Hebrews 9:18-22

Hebrews 9:18‑22  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
From the digression, which avails itself of a testamentary disposal, coming into force only after death, to bring out the blessing from Christ's death, we return to the far more usual notion of covenant in the verses which follow. Accordingly “blood” again resumes its place. This of course is quite foreign to the associations of a will, but most familiar to all acquainted with the ancient covenant of the law.
“Whence not even hath the first [covenant] been inaugurated without blood. For every injunction having been spoken according to law by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of the calves and the goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, This [is] the blood of the covenant which God enjoined as to you. And the tabernacle too and all the vessels of the ministry he likewise sprinkled with the blood. And almost all things are purified by blood according to the law, and apart from blood-shedding no remission taketh place” (Heb. 9:18-2218Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. 19For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, 20Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 21Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. (Hebrews 9:18‑22)).
There are here three distinct uses of blood in the Levitical economy, all of them solemn and momentous, the last of them leading the way into the fundamental blessing of the new covenant which the gospel announces to every believer.
1. The first covenant was inaugurated with blood, as we read in Ex. 24. This is not redemption, but in the strongest contrast with it. The type of redemption had been already given (Ex. 12-14) in the blood of the paschal lamb, followed by the passage of the Red Sea: the blood which sheltered from the judgment of God; and the power which thereon set the people free from their enemies destroyed forever. But now Israel far from God had accepted to stand on the condition of their own obedience, Ex. 19; and God had spoken those ten words which would put the people to the proof. Here accordingly (Ex. 24) the covenant receives its seal in blood. “And Moses took half of the blood and put it in a basin; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people; and they said, All that Jehovah hath spoken will we do and be obedient. And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold, the blood of the covenant which Jehovah hath made with you concerning all these words.” It was the old covenant, not the new; the law, not redemption. The blood which, as this epistle states, was sprinkled on the book and all the people, simply set forth death as the penalty of disobedience. Hence it was in no way propitiatory but penal.
2. Attention is drawn to Moses sprinkling the tabernacle also, and all the vessels of the ministry in like manner with the blood. That this is distinct from the inauguration of the law should be clear, if only from the fact that neither the tabernacle nor the vessels appertaining to it yet existed. There was of necessity this provision against the defilement of the meeting-place with God, and the vessels for service: without the sprinkling of the blood all must have contracted defilement, because a sinful people were concerned, and God was holy. And this was so true that it is added as almost a fact that with blood all things are purified according to the law. Yet it is not stated absolutely, for water was employed in some cases, fire in others; both figurative of death, and the latter in its extreme form as divine judgment. How blessed for us is the gift of grace where judgment was felt in a perfection unknown and impossible elsewhere! “This is he that came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with water only, but with water and with blood.” He expiates as well as purifies, and both by virtue of His death. Out of His pierced side came blood and water.
3. “And apart from blood-shedding no remission taketh place.” Here we come in type to the grand truth which vindicated God in all His moral being and brings effectual blessing to guilty man if he bow to God. It is not sprinkling with blood here, but shedding of blood, without which remission cannot be. It is the efficacy of the blood shed once for all, presented to God, and bringing to man remission: the ground of divine righteousness, when human righteousness had been proved wholly at fault; the righteousness of God unto all, and upon all those that believe, rolling away every distinction, that God may bless any, as He surely does all that believe.