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From Immanuel’s Veins

Leviticus 4:34
“Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out all the rest of its blood at the base of the altar.”

I’ll never forget sitting in a doctor’s office getting ready to have blood drawn, when a bubbly nurse walked in, strung that tourniquet on my forearm, watched my veins bulge, and then excitedly exclaimed, “Oh, you have such beautiful veins! I bet you don’t hear that often!” I certainly didn’t; but we laughed about it, and I remember thanking God in the quiet of my heart for wiring people like her to enjoy the necessary and bloody work of health service. That’s a prayer I continue to repeat every time fortune leads me back to a doctor’s office or an Emergency Room.

The fact is, unless blood is being used symbolically as in my favorite hymn ‘There is a Fountain Filled with Blood,’ I refrain from thinking about and writing about and talking about it as much as possible, because the topic makes me queasy. Yet, that poses a problem when journeying through Leviticus, doesn’t it? There’s no way around the blood here. It’s all over the place! On the priest’s hands and feet, on the altar, on the floor, in the basin; as if the entire parchment has been drenched in the red cloud of condensation, with blood particles in every jot and tittle of the narrative. In a literal sense, I’m just as paradoxically awestruck and simultaneously put-off by Aaron’s priestly ministry as I am the ministries of doctors, nurses, and surgeons in my own society. The Tabernacle is like a spiritual hospital. Though the operations performed herein are vital for the health and wellbeing of the people, they’re the sort I wish we could do without.

That is, till I consider that this gory, priestly ministry of Aaron is only a precursor to our Lord’s victory over sin and death at Calvary. These archaic rituals are but shadows of the Form of our atonement, leading us to that basin at the foot of a cross, to that baptismal pool surrounding Heaven’s throne—a River of Life as it’s often called! Oh how beautiful the veins of our Immanuel!