Thursday after Jubilate
Scripture: Leviticus 17:1-16 (NKJV)
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to Aaron, to his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘This is the thing which the LORD has commanded, saying: 3 “Whatever man of the house of Israel who kills an ox or lamb or goat in the camp, or who kills it outside the camp, 4 and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting to offer an offering to the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD, the guilt of bloodshed shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people, 5 to the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they offer in the open field, that they may bring them to the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to the priest, and offer them as peace offerings to the LORD. 6 And the priest shall sprinkle the blood on the altar of the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and burn the fat for a sweet aroma to the LORD. 7 They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.”‘
8 “Also you shall say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, 9 and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to the LORD, that man shall be cut off from among his people.
10 ‘And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11 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.’
12 “Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’ 13 Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; 14 for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.’
15 “And every person who eats what died naturally or what was torn by beasts, whether he is a native of your own country or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Then he shall be clean. 16 But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his guilt.”
“It is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”
Again, the blood of animals itself did not accomplish forgiveness for God’s people in the Old Testament. They were forgiven because of God’s promise of Christ in connection with these sacrifices.
The people were instructed not to consume the blood of the animals because they were not to see their life coming from these animals. Their life would come from the blood of the firstborn Son of God. This becomes a very significant point when Jesus declares that “My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.” (John 6:55). The importance of faith connected to God’s promises and instructions is emphasized when some do not believe our Lord’s Words and cling to the outward command of not drinking blood.
The simple act of any ceremony can become an idol if it is divorced from the Word of God. But it is by faith that we understand Holy Baptism is not water alone, but water comprehended in God’s command and connected with His Word (see Luther’s Small Catechism). By faith we understand that the bread and wine of the Sacrament of the Altar are His Body and Blood indeed. And by faith we understand that the blood of His atonement on the cross is truly the sacrifice that saves our souls and gives us the hope of the resurrection of our bodies and the life of the world to come! Without His Holy Spirit creating this faith in us these blessings are missed or misunderstood.
May He keep us steadfast in the true faith, and bless us according to the holy Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.