Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 16 November 2017

We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.  Hebrews 13, verse 10.

My Concordia reference explains this verse by saying this verse refers to the cross (the true altar), “which marked the end of the whole Aaronic priesthood and its replacement by the order of Melchizedek.  The priests could not eat of the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement but we can partake of our sacrifice, so to speak – through spiritual reception of Christ through faith.   We have a higher privilege than the priests under the old covenant had.”

In the days of the ancient priesthood, the high priest was the only representative between the people and God.   He and only he was allowed certain privileges in how worship was conducted.   Priests were provided with free food out of the stock brought to the Lord and thus were very well fed.   Yet on the Day of Atonement, the day when the high priest went before the Mercy Seat of God to ask for atonement of the peoples’ sins, the priest was not allowed to consume any part of the sacrificed lamb.   He sprinkled its blood on the altar, and the remainder of the sacrifice was taken outside the Israelite camp and burned until nothing was left.

When Christ volunteered to die for your sins, He removed the need for the Old Testament system of sacrifices.  Ritual animal sacrifice as a substitution for an atonement was replaced by the real sacrifice of the pure blood of God Himself, who made atonement needing no ritual, animal, or substitution.  What’s more, we who believe in Him partake of this sacrifice – and thus of Him – in many ways simply by believing.   Our faith in Jesus is the food that feeds the soul, and feeding on the love of Jesus removes need for anything else.

Pretty tough stuff to comprehend, right?   Then let’s try it another way.  Translation:   you don’t need a go-between to get to God.   You get to consume time and the essence of your Savior in person, one on one.   Your faith in Him removes all obstacles between you and Him.

You and I, as followers of Jesus, don’t need a high priest to sprinkle blood on the Ark of the Covenant.  We don’t need a priest to slaughter an animal in our place.   We don’t need to follow the intricate, ancient rituals of old to make ourselves righteous before God again.   And we don’t need to wait until just one day in a year for someone else to take our case before God.   Even as a believer, some religions still insist a priest is necessary to intermediate between you and your God.  Yet the Bible says this simply isn’t true.

Right here, right now, wherever you are, you GET TO commune with Jesus one on one.   He came to you; you don’t have to go to Him.   He meets you from within, and your saying “I believe” puts your faith in Him.   In doing so, you accept that He did everything possible and necessary to make you right before God again.   You have communion with Him and share in His death and resurrection right now, today, in this very moment, and all the time.   When you periodically observe Holy Communion, you get to remember Him further, in different ways, partaking in elements that point us directly to Him as the true Spiritual food.   Right here, right now you get to go to the altar of the cross and lay down your sins, lay down your successes, lay down your pride, lay down everything you have and are and love, and submit it all to Jesus.   In return, He guides you as friend, Savior, and fellow, and says “I’ve made it right for you.”   You don’t need me or anyone else to tell him on your behalf or to sacrifice for you.   He did it all and you and I get to each meet Him where we are.  Right here, right now.

For further reading:  Hebrews 8:5, 1 Corinthians 9:13, 1 Corinthians 10:18.

Lord, I praise You for doing everything needed in faith.   For loving me enough to die and rise for me.   I praise You for being the food my soul needs to thrive and the true living water to quench my eternal thirst.

 

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Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 9 August 2017

 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.  He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.  Hebrews 11, verses 17-19.

So much to unpack here.

Devotion.  Are you amazed by Abraham’s devotion to God?  And even his devotion to Isaac?   Our modern interpretation of the Bible can pain Abraham in an unkind picture.   “He was willing to murder his own son.”  Admit it:   you’ve thought that; so have I.   How could Abraham MURDER his child?  Our society (rightfully) looks at that as heinous.  Here comes the part you won’t like (because it’s uncomfortably true):   Abraham wasn’t told to murder, nor did he try to murder Isaac, nor did he have the heart for murder.   God commanded Abraham to SACRIFICE Isaac to Him.  God was saying to Abraham “commit to Me everything about what you love most.   Be willing to give even your son’s life to Me because you trust Me.”  A murderer thinks otherwise (if he thinks at all).   Abraham was willing to kill his son, his most precious family member, if it meant dedicating that person’s life and his own to his Father.   Devotion like that is rare even in the Bible.   Would you or I be that devoted?

