Pastor Dennis Smith
We don’t know exactly when or how blood sacrifices, the slaughter of sacrificial animals as an offering to God, began. But we do see it in the early chapters of the very first book of the Bible, when Adam’s son, Abel, is depicted as making such an offering. We are not told how Abel knew to do such a thing, but evidently, the Lord had given instructions to that end to Adam and his offspring somewhere along the line. We next see Noah making provision for ongoing blood sacrifices by taking aboard the Ark seven of each type of “clean” animal instead of just the two needed to preserve life on the earth after the flood.
Then, some centuries later, God prescribed through Moses a special “sacrifice” that would mark his astounding delivery of his people from their Egyptian slavery and bondage. Each household among the Hebrews was to slaughter a young animal and apply its blood to the doorframe of their house. That very night, God would pass through the land to slay the firstborn in each home, except those among the Hebrews would be spared. He would “pass over” them when he saw the blood. And I don’t think God needed any such markers so he would know which houses to skip. Neither do I think that applying the blood to the doorposts was a mere sign of obedience that would garner the Lord’s blessing. No, I think it was simply all about the blood. This was the object lesson of all object lessons.
After the exodus from Egypt, God gave the nation of Israel an elaborate system of blood sacrifices that formed the core of spiritual life and worship for the nation.
So, what was the point of all those blood sacrifices going back to the very first generations of mankind? Were they to serve as reminders of the awfulness of sin? After all, killing an innocent animal for its blood is not exactly a pleasant task. (At least I don’t think so!) That may well have been a result of the practice, but surely that was not the ultimate purpose.
You are probably already with me when I suggest that the purpose of blood sacrifice in the Old Testament was to point to the ultimate blood sacrifice for sin that God would provide through his Son. The New Testament makes it clear that it is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, that we are cleansed of sin’s stain. His blood is described as precious. It is said to be the price for our redemption. (And let me digress for a moment. You may have heard some well-meaning preacher claim somewhere that the blood that Jesus shed was special and precious because a child's father determines the child’s blood type, and so Jesus’ blood was somehow “God’s blood.” Don’t buy it. If Jesus’ blood was not human, but mysteriously divine, then he wasn’t truly a man at all. No, his blood is precious precisely because it was the very life’s blood of God’s only begotten Son.)
We are not far removed from Easter. And we are reminded that God has graciously and mercifully provided for our salvation by sending his Son to shed his own blood on the tree. We are reminded of that time long ago when God told his people, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” It really is all about the blood.