Having sent certain young men of the children of Israel
to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice young bulls
as peace offerings to the LORD,
Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls;
the other half he splashed on the altar.
Taking the book of the covenant,
he read it aloud to the people, who answered,
“All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do.”
Then he took the blood
and sprinkled it on the people, saying,
“This is the blood of the covenant
that the LORD has made with you
in accordance with all these words of his.”
We may squirm at this ritual as being extremely unhygienic and “gross” and we have good reason to feel that way. The ancients knew nothing of the blood-borne pathogens that concern us today nor was their technology capable of maintaining the quasi-sterile environments such as those in which many of us now live.
But the ancients knew well the symbolism of blood: the most effective and intimate sign of life.
The scattering of the blood on the altar and on the people signifies the intimate life bond between God and the people: a mutual life commitment on the deepest levels.
Tragically, the people did not live in accordance with their side of that life commitment. The inevitable result was death.
In our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, of course, we have the blood of the new and everlasting covenant: not simply the blood of sacrificial animals, but his own most precious blood, shed on the cross to atone for our sins and to give us a share in his eternal life.
May we, by his grace, live in accordance with that commitment and that most precious gift.