Leviticus 17-18

The Blood Brings Atonement

“for the life of any creature is in its blood. I have given you the blood so you can make atonement for your sins. It is the blood, representing life, that brings you atonement. – Leviticus 17:11 NLT

Chapter 17 repeats a warning that has been given twice before regarding the reverence and respect that the people were to have toward the blood offered in sacrifice. We have seen the significant role that blood played in their sacrificial system. And here God gives the reason why blood was to be regarded with reverence and respect. It all seems pretty bizarre to us. But God obviously took it very seriously. Blood was to be shed, spilled out, sprinkled, sacrificed, but never eaten. Why? Because it was the blood that made atonement for their sins. The blood of the animal was representative of the life of the animal. Without the blood there was no life. “…for the life of all flesh is its blood” (Leviticus 17:14 NASB). Because of sin, all men deserved to die. So God came up with a plan by which the animal stood in for the man. The animal gave its life for the life of the sinner. God’s plan provided for the sprinkling or pouring out of the blood of the sacrifice on the altar to signify that the life of the animal was give to God in place of the life of the sinner. It was a substitionary sacrifice. The animal’s life was a ransom or counter-price for the life of the sinner. “In fact, we can say that according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified by sprinkling with blood. Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22 NLT). It was true then. It is true now. So God put a high price and a high priority on the sanctity of the blood. They were not to eat it. They were to honor it as God’s plan for atonement. They were to keep a reverent regard for it. It was not to be treated as common. So they were not even to shed the blood of an animal killed out in the field. It was to be brought to the Tabernacle and killed there, its blood given as a peace offering to God. God knew that if the people were allowed to kill animals and shed their blood any other place, they would be tempted to follow the practices of the people of the land and offer that blood in worship of other gods.

But what does all this have to do with us today? Are we to follow the same rules? Are we to abstain from the intake of blood? It appears that this was a law that was ceremonial and specific to the time in which the Israelites lived. It was part of the sacrificial system under which they operated, and is no longer in force. For us, the blood of Christ is what makes atonement for us. The blood sacrifices of Moses’ day were a picture of what was to come. The blood of animals is no longer required , but Christ’s blood sacrificed once and for all.

But there is a lesson for us here regarding the respect to be shown for the blood that was shed on our behalf. We are not to take the sacrifice of Jesus Christ lightly. The blood of animals poured out for the people of Israel only made atonement figuratively, but the blood of Christ makes atonement totally and effectually. So we are to treat His sacrifice with the proper respect and dignity. It is not to be treated as something common or ordinary. He shed His blood so that we might have life. He became our sin sacrifice so that we might have forgiveness of sin – once and for all. The writer of Hebrews warns us to “Think how much more terrible the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God and have treated the blood of the covenant as if it were common and unholy. Such people have insulted and enraged the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to his people” (Hebrews 10:29 NLT). There are those who treat the blood of Jesus as common and unholy. They ignore it. They walk all over it, rejecting its value and despising the gift of life it offers. But as believers we can be guilty of taking it for granted by forgetting that without Christ shedding His blood – giving His life – we would have no forgiveness of sin. His blood represented His life and made possible new life for us.

Father, forgive me for the many times when I have taken the blood of Your Son for granted. When I sin willingly, I trample His shed blood in the dirt. I treat His blood as a commodity. I act as if it is just a resource I can tap into any time I need it, without acknowledging the great price that was paid. Help me to see the blood of Christ as a priceless treasure poured out for me. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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