“For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood.”
This verse amplifies the previous verses regarding how Christ’s spiritual death secures for believers an eternal inheritance. Therefore the New Covenant to the Church was made to the Royal Family of God. It supersedes the covenant of the Mosaic Law. Before a person can realize the full benefits of an inheritance, someone must pass away. While a person is still alive, their inheritance is not distributed to their heirs. It is upon the death of the one who made the covenant that the inheritance is dispersed.
The blood sacrifices of animals, as types and images of Christ’s spiritual death on the Cross, illustrated and anticipated the fulfillment of the types and images under the first covenant (the Mosaic Law). For the New Covenants to the Church and to Israel to be valid, God’s righteousness and justice had to be satisfied. Jesus Christ’s spiritual death, typified by animal sacrifices, put into effect (ratified) the covenant. The Mediator, Jesus Christ, offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins on the Cross. The Father was satisfied (propitiated) by the offering Christ made.
The New Covenants were not valid until Christ died on the Cross. He died spiritually and physically, was resurrected, ascended, and then sat down at the right hand of the Father. The New Covenant was not put into effect until the Lord Jesus Christ was in the true Holy of Holies and seated at the right hand of the Father, which completed the fulfillment of the types illustrated under the Mosaic Law. Christ fulfilled the whole Law.
The blood of animals was used to validate the first covenant, the Mosaic Law. The animal blood, which was real, pointed to the reality of the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross in being judged for our sins. So Israel had a representative analogy under the Law between the physical death of the animal on the altar and the spiritual death of Christ on the “altar of the Cross.” The animal blood used under the first covenant portrayed the saving work of Christ on the Cross, which instituted the New Covenant. The Mosaic Law was inaugurated with the blood of an animal. (Exodus 24:3-8) In like manner as the blood of the animals consecrated the first covenant, so the blood of Christ (His spiritual death on the Cross) consecrated the New Covenant to the Church.
“For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.’ And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood.”
The animal blood, as a type of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, was used to illustrate to the children of Israel how God confirms His covenants to man. The blood of animals portrayed the spiritual death of Christ on the Cross. The blood would be collected in a wool cloth for sprinkling. Using water and hyssop, Moses would dip the wool cloth in the basin containing the animal blood, water and hyssop, and sprinkle the book of the covenant (the tablets) and people with it. Hyssop was a plant which would absorb the blood and water. So the hyssop and the scarlet cloth acted as “sprinklers.” The water was used to make the blood sprinkle out of both the scarlet cloth and also the hyssop.
After Moses had read the Law to the people of Israel, he would illustrate how God would keep those things written in it on the basis of the blood of Christ (His spiritual death). Sprinkling the blood would show the children of Israel that all of the types, rituals, tabernacle, articles in the tabernacle, and even the garments they wore were sacred and had great meaning.
“And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
There is almost nothing in the function of worship in the dispensation of Israel that did not include blood as typology. Therefore everything related to the first covenant had to be dedicated with the blood of animal sacrifices. All things were cleansed ceremonially by the blood of a bull or goat because they illustrated the future work of Christ that would fulfill the ritual cleansing with the real cleansing.
In the dispensation of Israel under the Mosaic Law all forgiveness was represented by the shedding of animal blood. This passage has been taken out of its context to apply forgiveness to the literal blood of Christ. The shedding of blood in this verse has to do with how the Mosaic Law was validated. The Mosaic Law was a covenant, and all covenants in Scripture must be validated. They must be validated on the basis of the spiritual death of the reality which was portrayed by the types and images under the Mosaic Law.
This verse does not state that the literal shedding of Christ’s physical blood on the Cross was for salvation. To the contrary, it portrays the figurative blood of Christ (His spiritual death) — redemption plus reconciliation plus propitiation. Christ did not die from the loss of blood. Therefore the literal blood of Christ has no significance at the Cross as far as salvation is concerned.
The figurative blood of Christ, which was His spiritual death, was His saving work on the Cross. The Mosaic Law authorized the blood of animals as types of Christ to administer forgiveness as well as cleansing, and they continued administering it until the Cross. Therefore cleansing, pardon, forgiveness, were all administered through animal sacrifices in typology until the reality, Jesus Christ, went to the Cross.
Forgiveness is a multifaceted doctrine in the Bible. There are actually three aspects of forgiveness mentioned in the Scriptures.
