NextLevel Online: Hebrews

Session 7: Blood

What does it mean to say, “Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship?” In this session , we discuss about the meaning of religion, relationship, and the biblical Theology of "blood".



Classroom

Classroom Instructions

Lesson
Materials: Lesson Outline
Leader

Introduction:

  • What does it mean to say, “Christianity is not a religion; it is a relationship?” When discussing this, talk about what you mean by religion and elationship.

A covenant kind of relationship:

  • A biblical covenant is…

    • A sacred bond – A covenant is a unique type of bonding relationship is established between two parties. In scripture God calls the nation of Israel his “treasured possession” (segullah – Deut. 7:6-8), and he keeps his covenant with resolute faithfulness (hesed – “covenant loyalty” – Deut. 7:9). A covenant is a sacred relationship.

    • Made in blood – The Hebrew word berith can literally mean “to cut a covenant.” A covenant requires sacrifice. (see Hebrews 9:18-20)

    • Sovereignly initiated – The Greek word for covenant in Hebrews (diatheke) meant an imposed rather than a negotiated treaty or arrangement (syntheke, a 50-50 agreement). A covenant is the result of God’s love for man.

  • Hebrews quotes Jeremiah 31 in Hebrews 8 to contrast the Old Covenant that had been made with Israel and the New Covenant that has now been made through Christ. They are different in the following ways:

    • The new covenant is inward. It is not written on stone, it is written on the human heart. Our hearts are recreated by the covenant. Our nature is changed. We have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Gal. 2:20).

    • The new covenant is intimate. All of God’s people will know the Lord intimately. We are able to know and be known by God. The Old Covenant separated the people from God. The consistent theme in Hebrews is that we now enjoy intimacy with God because of the new covenant (see Hebrews 4:14-16). o The new covenant is absolute. As opposed to the OC where sacrifices had to be continually offered and served to only remind the people of sin, sins are forgiven and remembered no more under the new covenant. Our sin problem has been finally dealt with.

    • The new covenant is assured. It is assured because it is bound to Christ—the perfect mediator and guarantor. We do not earn the covenant. Christ has assured the terms of the covenant.

The point:

  • We have an abiding, intimate covenantal relationship with God because of the blood of Jesus. The old covenant and its regulations were insufficient and limited. The new covenant is sufficient and unlimited.

Application:

  • One of the applications of this idea is that our relationship with God is not earned or based on sentiment. Our relationship is assured because of the sacrifice of Jesus. Our religion is a relationship – but it is unlike any other relationship. What does it look like to live as new covenant people? Do we ever live in the futility of a religion without the relationship of the new covenant?

A Biblical Theology of Blood

Lev. 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.

“The appearance of blood is never a good sign. While blood is natural, the sight of it is not. To the ancients its red color, along with its mystical connection with life and death, made it a powerful and ominous symbol of violence and wrong, guilt and coming punishment. Only in the framework of sacrifice could blood portend good news.” 1

  • Blood is often used as a figure of speech (synecdoche) in scripture representing human mortality. Oftentimes it is used in a pair with “flesh” (John 1:13; Gal. 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:50; Heb. 2:14). Blood is used as a substitution for the life of an individual – particularly in the context of their life being in peril (see 2 Sam. 23:17; 1 Chron. 11:19; Job16:18)

  • Blood is often associated with death and violence (Ezek 5:17; Hab 2:17; martyrdom – Rev. 19:2; child sacrifice –Ezek 23:37, 45; suicide – Mt 27:8; Acts 1:18-19; divine wrath – Is 63:6).

  • Closely connected with number 2, the shedding of human blood is an abomination (Hos 1:4; 6:8; Is 1:15; esp. Gen 9:6) which calls for punishment and divine vengeance (Gen 4:10 [compare with Heb 12:24]; 2 Sam 16:8; Rev 6:10; 19:2; see also Mt 27:24-25 – “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”).

  • Blood is used in prophetic and apocalyptic literature as an omen of approaching judgment. The Nile is turned to blood (Ex 4:9; 7:17; see also 2 Kings 3:22). This same image is employed in Revelation (9:8; 16:4). A common picture in apocalyptic is of the moon being turned to blood (Joel 2:30–31; Acts 2:19; Rev 6:12).

  • Blood leads to impurity in scripture. Human blood – especially that shed in violence – led to defilement (Ps 106:38; Is 59:3; Lam 4:14). Even the bleeding of a woman required purity laws (Lev 12). When contrasting the righteousness of God with human attempts at purity, Isaiah compares our righteous deeds to menstrual rags (Is 64:6).

  • Blood establishes the covenant (Gen. 15:1-21; Ex 24:8; Zech 9:11; see also Heb 9:18-20). In Exodus 24, the blood of the covenant is sprinkled both on the sacred altar and on the people serving as a powerful reminder to God and the people of the covenant relationship they enjoyed. In addition, the rite of circumcision was the personal mark of the covenant in blood for every Jewish male.

  • Blood has purifying power. The shedding of blood mediated of the covenant between Yahweh and Israel (Lev16:11-19; 17:11). Shed blood has a substitutionary force where the life of sacrificer is identified with the life of the sacrificed. Blood was required for forgiveness (Heb 9:22). The blood provides cleansing, atonement (cover), and protection (see Ex 12:23). Blood was sprinkled on the altar for its cleansing (Lev 1:5, 11; 3:2, 8, 13; etc.). Blood was also used to consecrate the priests of the covenant (Ex 29).

  • Christ’s blood is far superior.

    • The blood of Christ has now established a far superior covenant (Mt 26:28; Mark 14:24; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; Heb 10:29; 12:24; 13:20). Life is in the blood, so “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53). His blood has rendered the old covenant obsolete and useless (Heb 8:13).

    • He is both the radiance of God’s glory (Heb 1:3) and flesh and blood (Heb 2:14), tempted, yet sinless (Heb 4:15), so the blood of Christ has the ultimate cleansing power. His blood has cleansed the true heavenly sanctuary (Heb 9:20-26). It has covered us completely, cleansing even our conscience and need only be offered “once for all” (Heb 9:11-15; 10:11-12; also Rom 5:9). The OT sacrificial system was merely a foreshadowing of the work of Christ (Heb 9:9, parable). His sacrifice is for our atonement and also for the sins “committed beforehand” (Rom 3:25; Heb 9:15).


  1. Ryken, Leland ; Wilhoit, Jim ; Longman, Tremper ; Duriez, Colin ; Penney, Douglas ; Reid, Daniel G.: Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL : InterVarsity Press, 2000, c1998, S. 99

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