Foreshadowing:  “He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son” could have been written about the Father Himself.   From the moment of man’s fall, God had promised to redeem mankind from the sin we accepted and made our own.   This included Abraham and Isaac, who were sinful people not unlike you or I.  Abraham had trusted that God would keep His promise to give him a son and God kept that promise.   God then commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, that firstborn son and the heir of all Abraham had or would be.  Can you see how, in all of this, God was foreshadowing to Abraham (and us) what He Himself would do with Jesus?   What’s more, God promised that it was through Isaac that all this would happen, that Abraham’s offspring “would be reckoned.”

Reason.  Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead.  He didn’t just FEEL it:   Abraham REASONED.  He thought it through.   He quickly but logically, cogently deducted that God had kept His prior promises and that God was powerful enough to do anything He wanted.   Abraham reasoned that, if God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, God would bring Isaac back from death.   It wasn’t an emotion, and it wasn’t being caught up in the moment, though both of those probably happened.  Instead, Abraham intellectually deduced this honest conclusion about God.

That brings us to our final point:   resurrection.   Abraham deduced that God could resurrect Isaac, so he prepared to end his son’s life.   It was the action of faith that Abraham took in response to the action of faith God had already offered to him.   God foreshadowed yet again that Isaac’s death could be overcome by God.  He promised Abraham that the sacrifice would be worthwhile because it was to God Himself.   That sacrifice could only be completed in resurrection, which was how God ultimately completed the even greater sacrifice of faith that took place on Calvary.  Death could only be reasoned, only be accepted, only be tolerated, only be made right through resurrection, through Divinely restoring life to lifelessness because spiritual death was true lifelessness.   Abraham grasped that thought as he held a knife to his son’s throat.   And that’s when God stayed the knife.

Like you and I, Abraham and Isaac wandered in this world.   Abraham perhaps more than any of us because he lived as a nomad, residing most of his life in tents as he traveled from place to place.   He knew that God would bring him home, and he knew that God would always abide with him no matter where he wandered.   Yet in this greatest test of his life (and perhaps ours), God called him to account and asked him “what do you REALLY believe?”   It was for Abraham’s benefit, not God’s.  Abraham wasn’t a super-human:   he was just a man, albeit one of good character.   But he was simply a man, like you or me.  How amazing is it that God chose to reveal these things about His character and ours through the life of this ancient patriarch.

For further reading:  Genesis 22:1-10, James 2:21, Geneses 21:12, Romans 9:7, Romans 4:21, John 5:21.

Lord, thank You for the willingness of Abraham to commit everything to You.  

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 13 April 2017, Maundy Thursday

Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.  Hebrews 10, verses 2-4.

Today is Maundy Thursday 2017.   Today is the reason why animal sacrifices became unnecessary.  Today we commemorate God giving Himself up so that they would no longer be necessary.   That sacrifice we commemorate tomorrow, on Good Friday. But for now, today is a sad day of celebratory mourning, a time when we remember Jesus instituting the miracle of communion and forgiveness while facing the spiritual torment of Gethsemene, then Golgotha tomorrow.

As part of my own remembrance, yesterday I watched “The Passion of the Christ.”   I try to do this every year during Holy Week because it keeps my faith edgy.   The movie is so graphic and rightfully so since it portrays the most graphic murder ever perpetrated on a man.  I kept it on the TV in my office while I worked, and glanced over at it throughout the afternoon.  The more I watch the movie, though, the more I reach the same conclusion.

I feel sorry for Judas.

