The Laws of Blood and Redemption
Issue No. 235
Leviticus 17:10 says,
10 And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
God did not create blood to be eaten, and to this, the apostles bear witness (Acts 15:20). It had another purpose.
To Eat is to Conquer
Eating (or consuming) is also a Hebrew idiom for conquering. For example, when the ten spies gave their “evil report” in Num. 13:32, they said,
32The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants.
They were concerned about the giants in the land. Joshua's reply in Num. 14:9 says, “they are bread for us.” To Joshua, those giants were the breakfast of champions.
The Fleshly Soul is in the Blood
Leviticus 17:11 gives us the reason that we are not to consume blood:
11 For the life [nephesh, “soul”] of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life [nephesh, “soul”] that makes atonement.
In other words, Scripture identifies the blood with the soul, even as our breath is identified with our spirit, and the body is identified with the flesh. Spirit, soul, and body correlate with breath, blood, and flesh. To understand the relationship between Spirit, soul, and body, it is helpful to know the relationship between the breath, the blood, and the flesh.
Essentially, the breath gives life to the blood, which diffuses the oxygen throughout the flesh to keep it alive. So also, the Spirit gives life to the soul, which is diffused throughout the body to keep it alive.
The Soulish Man and the Spiritual Man
The “soul of the flesh” in verse 11 above can be expressed as “the fleshly soul,” or “the carnal soul.” The soul is carnal, and not spiritual of itself. Paul speaks of “the natural man” (as 1 Cor. 2:14 is translated in the KJV), but the Greek term is actually “the soulish man. This “man” within us is contrasted with the spiritual “man” within us, the New Man fathered by the Holy Spirit, which is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
The soulish man is who we are in Adam. The spiritual man is who we are in Christ. The soulish man is bloody; the spiritual man has the breath of God and is filled with the Spirit. The soulish man is death-ridden; the spiritual man is alive.
The soulish man, in his death-ridden state, has an inherent, selfish desire to consume, rather than to give. Such behavior, when it reaches its culmination, will consume others with violence and force if necessary to accomplish its will. Human governments and kingdoms tend to impose their will upon others and take men and their property by force; whereas Divine government and the Kingdom of God conquer by giving, which is its prime expression of love.
These are two basic methods of achieving UNITY. The soulish man attempts to achieve unity by consuming others. The spiritual man does it by being consumed in the all-devouring Fire of God. We are what we eat.
As Christian believers, we have two natures within us. In the writings of Paul, they are personified as “men.” The spiritual man within us is spiritual and is Christ in you. These two “men” do not get along very well, for they are at cross purposes. The natural man wants to dominate, but the spiritual man is the one called to have the dominion mandate (Gen. 1:26).
Adam's sin was essentially an internal political coup by which the soulish man overthrew the spiritual man in Adam. This brought the curse of God upon the entire world as redemptive judgment. History is the time it takes for the curse to be reversed in its entirety. History will not be completed, nor will time end, until all things have been redeemed and put back under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25-28).
Edom—The Prime Type of the Soulish Man
Besides Adam, Edom is presented in Scripture as one of the primary expressions of carnal behavior and human government. The connection between these two men is that their names essentially mean the same thing. Adam means “ruddy,” while Edom means “red.” Each man represents a different side to carnal behavior. Ezekiel 35:6 says of Edom, or Idumea,
6 Therefore, as I live, declares the Lord God, I will give you over to blood(shed), and blood(shed) will pursue you, since you have not hated blood(shed), therefore blood(shed) will pursue you.
The text literally reads "blood," but it has reference to bloodshed and can be translated either way. Later, in verse 12, it explains this further about Edom:
12 Then you will know that I, the Lord have heard all your revilings which you have spoken against the mountains of Israel saying, “They are laid desolate; they are given to us for food.”
In other words, Edom was bloodthirsty. They were violating the law against eating blood. I have found no evidence that they literally drank blood, but Scripture says that they were guilty of violating this law by being bloodthirsty and by consuming the inhabitants of the “mountains of Israel.”
The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, and they believed that they were the true inheritors of the land. But instead of waiting for God to give it to them, they had no faith that God would do so. So they took it by force, according to the dictates of their carnal souls.
Anyone who is bloodthirsty or who tries to consume others is revealing the nature of his carnal, mortal soul. Those who love and give of themselves are manifesting the nature of the spiritual man that is Christ in us.
The Example of Jesus Christ
The prime example of the manifestation of the love of God is found in Jesus Christ Himself. He did not come to consume or devour us but to give His life for the world.
The blood was to be poured out upon the ground as atonement for our souls (Lev. 17:13). In pouring out the blood, it was said that the SOUL was poured out. This is what Jesus did at the Cross, for we read in Isaiah 53:12, “He has poured out His soul unto death.” It was done by means of the blood that was poured out upon the ground at the Cross.
To pour the blood of any sacrifice upon the ground (including the Sacrifice of Christ) was an act of giving. Christ did this in accordance with the law, which said that the blood was to be used to atone for our souls.
