When Blood Speaks

Soon after humanity’s creation came the first story of its failure, when Adam and Eve ate fruit that God had forbidden (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:6). It’s such a blessing then that so soon after the first story of failure came the first story of faith, when, as Genesis 4 records, a young man named Abel worshipped God. The New Testament says of his decision, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4).

It’s easy not to look at Genesis 4 as a story of Abel’s faith but rather as a story of his brother Cain’s failure. That failure began when Cain offered a sacrifice which the Lord “did not respect” and was compounded when Cain’s anger over this rejection led him to kill his brother unprovoked (Genesis 4:3-5, 8). The text doesn’t say why Cain’s offering was rejected, but the simplest explanation I can give is that it wasn’t “by faith” like Abel’s was. In either what he offered or the way he offered it, he did not show enough respect for God, and God in turn had no respect for his offering.

It’s interesting though that the Hebrews author chooses to focus on Abel and even says of him, “He being dead still speaks.” Though the Genesis account says, “Cain talked with Abel his brother” (Genesis 4:8), that conversation is not recorded, and neither are any of Abel’s words. In fact, the only voice of Abel’s that is heard in the text is that of his blood after his murder. God asked the murderer Cain, “What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10).

Though it’s probable that the thing “speaking” that drew the Hebrews author’s attention was Abel’s faith metaphorically, some interpreters of this passage see Abel speaking through the same thing he spoke in Genesis 4: his blood. In the very next chapter, the author exhorts his readers by telling them that they have come, among other things, “to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). Abel’s faithful example certainly speaks to us after his death but so does his blood, and Jesus’ blood speaks something better.

What does the blood of Abel say? Later in Scripture, the Bible reveals that blood shed by the innocent in death has the power of bringing a charge of guilt against the living (e.g., Deuteronomy 21:7-9). God considers the blood of the innocent to be precious (Psalm 72:12-14) and its shedding to be a crime without pardon (e.g. 2 Kings 24:3-4). He sees himself as the avenger of this blood (Psalm 9:12). It’s not too big of a stretch to imagine the blood of Abel saying to God about himself and Cain, “I’m innocent, and he’s guilty!”

Like Abel, Jesus died in innocence, being “put to death” by “lawless hands” (Acts 2:23). Before he died, the architects of His crucifixion cried, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). The potential certainly is there for the blood of Jesus to say the same thing as Abel’s blood. It doesn’t. Through the graciousness of God and the power demonstrated in Jesus’ “resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:1-6), Jesus’ blood only proclaims innocence – not just Jesus’ innocence but the innocence of every heart to whom the blood of Jesus is applied.

Until our hearts and souls are purified by obeying the truth of Jesus’ Gospel (1 Peter 1:22), we stand guilty before the Lord. We are guilty of our own sins and, in a sense, guilty of calling upon God to offer His innocent Son to die for us. Though His blood is on our hands, Jesus promises to sprinkle His blood on our hearts (Hebrews 10:22; 12:24; 1 Peter 1:1-2), forming a covenant of salvation with us (Hebrews 13:20-21), sanctifying us (Hebrews 13:11-12), redeeming us (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:20; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 5:9), justifying us (Romans 5:9), cleansing us from all sin (1 John 1:7; Hebrews 9:14; Revelation 1:5), and bringing us peace with and proximity to God (Ephesians 2:13; Colossians 1:20).

I’m so thankful for the “better things” Jesus blood speaks about me, and I hope you are too.
-Patrick Swayne   
patrick@tftw.org

