<13020E> 236 A Letter on the Sprinkling of Blood

Dear Brother,

Allow me to say a few words on the sprinkling of blood. Precious and undeserved as every mercy is to us, our being sprinkled with blood is the lowest in the series; still it seems to me to have its place. It is most true that the blood is presented to God, and that this goes a vast deal farther than our being sprinkled with it. Not only was it sprinkled before the mercy-seat as well as on it, but Christ is entered in not without blood; the efficacy of His work, and blood-shedding is presented to God. In every case it has this character — I mean of being presented to the eye of God. But this may have a double aspect, meeting the eye of God in respect of its own intrinsic value and character as perfectly glorifying God, or meeting the responsibility and need of those for whom it is shed.

Christ (John 13) as Son of man has perfectly glorified God, and as man is in the glory of God now, having glorified the Father upon earth and finished the work which He gave Him to do. In the Son of man's glorifying God the ground was laid for man being in the glory of God, and the counsels of God being accomplished. Man is reconciled to God Himself, and walks in the light as God is in the light: the veil is rent from top to bottom. This is the fullest character and effect of the work of Christ. God is glorified in Him, and, in result, man is with Him.

But besides this there was the positive responsibility of man to be met; guilt, uncleanness, and offence were all under God's eye, in those whom He would take to Himself. I do not speak now of renewal of heart and moral cleansing — that is figured by the washing of water. But Christ came not by water only, but by water and blood. Nor is guilt alone put away and offence forgiven; there is a judicial purgation or cleansing of sins — a καθαρισμός. The Kopher or Kippooreemwas made or offered, death coming in, expiation, and so propitiation, blood being shed, God's character in righteousness, supreme claim, and holiness being perfectly met and even glorified. Further, our sins, borne and sent away on the scapegoat, never to be found; or met in an ordinary sin-offering, which in Christ was once for all, who bore our sins in His own body on the tree. Thus the atonement, expiation, and propitiation are perfect, and we are forgiven. Redemption too was accomplished.

237 Forgiveness is expressed in Hebrew by nnasa, to lift up, or take away; kasah, to cover, as in the first verse of Psalm 32, and continually elsewhere. The word kipper, the form of the verb kaphar, used for making atonement, is used for appeasing or propitiating; as Jacob says, "I will appease him with the present" (Gen. 32:20), speaking of Esau. In this sense it is clearly presented to God.

But then, besides this, the blood was sprinkled on what was defiled. This was still presented to the eye of God; but to God looked at as judging, taking notice of iniquity according to righteous requirement. In the simple presenting it to God, He was perfectly glorified. In the antitype it had the worth of heavenly glory and perfect divine favour. We are in the light as God is in the light, without a veil, in joy, and have boldness to enter into the holiest. As regards the sins, they are all borne and put away, never to be remembered.

Now comes another thought. I am unclean, defiled by them. Here I get cleansing, not in my inward disposition, but judicially, God being viewed as Judge, and my conscience purged — not my heart and state. The blood is presented to God, but presented to Him as on that which had been unclean. This meets His eye when looking judicially at us, and He holds for perfectly clean that on which the blood is. Thus, when the blood was put on the lintel and the two door-posts in Egypt, God saw the blood and passed over. He was passing through the land judicially; where the blood was, He passed over, His judgment did not apply; otherwise He reckoned the blood a perfect answer to its requirements. So with things that were sprinkled in the tabernacle: the blood was put there because of the iniquities of the children of Israel, amongst whom Jehovah dwelt. They were thus cleansed and fit for His presence and use.

The cases in which there was sprinkling on persons were those of the leper and the sons of Aaron.*

{*Aaron was anointed alone without blood as representing Christ, and then he and his sons taken together as representing the priesthood of Christians connected with Christ.}

In the former case the practical cleansing belonging to the camp began by water, and was followed by blood put on the right ear, thumb, and toe, giving cleanness and the judgment and disallowance of evil, according to the blood of Christ, in every thought and act, and all the walk of the cleansed one; and that followed by oil, or the Spirit, on each same part. But before this, which made the blood and death of Christ the measure of every evil, and shut out all that we might be engaged in which did not suit it, two clean birds had been taken, and one killed and the other dipped in its blood, and the man to be cleansed sprinkled with it. This was not the inward work — sanctification — which followed in the camp; it was done outside. It was the proper efficacy of Christ's work; and the blood being sprinkled on the man he was pronounced clean — judicially clean in God's sight — though more had to be done to bring him into communion and the condition of a worshipper. But he was clean. (Lev. 14:7.)

