Without the Shedding of Blood
We live in a very antiseptic world. We disinfect everything before we use it. I’m not complaining; this is good social hygiene and reduces chance of spreading germs and infections. Our worship spaces too are usually very clean and tidy; after all, we want those visitors to return as well as bring their children back to our deodorized and disinfected nurseries and Sunday Schools. But this is VERY different from the worship of our Old Testament forebears who were instructed differently by the Lord. Theirs was a very bloody scene—and graphically so. The heifer was slain and blood sprinkled on just about everything used for worship, including the people! It’s laughable to imagine contemporary Americans under such a system.
Of course, we are no longer under that system. But we must understand the reasons why. We must understand first that ours is a covenantal religion; that is, we and God are related to one another by covenant which He has initiated with us. This covenant began with the Abraham and through him to the people of Israel. The covenant states that God shall be our God and we shall be His people; however, we must obey His commandments that He may continue as our God. In those days, covenants were sealed in blood usually by sacrifice (Genesis 15:1-21), the sacrifice implying that whoever breaks the covenant shall pay by his own blood. And this is why Israelite religion was so bloody—as people continue in sin and thereby break their covenant obligations, blood must be spilled to atone for their treachery. God was gracious to receive the animal in the place of the people.
But now, the Preacher says there has been another death, a wholly different kind of death, not like the death of the heifers before. Because the covenant was broken, a death has occurred, but not like the ones before. Now God has taken upon himself the penalty on our behalf without the intervention of bulls and goats. Again, blood has been spilled, but this time by God Himself, thus securing an eternal redemption (9:12). And this death, this sacrifice, has superseded the old system as it is far superior, while at the same time inaugurating a new system. But it was not inaugurated except by blood.
Ours is still a bloody religion; the difference is from whence the blood came. And God proves His grace and mercy again by receiving His Son’s blood in our place, which those other sacrifices so imperfectly foreshadowed. We don’t need any more blood, but we must never forget the blood shed for us, no matter how disinfected our sanctuaries may be.