I donated blood once.
“Once” being the operative word. That could be because my donation came at the price of a three-hour stay in the blood donation place, two fainting spells, and a partridge in a pear… no, wait, I mean a visit by the EMTs. Since then, it seems as though I haven’t had as strong a stomach when it comes to needles. Or blood.
However, I would do it again if one of my friends or family were dying and they absolutely needed my blood to save their life.
At least they were able to get the entire pint of blood before I… before…befaeraw0gt
Okay, I’m back. Did I faint? Just kidding, no I didn’t.
I encourage those that can donate blood to do so. It saves a life. Because blood is life.
When Blood is Life
God gave the nation Israel specific instructions and laws about living life as His people and one of the rules concerned eating the flesh of animals.
“Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. 14 For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.” (Leviticus 7:13-14 ESV, emphasis mine)
And in the book of Hebrews, which I (and others) affectionately call the Leviticus of the New Testament:
“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22 ESV)
When God introduced the sacrificial system of justice for sin, it began with the shedding of blood. The fig leaves couldn’t cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness, He had to take the skins of an animal to cover their sin. According to John MacArthur in his ESV study Bible notes: “The first physical deaths should have been the man and his wife, but it was an animal – a shadow of the reality that god would someday kill a substitute to redeem sinners.” (note on Genesis 3:21 ESV, “Garments of Skins”)
Even from the beginning, blood was the necessary ingredient of the sacrificial system.
When Blood is not life
Blood-shedding and it’s necessary result – death – are entirely unnatural to God’s original plan.
From the very beginning of the Bible, we see that God is a God of life, abundant life! Even more, fruitful life. That is the very purpose of life, is it not, to reproduce?
God’s first command was “be fruitful and multiply,” and Jesus’s last command before ascension into heaven was “go and make disciples” – spiritual reproduction.
Our good works, however, do not create spiritual life. In Isaiah, the prophet pulls no punches:
“We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” (Isaiah 64:6 ESV)
“Polluted garment” is a nice way of saying “menstrual rags.”
Gross, but an effective word picture.
Menstruation is, of course, a woman’s expelling of an unfertilized ovum. If it were fertilized, it would be a baby, but unfertilized, there is no potential of life.
Our “righteousness” has as much power at bringing forth spiritual life as a woman’s unfertilized egg does to bring forth human life.
Also, according to the Levitical laws, women who were menstruating were unclean (Leviticus 15: 19-24).
Our “righteousness” can’t bring forth
spiritual life any more than a woman’s
unfertilized egg brings forth human life.
Attempting to earn salvation through good deeds is not only a worthless act, but an unclean one. The idea that our good deeds can earn our righteousness is an offense to a holy God and His gift of grace.
The Blood of Life
In the Passover before the Exodus from Egypt (a picture of our salvation from bondage), and in the sin offerings in Leviticus, the lamb or the goat brought to the alter had to be without blemish (Exodus 12:5ff; Leviticus 4) as a picture of the coming Messiah.
Peter reminds the early church of this symbolism when he writes to them that they were”ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers … with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” (I Peter 1:18-19 ESV).
A sinful man cannot die for the sins of others, so the Man who died to free us from our sins had to be spotless and sinless.
But how, how, could a man born of man, and therefore carrying the sin nature through Adam (Romans 9:12), be sinless?
When it doesn’t “run in my blood.”
Once again, we return to Genesis and the holy God standing before His greatest angelic creation – Lucifer – now indwelling the body of a serpent, and His greatest earthly creation, Man and Woman.
He will give explain the curse to Adam and Eve, but first He addresses the Devil: “I will put enmity between you and the woman….”
The woman had been the Devil’s first conquest, and now the source of the Devil’s conqueror.
“…and between your offspring and her offspring.” (Genesis 3:15 ESV)
The Messiah would be born of a virgin – fully man and fully God. Spotless, and sinless, the Lamb whose blood can cleanse the sins of the world.
Because of him, we can exchange our polluted garments for “garments of salvation and the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10 ESV)
There truly is power in the blood.