There are few things as naturally alarming to a person as the sight of blood. You may find that even the idea of blood causes all sorts of reactions amongst people. For some, the idea of blood is inherently vile, causing stomachs to churn. In others, we find a relative indifference, whether it be due to one’s profession or other reasons. Regardless, of whether the sight of blood sickens you or not, blood is always taken seriously. If you’ve ever unexpectedly found blood – you know this to be the case.
Blood holds a vital place in the Old Testament. We are reminded of blood’s importance in the heart of the Torah, the book of Leviticus. There God says this to Moses, “…the life of the flesh is in the blood…” (Lev. 17:11 ESV) Blood is a serious matter in Scripture. Blood is mentioned over 400x in the Bible. And blood is also the only means for the covering of sin, or what’s called “atonement” according to Hebrews 9:22.
Why have we spent so much time discussing blood, and possibly spoiling your appetite? The first plague in the book of Exodus is when God turns the water of the Nile River into blood for seven days (see Exodus 7:14-25). Now many individuals wish to discount the reality of the supernatural in an a priori fashion, that means that they disregard the possibility of the supernatural as a whole by virtue of their experience or even their basic assumptions (or what is often called presuppositions) about the nature of reality (or metaphysics). Such a denial of the supernatural or a naturalistic assumption is fundamentally alien to Scripture, and dare I say the notion of reality as it truly is. But that conversation is for another time. The first plague in Egypt is a bloody affair.
Now the big idea of the first plague from Exodus is not the blood. Instead the bloody issue is subservient to the main focus of the text which is Making God Known. Far from being merely the point of our text, we can confidently say that this lies at the very heart of the Bible, of Christianity, and dare I say (to the chagrin of many a non-believer) that this is the very heart of human existence.
Every fact we consider, every opinion bolstered, every achievement, and accomplishment all sit quite comfortably under this basic heading. This is our role in the grand drama of redemption. We are not insignificant specks floating about along the ocean of random chance hoping in the great foundation of despair as notable atheist Bertrand Russel would suggest. Nor are we shards of scum floating about the absurd chaos of existence living irrational lives by searching for meaning in a meaningless universe. Instead, we exist to make the triune God of Scripture known.
When God charged Moses with acting before Pharaoh, He placed upon Moses this central goal, “Thus says the LORD: By this you shall know that I am the Lord.” (Exod. 7:17 ESV) According to Romans 1:20-21 God has made Himself known to everyone already. But this knowledge ingrained within us (classically understood as a “sense of deity” or “seed of religion”) is anything but neutral. Paul writes that unbelievers “suppress the truth in unrighteousness…” (Rom. 1:18 ESV). What Paul is making clear is that the knowledge of God, universal in all humanity, is not treated the same by all people. We are spiritually blind. We presume God and Jesus Christ as optional appendages to an already successful life; such ideas reveal our fallen nature. We are like blind men before a Van Gough . Sin has not only crippled us, but has so ensnared us that we are hopeless apart from a miracle. Only the miracle of regeneration or the new birth by the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the Gospel can we be made new.
Education isn’t the answer. Social activism isn’t the answer. Money isn’t the answer. Even new political policies aren’t the answer. The deepest need of the human heart is to see themselves rightly, and to apprehend God and their need for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Bob Dylan is neither a prophet nor a son of a prophet, but he gets to the heart of it with these lyrics, “you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” The only question is it someone worth serving? Is it the Creator or is it creation?
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