Leviticus 17

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Read Leviticus 17

Eating Blood Forbidden

17 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites and say to them: ‘This is what the Lord has commanded: Any Israelite who sacrifices an ox, a lamb or a goat in the camp or outside of it instead of bringing it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord in front of the tabernacle of the Lord—that person shall be considered guilty of bloodshed; they have shed blood and must be cut off from their people. This is so the Israelites will bring to the Lord the sacrifices they are now making in the open fields. They must bring them to the priest, that is, to the Lord, at the entrance to the tent of meeting and sacrifice them as fellowship offerings. The priest is to splash the blood against the altar of the Lord at the entrance to the tent of meeting and burn the fat as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. They must no longer offer any of their sacrifices to the goat idols to whom they prostitute themselves. This is to be a lasting ordinance for them and for the generations to come.’

“Say to them: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice and does not bring it to the entrance to the tent of meeting to sacrifice it to the Lord must be cut off from the people of Israel.

10 “‘I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people. 11 For 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 one’s life. 12 Therefore I say to the Israelites, “None of you may eat blood, nor may any foreigner residing among you eat blood.”

13 “‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, 14 because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, “You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.”

15 “‘Anyone, whether native-born or foreigner, who eats anything found dead or torn by wild animals must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be ceremonially unclean till evening; then they will be clean. 16 But if they do not wash their clothes and bathe themselves, they will be held responsible.’”

Go Deeper

Leviticus 17 serves as a bridge between the first and second sections of Leviticus focusing on God’s holiness and calling the people to holiness. The first half of Leviticus is about the way to a holy God and the second half is about the walk with a holy God.

In the previous chapter we read about an important ritual called the Day of Atonement. As we know, this was a day where the High Priest entered the most Holy Place behind the veil and stood before God. He took two goats and killed one of them. The High Priest would bring the blood from the sacrifice into the innermost part of the tabernacle and sprinkle it on the Mercy Seat to atone for the sin of Israel. The meaning of this sacrifice is explained in Leviticus 17 where it says, “For 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 one’s life” (v. 11). Without blood, there is no atonement.

The God of Israel was very distinct from the pagan idols, so God had specific instructions on how the people could come before him in worship. We see one of these instructions in this chapter was the prohibition of eating meat with blood in it. The law against eating meat with blood in it is seen twice in Leviticus before (Leviticus 3:17, 7:27). This prohibition is not only for Israel but the aliens residing amongst them. The penalty for breaking this law was very serious; whoever eats it must be cut off (v. 14). Bloodshed has always been seen as sacred to God, because atonement requires blood. The way we worship the Lord matters.

Sin leads to death but blood offers a path to life. These sacrifices were a means of atonement. In the Old Testament, sacrifices were the only payment the people could offer for their sin to take punishment that the people deserved. This sacrifice was the only way to be reconciled back to God. The most important part of the sacrifice was the shedding of blood, because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22).

We get to see this all through the lens of the gospel. There is physical life through the blood of animals but eternal life through the blood of Christ. Hebrews 9:12 tells us that Jesus “entered the most holy place once for all time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” His blood covers our sins. It has been paid for. Jesus got what we deserve and through His death we can have life forever.


  1. How do you see Jesus represented in this passage?
  2. What does this passage show you about the character of God?
  3. How are you going to apply what you read in the passage today?

Keep Digging

For more information on the blood sacrifice, check out this article from GotQuestions.org!

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3 thoughts on “Leviticus 17”

  1. Once we know the truth, we are to uphold it and live it out. No excuses, no shortcuts. The Israelites were forbidden to offer sacrifices to idols as the pagan nations did and absolutely no partaking of blood. (That part would be easy for me as even the sight of blood makes me a bit squeamish.) As we’ve read through Levitical law & sacrifices required it has struck me how brutal & gory the whole process was. An innocent animal was sacrificed for a guilty person. We need to be reminded of the torture and cruel death Christ endured as he gave his life for the penalty for our sins. Jesus was the final sacrifice ever needed! “Oh, praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead, JESUS!”

  2. Back to Sunday’s sermon, who is driving? Fleshly desires or Holy Spirit? All day long I have an opportunity that I did not use to have and am so thankful for, I get time between jobs. I do home health so going from house to house I have drive time, sometimes 5-10 min. and sometimes 45 min. but it gives me the time to pray. I have to stop and lay everything back down every single time. I really believe in my ability to help God, my pride gets in the way constantly. So I have been thankful for this time to pause, I have downloaded John Eldredge “One Minute Pause” app and it is good for me to help refocus on being Holy Spirit driven, laying everything down and letting God be God. Leviticus 17 is our learning about the way they had to come to a Holy God and then to be able to walk with that Holy God. I am beyond thankful for Jesus Christ and His sacrifice so that I can just do pauses and praises and lift my voice in Hallelujahs to the KING OF KING and LORD OF LORDs!!! WOOHOO!!!!!!!

    Thank you God for your sacrifice, your only begotten son, who was willing to be my sacrifice. Thank you that I can be your light so shining is this dark world and tell of all YOU have done for me!!!! Thank you for never ending praise coming from my mouth in Jesus name Amen

  3. What can wash away my sin?
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
    What can make me whole again?
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

    This is all my hope and peace:
    nothing but the blood of Jesus.
    This is all my righteousness:
    nothing but the blood of Jesus.

    “When this hymn was first published in 1876, Hebrews 9:22 was quoted underneath the title: “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.” This song elaborates on that idea, repeatedly stating that “nothing but the blood of Jesus” purifies us. “
    -Hymnary.org, written by Robert Lowery
    1876, who surrendered his life to the ministry at the age of 22.
    I love old hymns. I love to read why and who wrote them. Sometimes I can read a passage and an old hymn will start playing in my mind. This one says it all.. and covered it all.

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