (verses 2-7)
To a person from our generation, these sort of ordinances seem strange, to say the least. It must however be realized that most everything that was given to Moses to institute into Israelite practice was symbolic of things to come, much of it having to do with the coming of the Messiah. I believe this is the case with what is found in these verses. The priest was instructed to go outside of the city and “take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop” Each of these reminds us of the work that Jesus did to provide for the forgiveness of our sins. Why would the priests have to go outside of the camp? Because Jesus would be crucified outside of the walls of Jerusalem. The birds foreshadowed the death of Jesus and then His resurrection from the dead. The cedar wood spoke to the wooden cross and the scarlet to His tremendous suffering. Then there was the hyssop. My belief is that this has to do with cleansing. King David spoke of hyssop in this way:
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:7)
David here is requesting that God Himself cleanse him. God Himself lives in absolute perfection and it is only through God–not the works that David could do, that he could be seen as “whiter than snow” in God’s eyes. It is the same for us today. None of our good works, great social projects, religious acts, or anything else can cleanse us enough to be acceptable in the sight of God. God knew that we could not do it for ourselves, and so, through His great love and compassion for the human race, He became a man and paid the price for all.
Going on with the passage in Leviticus it says that the first bird was killed and the blood caught in an earthen vessel with water in it. This points ahead in time to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ when He shed His Blood in an earthen vessel–His human body. The fact that the slain bird’s blood was mixed with the water in the earthen vessel symbolizes the cleansing by the Word. John 1:1 makes it clear to us that Jesus, the second member of the Triune GOD, is the “Word.”
The last instruction that the priest was to fulfill in the cleansing ceremony for the leper was to take the blood and sprinkle the leper seven times and then pronounce him clean. This would entitle the leper, once he had shaved off all his hair, washed himself and his clothes in water, to enter back into the camp. The live bird, along with the cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop was to be dipped in the blood of the bird that had been killed and then it was to be turned loose in the open field.
Let’s take a look at what the Apostle Paul had to say about the Old Covenant and what it foreshadows in Colossians 2:
So let no one judge you in food or drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. (verses 16-17)
Hebrews 10:1-2a adds this for our consideration:
For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect, for then would they not have ceased to be offered?
The point of these passages once again is that the Old Covenant was a temporary measure until the New Covenant was brought into being. The rituals and observances in the Old Covenant were only a foreshadowing of the fulfillment of God’s plan for man’s freedom from the fall through Messiah Jesus.
The observance we looked at which was designed to cleanse a leper was also a foreshadowing of the cleansing that was provided 2,000 years ago through the mighty Blood of Jesus Christ. When we have been cleansed and purified by the Blood of Jesus, we, as the leper, are cleansed, not just to go back into the camp, but to enter the glorious Kingdom of God.
I am of the belief that everything in the Bible is written as it is for a very significant reason. With that in mind, is it possible that there is a reason why the leper was to be sprinkled seven times with the blood? I believe so. Seven times the Blood of Jesus was shed in some way during the agony of those last days surrounding the crucifixion:
- He sweated blood: Luke 22:41-44: And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
- His beard was plucked: Isaiah 50:6: …And My cheeks (I gave) to those who plucked out the beard (which will always draw blood).
- His head was bloodied: Matthew 27:27-31: Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole garrison around Him. And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. and they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Then they spat on Him, and took the reed and struck Him on the head. And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.
- His back was bloodied: Matthew 27:23-26: Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done? But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!” When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.” And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.” Then he released Barabbas to them; and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified.
- His hands were pierced: Psalms 22:14-16: I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; it has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue clings to My jaws; you have brought Me to the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
- His feet were also pierced: (same scripture as above)
- His side was pierced: John 19:31-35: Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe.
As amazing as the human body is which has been created by the Almighty GOD, and as stunning the facts having to do with the work that our blood does within our bodies, nothing compares with the mighty power of the Blood of Jesus. It is the only substance in the universe that can set a man free from sin and the power of death…and it does so for eternity! Praise God!
Continued in Part 10