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Jehovah provided more details about life and blood when he gave Israel the Law code. In the process, he took a further step in the outworking of his purpose. You probably know that the Law called for offerings to God, such as grain, oil, and wine. (Leviticus 2:1-4; 23:13; Numbers 15:1-5) There were also animal sacrifices. God said of these: “The soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I myself have put it upon the altar for you to make atonement for your souls, because it is the blood that makes atonement by the soul in it. That is why I have said to the sons of Israel: ‘No soul of you must eat blood.’” Jehovah added that if someone, such as a hunter or a farmer, killed an animal for food, he had to drain the blood and cover it with dust. The earth is God’s footstool, and by pouring the blood on the earth, the person acknowledged that the life was being returned to the Life-Giver.—Leviticus 17:11-13; Isaiah 66:1. That law was not a mere religious ritual with no import for us. Did you notice why the Israelites were not to consume blood? God said: “That is why I have said to the sons of Israel: ‘No soul of you must eat blood.’” What was the reason? “I myself have put [blood] upon the altar for you to make atonement for your souls.” Do you see that this provides insight into why God told Noah that humans were not to eat blood? The Creator chose to view blood as having an elevated significance, reserving it for one special use that could save many lives. It was to play a vital role in covering sins (atonement). So under the Law, the only God-authorized use of blood was on the altar to make atonement for the lives of the Israelites, who were seeking Jehovah’s forgiveness. This concept is not remote from Christianity. Referring to this divinely arranged feature of the Law, the Christian apostle Paul wrote: “Nearly all things are cleansed with blood according to the Law, and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place.” (Hebrews 9:22) Paul made it clear that the required sacrifices did not turn the Israelites into perfect, sinless humans. He wrote: “By these sacrifices there is a reminding of sins from year to year, for it is not possible for the blood of bulls and of goats to take sins away.” (Hebrews 10:1-4) Still, such sacrifices were useful. They reminded the Israelites that they were sinful and needed something more in order to gain complete forgiveness. But if the blood that represented the lives of animals could not completely cover human sins, could any lifeblood do so? The Life-Giver’s Solution The Law was actually pointing to something vastly more effective in accomplishing God’s will. Paul asked: “Why, then, the Law?” He answered: “It was added to make transgressions manifest, until the seed should arrive to whom the promise had been made; and it was transmitted through angels by the hand of a mediator [Moses].” (Galatians 3:19) Similarly, Paul wrote: “The Law has a shadow of the good things to come, but not the very substance of the things.”—Hebrews 10:1. In summary, recall that in Noah’s day God decreed that humans could eat animal meat to sustain life, but they could not take in blood. In time, God stated that “the soul of the flesh is in the blood.” Yes, he chose to view blood as standing for life and said: “I myself have put [blood] upon the altar for you to make atonement for your souls.” There was to be, however, a wonderful further unfolding of God’s purpose. The Law foreshadowed good things to come. What? The reality centered on the death of Jesus Christ. You know that Jesus was tortured and impaled. He died like a criminal. Paul wrote: “Christ, while we were yet weak, died for ungodly men at the appointed time. . . . God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6, 8) In dying for us, Christ provided a ransom to cover our sins. That ransom is at the core of the Christian message. (Matthew 20:28; John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Timothy 2:6) What does this have to do with blood and life, and how is your life involved? Some churches emphasize Jesus’ death, their adherents saying such things as “Jesus died for me.” Consider how some Bible translations render Ephesians 1:7: “It is in him and through his death we have deliverance, that is, the putting away of our offences.” (The American Bible, by Frank Scheil Ballentine, 1902) “By the death of Christ we are set free, and our sins are forgiven.” (Today’s English Version, 1966) “It is in and through Christ and the sacrifice of his life that we have been liberated, a liberation which means the forgiveness of sins.” (The New Testament, by William Barclay, 1969) “It is through Christ’s death that our sins are forgiven and we are set free.” (The Translator’s New Testament, 1973) You can see in such renderings an emphasis on Jesus’ death. ‘But,’ some may say, ‘Jesus’ death is truly important. So, what is lacking in these renderings?’ Really, if you had to depend on such translations, you might overlook a very important point, and this could limit your understanding of the Bible’s message. Such renderings obscure the fact that the original text of Ephesians 1:7 contains a Greek word that means “blood.” Thus, many Bibles, such as the New World Translation, come closer to the original: “By means of him we have the release by ransom through the blood of that one, yes, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his undeserved kindness.” The rendering “the blood of that one” is rich in meaning and should convey much to our mind. More was needed than a death, even the death of the perfect man Jesus. He brought to fulfillment what was foreshadowed in the Law, particularly on the Day of Atonement. On that special day, designated animals were sacrificed. Then the high priest took some of their blood into the Most Holy compartment of the tabernacle or temple, there presenting it before God, as if in his presence.—Exodus 25:22; Leviticus 16:2-19. Jesus fulfilled what was foreshadowed by the Atonement Day, as Paul explained. First, he mentioned that the high priest in Israel entered the Most Holy once a year with blood offered “for himself and for the sins of ignorance of the people.” (Hebrews 9:6, 7) True to that pattern, after being raised as a spirit, Jesus went to heaven itself. As a spirit, having no flesh-and-blood body, he could go before “the person of God for us.” What did he present to God? Not something physical but something very meaningful. Paul continued: “When Christ came as a high priest . . . , he entered, no, not with the blood of goats and of young bulls, but with his own blood, once for all time into the holy place and obtained an everlasting deliverance for us. For if the blood of goats and of bulls . . . sanctifies to the extent of cleanness of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Christ, who through an everlasting spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works that we may render sacred service to the living God?” Yes, Jesus presented to God the value of his lifeblood.—Hebrews 9:11-14, 24, 28; 10:11-14; 1 Peter 3:18. This divine truth allows us to grasp the wondrous scope of what the Bible says about blood—why God views it as he does, what our view of it should be, and why we ought to respect the restrictions God set about the use of blood. When reading the books of the Christian Greek Scriptures, you will find numerous references to the blood of Christ. (See the box.) These make plain that each Christian should put faith “in his [Jesus’] blood.” (Romans 3:25) Our gaining forgiveness and having peace with God is possible only “through the blood he [Jesus] shed.” (Colossians 1:20) This is certainly true of those with whom Jesus made a special covenant to reign with him in heaven. (Luke 22:20, 28-30; 1 Corinthians 11:25; Hebrews 13:20) It is also true of the “great crowd” today, who will survive the coming “great tribulation” and enjoy life everlasting in an earthly paradise. Figuratively, they ‘wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb.’—Revelation 7:9, 14.
