Perhaps the most succinct discourse on the significance of blood is found in the book of Leviticus.
Over the years this column has referred to the following passage several times because the truths contained therein are applied throughout the Scriptures.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11
God subsequently instructed Moses to tell the people that anyone who kills a clean animal or bird to eat must not partake of its blood, but rather shall pour it out and cover it with dust. This law was reinforced throughout the Old Testament.
“For it (blood) is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life.” Leviticus 17:14
Therefore, the loss of blood means that life cannot be sustained resulting in death.
Recall when Adam and his wife were banished from the garden because of their sin of disobedience, God had exchanged the clothing they had provided for themselves with new covering.
“So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden…to guard the way to the tree of life…Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin and clothed them.”
Genesis 3:21, 24
The tunics of skin to cover Adam and his wife confirmed that an innocent animal had been slain, i.e. had lost its life and blood in order to cover their nakedness. Note also that it was God who provided their tunics.
As we progress to the brothers Cain and Abel we see a similar story. Cain was a tiller of the ground while Abel was a keeper of sheep.
The brothers each made an offering to the LORD. Like his parents Cain made an offering of the fruit of the ground while Abel offered a lamb, the firstborn of his flock.
“And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering.” Genesis 4:4-5
God confronted Cain and reminded him that if he had obeyed His instructions, all would have been well with him.
“…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.” Genesis 4:7
The offering of blood would have overcome sin.
Cain was angry and took his anger out on his brother and slew him.
“And He (God) 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…’” Genesis 4:10-11a
God then told Cain that he would be a fugitive and vagabond on the earth.
And just as Adam and his wife left the garden on the east, likewise did Cain.
“Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.” Genesis 4:16
Approximately 1500 years later God told Noah that they could eat every living thing, but not the blood.
“But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” Genesis 9:4
God then proclaimed that a person must die if he shed the blood of a fellow man.
“Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” Genesis 9:6
Capital punishment for murder has never been rescinded.
The sanctity of blood was reaffirmed to Israel after their deliverance from Egypt, just prior to crossing the Jordan River to the Promised Land.
“Just as the gazelle and the deer are eaten…Only be sure that you do not eat the blood, for the blood is the life…You shall pour it on the earth like water.” Deuteronomy 12:22-24
And then approximately 800 years after that, when Judah was delivered into Babylonian captivity, Ezekiel told them the reasons for their captivity.
“…Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘You eat meat with blood…and shed blood. Should you then possess the land?’” Ezekiel 33:25
More on the blood to follow.