I’ve written this before but I feel sorry for Judas Iscariot.   He brought his woes on himself.   Nobody forced Him to betray the Son of Man but Judas did it willingly, even enthusiastically.  I know:  he was a greedy, selfish, sinful, detestable bastard.   Conniving, evil, deceitful; sounds like many of my friends and fellow sinners, actually.  No, I’m not equivocating because I’ve never sold out the Son of God for 30 pieces of silver.   My sins are my own and they have denied Jesus as surely as did Judas, Peter, or any of His other best friends who abandoned Him in His most desperate hours.

Yet I feel sorry for Judas because he is pathetic.

When Judas absorbed the guilt of his sins, he forgot all about Jesus.   Maybe it was that he couldn’t bring himself to even think about Jesus or what he had done to his friend and savior.   Perhaps the guilt was too crushing and he simply gave in to the worst temptation.   It’s possible that Judas didn’t understand the new covenant that Jesus had just explained to him in that Passover supper that first Maundy Thursday evening.  Or how it would supersede those sacrifices that dated back to the days of Noah or before.

Whatever happened, Judas snapped and killed himself.   He was cold and dead before Jesus was even nailed to the cross that Good Friday.  I feel sorry for him, have pity on him, and I honestly hope something in him turned back before the life snuffed out of his body.   It isn’t up to me, but I hope there’s a place in heaven for Judas.   If there isn’t a place for people who do things as supremely reprehensible as what Judas did, then there isn’t a place for any of us.   The key is belief.   Judas lost his belief, his faith, in Jesus if he ever really had it in the first place.

He lived in a time when people still fully believed that animal sacrifices atoned for human sins.   The whole purpose of the Jewish temple was to worship Yahweh, the almighty I AM.   Integral to that worship was the Mosaic sacrificial system where doves, lambs, and bulls were slaughtered and brought to the altar.   There was even an annual Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, which is still commemorated by Jews today) in which the high priest took that animal blood and sprinkled it on the articles in the Most Holy Place.   By the time of Jesus and Judas, the Ark of the Covenant (God’s mercy seat) was long gone from the temple, having disappeared hundreds of years before.   Yet the Temple still contained a Most Holy Place – a Holy of Holies – where worshippers thought God was still present.  Once a year, the priest went into the Most Holy Place and sprinkled animal blood.

And it did nothing.  Yes, I said that.   It did nothing.   Even from the start of sacrifices it was only faith in God that would bring atonement.   Only God could fully atone for man’s sins because imperfect man could not.   The sacrifices were an expression of that faith, not the actual atonement.  Thus, when Jesus died, He and only He fully atoned as a true sacrifice for the terrible sins of His most cherished creation, man.

This was the world in which Judas lived and from which he committed suicide.   Even as a disciple closely walking with the incarnate God for years, he never made the connection between Jesus and sacrifice.  I feel sorry for him.   “The Passion of the Christ” shows him to be mentally anguished up to the end, tortured by demons, tortured by his sins.   The Bible doesn’t insist that people who commit suicide are damned, though it does paint suicide as a sin.   If Judas felt such terrible anguish that he couldn’t go on, I sincerely hope that, in his final seconds here, he found comfort in repentance and a place in paradise beyond.   That isn’t up to us:  it’s up to God.   Someday, hopefully many years from now, we’ll learn what happened.

For further reading:  Hebrews 9:9.

Lord, I praise You in mourning and celebration for the sacrifice You gave of Yourself.   Have mercy on Judas and others, and .

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 20 March 2017

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!.  Hebrews 9, verse 14.

You know what I’m looking forward to most in heaven?   A clean conscience.  In heaven, there won’t be guilt, or tears, or angst, or sorrow over things we’ve done, said or thought.   There simply won’t be a place or time for them when living eternally in the presence of the Triune God.   Knowing Him fully will crowd all that out.

Until then, there’s faith.

