The life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar: it is the blood that makes atonement for ones life.

Leviticus 17.11

….without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Hebrews 9.12b

You may think that a devotional blog with the title ‘Blood’ is a bit strange and even off-putting but I ask you to stick with me today and to see that our very life in every sense is utterly dependent on blood. There are no fewer than 441 references to blood in the pages of the NIV  Bible. Indeed someone has commented that there is more about blood in the Bible than any other book, barring a text on haematology!

The statement from Leviticus that ‘the life of a creature is in the blood’ we surely understand for once the heart stops its circulating action death follows very quickly if not instantaneously.

Blood is crucial to our physical life and the medical understanding of it is mind blowing. No matter what puzzling ailment takes you to the doctor a blood test is often  the first line of investigation as blood carries so much information as to the health of the body.

However we might not be so clear regarding the second part of the verse, namely that it is the means of atonement for atonement requires  a death (the shedding of blood) as the writer to the Hebrews emphasises.

When Cain killed Abel God used these telling words ‘Your brother’s blood (his life) cries out to me from the ground’ Genesis 4.10 where it had been spilt. As we move on taking a bird’s eye view, the rescue of God’s people from Egypt involved the blood of a lamb shed in place of the firstborn who following the Exodus were specially dedicated to God. Then throughout Leviticus we see blood being an essential part of the many sacrifices and offerings for sin.

As we move very rapidly forwards we find Jesus at the Last Supper using these words ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood which is poured out for you.’ Luke 22.20.

Throughout the Old Testament the sacrificial system for dealing with sin involved endless sacrifices and yet in spite of this the writer to the Hebrews says ‘the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscious of the worshipper’ Hebrews 9.9 But when Christ came ‘he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.’ V.12

No wonder the hymn writer wrote these words:

There is a fountain filled with blood

drawn from Emmanuel’s veins

And sinners plunged beneath the flood

 Lose all their guilty stains


The dying thief rejoiced to see

 that fountain in his day

And there have I, though vile as he,

 Washed all my sins away


Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood

shall never lose its pow’r

Till all the ransomed church of God

Be saved, to sin no more


E’er since by faith I saw the stream

Thy flowing wounds supply

Redeeming love has been my theme

And shall be till I die


When this poor lisping, stammering tongue

lies silent in the grave

Then in a nobler, sweeter song I’ll sing

Thy pow’r to save

Can you echo those words today?

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