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Sermon – 8/3/03
Life in the Blood - Leviticus 17:11

Audio Sermon

Life in the Blood

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11)

While in Bible College during the 1970’s, I discovered parts of Scripture that I did not understand.  I was embarrassed and concerned that I had three internal settings: 1) I believe it, 2) I don’t believe it, and 3) I’m not sure.  I was WILLING to believe, but did not know HOW in certain areas.  The facts were there, but I lacked understanding.  One area was the cross – I believed in Christ and had received Him as my Savior, but didn’t see how His death made me acceptable in the sight of God.  I trusted in Him, but how did HIS death 2000 years ago, save me now?  I prayed, and God began a process of revealing Him and His cross to me.

Bob was Genevieve’s husband of 27-years and my best friend.  He was her best friend, too.  Unknown to everyone, Bob had encountered the chemical “Agent-Orange” during his service in Vietnam.  Bob was a cook in a base camp and did not see action, but the chemicals were sprayed in the air and on the ground, polluting the food and water, and 30-years later, he was diagnosed with cancer.  Bob had treatment for 18-months and was briefly in remission, but the cancer returned and he died.  After his death, Genevieve’s testimony before a Congressional Subcommittee, included: “He developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer that was connected to the chemicals used in the Vietnam War.” 

In discussing this with Genevieve, who is now my wife of two years, she reminded me about Bob’s blood transfusions in the times he was anemic because of the chemotherapy.  When he became pale, weak and confused, she would know it was time for another blood transfusion.  Off to the hospital they went, each time.  The next day after receiving blood, his energy level significantly returned and his color came back.  Genevieve observed that, “without the blood transfusions he would have died.”  And she continued, “There is life in the blood.”  She adds, “It should encourage us all about the importance of giving blood for others.”

In Bible College, I developed the habit of looking to God when I did not understand.  My view of Scripture was high, because I trusted Him for my understanding.  When I did not understand, the problem was me, not the Book.  God gave me faith when I had no faith (“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” – Romans 10:17).  Scripture reveals that God accepts the death of His Son as payment for your sins and mine: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Romans 5:8-9).  God loves us, Christ died for us, and by trusting in Him, we are forgiven.  We only need to TRUST in Him.

In the midst of a discussion about the sacrifices of animals being given for the nation Israel, the Lord, through Moses, revealed that “the life of the flesh is in the blood.”  He continued, “and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).  The death of one was accepted for the life of another.  The sinner was forgiven because the animal’s death would “atone for” the sin.  One died; the other lived.  We scarcely even notice that each day, plants and animals are killed and become “food” for us; just so that we might live.

The writer of Hebrews wrote: “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).  The sacrifices decreed by God, pointed to Something more, SOMEONE yet to come.  They were a parable, acting out, in picture form, a Sacrifice that was yet future to Moses.

The communion service is based on the Last Supper, a Passover meal that recalls God’s rescue of Israel from Egypt.  Jesus took the bread, which was unleavened Matzo, a flat cracker, gave thanks over it, and broke it, saying, “This is My body which is given for you” (Luke 22:19).  He also shared with them the Cup of Redemption, concluding with the words, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”  Communion helps us to understand and we need to do it often, remembering Him.  In partaking with Him, His disciples would have recalled not only the bloody sacrifices of animals in the Temple, but also the unleavened bread commemorating Israel’s deliverance from slavery.  Jesus sets us free from the slavery of sin and gives us life.  His life has been given for ours!  We are free in Him.

I don’t think I’m the only one who has had trouble fully comprehending the cross.  It’s so extraordinary, so unexpected, that GOD would die like a man, shedding His Blood so that we might live.  Jesus Christ is not only the “Lion of Judah” of Revelation 5:5, but also the “Lamb” who was “slain” in Revelation 5:6.  He died for you and me.

He did not have to die.  Not only is He Himself from “everlasting” (Micah 5:2), but He is also the “Son of Man… coming with the clouds of heaven” in Daniel 7:13, and the “mighty God” of Isaiah 9:6.  Though the disciples did not understand at the moment, He said, as He was being arrested, “Do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).  Jesus has THOUSANDS of powerful beings at His disposal, and any one of them could have destroyed all who came against Him.

But instead of exercising power for His own safety, the Son chose to die for you and me.  As He told the disciples just before they ran away: “All this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled” (Matthew 26:56).  An example of what He has done was prophesied by Isaiah, long before it happened: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).  Jesus died in our place, that we might live.

Just as the blood revived Bob when he became anemic, we are revived by the Lord.  “For the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11) and He has given His life for you and me.  God the Father allowed His death, that You and I might live.  What amazing love He showed!  We need to receive Him now:

Lord, I have not fully understood what You have done for me.  I am FORGIVEN in Your Name.  I am set FREE because You died for me.  I receive You.  Help me to understand and trust in You.  Thank you, Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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