Ah faith.   Please understand, I’m not bad-mouthing faith because it’s faith in Jesus that imparts into us His salvation.   Yet I must confess I find it tedious and a cop-out for Christians (like me) to constantly use “well, in heaven…” as our fall-back position.   I’m thankful Jesus secured eternity for me, but what about now?   I desperately need His help now to get through every day here.   Temptation lurks in every minute, and my conscience bothers me about things I’ve done here on the Third Rock.   Perhaps my faith is weaker than I know because, all too often, my conscience zings me about sins long ago forgiven, even forgotten.

My judgmentalism; my impatience; my adulteries; my foul language; my lying; my hatred; my idolatry; you name a pet sin:   I haven’t done some of these in years yet the fact that I did them, or even that things were done to me, still greatly bothers me.   Occasionally, the burden wells up from my soul and I feel real despair.

It’s a taste of what Jesus must have felt hanging there on the cross.   For the first time in His life, His eternal life, He set aside the dignity and self-control He lived and allowed sin to overwhelm Him.   Things He hadn’t done:   Jesus allowed all that guilt, angst, loathing, and insecurity to flood Him and take Him.   Indeed, only a few hours before, He had been on His knees in the garden, sweating rivulets of blood so great was his overwhelming sorrow at the knowledge of what He must do.  Now that sorrow truly overwhelmed Him as He not only felt my guilt but took on Himself the penalty for it.   He who could not die was killed by it, killed for us.

I don’t deserve that.   I’ve never done anything in my life to deserve such a thing from anyone, let alone my Creator and Savior.  My whole history has been one of sin, from my first cry on that day in 1966 until just now.   I’m guilty as hell for all of it and I should be.

…Except that I shouldn’t be.   Not any more.   Dealing in “should” is a chancy proposition because “should” is so subjective.   Here’s one instance where should is actually quite sure.  I shouldn’t be guilty anymore because, in Jesus, I’m not guilty.   I’m not guilty by reason of substitutionary sacrifice.   I’m made not guilty by Jesus hanging there on the cross and taking my guilt on Himself.   I’m made not guilty by Him saying “I’ve got this.   Go and sin no more.”   And I’m made not guilty by the very last words He offered us while He was here: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”   That’s hope for right now.   Right now, in whatever I am going through, Jesus is with me, in me, seeing through me, acting through me.   He’s down for my struggle right now, and it’s His Spirit that gives me the courage to turn back temptation and turn away from causing myself more hurt.

Every time my conscience bothers me, I get to remind myself that Jesus offered Himself as a living sacrifice so that my conscience is cleansed from acts that lead to spiritual death.   My judgmentalism:   judged not guilty any more.  My impatience:   forgiven by God’s patience.  My adulteries:   made innocent again by the intimate soul of my Savior and true friend.   My foul language:  cleaned up and turned for a better purpose.   His purpose.   His mission.   I get to live the rest of my life as a worker in His fields, using the talents He gave me for the mission He has me on to meet, greet, and welcome others with the Gospel.   And when it get’s tough, the Jesus living through me is a whole lot tougher.

Yesterday, the pastor at church here in Paris shared a quote.   To paraphrase, it isn’t faith in Jesus that unites us as believers.   It isn’t church, or what we do, or even following the Bible.   The Gospel of Jesus is what unites us as believers.   It is the good news of His salvation that unites us and forgives us and gives us the promise of real hope.   Without the gospel, there is no good news or redemption.   With it, there are only unlimited possibilities for God’s real good here and always.  That’s hope for here and now to use throughout the rest of our lives.   And it’s hope to live past our numbered days here to start a life forever that will have no number or end.  On that our hearts and our conscience can always be clear.

For further reading:  1 Peter 3:18, Ephesians 5:2, Psalm 51:2, Psalm 65:3, Jeremiah 33:8, Zechariah 13:1, Hebrews, 10:2.

My Lord and my God, all praise and thanks to You for cleaning my conscience, for forgiving my sins when I don’t deserve it, for loving me when I’ve been unlovable.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 17 March 2017

The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.  Hebrews 9, verse 13.

