For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have appointed it to you to make atonement on the altar for your lives, since it is the lifeblood that makes atonement. (Leviticus 17:14 HCSB)
God is giving a command to the Israelites and even to foreigners who visit them to never eat blood, and if they do, He will turn against them and cut them off from His people. This is how precious and holy the lifeblood of an animal is. In Acts, Peter is given a vision that all things are now clean to eat, and that the Gentiles who were once considered unclean can become fellow sons and daughters of God if they live for Jesus. But even so, the early church leaders call all believers to make sure that they abstain from eating blood. Kosher laws were no longer an obligation to follow, but honoring the lifeblood of an animal was still to be observed, just like in the time of Moses. (Acts 15:20)
The promise that God gives to Moses was a foreshadowing of the perfect sacrifice that would come in the form of Jesus, over a thousand years later. God tells them that blood is only to make atonement (to remove sin and make people one with God). The blood of animals, lambs, bulls, goats and others, were offered daily in the tabernacle and later the temple. It was the central and most crucial act of worship to God. It was a very visual and tactile reminder that sin separates us from God, and that an innocent life has to be sacrificed so that it’s lifeblood could cry out for our forgiveness.
It may sound gruesome, but if we could see the filth and depravity of our own souls, we would understand how gruesome our own state of existence is. The rebellious attitudes and selfishness of every human being who has ever been born, creates a huge gaping chasm between God and us. We are hopelessly lost without a savior. Jesus’ pure and perfect blood that was shed for every sin of the world, past present and future, is the highest and greatest act of love this world has ever known. Receiving God’s forgiveness because of His lifeblood is our only hope of being rescued from the punishment we deserve. But His blood needs to be honored and received with humility and reverence. It can only cleanse us if we kill our sinful natures first and refuse to live in sin any more. That’s what repentance and salvation is all about.
Jesus shocked his disciples one day when He said, “I assure you: Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves. (John 6:52) Many of Jesus’ followers turned around and abandoned Him right then and there. The thought of drinking blood was so horrifying, that they couldn’t stand to hear one more word. Jesus looked at His twelve disciples and asked if they were going to leave Him too. It is shocking that the holy Son of God would sacrifice His blood for us. It heals, forgives and makes us children of God. Honor His sacrifice every day by killing your selfish desires and living by His Spirit.