Today’s reading was from Exodus 22-24.I must admit that I have a penchant for picking bizarre looking verses. But in part they’re the bits that catch my attention, and they are in the Bible for a reason. Today’s post is probably the longest yet, but I got carried away 🙂
Just to put the verse into context, the people are at Mt. Sinai. God had given His people some laws to follow, and the people had agreed to follow them: “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” Then Moses writes down all the words of the LORD, I’m assuming into what is then referred to as the Book of the Covenant. There are sacrifices of oxen, half the blood is taken and placed in basins, and the other half Moses throws against the altar. He reads from the Book of the Covenant, and the people reply, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses takes the blood and throws it on the people, thus the verse above.
So note here. We have half the blood thrown against the altar. The Book of the Covenant is read. The people commit to following it. And the other half of the blood is thrown on them.
It’s a very important order to keep straight in our heads. A covenant was being made here. And the covenant was sealed by blood. A half was thrown on the altar to represent God’s commitment, and the other half was thrown on the people to represent the people’s commitment.
But blood…why blood? There was something symbolically important about blood. Blood was said to contain the life force of the person. The word bloodshed, doesn’t mean a cut and a bit of bleeding; it means a killing has taken place. A blood covenant was a covenant of the very highest order. If it was broken, then the fate of the guilty party would be the same as the animal offering – bloodshed.
What a predicament the Israelites found themselves in! They broke the covenant countless times and yet they were spared that horrible fate. And how foolish the Pharisees were in Jesus’ time. His coming had been foretold from this moment on. That God’s people had survived despite their unfaithfulness was owing to God’s amazing plan to be carried out through Jesus. Instead the Pharisees took their ‘righteousness’ for granted, not realising they had a blood penalty to be paid.
How blessed we are today! That blood penalty has been paid, for those God has chosen to redeem. During the Last Supper, Jesus took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” In Matthew, He says, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” But can you imagine how terrible it was at the very moment of Jesus’ death? Can you imagine the size of the penalty that had to be paid?
We can easily let Jesus’ crucifixion slip into the back of our minds, but something immense was happening at that very moment. And it’s something we should never forget. Blood was spilled. And a covenant was made.
And no the story doesn’t end there. It can’t. Jesus had to rise from the dead for the covenant to be everlasting. And so He did.
1 Corinthians 1:18