238 The case of the priests' consecration was more peculiar. They do not stand in the place of transgressors outside as the leper. But they are washed with water, and the blood of the ram of consecration is put on their ear and hand and foot, as in the leper. So far the fitting them by water and blood is the same in consecrating the priest and cleansing the leper; and in truth what does one does the other. He has loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and made us kings and priests. But after this some of the blood on the altar was put with the oil, and all sprinkled together. The power of the Holy Ghost is effectual in making good in us, as dead to sin and alive to God in Him, the consecration to God manifested in Christ's death in giving Himself a sacrifice to God; so only are we cleansed in God's judgment according to the judicial estimate of God in Christ's death. "If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness" (Rom. 8:10). "The law of the Spirit of life  … has made me free." "For what the law could not do" God has done, when Christ was "for sin," and (He has) "condemned sin in the flesh." This is judicial, but it is deliverance through death. Romans 8:2-3, bring the oil and the blood on the altar together. Hence we present our bodies a living sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable. It is still the same judicial estimate of sin according to Christ's death, only looking to realization by the power of the Holy Ghost.

As regards 1 Peter 1:2, it may be taken as a general idea of its value; still it alludes to the Old Testament, when the sprinkling of blood was always the judicial cleansing of that which was sprinkled.

But we find it more definitely elsewhere. Though the general truth may be in the apostle's mind, yet I do not quote Hebrews 9:13-14, because he refers to the great day of atonement and the red heifer, on neither of which persons were sprinkled with blood. Sprinkling, in the original, agrees with "ashes," not with "blood." Still, though the force of that be very different, verse 19 shews that the sprinkling of people was not absent from his mind; and verses 21-23 shew that this was in his mind connected with purging, though I do not apply verse 19 to it. It was the dedication of the covenant with the sanction of death. But in the other verses cited, purging and blood-sprinkling on that which was to be purged go fully and expressly together in his mind, and in chapter 10:22 this is expressly applied to the conscience — "Having your hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience."

239 Now the value of the precious blood of Christ does go a vast deal farther. We have boldness to enter into the holiest by it; we shall be in glory by it, and perfect there; we have redemption by it. The cleansing of the conscience is, so to speak, merely negative.; it clears from the sense of guilt, it meets judgment, requirement. On the door-posts in Egypt it shut God out, because He came as an avenging Judge. Still we evidently need it in this character. So in sprinkling everything in the tabernacle, it removed the stains of Israel's iniquities, and enabled the worship to go on. It entitled the leper to come into the camp and partake of all that would practically restore him to God. It was the basis of all, because that by which anything was sprinkled met the whole character of God — was as fit for the mercy-seat and Him that sat upon it, as for the sinner to cleanse him. Still in its application as sprinkling on anything it went no farther than the cleansing from positive defilement by sin: most blessed assuredly, as it is indispensable to have it; but still, as so sprinkled and applied, only going to the judicial but perfect removal of all uncleanness in God's sight. I repeat, what the blood has done goes infinitely farther for us, and in glorifying God. The sprinkling is a purging process; the death of Christ involves all the glorifying of God in it.

I think we must make a slight difference in thought between the death of Christ and His blood-shedding; the latter being connected with purging through expiation and propitiation, while in the death we get besides the perfect testing of all that Christ was for God, and it was a perfect sweet savour as in the meat-offering. Still they are not disconnected, for there is sweet savour in the burnt-offering, but blood-shedding and sprinkling on the altar with it. I only refer to it as having also a different aspect, which, as we only know in part, we may look at separately.

240 What is important to remark is, that this sprinkling of blood, though every remedy comes from God's love and sovereign grace, is not in itself the outgoing of that full and infinite love — does not take in the counsels of God, nor the work of Christ as the righteous base of those counsels, nor His so being made sin as to open the wide scene of God's glory. God is viewed as a righteous Judge simply, who requires what is clean in His sight, and we through grace are cleansed for Him as He so requires. Hence I have said that, while most precious and indispensable for us, it is the lowest step in the wonderful scheme of grace. In it grace is measured by our need, and God takes the character of Judge.

J. N. D.