Often I hear God accused of being gory. “Why is God so obsessed with blood?” people ask.
Like it or not, the Bible is a bloody book. From beginning to end it revels in blood. Within just the first few chapters of Genesis, a blood sacrifice is implied as God used animals’ skins to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). In the deliverance of the Hebrew people from the grip of Egypt, God instructed them to make a blood sacrifice from a spotless lamb and then coat their doorposts with this blood (Exodus 12:13). Then shortly thereafter, God instituted a law requiring a yearly sacrifice of untainted goats and lambs. The blood from this act was of utmost importance. It needed to be sprinkled around the altar by a high priest in order that Israel could maintain relationship with God.
The New Testament reveals that these bloody sacrifices were the prefigurement of Jesus Christ, who came to the earth as a spotless lamb and endured horrific mutilation on the cross as the final, once-for-all sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. The event was so bloody, in fact, that the Bible describes Jesus wasn’t even recognizable as a man (Isaiah 52:14). And just as blood was used in Israel’s deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, the Bible concludes by affirming Christ followers in their sustained victory over the clutches of Satan through the blood of the final lamb—Jesus (Revelation 12:11).
Offended by the Blood
Make no mistake: God is obsessed with blood. And this offends many people, causing the contemporary Church to skirt around the topic. Just observe the bulk of today’s sermons and you’ll notice the blood is all but drained from the modern gospel. Some have deemed it irrelevant. I’ve even heard parents complain when their children are taught about Christ’s crucifixion—in a Christian school. “It might cause nightmares,” they protest.
With the general lack of teaching about the importance of blood throughout the Scriptures, often I hear God accused of being gory. “Why is God so obsessed with blood?” people ask.
You must understand, to God, blood isn’t gore. Sin is what has made it gory. When you hear of a murder, often you picture a tragic blood slaughter. Where there’s a car accident, there’s almost always great bloodshed. And so we view blood as the most disgusting representation of everything that’s wrong with the world. None of these are God’s original design, but the results of sin. As I explore in my book, Silence Satan: Shutting Down the Enemy’s Attacks, Threats, Lies, and Accusations, the devil loves to perpetuate this image. Through things such as movies and media, he keeps gore front and center so that we’re repulsed by blood, and thus, turned off to a God who he portrays as cruel and bloodthirsty.
A Different View of Blood
Indeed, sin is what perverted blood and equated it with death. God, however, created blood to represent life. This is what Scripture affirms:
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11, NRSV).
God is so obsessed with blood because He’s so obsessed with life.
More than anything else in the body, blood is essential to life. It’s what carries the fuel and oxygen to the billions of cells in our bodies. Blood supplies the brain and the heart with the necessary nourishment to function. It also carries carbon dioxide and other waste materials to the digestive system, where they are then removed from the body. Without blood we couldn’t keep warm or cool, fight infections, or get rid of our own waste products. Additionally, our very identity—our DNA—is located in our blood.
We must understand this: God is so obsessed with blood because He’s so obsessed with life.
Covered with Life
Blood shouldn’t be equated with death. The Bible teaches, rather, that sin is equated with death (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23). And because we’ve all sinned, death is the default spiritual condition of each of us. It’s only blood that can reverse this. The only act that can resuscitate something from death is to infuse it with life. I often illustrate this point by replacing the word blood with life and the word sin with death in one of the most popular New Testament verses regarding the need for blood for the forgiveness of sins. Here’s how it reads (the original words are in brackets): “Everything is purified with life [blood], and without life [blood] there is no forgiveness of death [sin]” (Hebrews 9:22).
God’s intention for blood isn’t gory—it’s beautiful! And I’m certainly not offended or scared by it.
Equating blood with life will change the way you read the Bible, and thus, how you think about God. The coverings He provided Adam and Eve after their sin were coverings of life. The blood on the doorposts of the Hebrew people at Passover was the protection of life. The yearly sacrifice God instituted for Israel was intended to restore them with life.
Like Adam and Eve and Israel, we too are offered a covering of blood. But not anymore through participating in a yearly sacrificial ritual. Rather, we are given the blood of Jesus, which was shed so lavishly at Calvary, once and for all. The DNA of Jesus is offered to us in order to completely cover our old lives with His new, spotless life. It’s incredible! The application of Jesus’ life completely dissolves our guilt and shame, protects us from the enemy and allows us to enjoy daily relationship with our Creator—forever.
God’s intention for blood isn’t gory—it’s beautiful! And I’m certainly not offended or scared by it. After all, there’s no forgiveness, healing, deliverance or salvation without it. Rather than question how little blood I can get by with, I’d rather stand under the cross to be covered in all that I can get!