Today is the third day of week 8, reading the Bible together in a year. Our scripture today is Leviticus 15-18; Hebrews 6; Psalm 31.
From a cursory reading of Leviticus, it seems that early Hebrews seemed downright squeamish about blood. All these laws dictating who is clean and unclean because of contact with blood make you wonder what's up with this sanguine Hebrew obsession. Then, you read about the sacrificial laws which require dipping of the right finger in blood, and the application of blood on the right earlobe and the right big toe, and you start to think that they're getting a little weird. Sacrificial blood was sprinkled on people and on animals. There were clean and unclean places to deal with blood as well--they even had a law about how to dispose of blood, by burying it. Also, eating meat with the blood still in it (no rare meat for me, thank you very much), or drinking blood (yuck!) was forbidden.
So, what's going on here, with all this blood?
Leviticus 17:11 makes a big theological statement. It says, "For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life."
Now, science might say that DNA is in blood, and this is true. But I think there's something more mystical happening here than simply a DNA issue. We know we can exchange one person's blood for another's (a transfusion) in order to save that person's physical life. We know that a mother's milk is made (essentially) from blood, and so that when she nurses her child, she's literally giving her blood to her child that he might live. But Jesus did something even more remarkable.
Jesus shed His blood not to give us physical life, but that we might have eternal life. In Old Testament times, every sacrificial animal spilt its blood in expectation of the One who would one day die as the ultimate sacrifice. No animal's blood could truly atone for human sin...it could only cover our sin, or maybe delay judgment. But the blood of the God-Man Jesus could atone for the sin of all humanity.
So when you read the Old Testmament laws about blood and wonder why there seemed to be so much obsession with it, just peer forward to the New Testament and see that actually, it's all about the blood! There's power in the blood--power to save, power to redeem!