Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, If any man of you bring an offering to the LORD…
Redemption by blood is the great theme of the Scriptures, from beginning to end. It ever and again comes up. God will not permit it to remain out of sight for a single chapter. No matter what the figure is, it is made somehow to embrace this. It is repeated at every turn. It stands out boldly at every step. Every imaginable method is taken to write it deep in the soul, to engrave it upon the conscience, to fill the whole mind with it, and to make it the grand centre of all religious thought and belief. It seems greatly to disgust and offend many that we have so much to say about blood. Some verily seem to think, and some sceptics have argued, that the Bible cannot be what it claims to be, because it represents God as appointing and taking pleasure in such sanguinary arrangements and services. But observe the glaring inconsistency of such people in shrinking with abhorrence from the bloody nature of the system which God has arranged for our salvation, whilst they are yet great admirers of the taste and culture of the men and times we read of in the classics. They are charmed with the ancient Greeks and Romans, and are ever putting them forward as our exemplars and guides; and cannot get done talking about their glorious civilisation; just as if the religion of Greece and Rome had no sanguinary rites, or involved no dealing in bloody sacrifices. Never was there a religious system on earth more bloody in its observances, or more shocking in its sacrificial ritual, than those in vogue among these very Greeks and Romans, sanctioned and supported by their laws, and advocated by their greatest men. Their altars flowed, not only with the blood of bulls and goats and various unclean and disgusting creatures, but with the blood of human beings, who were annually slain and offered up in religious worship to propitiate their sanguinary deities. In the worship of Zeus Lycaeus in Arcadia, human sacrifices were regularly offered for hundreds of years, down to the time of the Roman Emperors. In Leucas, a man was every year put to death at the high festival of Apollo. When their great generals went out to war, they first offered up human victims to gain the assistance of their divinities. Before the battle of Salamis, Themistocles sacrificed three Persians to Dionysius. The city of Athens — the very "eye of Greece" — had an annual festival in honour of the Delian Apollo, at which two persons were every year put to death, the one for the men and the other for the women, of that renowned metropolis. The neck of the one who died for the men was surrounded with a garland of black figs, and the neck of the other with a garland of white figs, and both were beaten with rods of fig-wood as they were led forth to a place where they were burned alive, and their ashes cast into the air and sea. And Grecian story tells of many parents, who laid violent hands upon their children, and offered them up as bloody sacrifices to their gods. Nor was it much different with the Romans. In their earlier history it was the custom, under certain contingencies, to sacrifice to their deities everything born of man or beast between the first day of March and the last day of April. Even in the latest period of the Roman Republic, men were sacrificed to Mars in the Campus Martius, by priests of state, and their heads stuck up at the Regia. I mention these things, not to vindicate the Levitical rites, of which they were monstrous and wicked distortions and perversions, but to show the miserable inconsistency of those sceptical people who denounce the atoning regulations of the Scriptures, and hold up the taste and ideas of the Greeks and Romans as the true models of what is beautiful, refined, and elevated. I merely wish to have you know and feel, that if the Hebrew ritual is to be regarded as offensive to a lofty aesthetic taste, the ritual of the most polished nations of antiquity was still more offensive and abhorrent in the utmost degree; and that if the religion of the Scriptures cannot be received as of God by reason of its connection with scenes of blood, there is no system of religion upon earth, ancient or modern, that can be so received; because all others have been equally and still more sanguinary in their services, and that, too, without any of the deep and affecting moral meaning of this. And I freely confess that I see nothing in the doctrine of salvation by blood, or in the Jewish rites, which typified it with so much strength and clearness, either to offend my taste, to shock my reason, or the least to interfere with the readiest and fullest acceptation of the Scriptures as the true revelation of Almighty God. True, I behold in it much that humbles my pride — that tells me I am a very wicked sinner — that proclaims my native condition far removed from what God's law requires — that assures me I am undone as regards my own strength — and that holds out death and eternal burning as what I deserve. But all this accords with my conscience, and is re-echoed in the deepest convictions of my soul. And with it all, it presents to me a plan of redemption so out of the line of man's thoughts, so fitted to my felt wants, and so completely attested by its moral efficacy, that it is itself a mighty demonstration to my mind of its Divine original. The very fact that the Bible has but one great subject running through all its histories and prophecies, ordinances and types, epistles and psalms — that salvation by blood is the focal point in which all its various lines of light converge — is to me one of the strongest evidences that it has come from God. When I consider that its writers lived hundreds and thousands of years .apart, that they were found in all walks of life, and that they wrote in languages foreign to each other, I can find no way to account for the unity which pervades it but by admitting that these various writers were all moved and guided by the same high intelligence and inspired of God.
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.