The Blood of the Covenant
Exodus 24:In Exodus 20-23, the Lord revealed the basic laws that would guide his covenant people, including the foundational Ten Commandments. In chapter 24, the relationship with God and the Israelites is sealed with a ceremony of dedication. This rite included the reading of the laws and sacrifices offered on an altar built by Moses. The blood from the sacrificial animals was collected into two basins. Moses splashed the blood from one basin on the altar. The rest of the blood he splattered on the people, saying, “Look, this blood confirms the covenant the LORD has made with you in giving you these instructions” (24:8).
Such a use of blood seems foreign to us, even objectionably gory. Yet we must understand that in the culture of the Israelites, blood represented life. Those who were splashed with blood by Moses were honored to have a living connection to the altar of God. The use of blood also signified the utter importance of the covenant between God and his people. It would be the heartbeat of Israel, from which they would draw their life and livelihood.
When we read Exodus 24:8 as Christians, we hear echoes of Jesus' own words at the Last Supper: “And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, ‘Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many’ " (Matt. 26:27-28). In this case, the blood that confirmed the new covenant was not gathered from animals slain upon the altar, but from Jesus crucified on the cross. It was God’s own sacrifice that ratified and sealed the covenant of grace through which we are forgiven. Thus, when we receive the sacrament of communion, we are reminded that our relationship with God is based on God’s own sacrificial love, not on anything we have done or will do. Our good works are a response to God’s grace in Christ, an outworking of our covenant bond to him.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When and how have you experienced the sealing of your relationship with God? How do you experience God’s grace each day? How do you share this grace with others?PRAYER: Gracious Lord Jesus, how grateful I am that my relationship with you is based on what you have done on the cross. How marvelous to know that your sacrifice has bound me to yourself, and that nothing in all creation can separate me from your love.
Help me, dear Lord, to live each day knowing that I belong to you. May I walk in your grace, sharing that grace with others. By your Spirit, help me to live for your purposes and glory.
All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, because your death sealed my relationship with the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.