“For the life of all flesh – its blood is its life. Therefore, I say to the Israelite people: You shall not partake of the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood…” (Leviticus 17:13-14)
At 25 weeks Baby Chris’s nostrils are now open. He is still moving freely in the womb and frequently changes position. His skin is pinker because capillaries are forming. The blood capillaries the smallest of the body’s blood vessels, only one cell thick. They transfer oxygen and other nutrients throughout the body and collect waste material to return to the veins. The capillary is the site of cellular respiration, helping tissue use oxygen and returning carbon dioxide to the lungs for expiration. (Note to those who want to claim the Bible teaches that “life does not begin until first breath”: Our cells are the site of respiration long before birth.) The human body contains more than a billion capillaries, providing a total surface area of 1,000 square miles for exchanges of gases, waste, and nutrients between blood and tissue fluid. [i]
Interestingly, a mother and her child in the womb do not share the same blood. The baby’s blood type is determined by the genes of both parents, not just the mother. During development, the mother’s blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the placenta. The placenta then filters the mother’s blood for nutrients and oxygen for the baby but does not mingle their blood. At the same time, the baby’s blood travels up the umbilical cord to the placenta and carries the nutrients and oxygen back to the baby. Amazing!!
All of this proves by design what we know to be true by experience: human beings can’t live without air, water and food and the blood that carries it all to our organs and tissues. Life is indeed in the blood.
As the author of life, our blood is precious to God (Psalm 72:14): Life is to be protected so we are instructed not to commit murder (Exodus 20:13). Because humans are made in the image of God, there is a death penalty for those who murder (Genesis 9:6).
Blood purifies and atones: When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they tried to hide from God and cover their shame using fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). In God’s economy the shedding of blood – death – is the penalty required for humans’ sins against God. But in loving faithfulness, God rescued them with a sacrifice (Genesis 22:8) by taking the life of an innocent creature (animals who do not know sin, and which do not bear God’s image) in substitution for their lives (Genesis 3:21). God clothed Adam and Eve in its skin as evidence that righteousness had been fulfilled on their behalf. Throughout the time of the Old Covenant, the blood of the animals sacrificed as Sin offerings continued to expiate the sins of God’s people, purifying them from the corruption of their sin (Leviticus 17:11). The priest sprinkled blood on his robe before serving in the Temple as part of his purification rite (Exodus 29:21); and the blood was splashed on the four corners of the altar (Leviticus 17:6).
Blood protects: The blood of the sacrifice protected God’s people from the wrath of God; the blood on the doorposts of the Hebrew homes protected God’s people from the Destroyer sent by God to punish Egypt (Exodus 12:23).
Blood testifies to God’s faithfulness: In Genesis 15, God made a covenant with Abram, promising him a son and a land to call his own – the “Child of the Promise” and the “Promised Land.” God sealed this covenant promise with the lifeblood of five of His creatures – and required no blood from Abram - for fulfillment of the promise would be by God alone.
On the night He was betrayed, Jesus ate with his disciples and announced to them that there would soon be a New Covenant, which would be sealed in His shed blood (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Luke 22:19-20; I Corinthians 11:24-25). He offered them the common cup of wine and explained that it represented the New Covenant in His blood, which would forever after serve as a reminder to them of God’s faithfulness in providing Christ’s blood on their behalf.
Jesus is our substitute: Once again, God provided the sacrifice for our sin, when Jesus, the God-man who knew no sin, offered His lifeblood in all-sufficient atonement for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2), once for all and for all time (I Peter 3:18); removing forever the barrier between God and humans (Isaiah 59:2; Hebrews 9:15; Ephesians 2:14-16). This forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God is offered as a free gift (John 3:16; Roman 6:23; Ephesians 2:8) to anyone willing to receive it (Roman 10:13; Revelation 22:17).
The precious blood of our Savior was stored up for us while he was in his mother’s womb. The blood that was shed for the sins of the whole world was unmingled with the blood of any other - it remained His alone, pure and undefiled. Now, all people who claim the name of Christ as their Savior have the doorposts of their hearts marked with the same blood that circulated in the capillaries and veins of the preborn Jesus. Their shame is covered, they are protected from the wrath of God and purified with the blood of the Child of the Promise. The resurrected life in His blood restores us to eternal life.
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
2 Corinthians 9:15