The Ground was Adam’s First Redeemer
One might ask WHY blood was to be poured out upon the ground. The answer goes back to Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve first sinned. Verse 17 gives us part of God's verdict upon them for their sin: “Cursed is the ground because of you” or for your sake. The ground was actually given responsibility for Adam's sin. In the law, when a man takes responsibility for the sin (debt) of another, he is called a redeemer. In the laws of redemption, the redeemer pays the debt and purchases the debtor. The debtor is not set free, but merely changes masters (Lev. 25:53).
We know that Jesus came to redeem us, and He purchased us by His blood (1 Cor. 7:23). Therefore, we are to submit ourselves as bondservants to Christ, as we read in Rom. 6:22, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God.”
Jesus' redemption work came in the New Testament, but the principle of redemption has been with us from the beginning. The same law of redemption is apparent in Gen. 3:17 when God made the ground liable for Adam's sin. Essentially, the ground was Adam's first redeemer. Adam became enslaved to the ground as a result of this redemption. The ground had the right of redemption, because Adam was made from the dust of the ground and was therefore a near kinsman (Lev. 25:49). But the ground proved to be a hard task master.
The ground owned Adam, and its rights were specified in the law of redemption. For this reason, Adam had to work for the ground by the sweat of his brow (Gen. 3:19) for his entire life time, until the ground reclaimed him (that is, his soul) at death.
Adam's entire estate was sold to pay for his sin (Matt. 18:25). Adam's estate was all of creation, including the animals. For this reason, when animals were killed for food or for sacrifice, their blood was to be given to the ground, as the law says. The reason was because even the animals had been sold to the ground for Adam's sake in Gen. 3:17. Their souls belonged to the earth by right of redemption.
Jesus then came as a near Kinsman to purchase all who had been sold to the ground through Adam's sin, including the entire estate—CREATION. The same law that sold us to the ground was the basis of our redemption in Christ.
Souls Under the Altar
Meanwhile, the souls of the martyrs, the persecuted ones, cry out from under the altar, as we read in Rev. 6:9, 10,
9 And when He broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained, 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
First of all, these souls are identified as martyrs, who are pictured as having been sacrificed to God. In the temple, the blood of the sacrifices were to be poured out upon the ground under the altar in fulfillment of the law of blood in Leviticus 17.
Secondly, John identifies these as “souls,” not as spirits, because the soul is in the blood. It is a word picture that expresses the law found in Leviticus 17.
The first martyr, of course, was Abel, whom Cain killed in Genesis 4. At that time, God spoke to Cain saying in Gen. 4:10, “the voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground.” Hebrews 11:4 says also that “through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.”
Martyrdom was a very real possibility in the early Church, and so they had a deep understanding and appreciation for Abel as their forerunner and as a type of Christ. It is also an important topic in the Genesis Book of Psalms, because Psalms 2-5 refer to Abel’s martyrdom, and Psalm 6 extends the principle to all martyrs since then.
The Law of Blood Sacrifice
The law of sacrifice found in Leviticus 17:1-7 tell us that if a man kills a sacrifice either inside or outside the camp, he was to bring it (its blood) to the tabernacle or temple so that the priest could sprinkle its blood on the altar. This is what made the sacrifice acceptable to God. In fact, this is what actually offered it to the true God. If a man did not do this, he was guilty of offering the sacrifice to the goat-god, as it says in Lev. 17:7,
7 And they shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the goat demons [sa'ir, “satyr, faun, Pan”] with which they play the harlot.
Recall that Jesus was the Sacrifice for sin, and He was crucified “outside the camp,” which I believe was on the top of the Mount of Olives, according to David’s prophecy in 2 Sam. 15:30. It was lawful to kill the sacrifice outside the camp, provided they brought some of the blood to the temple to offer it to God.
The New Testament applies this law by telling us to appropriate His blood and sprinkle it upon the true altar of God (our hearts) to make that Sacrifice acceptable. If we do not do this, we are guilty of bloodshed (Lev. 17:4), that is, simple murder, even as Cain killed Abel. This is also Edom's problem, as we see in Ezekiel 35:6.
In the crucifixion of Jesus, the Lamb of God, those priests who crucified Him did not apply His blood to the altars of their hearts by faith. To do so would have atoned for their souls. But they did not have faith that the blood of Jesus would do anything for their souls. For this reason, the law says that they are guilty of bloodshed and murder (Matt. 22:7). Yet those who accepted Him as the Sacrifice for sin are NOT guilty, for the blood of the Sacrifice has atoned for all their sins and has made peace with God.
Azazel and the True Goat
Those who do not comply with the law in this matter of the great Sacrifice of Christ are playing the harlot and sacrificing to the god Pan, the “goat demons,” as Lev. 17:7 tells us. Pan is a faun, half man and half goat. Pan is a counterfeit Christ, who was both Son of God and Son of Man. Pan is the “Azazel,” of Lev. 16:8. Azazel means “goat god,” because azaz is a “goat,” and el means “god.”