The sacrificial system required a blood sacrifice because God said, "without the shedding of blood is no remission" (Hebrews 9:22).
The animal sacrifices conveyed both a temporal and an eternal message to the participants. The blood of bulls and goats is the shadow; Yeshua (Jesus) is the type. However, before we become so quick to look down on God’s “temporal shadows,” let’s look at what the sacrificial system of those days could accomplish. In Psalms chapters 32 and 51 we see the heart of man who genuinely experienced the forgiveness of HaShem (God). In Psalm 32:1 he stated that the man whose sin is covered is blessed! (Hebrew for “covered”=kasah) In verse 5 he clearly states that his acknowledgement of his sin brought about true forgiveness from HaShem. Because of unmerited favor, this man could rejoice in the mercies of HaShem (verses 10, 11)! Psalm 51 was written after Dah-vid (David) had committed the gross sin with Bat-Sheva (Bathsheba), the mother of Melekh Shlomo (King Solomon). In this passage we again see a man who, knowing the true goal of the Torah (Law)—salvation of his eternal soul through the Promised One to come—sought the genuine forgiveness of his Maker. Verses 16-19 of this Psalm explain to us readers that a heart given to genuine trusting faithfulness—the very same heart required of us today!—is what rendered the sacrifices of the TaNaKH (Old Testament) effective. Simply performing the rituals perfunctorily did not please our Heavenly Abba (verse 16, 17). Rather, it was a heart broken in genuine submission to the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God) that moved HaShem to forgiveness! This same heart gave the sacrifices validity (verse 19). Did Dah-vid, as of yet, know the name of his future descendant Yeshua? We have no evidence to support that he explicitly knew the name “Yeshua.” What he did know is that through Moshe (Moses), the Torah promised that one day a “Prophet” would arise and that the people were to obey him (read Deuteronomy 18:15-19)! What he did have was a glimpse of the intended function and nature of the Torah (the “goal”), in that, these antitypes pointed towards that day when the corporate sins of all Isra’el would be forgiven, never again to be brought to HaShem’s mind (read Ps. 103:12). This is the day spoken about in Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 31:34, “…for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (KJV) And just in case you’ve forgotten, this is a “New Testament” feature (read Hebrews 8:12)! According to the book of Hebrews, the sacrifices of Dah-vid’s day could cleanse the flesh and restore ritual purity, but could not cleanse the conscience, that is to say, I understand Hebrews to be teaching that only the eternal blood of a Sinless Sacrifice can regenerate the heart and mind of an individual. By comparison, the blood of bulls and goats focused on the ritual, temporal, and external: For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:13, 14, KJV) The “Old Testament” saints were not “saved” by a different system than the one in which we rely on. If they were, then this would suggest that there were really two separate ways unto righteousness—a theory, which we know, cannot be true. Yeshua has now become the means by which all men must satisfy the righteous atoning requirement of the Holy One! This type of atonement is not the kind that is repeated year after year! Our sins are not meted out into animals, only to be repeated the next year at Yom Kippur. This type of atonement is based on better promises with a better sacrifice. What does the Torah say? “No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, ‘Know ADONAI’; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)
Why is blood required for forgiveness of sin? God has said “The wages of sin is death”. Therefore, anyone, old or New Testament who has sinned is under a death sentence, the shedding of blood represents that death. When animal’s blood was shed in old testimony times, it was a sacrifice. The animal was slaughtered. This provided a temporary absolvment of sin. In my opinion, the death of an animal was not equal to life of a human. Thus, it was only temporary. It was not until Jesus came that a permanent sacrifice was available. Here is why: Let me put it in today’s terms. Suppose “The wages of sin is death” was enacted into law and a friend of yours was arrested and charged with sinning. The judge quickly sentenced him to death with one caveat. Someone could die in his place. You decide that you wanted to die for him so that he might live. You go before the judge but the judge says “I am sorry, you can’t give your life for his. I have evidence that you too have sinned. Your life is already forfeit. You too must die. It would only be someone who has never sinned who could offer their life for his.” “But everyone has sinned” you say. The judge answers, “yes, and we all must die!” “If I could find someone who has never sinned, would His life satisfy the law?” you ask? The Judge replies, “if you could find such a man, He could apply His blood to anyone He wished and it would fully satisfy the law!” Jesus was and is that man. The need for a temporary sacrifice is no more.
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