We shouldn’t kid ourselves and assume that, because we live in a modern world, we are intellectually superior to people from the past.  After all, if you lived in 1917, you lived in the most modern time ever known to man.   Ditto 1817, 1717, 1617 and all the way back in time.  The time in which you live now is the culmination of all the technology and learning that took place before you.   Some day, if we live long enough, we’ll see that, indeed, that time will become the culmination of all the technology and learning before it.  The timeline of man mostly shows gradually increasing mastery of knowledge and technology over time.   Yes, that includes the massive losses of knowledge and technology that came with the declines of the ancient Egyptian and Mayan cultures as well as the descent into the Dark Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire.  Generally speaking, as time goes on, our knowledge increases along with our ability to capitalize on that knowledge by improving our technology to accompany it.   We may not know how the Great Pyramid was stacked together (or why) but we have split the atom, cured polio, and sent humanity’s knowledge far beyond the edge of our solar system and all that in just the last 80 years.   We’re pretty darn modern!

So how come so many people in our world haven’t gotten beyond the ancient concept of animal sacrifice?   It was superseded at Calvary by a one-time-only human sacrifice of the only divine being ever born here.   The idea of sacrificing animals to atone for man’s sins seems primitive.   Don’t the Jews get it?   No, they don’t sacrifice bulls, sheep or doves anymore either, though there is a serious movement abroad to rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and resume animal sacrifice after a 2000 year hiatus.   Don’t they understand that isn’t necessary anymore?  Don’t the Muslims understand that their religion is pagan and primitive even if it doesn’t require animal sacrifice?

Don’t they indeed.   And don’t you or I get ‘the big head’ about our faith, assuming we are better than people who don’t follow Jesus.  We aren’t.   God sees through us and our self-righteousness.   And He sees that all of us, blood or ashes or none, are outwardly unclean.   Sure, we can clean up pretty but that stink on the outside only sinks deeper through the skin.  It’s what comes out of a man’s heart that makes him unclean.   Sure, animal sacrifice is a primitive thing.   It’s brutal, nasty, and violent.   So, too, is your average Snoop Dogg concert…or maybe even Jimmy Buffett.  But even Calvin Broadus, Jr and Mr. Buffett need saving.   Jesus died for them as much as He died for you or me.   He died for intellectuals, too.

All of whom are still unclean, just like self-righteous me.  I’m as self-righteous as you can find, and I’m ashamed of it.   Every time I try to get in the last word (as recent as this morning online), I’m ashamed again of how badly I fail at this.  Yet I’m supposed to be educated, enlightened, and a follower of Jesus.

In ancient days, God gave His chosen people commands on how they should worship Him.   He did this to allow them to worship Him in ways they could understand based on the world in which they lived.  By our standards, it was crude, barbaric, and primitive.   How much more civilized, then, are we to periodically partake of bread and wine in sanitary little cups?   It’s praise to that same God, accepting Jesus’ admonition that “this is my body” and “this is my blood.”   That isn’t a little bit strange?   Whether you look at communion as the exact presence of Christ or a representation of Him, don’t go away thinking that, by modern standards, this ancient ritual isn’t a veiled celebration of a barbaric sacrifice…

…a barbaric sacrifice that made mankind whole again.   It made man sanctified, justified, and made righteous again, clothed and bathed in the holy blood.  I said it just the other day:  I don’t fully understand the connection.   We don’t have to.  Instead, we GET TO see that, however He did it, God purified us from the inside out by the holiness of that sacrifice.   Blood and heifer ashes aren’t needed anymore.   Quite honestly, more blood isn’t needed, either.   There’s nothing you have to do to make it better, and nothing you could do.   We might have quicker technology than our ancestors, but we need Jesus to save us just as much as they did.  We may look clean on the outside, but deep down inside, without Jesus, we’re modern filthy dirty.

For further reading:  Hebrews 10:4, Numbers 19:9 and 17-18, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Matthew 15:19.

