The Word on the Week

Slaughter in Syria

“We want revenge, and we want blood” said a protester in Azra, Syria. A total of 81 protesters were shot dead in cold blood when the security forces were unleashed on them in a number of Syrian towns yesterday. “We are not scared anymore,” said another protester in Douma, a town on the outskirts of Damascus. “We are sad and we are disappointed at this regime and at the president. Protests, demonstrations and death are now part of the daily routine.” Blood-letting as a means of solving grievances is not restricted to the Middle-East, we in Ireland have made our contribution to this least effective way of righting wrongs. Easter sharpens the focus with Passion Plays and Processions to the Papal Cross in Phoenix Park reminding us that there is an intimate connection between redemption and blood. What then is the place of blood in the Bible? From the very start the Bible indicated that sinners can only approach God on the basis of shed blood. That’s why Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and Cain’s rejected. (Genesis Chapter 4) The preciousness of blood is equated with life itself- “The life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus Chapter 17) In order to establish this principle, animals for food were drained of blood. We have kosher meat in Jewish butcher’s shops today. Animals offered for sacrifice were donated by the worshipper on the basis of substitution – the animal’s life in place of the offer’s death. The practice is deeply embedded in the Old Testament. Forgiveness for the sinner and a right standing before God being purchased by the blood of the slain offering. When Israel came out of Egypt at the time of the first Passover, the blood of the Pascal lamb was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel of their homes. Sheltering under the covering of the blood Israel was how God delivered them from bondage to the Egyptians. (Exodus Chapter 12) When Jesus came to celebrate the Passover for the last time he redirected his disciples’ act of remembrance away from the exodus from Egypt to his own death which was to be its fulfillment. 1Cor. 5:7. This brings us to the ultimate in graciousness as God the Father in full co-operation with God the Son makes a way through the blood of the cross to purchase a redeemed people for himself out of every tribe and tongue and nation. (Revelation Chapter 5 v 9) “We want blood” was the protesters cry only a few miles from Calvary where the ultimate sacrifice has already been made. It is not more bloodshed that is required but trust in the one who is our Substitute.