February 16, 2007

Nowhere Else

Leviticus 17:1-9

"That man shall be considered guilty of bloodshed... " Leviticus 17:4


Israel had been taught where to bring sacrifices (Lev. 1:5, 11). Now the Lord repeats those instructions to prevent sacrifices in the open fields. The people could not sacrifice outside the camp or just anywhere in the camp. Taking an animal's life for sacrifice anywhere but at the altar in front of the tabernacle was considered a sin.

These rules had to do with the lifeblood of the animal, which took the place of the blood of the person making the sacrifice. The animal's blood was God's gift of life to the animal, even as a person's blood is God's gift of life to that person.

Bringing the animal to the altar also prevented cheap- grace sacrifices, such as slaughtering an animal that had broken its leg and considering that a sacrifice. The Lord also warned against offering lame, blind, or sick animals (Leviticus 22:22). Only the best could be offered. An acceptable sacrifice was offered only when and where God required it. The victim's blood had to be poured out at the altar in front of the tabernacle, in God's presence.

At the right time, the blood of God's own Son was poured out for the forgiveness of sins, at the place of sacrifice determined by God: on the cross, outside Jerusalem. No other human blood, no other time, no other place would do. By God's grace, it is finished; no other sacrificial blood is necessary. Praise be to God!

Thank you, Lord, for the blood of Christ poured out at the cross for the forgiveness of my sin and the sin of the whole world. Thank you that no other blood is necessary. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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