Lord, Your sacrifice was once for all.   It was brutal and I can’t imagine how You even went through with it.   Thank You.

 

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 15 March 2017

He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.  Hebrews 9, verse 12.

Blood again.   This verse continues the ones from earlier in chapter 9, the ones that talk about how blood is needed for the sacrifice.  How do I put this?   I don’t understand why all this happened.   Logically speaking, I don’t understand the connection between Jesus’ blood and eternal salvation.  I really don’t.  He who could not die died.   He who could not sin took on all sin.   He who could do no wrong became wrong incarnate, through and through.   He who was completely innocent became completely guilty.  Why was blood required to make all that happened?   Yes, I know the history of it, the ties to animal sacrifices, the ancient Hebrew rituals commanded by God.   I understand the symbolism, and the physiological connection of blood and life.  I get all that.   I simply don’t understand WHY.  It’s lost on me.

That’s ok.   Love is illogical.  Love defies reason, logic, and process.   It’s simply the divine gift and there may be no fully explaining it in ways we’d understand this side of eternity.  The way out of this self-manufactured conundrum is to understand that I don’t need to understand it completely.   You don’t need to understand it completely.   It’s just fine that the finer points of ecclesiastical doctrine and Divine intention remain unknown when you get down to brass tacks.

Hint:   they were unknown to the high priest.   He could tell you, second by second, how to do everything he was doing and the history of it going all the way back to the first priest to enter the Most Holy Place.   I assume that would be Aaron, somewhere in the desert of Sinai, walking gingerly into God’s dwelling among men.  But the why?   Why did God require blood?   Why blood alone would make atonement?   I’m betting it was lost on him too.   I imagine that, if you had a long discussion with Aaron, his bottom line response would end up being “because God said so.”

That’s the ticket!   That’s the reason.   It’s reason enough.

It’s reason enough to know that God commanded it.  If you truly submit to God, you don’t need reason beyond that.  What’s more, it’s enough to know that God made it so for Jesus’ blood to be the only true sacrifice that would ever be needed to gain eternal salvation of mankind.   He who didn’t need to shed His own blood gave all of it up willingly, from the heart, from His soul.   He who was without sin and didn’t deserve to die, who hadn’t earned the death penalty for sin, willingly died for people who wouldn’t be willing to die for Him.   Why?   Because God said so.

Because God said so and predicted the need for it going all the way back to the fall of man.  Before He even spoke to Eve or Adam about their sin, He cursed Satan the tempter and laid out the penalty that Satan would pay.   “Cursed are you…He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”   Sin would be separate from God, intolerable and cursed.  There would be blood – and there weren’t even animal sacrifices yet; there wouldn’t be for hundreds of years – and it would forever vanquish sin.  It would then forever re-establish communion between men and their creator.  But it would require blood, first to represent and teach, then to actually do all that was necessary.

Why?   Because even way back in Eden, just before God expelled men from that paradise, God said so.   And then, because God shed His own blood to restore that communion between His favored beings and Himself, He, Jesus His Son, was fully able to re-enter heaven and present full atonement for all of mankind’s sin.   From Eve and Adam all the way down to Dave Terry, you, and everyone else here on Earth, Jesus entered the Most Holy Place of the presence of God and presented Himself in our place.   Nothing more is required; nothing more is necessary.   Indeed, nothing more could ever make it better or more complete.   Indeed, pursuing more would itself be an act of vain sin.   Best to turn away from that.

We don’t need to understand God’s motivation beyond knowing that He did it and that He loves us.   When all reason and logic fail, these will endure.  When you consider God’s ‘why’ in that light, ‘because He said so’ isn’t some response to a petulant child.  In that light, it’s the greatest gift He could ever give.

For further reading:  Leviticus 16:6, Hebrews 10:4, Hebrews 10:24-28, Genesis 3:14-15.

Lord, thank You for Your sacrifice of Your blood, for how You love us that much.

Practical Proverbial, from Hebrews, 9 March 2017

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.