Leviticus 17

Leviticus 17  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Thus, in Leviticus 17 we have a very serious and solemn injunction, spoken to Moses in the first instance, but set forth in a very comprehensive manner. “Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them; This is the thing which Jehovah hath commanded.” A most jealous care as to blood was insisted on. The reason of this is given: “The life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make an atonement for your soul; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”
It is clear that this is the deep truth which lay under all the ceremonies of the day of atonement. It was an ancient requirement, pressed in Noah’s day, when death first furnished food for man, and now bound up with man’s ordinary life of every day. Whatever may be the blessedness of the work of the Lord Jesus Christ for God and heaven – whatever our own satisfaction and rest and joy in looking through it to eternal hopes – we deprive ourselves of much, if we separate it from our work-a-day life and common-place duties. Undoubtedly it has an efficacy which brings us into the presence of God.
There is nothing that we ever can have by and by which, in a certain sense, exceeds in moral depth what we are brought into now by faith; but at the same time we have to bear in mind this other aspect of it – that is, namely, the way in which it mingles itself, and is intended to mingle itself, with everything that comes across us from day to day. It ought not to be apart in daily scenes and among men. Take for instance the commonest matter of our daily food and raiment. Ought we to exempt from Christ any one matter of our personal or relative life, or any one earthly duty? Be assured it is our joy and privilege to share all with Him. I am sure it is also our duty – that whatever we do we should do in His name. Nor can we do aught in His name except as having before our souls that wonderful work which accounts for every blessing which God has given us even now.
Hence it was then that God would not permit the life of any creature that was needful for the food of His people to be taken, unless there was the witness of that which had its most solemn testimony on the great day of atonement. But this was not enough. Every day and every day’s wants were to witness the same truth of God, to render the same confession of man.
This is the reason, it appears to me, why we have the ordinance of the blood following the great atonement-day; and most properly after it, and not before it. That is to say, we have the truth in its deepest and highest reaches before we are enabled to estimate it in its common and ordinary application. The blood shed is the witness that sin is in the world. In the first state of things no such thing was allowed. Before sin came into the world there was no question of blood. Directly after sin entered among men, we hear of life offered, of sacrifices; but man was not permitted to touch the blood, even when after the flood he might eat of animals. Blood was then as always sacred to God and forbidden to man on every ground of nature or of law.
And this gives amazing force to the wonderful difference in which redemption places the believer; for now (and how startling it must have been to a Jew to hear it!) “except ye eat the flesh, and drink the blood of the Son of man, ye have no life in you.” No doubt the one was a literal injunction, while the other was an immense spiritual truth. At the same time the Lord could have chosen some other form for expressing that truth, unless there had been particular emphasis laid on the very figure of what was most repulsive to a Jew’s mind according to the law. So thorough was the change that now He enjoins what would have been before the greatest sin. Except one eats the flesh and drinks the blood of the Son of man, there is no life. The sign of His death yields life to us, and is indispensably needful. To have life one must drink that which was due peremptorily, exclusively, to God the judge of sin. But now contrariwise Christ has changed all for us. The very blood that it would have been most of all criminal before to touch or taste must now emphatically be drunk by us. Hence the standing testimony to the work of Christ the Christian beholds, as we know, in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper. Therein the very same image is ever recurring. We eat His body and drink His blood.