Recent

Archive

 2023

Categories

Tags

1 Corinthians 12 1 Corinthians 14:15 1 Corinthians 14 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 1 Corinthians 7 1 Peter 1:6-12 1 Peter 3 1 Peter 5:6-7 1 Peter 1 Samuel 4 1 Thessalonians 5:18 2 Corinthians 6 2 John 1:9 2 John 9 2 Kings 2 Peter 2 2 Peter 3 2 Peter 2 Samuel Abel Absalom Acts 17 Acts 19 Acts 2 Acts 8 Acts Alcohol Alleged Contradictions Apostles Ark of the Covenant Attitude Authority Autonomy Autumn Balance Baptismal Regeneration Baptism Barnabas Benevolence Bible Contradictions Bible Questions and Answers Bible Study Bible Biblical Interpretation Bishop Borrowing Cain and Abel Cain Calvinism Catholicism Catholic Challenges Children Christian Living Christmas Church Funds Church Leadership Church Membership Church Circumspection Citations Colossians 3:16 Communication Communion Community Confidence Congregations Contend for the Faith Contentment Covetousness Creation Credit Current Events Dating David Debt Forgivness Deconstruction Degrees of Punishment Deliverance Denominationalism Devil Difference Different Discipleship Doctrine Dragon Drinking Easter Ecclesiastes 7:10 Ecclesia Eldership Elders Elder Elijah Elisha Encouragement Enoch Ephesians 2:8-9 Ephesians 5:15 Ephesians 5:16 Ephesians 5:18 Ephesians 5:19 Ephesians 5:5 Ephesians 5 Esther 4:14 Evangelism Ezekiel 36 Ezekiel 6 Faith Alone Faith Only Faithfulness Faith Fall False Teachers False Teaching Fathers Fear Feeding of the 5000 Fornication Free Will Fundamentals Galatians 4:9-10 Gender Roles Generosity Genesis 4 Genesis Gift of Tongues Gifts Giving Gospel Meeting Gospel Grace Gratitude Greater Sin Greed Grief Grieving Hallelujah Praise Jehovah Hallelujah Help Hermeneutics Holidays Husbands Hymns Hypotheticals Idolatry Imperatives Influence Insomnia Instrumental Music Instruments in Worship Intertextuality Isaiah 2 James 1:19 James 1:27 James 1 James Jehovah Witnesses Jehovah Jerome Jesus Temptation Jesus' Deity Jesus\' Deity Jesus Job John 11 John 19:11 John 4:24 John Calvin John the Baptist Jude 1:11 Jude 3 Jude Judgement Judging Judgment Kindness Lamech Lazarus Leadership Leaven Lemuel Lending Levites Limited Atonement Local Church Lord's Supper Luke 1:28 Luke 5:1-11 Mariolatry Mark 1:12-13 Mark Marriage Martin Luther Mary Matthew 5:13-16 Matthew 5:3-12 Matthew 5 Matthew 7:1 Melchizedek Men's Business Meeting Men\'s Business Meeting Men\\\'s Business Meeting Men Metaphors Minor Prophets Miracles Miraculous Gifts Money Mormonism Mothers Mountain of the Lord's House Mountains of Israel Mountains Murder Music Mutual Submission No Elders Non-Denominational Once Saved Always Saved Parenting Pastor Patience Pattern Paul Peace Pentecostalism Persecution Perseverence Perspective Philippians 4:6 Plagiarism Poetic Language Politics Prayer Praying to Saints Praying Pray Preacher Preaching Priesthood Priests Proverbs 31:6 Proverbs Providence Psalm 148 Quotations Reader Response Redeeming the Time Relationships Relationship Religion Remission of Sins Restoration Movement Restoration Revelation 12:9 Riches Roman Catholic Church Romans 12:10 Romans 12:15 Saints Only Salvation Satan Scarecrows Sermon on the Mount Serving Others Sexual Sin Silence of the Scriptures Singing Sin Sleep Sobriety Song Studies Sons Sovereignty of God Spending Spirit and Truth Spiritual Death Spiritual Gifts Spiritual Leadership Stephen Stress Student Debt Submission Suffering Temptations Thankfulness The Beatitudes The Problem of Pain and Suffering The Problem of Suffering The Way of Cain The Way Tongue Speaking Total Hereditary Depravity Tradition Trials Types and Antitypes Uncleanness Unconditional Election Understanding Unity Unknown Tongue Vulgate Wealth William Kirkpatrick Wives Women in the Church Women's Roles Word Study Work Worship Zechariah death sickness