“It is not sin as we see it that was laid on Christ but sin as God sees it,
not sin as our conscience feebly reveals it to us but sin as God beholds it in all its unmitigated
malignity and unconcealed loathsomeness.
Sin, in its exceeding sinfulness, Jesus has put away.
But when we perceive sin, then we are to trust the blood.”
(detail from Matthias Grünewald, Isenheim altarpiece, 1512-1516, Musée Unterlinden, Colmar)
Every 3 months or so, I have to go in for blood work.
I go in primarily for the checking of my thyroid levels.
I have a roller coaster for a thyroid.
Up and down…never just one or the other.
They call that not hypo or hyperthyroidism but rather Hashimoto’s Disease…meaning my thyroid levels
fluctuate both up and or down with no specific rhyme or reason.
A thyroid is a gland in the neck, near the larynx, that regulates the body’s metabolic rate…
It helps to regulate the heart, the digestive system, muscle control, bone growth, and even one’s moods.
It’s a small gland but hugely important.
So I must take a synthetic thyroid hormone to help keep mine working as it should.
The bloodwork lets the doctors know if they need to change the strength either up or down.
Since I go in to see my doctor next week, I needed to go in for the bloodwork today, a week prior.
I’m not afraid of needles nor am I afraid of seeing blood–that being the blood of others
not so much keen on seeing my own—
As an Art teacher, my kids were accidentally yet constantly, as in all the time,
cutting their hands with either razor blades or the gouges we used in printmaking—
in turn, leading them to freak out.
And so my girl scout and first-aid training would kick into action–
direct pressure and hold above the heart, call the school nurse.
So whereas I don’t enjoy being stuck and drained as if a vampire had gotten a hold of me,
being stuck doesn’t really bother me.
So there I was sitting with my sleeve rolled up, tourniquet tied tight, fist clenched
while my head turned elsewhere looking away lest I might possibly faint…
other’s blood, no problem— my blood, small problem.
But I mindlessly chattered with the phlebotomist, praying she’ll take off that blasted tourniquet that
was squeezing the life from my arm, and before I knew it, we were done.
She gathered her needed vials—
Three vials of blood.
Vials that will tell my doctor where my current thyroid levels rest.
They will tell her that my cholesterol is most likely up.
They will tell her whether there are any vitamin deficiencies in my body.
They will tell her if there is any sort of infection in my body– as in high white blood cells.
They will tell her if my liver enzymes are still too high as in fatty.
They will tell her if the Hemochromatosis is out of sorts.
They will tell her if my hormones are awry.
They will tell her if there is inflammation.
They can tell her if there might be a cancer.
They can tell her if I have celiac disease or any other number of diseases.
And if I were a much younger woman, they could tell her whether or not I was pregnant.
All of that and more from three small vials of blood pulled directly from a vein.
And whereas some of the results may not be necessarily pleasing, the results can, in turn,
My thoughts quickly shifted from the notion of medical information to that of
the essential necessity of life’s sustaining blood.
The doctor can tell so much from just a couple of vials of blood–life or death things…
but the one thing she can’t tell is whether the blood in my veins is merely mine or that
of the blood of the lamb…
The Bible is rife with tales of the importance of blood.
The African Research Review offers this insight:
“From the earliest times, God had insisted on blood sacrifice as the ground upon which He was to be approached.
As God’s revelatory act and the corresponding relationship developed,
the Levitical sacrifices had to be systematized and made an integral part of the Hebrew religion.
Blood-related sacrifice to the Jew, therefore, was an ultimate demand from God resulting in a unique relationship.”
The significance of Blood sacrifice in the Old Testament could, therefore,
be seen in its union with God, from whom man distanced himself due to disobedience to set norms.
This union eventually culminates in substitution, for the fact that punishment for sin cannot be averted.
The concept of substitution has to do with taking the place of the actual culprit.
In citing Moraldi, Gabriel Abe (2004:26) said that the offerer is substituting his life with the victim
in order to undertake his deserved punishment as a result of his sins or wrong doing committed with Israel…
the blood sacrifice was obligatory in cleansing.
Blood is life (Lev. 17:11, 14) and to shed blood, a victim must be killed in place of the sacrificer.
According to Biblesprout.com
The blood of humans and animals is a high complex fluid which contains cells,
various forms of nourishment for tissues, oxygen, disease antibodies, hormones and other
substances which, when in balance, maintain health and well being.
Thus, the life of the flesh (i.e., the whole body) is indeed “in the blood.”
(THE OLD TESTAMENT COMMENTARIES — LEVITICUS, p. 181).
Blood is known to be a vital principle of the physical body.
The discovery of the circulation of the blood was revolutionary in the study of anatomy.
In more recent years it has been demonstrated that the health of the body depends on the
rapidity of the blood flow; and blood transfusions are an accepted means of prolonging life.
(THE BOOK OF LEVITICUS, C. R. Erdman, p. 81).
The Bible does say for the life of the flesh is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11);
for it is the life of all flesh (Leviticus 17:14);…
for the blood is the life (Deuteronomy 12:23).
The blood represents life, and so sacred is life before God that the blood of animals was used
in all offerings for sin as man’s vicarious substitute (atonement)
under the Mosaic (Old Testament) law.
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood;
and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Hebrews 9:22
Only as atonement is linked with death, the shedding of blood, and not life set free,
would it appear to become efficacious in the covering of human sin.
Enter the need for a substitute…
no amount of sacrifice or the letting of animal or human blood can expunge the sin of mankind.
Enter the Lamb.
“The regulations concerning the sacredness of blood are full of spiritual meaning for the Christian.
In addition to justification and forgiveness through the blood of Christ (see Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7),
the Christian gains access to God in faith (Hebrews 10:22),
experiences victory over evil (Revelation 12:11), and obtains eternal glory (Revelation 7:19).
The death of Christ has brought new life into being for mankind by atoning for us in a manner completely
beyond our own human abilities to perform.
(TYNDALE OLD TESTAMENT COMMENTARIES– LEVITICUS, pp. 182,183).
(Dr. Elmer Towns)
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace,
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.