What about Blood? – Leviticus 17:11

An interesting passage in Levitucus 17 instructs the people of Israel not to eat the blood of any animal.  This comes after many chapters describing the various sacrifices that were given to the people to offer at the place of worship.  Leviticus is a bloody book by anyone’s reckoning.

Here is the statement:

Leviticus 17:11 – ESV
    For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.

Life is in the blood.  Some say that the blood of sacrifices suggest the offering of a life to God.  However, scholars such as Leon Morris looked at the word usage and it is clear that blood is tied to suffering and to death.  So it seems better to think that the blood here refers to the life that is lost in death. 

Out of respect for the system of blood sacrifice, those living in the Land of promise were to refrain from consuming it.  After centuries of sacrifices and further centuries of blood-letting in ordinary eating, one might ask, Why?

It is because the Lord “gave” the blood to make “atonement.”  The act of atonement – that is a sacrifice that pays for the penalty of sin as a substitute for the worshipper – is a gift of grace to be revered.

It is interesting that the offering is not a gift from the worshipper to God, but a gift provided by God to the Worshipper.


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