Dear church,

Do you live a life of obedience to Jesus Christ? Do you honor him by seeking to follow his commandments for your life?

Starting in Leviticus 17, God gave his people many commandments. 

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood …” God’s people were to take blood seriously. It represented life. To see the blood drained out of an animal, which was a common part of the religious and agricultural life of Israel, was something to behold with reverence. As the blood drained away, so did the animal’s life.

And besides, God said, blood was given for atonement. The blood, representing life, was to be given over to God as people sought atonement for their sins. This is why they weren’t to consume it, to treat it like common food.

Certainly, this chapter reminds us how the people of Israel were to be set apart from the nations around it. The prohibition on eating blood was part of that distinctness. Pagans may eat blood, either casually or as part of their pagan worship rituals, but God’s people were not to do so. 

This prohibition was so important that it caused a stir in the early church. The apostles decided the prohibition on eating blood was one that the first Christians ought to maintain – most likely because of the pagan worship connotations built into the practice of consuming blood. See Acts 15.

Meanwhile, Leviticus 17 also commanded God’s people not to make sacrifices away from the tabernacle. If they made offerings, they were to bring them to God. Again, this appears to be a pushback against the pagan rituals of the land – “So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons …”

God’s people were to be holy, and they were to be fully dedicated to him and to reject idolatry.

When Jesus came along, he announced he came to fulfill the Law and not to abolish it (Matthew 5:17). And then Jesus did something astonishing: He told his followers they were to drink his blood (John 6:54)!

Jesus didn’t mean this literally, as we do not have access to the physical flesh and blood of Jesus. He is at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55-56; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20). 

But Jesus did mean we are to consume his flesh and blood by faith. His blood represents life – full, eternal life – and by putting our faith in him and his atoning death on the cross, we are taking that life into ourselves. We picture this as we take the bread and cup during the Lord’s Supper.

By faith, the blood of life enters us. And we have eternal life. 

It is clear then that this matter of blood continues to be a serious one for Christians. Blood represents life, and human life ought to be cherished. But most important of all is the blood of Jesus Christ – the blood that was given for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26:26-28).  

Jesus gave up his lifeblood for us. And so we cherish the blood of Christ.

But do we do this?

We obey Him. We don’t go on “sinning deliberately.” We don’t set aside the commands of Christ. We don’t “trample” Jesus underfoot. We don’t “profane the blood” of the covenant. Read Hebrews 10:26-31, which has direct connections to Leviticus 17.

We honor the blood of Jesus Christ by seeking to obey his words. 

Chris

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