Types in Hebrews - Appendix 2 - THE DOCTRINE OF THE BLOOD


THAT strange phase of teaching about "the blood of Christ," of which Bengel is the most distinguished of modern exponents, cannot be ignored in studying Hebrews. His treatise on this subject on Hebrews 12 in the "Gnomon of the New Testament" is painful reading to most of us. He argues that "not even a drop" of the Saviour’s blood remained in His body: and that His blood after being shed was free from all corruption (Peter 1:18, 19). And among his further theses are the following: - "It cannot be affirmed that the blood which was. shed was again put into the veins of the Lord’s body." "At the time of the Ascension the blood separated from the body was carried into heaven." And "the blood of Jesus Christ always remains blood shed." Under this thesis he says: "The condition of the blood shed is perpetual. Jesus Himself is in heaven, and His body is also there; so too is His blood in heaven; but His blood is not now in His body." This material blood was sprinkled upon the mercy-seat in heaven; and if I understand Bengel aright, the sprinkling is repeated from time to time, as in the case of the Leviticus type.
To understand Christian truth, I once again repeat, we need to know the language in which it has been revealed. And that language is supplied by the divine religion of Old Testament typology. Bengel’s appeal, therefore, to Patristic authority counts for nothing; for the Fathers neglected the study of that language, and their "blood" theology was leavened by the doctrines and practices of the cults of classic paganism (See earlier in this work). The pagan doctrine of washing in blood, so abhorrent to Judaism and so utterly foreign to Christianity,1 was the counterpart of the pagan figment that water could wash the soul from sin. In Scripture washing is always and only with water. And when used in a doctrinal sense the figure means clearing ourselves in a practical way from evil. When, ex. gr., Ananias said to Paul, "Wash away thy sins," he was using a figure which any Jew would understand: "Arise and be baptized, and turn away from your past evil life." And the Apostle’s words to the Corinthians, "You washed yourselves" (1 Corinthians 6:11) had precisely the same meaning. But "the water of purification" of Numbers 19 owed its typical efficacy to having flowed over the ashes of the sin-offering; and when sprinkled on the sinner it renewed to him the benefits of the sacrifice. And the sprinkling of the blood is to be interpreted in the same way. The Israelite thus obtained the benefits of a sacrifice accomplished.
If Christ had re-entered heaven in virtue of His Deity, He must have stood apart from His people. But having entered there in virtue of His blood - that is, of the death by which He put away sin - He is there by a title that He can share with His people. Therefore is it that He is the mercy-seat - the meeting-place between God and men. Twice only does this word occur in the New Testament: in Hebrews 9:5 it refers to the typical "propitiatory," and in Romans 3:25 to Christ Himself, the antitype. To suppose, as Bengel’s theory implies, that there is a coffer of some sort in heaven on which Christ sprinkles His material blood, is a vagary of exegesis which is as deplorable as it is amazing.
The truth or error of that exegesis is easily tested. "Almost all things are by the law purged with blood": that is, by having sacrificial blood sprinkled upon them. Now this blood-sprinkling must have the same significance in every case. Nothing that we deem holy can be sanctified save by the reality - whatever it be - intended by that figure. But let us confine ourselves here to the two great types above mentioned. We are redeemed by the reality typified by the sprinkled blood of the paschal lamb, and sanctified by the sprinkled blood of the covenant sacrifice (Exodus 12 and 24). Does this mean that "the material blood of Christ is sprinkled upon us sinful men?" The question has only to be stated to expose its error. We are redeemed and sanctified when we receive by faith in Christ the "merits" of His death for us.
"The blood is all one with the life" (Leviticus 17:14, R.V.). Blood shed, therefore, typifies life laid down and lost. In plain words "blood" is a figurative expression symbolizing death. But if, as Bengel holds, "blood" is to be taken literally in Hebrews 13-20, it must be so construed also in 10:19. And if the material blood of Christ be meant in 9:12, it must have the same meaning in verse 14. That passage is specially important. The words of verse 12 are, "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, He entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption." It is not the Priest going in to make atonement - to finish an unfinished work - but the Mediator going in on the ground of a work finished and complete. It has been overlooked that the types of Leviticus 16 Exodus 24 are blended in verse 12, and that the prominence is given, not to the sin-offering, but to the "calves and goats" (See verse 19) of the covenant sacrifice (See earlier in this work). When Moses went up to God in Exodus 24, he entered the Divine presence by the blood, as really as Aaron did when he passed within the veil. For no other way of approach is possible.