Home » Advanced Search » Leviticus 17:11

Leviticus 17:11

View Download and Print Options

Leviticus 17:11, ‘For the soul of the flesh is in its blood, and I, I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement concerning your souls, for its blood, by the soul [LXX: ‘in place of the soul’], will make atonement.’

By weaving the intangible soul-life of flesh into inseparable union with the blood of that flesh, YHWH has designed a universe in which life can be given, in which life can—quite literally—be poured out. It is upon this principle that the entire sacrificial system is based. The soul-life of the sacrificer is forfeit due to sin (16:2), but the life of the sacrificial flesh is poured out in place of the life of the sacrificer, so that the sacrificer is preserved and—since he has symbolically died in his sin in the death of the sacrifice—is made clean.

However, when this text—as with all Scripture—is opened to us through the cross, and we hear God tell us that the soul-life of the flesh is in its blood and that He, even He has given it to us on the altar, we cannot but realize that this same God is the one who will, in the Son, become flesh and so—mystery of mysteries—will bind His own soul-life to the blood of the man who is God, Jesus of Nazareth. And—having thus sovereignly and mystically united His own uncreated life to these five quarts of crimson liquid, will—in truth—give this blood, this life, the life of YHWH Himself, for His people on the altar of Calvary’s cross.

It is, in deepest truth, YHWH Himself who gives the sacrificial blood on the altar…but if the one sacrificed on the altar is God, is not the altar transfigured—in that very act of self-giving—into the Throne (since God is fundamentally and irreducibly King such that wherever He is, He reigns)? This too is anticipated in Leviticus when we see the sacrificial blood sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant, which is the symbolic throne of God. All of these shadows find their substance in Christ, from whose veins the life of God is poured out as atonement for sin, revealing the Cross as the Ark, the Altar as the Throne, and the smoke of sacrifice as the cloud of YHWH’s presence (16:2), which we see now with definitive clarity over the True Mercy Seat of Calvary.