When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. Hebrews 9, verses 6-9.
Think about that statement: “never without blood.” I’m borrowing more from Chad Bird’s teaching on this; also some Patrick Miller and Bill Brimer, so thank them for the background.
Believing in God is a bloody deal. Not British slang “bloody” as in “that bloody thing.” That’s almost cute in a cheeky way. No, this talk of blood is carnage. It’s war. It’s deadly serious because it demands from you that very thing that carries life throughout your body. It’s scarlet, red, coating, oozing and sticky, just like your sins. Bleeding to death can kill you and it can hurt. A few years ago, there was a violent, disturbing movie called “There Will Be Blood” with Daniel Day Lewis. That’s an appropriate byline for following Jesus.
If you say you believe in Jesus, you’re signing up to that. Your life may not end in bleeding out but that’s the devotion Jesus asks from you. He wants everything and He wants it no matter the cost…because He already paid that cost in ways you can’t. Sure, we can sing “nothing but the blood of Jesus” and talk about how Jesus washes us white in His blood. I’m not disparaging any of that; it’s all true. But I’m quoting the verse above that talks about “never without blood.” Whenever the high priest entered the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement, he did so wearing the sticky, steaming blood of a sacrifice.
Noodle that thought. Here’s this pious, upright, Godly man who has performed all the rites God demanded and he puts blood on his body, on his hands. He literally has blood on his hands from a death (albeit the death of an animal). He goes into the Most Holy Place and sprinkles that blood on the veil covering it. He sprinkles/throws blood on the altar of God. He literally covers God in blood. This after performing ritual sacrifices that spilled GALLONS OF BLOOD in front of the tabernacle to ‘forgive’ the sins of the people.
You knows where this goes. When Jesus died, He shed His own blood with every scourge of the Roman whip, with each of the nails driven through His hands and feet, and with every heave of His slowly dying body just to get a breath. That blood, there and then, replaced the need for those animal sacrifices. There would no longer be a need for a disconnected high priest to perform representative sacrifices. The true high priest of the universe had performed the only necessary sacrifice that was done once for all to give them forever.
And it was done with blood. Lots of blood. Gallons, rivers, torrents of blood. You don’t think it was like a slaughterhouse there in front of the tabernacle, the dwelling place of God? It was. It was like a trench along the Western Front. It was a Civil War hospital with screaming men and bleeding, shell-shredded limbs. It was as bloody, gory, and disquieting as any meat-house you can think of today. Frightened animals screaming and writhing in pain, warm and sticky blood shooting all over the priest and his acolytes, pools of it gathering on the ground. It was starkly gory, gruesomely upsetting to those who didn’t understand it.
Just like that day on Calvary. It was torture and there was blood.
It was what God wanted. This was how He wanted His people to worship Him, right? Let’s put it another way and cut through some 21st century fiction we call ‘sensibility.” Is God a gory old man? Maybe. Feel free to ask Him someday. It’s not my place to judge whether He is or not. I’m simply stating a really cold hard truth to you. Blood carries life all throughout the body. You can’t live without blood. Indeed, if you lose only a little bit (compared to all that is in your veins), you’ll fade and quickly die. God DEMANDS that blood. He always has; He always will. He wants you to give it all to Him.
Everything you cherish, everything you love, everything you know was bought in a tortured, gruesome, horrifying way by an innocent carpenter from Judea who just happened to be God in the flesh. He demanded it. He knew that only He could do it. He volunteered to do it. He volunteered to do it for you…with His own blood. What’s more, in your accepting His covering blood over you, He calls you do to the exact same thing. You can’t offer atonement sacrifice for anything, but Jesus calls you right here, right now, to willingly, even enthusiastically bleed out every drop of your own blood if that’s where His ministry takes you. He asks for one hundred percent of your life. “Nothing but the blood of Jesus” isn’t just some catchy hymn that’s been re-mastered for Christian pop radio. It’s a war cry. How will you respond?
For further reading: Numbers 28:3, Leviticus 16, Hebrews 5:2-3, Hebrews 7:19, Hebrews 10:1, Hebrews 5:1, Hebrews 8:3, John 14:6.
My Lord, Your covering blood saves me. Thank You for this sacrifice, the key event in all of history. Thank You for saving me, for saving all of us.