This week, we are singing two songs about the blood. Have you ever thought of this as odd? For thousands of years, Christians have heralded songs using grotesque metaphors, such as “There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins.”
The reason for this harkens all the way back to the Old Testament beginnings of the nations of Israel. When God confirmed his covenant with Israel at Sinai, this is what the Bible records,
Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” (Exodus 24:7-8 ESV)
Blood confirmed Old Testament covenants for a few reasons. First, it was symbolic of life. In Leviticus, God forbids the people from eating blood, saying “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” (Leviticus 17:11 ESV)
Second, blood represented substitutionary death. “This is the law of the guilt offering. It is most holy. In the place where they kill the burnt offering they shall kill the guilt offering, and its blood shall be thrown against the sides of the altar.” (Leviticus 7:1-2 ESV). The guilt offering was meant to be made for the cleansing of sin, and blood was the necessary price for that cleansing.
The author of Hebrews tells us why this is important for believers in Christ.
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:11-14 ESV)
You see, the precious blood of Christ eternally confirms God’s promise to His elect to forgive their sins based on the perfect sacrifice of his son. The blood represents his life, poured out for us and imputed to us. And the blood represents his substitutionary death in our place, securing our right standing before God.
So we sing about the blood. Boldly we proclaim this grotesque reality as our only hope! What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria