Blood Covenant


Why did Jesus die?


Hebrews 9

15For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.


So the new covenant defines sin the same way as the old covenant:  by the law.  Who is the “them” referred to above?  The writer of Hebrews identifies them as those who are called.  Are you called?  Then your sins were and are also judged by the standard of God’s moral law.


Hebrews 9

11When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here,[2] he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,[3] so that we may serve the living God!
15For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance--now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.


Animal Sacrifice

The idea of blood covering sin is not an idea unique to the New Covenant.  All the covenants of the bible have the common thread of the “blood covenant”:  That sin must be atoned for by death, and the life is in the blood.  Therefore, blood must be shed to cover sin:  Either the blood of the sinner himself, or the blood of a propitionary sacrifice of an animal must be shed. 


Leviticus 17:11
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life.
(Whole Chapter: Leviticus 17 In context: Leviticus 17:10-12)


1)      Adam - His in brought death into the world.  He died for his own sin. 

2)      Able – Gen 4:3-7:  He brought a “better sacrifice” than Cain:  the blood of an animal.

3)      Noah – Genesis 8:19-21:  Noah built an altar to the LORD and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.

4)      Abraham – Genesis 22: 1, 2, 10-12:  Offered up Isaac; his only son as a sacrifice, but God stopped him.

5)      Moses – instituted the tabernacle:  A place for regulated animal sacrifice for the sins of the Jewish Nation.

6)      Jesus - this covenant is called new because

i)        It is written in God’s own blood through Jesus Christ. 

ii)       This sacrifice is accessed by faith rather than ritual.

iii)     It is available to Jews and Gentiles alike.



New vs. Old

However, I must balance the idea of the newness of this final covenant.  Many believe that its newness indicates that it is dissimilar or disconnected from the previous covenants.  Here are some of the erroneous conclusions that they reach:

1)      There are two different covenants that are mutually exclusive:  God must have changed.

2)      We do not need the law: that is the “Old Covenant”, we are under the “New”.

3)      Old Testament saints are not as cool as New Testament saints.



Old Testament saints not as cool as we are?

As we look at the Tanuch, let’s keep in mind that Jewish believers of old are saved by the same incarnate Mercy of God that we are.  He just had not come as Messiah yet, on the pages of human history.  That does not change who He always has been.


John 8:56-59

56         Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad."

57         "You are not yet fifty years old," the Jews said to him, "and you have seen Abraham!"

58         "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"

59         At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (NIV)


Lev 20:8

8          Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy. (NIV)


The Lord of the “Old” Covenant

Ps 28:1-3

1          To you I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit.

2          Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place.

3          Do not drag me away with the wicked, with those who do evil, who speak cordially with their neighbors but harbor malice in their hearts.  (NIV)


This psalmist begs God to save him from his sin and its consequence—the pit; or Hell.  Upon what grounds does he make his plea?  His own righteousness or good life?  No.  Instead he is trusting and believing in God’s mercy.  This pre-Christ believer is one of the “all” people who’s sins Christ paid for.  Jesus is outside of time, and can speak to anyone from any where or any time who seeks Him.


John 8:58

58        "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"  (NIV)


Notice how the psalmist (who could not have heard historically of Jesus) prays here:


Ps 143:6-10

6          I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah

7          Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.

8          Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

9          Rescue me from my enemies, O LORD, for I hide myself in you.

10        Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.  (NIV)


How does this man who appears to be historically isolated from the deeper truths of God pray such a “New Testament” prayer?  In verse 7, he acknowledges the lack of personal relationship with God as his personal master (Lord) ending in an afterlife in hell.  In verse 8 he is relying upon the mercy of God for his salvation, and asks to hear God’s voice concerning the direction he should go.  In verse 9 he trusts the indwelling Savior for deliverance, and asks to be led by God’s Holy Spirit in verse 10.  You may see the Father and the Holy Spirit in this prayer, but if you look closely, you may notice the third person of the trinity as well.  Since Jesus is the Father’s mercy incarnate, relying upon the mercy of God for his salvation in verse 8 is equivalent to trusting in the Messiah, who is Jesus. 


How could someone who has never heard of the historical Jesus come to know Him so well?


Heb 11:6

6          And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.  (NIV)


1 Chr 28:9

If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.  (NIV)


2 Chr 15:2

The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.  (NIV)


Prov 8:17

17        I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.  (NIV)


How long can you seek the God of the Bible before you are confronted by your sin problem?   If you reread the above section on the Revelation of Christ through conscience, you will notice that all humans have the benefit of knowing that they have done wrong—sinned.  Cornelius and the Eunuch understood the gravity of their former sins, and their propensity to sin—even though they had never heard of Jesus.  When they heard of Yeshua—the solution to their sin problem, they received Him with joy.  They feared God, and they did what was right (Acts 10:35 above):  They accepted Him for who He is.


Luke 8:12-15

12        Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.

13        Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

14        The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

15        But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.  (NIV)





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