Blood Atonement

Christians insist that blood sacrifice is a necessary prerequisite for the atonement of sin. These Christians believe that this is an open teaching of the Jewish Scriptures. Although there is no verse which explicitly says: “without blood there is no atonement” Christians still believe that the overall testimony of the Jewish Scriptures would lead one to this conclusion.

Some Christians read Leviticus 17:11 as if it were to say that there is no atonement without blood. However; a closer reading reveals that the verse says no such thing. All it says is that the blood is the one part of the animal that achieves atonement. It does not say that there cannot be atonement without blood.

Christians point to the Yom Kippur offerings described in Leviticus 16. These offerings atoned for all of Israel’s sins. These Christians then jump to the conclusion that without the Yom Kippur offerings there cannot be any atonement for sin.

The Scriptures never state that without these offerings there cannot be atonement for sin. While we had a Temple God was gracious to us and provided us with this form of national atonement. We look forward to the day that we can once again bring these offerings and God promised us through His prophets that this day will yet come. But God never said that without these offerings we cannot get into a right relationship with Him. In fact God promised that when we repent He will restore us to the land and we will be able to bring those offerings once again.

Some Christians point to the fact that the Laws of the offerings are presented as laws for all times. These Christians conclude that since these laws are forever relevant this then means that without them we can have no forgiveness from sin.

This conclusion is also unwarranted. The laws of God never change. But the circumstances in which they apply do change. All of the laws of the offerings are relevant in the Temple alone (Leviticus 17:1-7). When the Temple will be rebuilt we will joyously bring all of the offerings proscribed by the Law of Moses. Until that time we will obey the same law and refrain from blood sacrifices. We are confident in the assurance that God will accept our repentance and forgive our sins (Isaiah 55:7).

Many Christians point to the Passover offering in Egypt as an indication that blood is a necessary prerequisite for the salvation of our souls. After all; on that occasion God saw the blood of the lamb and saved the Israelites on the basis of that blood.

This conclusion too has no basis in the reality of Scripture. The blood of the lamb in Egypt was a human act achieved through Israel’s obedience to the explicit command of God. It was not an act of faith in the lamb. It was an act of faith in God and in His commandment. The obedience to God’s explicit commandment is ridiculed by these same Christians. The Christians taunt us as the Egyptians may have taunted our ancestors before us: “How can you please God through your flawed human actions?” Our response is that we have faith in God’s explicit word and we rejoice in the gift of obedience that He granted us. We will never put our trust in a lamb. We trust in the One Creator of heaven and earth and in no one else.

The Christian zeal for the laws of the blood offerings rings hollow with the Jew. Where is the Christian zeal for the signs of circumcision and Sabbath; both of which are designated by God as eternal signs (Genesis 17:1-14; Exodus 31:12-17)? If the blood offerings of Scripture are so important why don’t we find Christians yearning for their restoration as do the Jews?

The blood offerings described by Moses are indeed important. That is why they will be restored in the Messianic age. But nowhere does it say that we cannot achieve atonement without those offerings. And all of these offerings are only important in the context of obedience to the explicit commandments of God (1Samuel 15:22).