In Leviticus 16, we read of the Day of Atonement, where the priest was to select two goats: one for Yahweh, the true God, and the other for Azazel. The first was killed and its blood sprinkled on the altar. The second was given to Azazel in the wilderness. When Jesus came to fulfill those prophecies, He came to John for baptism on the Day of Atonement and was “killed” spiritually while the first goat was being killed in the temple for Yahweh. Then the Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tried by Azazel for 40 days.
That temptation in the wilderness was like a great contest between two “goats,” that is, between the true and the false Christ. In the end, those who followed the true Christ were those who sprinkled His blood on the altar of their hearts, applying His sacrifice in the lawful manner. Those who do not do so are, lawfully speaking, “playing the harlot” and are sacrificing to Azazel, the false Christ.
This is the heart of the matter. It is what defines true Christians and distinguishes them from the rest of humanity. Yes, “every knee will bow” when they stand before God in the Judgment, but at this present time, we do not yet see all things put under His feet (Heb. 2:8). At the present time, there are believers and non-believers. And the essential issue is what one does with the blood of the Sacrifice.
Counterfeit Christianity focuses upon the good teachings of Jesus. It often defines sin as mere ignorance, and the solution is a classroom where they read the teachings of Jesus. It implies that if we can just learn enough truth, then we will be saved. Such salvation depends upon man and his ability to learn.
True Christianity, on the other hand, says that salvation is based upon the Sacrifice of Christ on the cross to deal with sin. Sin is not mere ignorance, but a violation of law and an offense against God that demands death. The solution is in a court of law, not in a college classroom. Such salvation depends upon the Sacrifice of Christ, and the timing of one's salvation depends upon when a person appropriates this by the sprinkling of blood upon the altar of his heart by faith.
Those who are justified by faith are identifying with Christ, not only in His life but also in His death. Why? Because those who yet follow the carnal, fleshly soul are those who want to dominate by violence and force. Such people demand subservience to themselves, and anyone who has a new Master is perceived as a threat to their own dominion. Such people are willing to kill others in the name of their counterfeit god (Azazel), thinking that this is what religion demands of them.
And so we have martyrs, who follow the footsteps of Jesus, lambs led to the slaughter. They are the souls under the altar who cry out for judgment and “avenging.” The “avenger of blood” in Num. 35:19 is the one responsible to see to it that justice is done on behalf of the one murdered. “Avenger” or “Revenger” is from the Hebrew word ga'al, which means TO REDEEM and goel, a redeemer. Obviously, this English translation does not do justice to the Hebrew concept, asserting a vengeful motive that God never intended. Young's Literal Translation consistently translates the term correctly: “redeemer of blood.”
The souls under the altar ask for redemptive judgment, not revenge.
The Redeemer of Blood
In biblical days they did not have a police department to arrest those who broke the law. The people themselves were the police department and the arresting officers. If they were in no position to arrest the one being charged with a crime, it was the responsibility of the citizens' posse to help the victim do justice.
In Bible days the authoritative structure revolved around the king in national matters and around the goel in family matters. The goel was the “redeemer of blood,” charged with the responsibility to ensure that those under him did not lose their God-given rights through crime. The biblical goel had at least four main duties:
(1) Lev. 25:25 says that he was responsible to redeem his kinsman's property lost through debt. (2) Lev. 25:47-55 says that he was responsible to redeem the kinsman himself, if he had been sold to a foreigner for debt. (3) Num. 5:6-8 says that if a near kinsman had been robbed but had died or disappeared before being able to receive restitution payment, the goel was to receive such payment in proxy for the victim. (4) The redeemer of blood was responsible for defending the rights of his kinsmen in the court of law, if a crime was committed against them.
The Bible does not allow the redeemer of blood to take the law into his own hands in executing a murderer. The goel is neither the jury nor the judge. If a goel were to execute someone that he believed was a murderer, without first taking the murderer to court, he would be breaking the primary law of revenge found in Lev. 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance [Heb. naqam] , nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people.” Paul understood this as well, when he referred to this verse in Romans 12:19, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
God set up Israel's Justice Department to act on His behalf to judge crime and restore the lawful order. The goel does not have the right to act as judge and jury. The goel is not the victim, but is the victim’s advocate. As such, the goel lacks the power to forgive a sin, because only the victim has that right. The goel’s job is secure the rights of his client. Once that is accomplished, the victim may then extend mercy as led by the Spirit.
The law is about equal justice to all. The mercy factor is placed into the hands of the victim.
Hopefully, as Christians, we will follow God's example. His throne of judgment is the Ark of the Covenant, in which was housed the Ten Commandments. But it was covered by the Mercy Seat, showing that divine judgment is not without mercy either, even if the law lacks the power to forgive. James 2:13 refers to the mercy seat over the Tables of Law, saying, “mercy is exalted above justice.”
When the high priest sprinkled the blood of the goat upon the mercy seat on the Day of Atonement, he was appealing to the Divine Court of heaven for mercy upon the nation. The bronze altar in the outer court represented the earthly court of justice; the Ark of the Covenant with its mercy seat represented the heavenly Court.
God is the ultimate Victim of all sin, and this gives Him the option of granting mercy. He is not totally bound by His law to exact its full requirements. He not only gives equal justice for all, but also grants mercy to all (Rom. 11:32) according to His wisdom.