I have talked with quite a few Christians who find themselves either confused or bored by the Old Testament. There seems to be a fog surrounding the first 39 books of the Christian Bible for many modern day believers. The unfortunate reality is that many believers willfully ignore the Scriptures that Jesus Himself would have read and studied.
Part of the reason why many believers might run from the Old Testament is because of a lack of understanding of how to read and interpret it. Many believers find portions like Leviticus 17:10-14 and struggle to see how it impacts them at all today. So, while we don’t have time today to dissect all of the O.T. we will take a brief look at this one passage. Hopefully, understanding one passage will lead to a desire to understand the rest.
The first place to begin is context. What is the context of Leviticus 17:10-14? Well, in short, it is part of the Law given by God through Moses to the people of Israel. The best way to understand the Mosaic Law is to understand it as a covenant between God and His people at a specific time for a specific reason.
When interpreting the Law in its proper context it is shown to have a more clear and deeper meaning. This was not simply a list of do’s and don’ts set up by an impersonal God, this literally was a personal agreement between a loving God and His people. God was teaching them how to live holy with a holy God in their midst. Like the rest of Scripture, when doing hermeneutics, we must first always start with the original meaning to the original audience. Context is always the key.
Leviticus 17:10-14 is a very interesting passage take the time right now to open your Bible or swipe open your app and read it. At first glance, it looks like God preferred well-done steak to rare and unfortunately I have known some Christians to actually take this stance. However, when we take a closer look at the text we can understand its deeper and special meaning. We must look at the text in light of the narrative of the Israelites as well as the greater redemptive story of the whole Bible.
Verse 11 gets at the heart of the issue when God says, “for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” In the context of the ancient Israelites, blood had a very significant role. It symbolized life, of which God had ultimate control over. When we read the Mosaic Law we will find that there are special arrangements to be made for each life that is taken, and how those arrangements must be done in a respectful manner. Death is a serious thing. This is because God as creator is the life-giver. Death had no place in God’s paradise and it still is not to be taken lightly in a fallen world.
The blood more specifically not only represents life in general, but it is also the avenue through which sin can be atoned for. If an Israelite were to eat or touch blood they would be dishonoring the life that God had given, as well as disrespecting the atonement process that God had set up. The blood of a sacrifice was used to purify, and as Hebrews 9:22 lets us know without blood there could be no forgiveness of sins. This system is, as Hebrews says, “but of shadow” of what was to come.” Because although blood was needed, Hebrews 10:4 tells us that the blood of animals is inadequate to take away sins. The only blood sufficient is Jesus’.
This understanding of blood in the Old Testament relates to a New Covenant believer (one who is not bound by the Mosaic Law) in the most significant of ways. Jesus gave Himself (His blood) for the forgiveness of the sins of the world. Today we can look at this passage and see the link between this particular law and the atonement that Christ made for us. To see the relationship between this passage and Jesus, the Lamb of God whose blood was poured out for our sake, is to see our Savior more clearly.
So with all of that said, read your Old Testament. It makes the New Testament even more clear. It’s God’s Word. It’s Worth it.
Till next time,