Bible Order: Psalms 77–78
Chronological Order: 1 Kings 17-19
New Testament Only: Acts 3:11–26
How Much Blood
22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep were slaughtered during the dedication of the temple. Can you imagine the amount of blood we are talking about here? Did it run down the streets like a river? I did some quick research online about the blood volume in sheep and “cattle”. I was having a little trouble finding specific info about oxen so I took the generic data on “cattle”. Based on a very rough estimate we are looking at over a half a million gallons of blood.
Next to the school in the neighborhood where I grew up was a massive water tower that loomed over our heads, blotting out the sun. As I looked into what 500,000 gallons looked like I found the majority of the search results referred to water towers. Evidently some of the bigger towers hold that many gallons. 500,000 gallons is also the amount of oil estimated to have been released into the Gulf of Mexico during hurricane Ike in October of 2009.
That is a lot of blood! Of course there were sacrifices every day at the temple; morning and evening, and every time in between. A lot of blood was required because of the sinfulness of man. Have you ever heard someone say that religion is the cause of most wars in human history? I’ve heard it suggested that if there were no religion there would be no war. I have to tell you, that is about the most foolish thing I’ve ever heard and I’ve heard it from some reasonably intelligent people. The problem is that even a rudimentary recollection of history will prove this ludicrous allegation false.
When people say something like this they will point to the crusades, the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and, back in the day, the Catholic/Protestant conflict in Ireland. I’ll bet if you think real hard you might be able to come up with a couple more. Now, what about the Greek wars, Babylonian, Persian, and Egyptian wars, the Roman wars, the Barbarian wars, the Mongols, the Turks, the Napoleonic wars, the Crimea, Cambodia, the Western European powers in China, the Russian/Japanese wars, the wars between Native American tribes, the wars between the Irish and British, the Scots and the Brits, the Brits in India, the Western European powers in North and South Africa, French Indonesian wars, the American revolution, the War of 1812, the American Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm and Desert Shield. Guys, I could go on and on and on. I could fill pages with a listing of humanities wars; virtually none of them having anything to do with religion; or at least God. Even those conflicts that are somehow attributable to religion were really just the normal war-like nature of societies using any tool at hand to rouse the citizens to die for what were really economic pursuits.
If all religions ceased to exist today the death, destruction, and misery from war would not drop in the least and I’m willing to bet it would actually increase. The only thing that has ever acted as the least little bit of a brake on man’s war like nature is the notion that God wants us to love each other. I know the left will howl at this because they think all good comes from people that share their “progressive theology” and don’t believe in God. As usual, they have it completely backwards. All good comes from God and as we continue to push God further out of our societies we see more and more anger, hatred, and murder. The removal of God from the public square won’t bring more peace; it brings less.
Now believe it or not I am not a fan of “religion”. To me the term “religion” refers to the artificial constructs mankind has built up around any given belief system. This means that Christianity can be referred to as a religion just as Islam, Budism, and any number of wako New Age, Gnostic, Pagan silliness. But so too can this term then be used for those who worship at the altar of Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, Conservatism, Progressivism, Liberalism, party politics, Global Warming, Environmentalism, and even Science.
All of these isms and altars are meaningless. I am a follower of Jesus Christ; the son of God who created the heavens and the earth. God himself came to earth in human form to save all of humanity because we just couldn’t save ourselves. You see, we love ourselves too much. We are self-centered and we covet our neighbor’s everything. We are war like and hateful and without God in our lives we will destroy all of humanity in time. In fact, we are closer to that reality than ever before.
It will only be a year or less before Iran has a nuclear bomb. Saudi Arabia has already made arrangements with Pakistan to obtain nuclear weapons the moment Iran has them. (You see, those two Muslim countries hate each other. I guess that is a religious cold war.) Add to those august nations the North Koreans, who will sell to anyone, and you can see that the extinction of mankind is not far in the future. The current president of Iran has publicly said that he is fine with Iran being annihilated by a nuclear retaliation from Israel as long as Israel is wiped out in the process.
How much blood does it take to wash away the sins of man? All of it? No. Just the blood of one man. One man worth more than all of humanity put together, but still just one man. His blood didn’t run like a river down the streets of Israel. It fell on the streets of Israel a drop at a time and poured out of the heart of Christ who died on the cross and gave up His spirit once, for all. The temple, once awash in 500,000 gallons of blood at its dedication, became a meaningless landmark; to be dismantled stone by stone until it was no more within 70 years of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Friends, if you have truly been converted into a disciple of Christ, His blood has consecrated the temple within you, but what about the living dead surrounding you? Whose blood will cover them? Will it be their own or His? How do you feel about the end they are facing? The end of humanity may not happen in our lifetime but every man dies and faces his own personal Armageddon. If the love of Christ is within you then your heart should bleed for them. Will you not share the good news that salvation is available with those who don’t know?
Not everyone will be saved. I have seen the anger and hatred in the eyes of my fellow man that mark them as eternally dead. There are those who, like Pharaoh in the day of Moses, have heard the word and seen Gods power but their hearts are hard and God has given them over to their eternal choice. The thing is you and I do not know who will respond to God’s call. We too were sinners now saved by grace. We are not sufficient to sit in judgment on our fellow man. We have no right to decide on our own to whom we will take the Gospel and to whom we will offer nothing. Jesus sent us to work His field not just every other row. Remember that Jesus told us about the harvest:
Matthew 9:35-38 ESV
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Are you one of the Laborers Jesus told the Apostles to pray for? As He ascended into heaven He told us to make disciples of ALL nations; not just the ones we like. That can be said of people as well. You do the sharing and let God do the saving.
Have a blessed day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
(Originally posted 5/15/10)