Someone posted a very good question on the Elim Blog about two weeks ago: “According to the Torah we are not allowed to consume blood. However, at the last supper, Y’shua gave the cup to his disciples and told them that it is his blood. Was he not contradicting the Torah by doing that?” From Scriptures it is clear that it is indeed true that we as believers are not allowed to consume blood. Part of this week’s Torah reading is Wayyiekra (Lev) 17, where it is stated clearly: “And any man of the house of Yisraél, or of the strangers who sojourn among you, who eats any blood, I shall set My face against that being who eats blood, and shall cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your lives, for it is the blood that makes atonement for the life” (Lev 17:10-11). This commandment (or prohibition) is echoed a number of times throughout Scriptures, for example:
Gen 9:4 But do not eat flesh with its life, its blood.
Lev 3:17 An everlasting law throughout your generations in all your dwellings: you shall not eat any fat or any blood.
Lev 7:26 And do not eat any blood in any of your dwellings, of bird or of beast.
Lev 19:26 Do not eat meat with the blood. Do not practise divination or magic.
Deut 12:16 Only, the blood you shall not eat, pour it on the earth like water.
Acts 15:20 We write to them to abstain from the defilements of idols, and from whoring, and from what is strangled, and from blood.
Against this background, why did Y’shua give his disciples a cup on the night before his death, saying that it was his blood? And even before that, in John chapter 6 (a year or two before his death, also at a time when Pesach was approaching – see John 6:4) why did He declare that unless the disciples eat the flesh of the Son of Adam and drink His blood, they possess no life in themselves? Is this not a clear transgression of Torah?
No, it is not. Y’shua never acted or spoke against Torah. Not once did He disregard a commandment or prohibition of Torah. He did not come to destroy or to break Torah but to fulfil Torah. In the Hebrew understanding “fulfil” means to DO, or to ACT ACCORDING TO TORAH. This is exactly what Y’shua did – throughout his life on earth. As Y’shua’s disciples, we are also expected to fulfil Torah. Y’shua never commanded his disciples to act against Torah. He never expected of them to literally eat his flesh (like cannibals) or drink his blood (like pagans). He was speaking metaphorically and He was teaching them the importance of partaking in the MEANING AND THE BENEFITS of his flesh and his blood. He was helping them to understand the importance of his death. And the importance of knowing why He had to die. And the importance of believing that through his death, we may have life. Eating the bread that symbolizes his body and drinking the wine that symbolizes his blood, is another way of saying: I personally believe that He had to die so that I may live.
The symbolism of Pesach, of the bread, and the wine in particular, highlights the truth of a verse like Lev 17:11 in a wonderful way: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your lives, for it is the blood that makes atonement for the life.” Because blood had such a profound meaning, and because since the beginning of Yahweh’s involvement with his people, blood symbolized LIFE and atonement towards LIFE, Torah stated very clearly that the blood of an animal or a living being was not supposed to be consumed. The blood had to be set-apart from the rest of the offering – it even had to be set-apart from the rest of a bird or animal that was killed for human consumption.
In our renewed understanding of the feasts and Pesach and Unleavened Bread, we tend to forget the redeeming and atoning nature of the BLOOD that is such an essential ingredient of Pesach. I know we are now beyond Pesach and on our way to Shavuot, but we should never forget the importance of the blood of our Pesach Lamb that was slaughtered. To use the words of Kepha (Peter) in 1 Pet 1:18-20, we need to remember that we were redeemed from our futile way of life inherited from our fathers, not with what is corruptible, silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Messiah, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, foreknown, indeed, before the foundation of the world, but manifested in these last times for our sakes. There is a number of very meaningful things, one can almost say, miracles, that have become a reality in the life of a believer, simply because of the BLOOD that was shed by Messiah when He died.
By his blood we have received forgiveness for our sins. Mat 26:28 “For this is My blood, that of the renewed covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.” This may sound like a cliché, but what would have become of us, previously captured in a futile way of life (in the words of Kepha), if we had not received forgiveness for our sins?
By his blood we have been bought. Act 20:28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Set-apart Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the assembly of Elohim which He has purchased with the blood of his own.” This is a very important proof of the extreme measures that Yahweh will take to make ordinary people become part of his flock.
By his blood we have been redeemed. Col 1:14 “Y’shua, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins …” This redemption is a redemption from slavery – not a slavery coming from Torah (as some people are keen to point out) but a slavery coming from not being able to overcome or proceed beyond sin.
By his blood we have become part of the true Yisraél. Eph 2:13-19 “But now in Messiah Y’shua you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah … So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the set-apart ones and members of the household of Elohim.”
By his blood we have been declared right. Rom 5:9 “Much more then, having now been declared right by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” To be declared right means to become aligned with Yahweh’s perfect righteousness. This means both forgiveness of previous forms of unrighteousness and a renewed desire to remain in his righteous ways.
By his blood we have been restored to a relationship of peace. Col 1:20 “and through Him to completely restore to favour all unto Himself, whether on earth or in the heavens, having made peace through the blood of His stake.” There is no other quick fix for true peace in this world. It only comes by putting one’s trust in the blood of Messiah.
By his blood we can have a clean conscience before Elohim. Heb 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of the Messiah, who through the everlasting Spirit offered Himself unblemished to Elohim, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living Elohim?” There is no need for us to continuously wonder if our own works are sufficient in his eyes.
By his blood we may have boldness to approach Yahweh. Heb 10:19 “So, brothers, having boldness to enter into the Set-apart Place by the blood of Y’shua.” True and everlasting life is the prospect of living in the presence of Yahweh. This can only be achieved through the blood of Messiah, which once again goes to show: THE LIFE IS IN THE BLOOD!!