Read Leviticus 17
Eating Blood Forbidden
17 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites and say to them: ‘This is what the Lord has commanded: 3 Any Israelite who sacrifices an ox, a lamb or a goat in the camp or outside of it 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 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.’
8 “Say to them: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice 9 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.’”
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.
- How do you see Jesus represented in this passage?
- What does this passage show you about the character of God?
- How are you going to apply what you read in the passage today?
Leave a Comment Below
Join the Team
Interested in writing for the Bible Reading Plan? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.