Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Sprinkling of Blood

Notes from my personal Bible study

"It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these." Hebrews 9:23
Notice a very interesting fact: Christ didn't just apply His blood to the people, but to the heavenly things themselves. He appeared as our High Priest in the Heavenly Holy of Holies, bearing His own blood, with which he sprinkled the heavenly things themselves, the way Aaron did in the sanctifying of the tabernacle.

When you think of a man going into a tent made of skins and sprinkling animal blood over everything, you may think, "Okay…that's kind of random…and gross…" It seems meaningless. We grasp its holiness only by taking God's word for it that it is holy. "Well, God said it, and He's the boss, so I guess that makes it so," we reason, still not understanding.

But this passage contains a key to moving our understanding beyond that. Ask yourself the question: "The heavenly things themselves needed to be purified? How could they possibly need to be more pure than they already are? They are in heaven. Everything in heaven is holy. There is no blemish or shadow on anything in heaven. How could they possibly attain a greater degree of holiness than they already have?"

And then you see it--a picture of the Son of God, the beloved of Heaven, the light of the Father's eyes, He who is Himself the infinite holiness of God Himself, unsurpassable in perfections and loveliness and sinlessness. 

He walks slowly and purposefully into the heavenly temple, bleeding. 

He is bearing a bowl of blood---His own blood, which He poured out willingly as the sacrificial Lamb of God. 

He dips His fingers in the bowl and sprinkles, sprinkles, sprinkles. Every drop lands with searing testimony: "I was spilled out of the veins of the Holy one of God!"

You don't get anything holier than this. Yes, the heavenly temple, holy as it already was, could be "purified" and attain a greater degree of holiness than it already had through this ceremony. The life of the flesh is in the blood. Jesus gave His life---the purest life that has ever existed or ever can exist for all eternity. He collected the symbolic evidence of this life, the blood, and sprinkled it on "the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry" (9:21) and "the book, and all the people" (9:19). This was in the heavenly realms, on the real, original items, not on the earthly shadows made after their pattern.

Aaron's priestly sprinkling of blood on the tabernacle gained its significance from Christ's divine action, not the other way around. God didn't tell the Israelites to institute the sacrificial system and then see it wasn't working and then say to himself, "Oh great, now I have to go down there and shed my own blood, since I've already said it has to be by blood, and I can't lie." The sprinkling of animal blood wasn't an innately holy thing that God copied later in His own more drastic measure. No! The sprinkling of the earthly tabernacle was the copy, and the Holy blood of the Son of God was the original. Aaron sprinkled blood over "the patterns of the things in the heavens." Animal blood sprinkled over a tent made of animal skins could be holy, and not random or meaningless, because it foreshadowed an event of staggering holiness that the Son of God Himself was going to perform. 

Imagine the collective gasp of all the angelic host when Jesus appeared to do this work. Imagine the pang to the Father's heart at the bleeding wounds of the Son. On earth we see him die on a cross and get buried in a tomb, but the author of Hebrews pulls aside the curtain for a peek into what was going on in the Holy of Holies in the temple in Heaven. He is the sacrificial lamb slain on the altar, His is the blood spilled, and He is the high priest who intercedes our case on the basis of this sacrifice and this blood. 

What a multi-faceted and complex and beautiful part of the gospel! 

So when He sprinkles His blood on YOU, what do you think happens? 

Jesus's blood is so much more holy than the very temple of heaven that the sprinkling of it "purified" that temple. This holy, pure, spotless Savior sprinkles His blood on a sinner, and every drop lands with searing testimony: "I was spilled out of the veins of the Holy One of God!" God sees the blood. The blood represents Jesus's very life, His righteous, holy, pure life. God sees Jesus when He looks at the sinner. The sinner is covered by the spotless righteousness of Christ. The blood has purified you. 

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