Blood is Required

Cross-posted at Vertical.

In the beginning of Ezra 6, we find the second temple completed and dedicated, 16 years after the return from Babylonian captivity. There is much that could be said here, but I want to turn my attention to the second half of the chapter that takes place a month after the dedication of the temple.

In verses 19-22 we have the first Passover celebration in Jerusalem since the return from Babylon. Most of these people had never witnessed a Passover. Participants included the people of Israel who had returned from exile, and also by every one who had joined them and separated himself from the uncleanness of the peoples of the land to worship the LORD, the God of Israel. (Ezra 6:21 ESV) Estimates of 60,000-70,000 people have been given. Picture the scene: Some 6,000-7,000 spotless lambs and an equal number of heads of households within the temple along with the priests and Levites.

Now picture the scene as the ritual slaughter of those lambs began. The Levites dressed in white slitting the throats of the lambs and catching the blood in basins. Blood being passed from the Levites to the priests and poured out on the altar. The fatty parts being cut from the lambs and burnt on the altar as an offering. Can you even imagine the gruesome scene? Do you understand how much a holy God detest sin?

These Israelites were brought face to face with the blood that God requires. Looking back to the first Passover, the shed blood on the doorposts covered all within the house as the Lord’s avenging angel swept throughout Egypt. The shed blood of our true Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, covers the sins of all who trust in God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Like the lamb, Christ is our substitute. He was pierced for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5 ESV).

Chapter 6 ends with a joyful celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Don’t miss the fact the Lord had made them joyful. He had turned the heart of the Assyrian king, Israel’s worst enemy. He had brought Israel out of Babylonian captivity. He is faithful to his promise. One day we will stand in joyful celebration because he has already defeated our worst enemies sin, death, and the devil. One day we will stand together and sing a new song, saying,
     “Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood
you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and
people and nation,

(Revelation 5:9 ESV).