In the ESV Bible, the word “blood” is mentioned 355 times. It is first mentioned in Genesis 4 in reference to Cain killing his brother Abel, the second sin that is recorded in the Bible, where God tells Cain that “the voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10) The last mention is in Revelation 19:13, where Christ is pictured “clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is the Word of God.” Almost all of the 353 references to blood in-between have to do with similar themes – the preciousness of life, the need for a blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins, and the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, substituting His sinless life for our sinful one.
The Bible is a bloody book. Leviticus 17:11 explains that blood is sacred because blood represents the life of the animal that is being substituted for the life of the one for whom it is sacrificed. This echoes Genesis 9:4, in which the blood of animals is forbidden to be consumed because the blood represents its life. In the next two verses, God says this:
And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. (Genesis 9:5-6)
Blood is sacred to God because it represents life, and God values all life as precious. The blood of man is especially sacred to God because “God made man in his own image.” And based upon the sacredness of the lifeblood of man, God provides the basis for capital punishment and for the killing of Osama Bin Laden last Sunday night. I didn’t really think that all the celebrating and dancing in the streets was appropriate, because the judgment of God should be very sobering for us. Yes, Bin Laden was a very bad man. But the Bible tells us that even Osama was created in the image of God, to reflect his Creator. Just as the lives of those killed by Bin Laden were precious to God, Bin Laden’s life was precious to God as well. “God takes no pleasure in the death of anyone” (Ezekiel 18:32), so neither should we. Instead, as God says in Ezekiel 18:32, we should “turn, and live.” We should look at the events of last Sunday night as reminders of God’s judgment. Bin Laden doesn’t get another chance, and any theology or worldview that says that he will get another chance is inconsistent with the Bible, which clearly says that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement.” (Hebrews 9:27) So, while Bin Laden’s sins were awful, the reality is that we are all sinners in need of a Savior in order to avoid the same judgement Bin Laden has now faced. Our sins must be forgiven, and Hebrews 9:22 clearly says that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” Just as God appointed Bin Laden’s life to be taken for the lives that he took, that same God took on flesh and lived a sinless life to be the once-for-all, life-for-life, perfect substitutionary blood sacrifice for the sins of all who put their hope in Him.
It’s tragic that Bin Laden’s hope was not in Christ. But it is just as tragic that everywhere I look there are so many “good” people whose hope is not in Christ either.