The first aspect is the judicial forgiveness that a person receives upon faith in Christ for salvation. This type of forgiveness is a pardon provided by God on the basis of Christ’s payment for the penalty of sin on the Cross. It can be likened to a courtroom decision to pardon a criminal because their penalty was taken by another. Christ “became sin” for us so that we could be pardoned (forgiven), judicially, from all categories of sin – inherent sin (the sin nature), Adam’s original sin and personal sin. (II Corinthians 5:21)
Jesus Christ was judged for all sins in human history and therefore sin will not be judged again. God was completely satisfied with Christ’s substitutionary payment for our sins. We have studied this as the Doctrine of Propitiation. The blood of Christ, pictured in the Old Testament as animal sacrifices, is a technical term for the spiritual death of Christ on the Cross. Christ’s spiritual death is the foundation for all forgiveness both at salvation and after salvation. The Word of God is very clear that the wages of sin is death. This refers not to physical death, but spiritual death (separation from God for all eternity). Christ paid the penalty for all sin on the Cross. (II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 10:10-14; I John 1:6-10; 2:2)
The second aspect of sin is experiential forgiveness. This forgiveness is also based on the work of Christ on the Cross but requires the confession, acknowledgement or admission of our personal sins after salvation. We call this the Rebound Technique and this process provides a solution to the consequences of post-salvation sinning. Committing personal sins, after salvation, results in loss of fellowship with God, and loss of the filling of the Holy Spirit. In order to restore our relationship with God experientially, it is necessary to use this method. (I John 1:9)
The Rebound Technique can halt divine discipline and turn potential cursing into blessing. We are told continually throughout Scripture to evaluate (judge) ourselves. We are to be constantly checking our spiritual health. Often God has to allow suffering in order to call attention to our spiritual health. Failure to properly evaluate yourself and correct the problem results in divine discipline. God is a good father but He is also a patient father and will give a believer every opportunity to correct his own sinful practices. When God has to discipline a believer, it normally begins as a gentle reminder, but failure to heed the warning signs can result in more severe punishment. (I Corinthians 11:31-32; Hebrews 12:5-7)
The third aspect of forgiveness is directed toward others. The Bible makes it very clear that as believers in Jesus Christ we are to forgive those who hurt us. This does not mean that what they did, are doing or saying about us is okay, or that we condone their behavior. It means that we refuse to enter into sin due to another’s bad behavior.Forgiveness is a grace function of God. God treats us in grace by forgiving us the debt that we owe due to sin. God’s forgiveness is based on His character, not because of any effort or goodness on our part. Therefore, a believer is to have this same attitude of grace towards others. The proper attitude for a believer when harmed by another is forgiveness, which is the opposite of revenge or resentment. (Philippians 2:3-4)
By not seeking revenge when we are hurt by others we are placing the matter in the Lord’s hands. Once in His hands, we need to stay out of the way so as not to confuse the issue. When we stay out of the way and operate under the control of the Holy Spirit, we are blessed during persecution and pressure. (Matthew 5:11-12; II Timothy 3:12) When we seek to retaliate, we lower ourselves to the level of the person who offended us. This takes us out of fellowship with God since retaliation is sin. Non-retaliation, however, means holding off and maintaining the right mental attitude under the control of the Holy Spirit. Non-retaliation is a witness to the one that hurt us as well as to others around us, especially the unbeliever. (Romans 12:14) As it says in Romans, revenge does not belong to us. God will take care of the discipline. Our job is to make sure that we do not enter into sin due to an improper attitude towards the other person. “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
When we are being mistreated, slandered, maligned, or persecuted by another person, we need to continue to think Bible doctrine and utilize the Problem-Solving Devices that we have learned. If it’s another believer that is attacking us, remember that they have the same position in Christ that we do. This means that they are subject to the same discipline from God that we are, and God doesn’t need our help. If we choose to interfere with God’s discipline, we are subject to discipline ourselves. (Matthew 7:1-3) Instead, we are to treat people in grace, even if they are attacking us. The reason we do this is that we have the grace of God residing in us as the character of Jesus Christ. If we are thinking as Christ thinks, we are thinking grace and forgiveness. Remember that you are what you think! (Proverbs 23:7) We have studied this correct thinking as Divine Viewpoint Thinking. This means that we treat the person that hurts us with impersonal love, which is Divine Viewpoint Thinking (the mind of Christ) and not on the basis of their actions. We don’t even treat them according to their thinking (human viewpoint). This correct thinking under the control of God the Holy Spirit puts us in total control of the situation. This allows us to act, not react!