One of the crimes that were ascribed to early Christians was that Christian worship services included the practice of cannibalism.
Christians were reputed to ceremonially repeat the sacrifice of Christ and then eat the body and blood of the victim.
It was all very vague; all the average Roman of that time knew about Christianity was that it placed an inordinate value on blood and sacrifice. Christianity today is still slammed by its critics as a ‘bloody’ religion, because so much of the Bible seems to obsess about it.
Every major doctrine in the Bible is dependent on the Blood.
“Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission,” (Hebrews 9:22)
Without the Blood Doctrine, there can be no forgiveness, no regeneration, no peace, no joy, no rest, no hope, and no Resurrection.
Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is pictured as the Lamb of God, and that title is always associated with His atoning work on the Cross, in which He shed His Blood as full payment for our sins.
Remove the Blood Doctrine from Scripture, and the Doctrine of Atonement goes with it.
If one breaks down the word ‘atonement’ into its component parts, the word defines itself according to its original meaning. “At One Ment”.
We were separated from God at the Fall, and we are made one again at the Cross.
Adam and Eve were told that the penalty for breaking God’s command not to violate the Tree of Knowledge was death.
“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Genesis2:17)
God made provision for their sin, killing two animals and covering their nakedness with their skins. That was the first blood shed to cover sin, and God set up a system of sacrifice whereby the blood of bullocks, goats and lambs kept that one Great Object Lesson before the people.
Sin has a blood penalty, and the penalty must be paid.
In Genesis Chapter 15, we find Abram questioning God’s promise that his seed will be numbered as the stars of heaven and that they would inherit the land to which God had led him.
Genesis 15:6 says,
“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
But Abram wanted a guarantee, nonetheless.
“And he [Abram] said, LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (15:8)
It was then that God proposed a blood covenant after the manner of the Chaldeans.
“And he [God] said unto him, [Abram] Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
Abram knew what to do next, since this was something he was familiar with.
“And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.”
The blood covenant worked this way. The animals were slaughtered and cut up. The pieces were intermingled and then carefully arranged to form a kind of aisle through which the two parties to the covenant would walk together, hands joined.
The principle of a blood covenant, and the symbolism of the rended animal parts was clearly understood to Abram. Whoever broke the covenant would end up like those piles of animals.
A blood covenant was, by common custom, a joining of 2 or more persons, families, clans, tribes, or nations, where the participants agree to do or refrain from doing certain acts.
More specifically, God had proposed a patriarchal covenant. The patriarchal form of covenant is a self-imposed obligation of a superior party, to the benefit of an inferior party.
In this form, the terms the parties use to refer to each other are: father and son.
God’s proposal included not only Abram, but extended to Abram’s seed forever.
Genesis says that, having prepared the covenant ritual, Abram waited for God to show up so the two of them could walk through the grisly aisle together, sealing its terms.
Instead, Genesis 15:12 records that as Abram waited for God, a deep sleep fell upon him. During that deep sleep;
“it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” (Genesis 15:17-18)
Although the Covenant was between God and Abram (and his seed), God signed on both sides, binding Himself to both parts. Abram and his seed did not remain faithful, and the penalty for violating a blood covenant was death.
It is for that reason that God stepped out of eternity and into space and time. To keep the provisions of the original covenant and be a true Son, as it demanded.
And having kept its terms on behalf of sinful humanity, it was incumbent upon Him to make payment, as justice demanded, for its violation by those on whose behalf the covenant was signed.
To be torn and rended like the animals that formed the corridor through which God alone passed.
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
It may still seem a bit unclear. How can an innocent person assume the guilt of another and then call it ‘justice?’
When a person becomes a Christian, he becomes a part of the Body of Christ. He is joined with Christ, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He becomes ‘one with Christ’.
Look at it this way. Suppose a poor, debt-ridden widow lived next door to a millionaire. Her debts could not be legally or justly charged to him. But if he married her, he also legally and justly assumes responsibility for both her assets and her debts.
“Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law (our first husband) by the body of Christ (that is by Christ’s death); that ye should be married to another, even to Him (Christ) who is raised from the dead.” (Romans 7:4)
Noted Clarence Larkin back in 1911;
As sinners we were under the “curse of the Law,” but as believers– “Christ hath redeemed us from the CURSE of the Law, being made a CURSE for us: for it is written, CURSED IS EVERY ONE THAT HANGETH ON A TREE.” (Galatians 3:13).
The “Tree” that Christ hung on was the CROSS.
We are therefore DEAD to the Law: not physically dead, but JUDICIALLY dead, for the “Penalty” of a law cannot be exacted twice. If Jesus “bare our sins in His own body upon the Tree” (1st Peter 2:24), then they are no longer upon us and we are free from sin. The death of Christ was no mere accident or incident, it was predetermined.
“Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold . . but with the PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD.” (1st Peter 1:18-20).”
In the words of the old Gospel song,
“What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus; What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. . . Oh! precious is the flow; That makes me white as snow; No other fount I know . . .
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
This imperative message was orginally published September 5, 2007