A scriptural analysis of the prohibition against eating blood does not support arguments against the Eucharist.
Jesus, himself, that gives us the command to eat his flesh and blood as true food and true drink.
A look at the OT reveals some interesting insights relative to the new covenant. In Leviticus 1:1-5 we read the following:
“THE LORD called Moses, and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, "Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, When any man of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of cattle from the herd or from the flock. ‘If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish; he shall offer it at the door of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord; he shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall present the blood, and throw the blood round about against the altar that is at the door of the tent of meeting.”
There are many similar references in the OT describing animal sacrifice and the sprinkling of the blood upon the altar. This was done for the atonement of sin. When we compare this with the NT we see that “In speaking of a new covenant he treats the first as obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. [Hebrews 8:13]
The scriptures then go on to say “Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary is not yet opened as long as the outer tent is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, but deal only with food and drink and various ablutions, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” [Hebrews 9:1-14]
There is clearly a foreshadowing in the Old Testament and an unveiling in the New Testament when it comes to blood, sacrifice, atonement, and eternal redemption. This foreshadowing includes the Eucharist which is prefigured by the manna and the bread of the presence as well as the sprinkling with blood. This whole theme in the OT is also continued in the Passover which requires the participants to consume the lamb. Jesus is the paschal lamb in the New Covenant.
So why is blood so important and why the prohibition of consuming blood in the OT? Furthermore, why does the consumption of Jesus flesh and blood become mandated in the New Covenant? Scripture clues us in by telling us the significance of the flesh and blood. The blood is considered to be “the life” in the living creature. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life.” Once again, this is a prefiguring of Jesus eternal redemptive sacrifice where we have a better covenant.
Please note that the “life” of the animal is in the blood and that is why the blood was given to God in sacrifice and everyone was forbidden to consume it. In the New Covenant Jesus blood gives us life. Animal blood in sacrifice cannot give that to us and that is why the Jews were told not to consume it. Eternal life is given to us through the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. His flesh and blood are not like the flesh and blood of the animal sacrifices of the OT. Moreover, we do not consume the flesh and blood of Jesus in the same fashion as condemned in the OT. In the Eucharist we receive Jesus body, blood, soul, and divinity. In the Eucharist we receive this precious life giving gift sacramentaly rather than carnally. The prohibition in the Old Law simply does not trump Jesus’s command that we eat his flesh and drink his blood as true food and true drink.
cont. on next post