Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Atonement: Symbolism of blood

We've been attending my home ward for the past few weeks, and a girl that I have been vaguely acquainted with both here and in Long Beach just came home from her mission. During Sunday School, she mentioned that her mission president challenged them to study the Atonement for at least part of their daily study, and she spoke of the way that it helped her to connect the principles of the Gospel. I thought this was a pretty good idea, so I have started by reading one scripture each day from the topical guide about the Atonement in addition to whatever other study I'm doing that day.

The first is Leviticus 17:11:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

The surrounding scriptures forbid the Children of Israel from eating the blood of any creature, because the blood is the life of the flesh. Immediately another scripture came to mind:

O remember, remember... yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world.   Helaman 5:9

There is no other creature, no other way that we can be saved, but through the blood (the life!) of Jesus Christ, which He gave on our behalf. I imagine it being very powerful for those early Saints to receive the sacrament, which represents the blood of the Savior, while they were forbidden to drink the blood of any other creature. They were used to the idea of animal sacrifice, but this was that Great Sacrifice to which all others had pointed, and it was the only sacrifice that truly brought them life.

The third scripture in the list goes back to the same symbolism in a different context:

As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.  Zechariah 9:11

I liked this reminder that the covenant between the Lord and His people is based upon and centered around His atoning blood. I think it emphasizes both the fact that it is His blood that saves us as well as the fact that we must keep our part in order to make His blood have its intended effect in our lives.

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