God could, theoretically, have made blood green, couldn't He? Or any color, come to that. He is the Creator, it's all His design, He could do whatever He liked. But He made blood red. Red, sticky, and with a propensity to stain things. God communicates to us through so much of creation and He designed it that way. The way He made male and female, father and mother, and reproduction. The way seeds die to give way to new life. Sowing and reaping, springtime and harvest. The remarkable and instructive lifecycle of butterflies. All of it. So there are no people with blue blood, despite what you may have heard. When you cut any one of us, we all bleed red blood. It's a powerful metaphor and it's packed with meaning. And life.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. (Leviticus 17:11)

Passover and those dam doorframes

blood on the doorframeThe word for blood in Hebrew is “dam” (דם). The Israelites had to paint “dam” on the doorframes in order to ward off the Destroyer who was coming for everyone's firstborn. It worked. But have you ever considered just how much faith it must have taken? Moses had come back from Medina and the Burning Bush experience with an exhilarating message: God was going to set them free from 400 years of slavery. Moses just had to go up to Pharaoh and deliver the message: LET MY PEOPLE GO.  If he didn't agree? There would be consequences! You would have thought that the first plague would do the trick, but no. The water was contaminated as far as the eye could see. Life-giving waters were replaced with the stench of death. Entire rivers of blood and nothing.

This brings us to an important point. We want things done now. Especially if we're suffering. But God has His own ways and His own timetable. The rivers of blood were not only a sign to Pharaoh but they were also a teaching point for everyone around, from that point and forever. This story is has been handed down to millions upon millions, for millennia. You have killed my people, you have drowned their babies in this river, and the blood cries out. The water did not cover it. The Nile spoke out about the murder of innocent baby boys, and turned into a river of blood. God saw to it later on that the water covered Pharaoh's army in poetic justice.

But that was just the start. There were ten refusals, and ten plagues—each one deeply symbolic. Just imagine how with each plague, the people would pin their hopes on the miracle, willing it to work. Surely now, surely this time Pharaoh will relent. But no. It must have seemed that each plague was an utter failure from their perspective. They were a broken people, crushed and oppressed by the bitterness of slavery (Exodus 6:9). By the time it got to the tenth plague, it would have taken a lot of faith to believe they would ever get out of there. But there is power in the blood. Wonder working power.

The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:13)

That blood saved their lives.

That blood was their ticket to freedom.

Adama and Adam, dam and adom

The Hebrew for red is from the same root word: dam (דם) is blood and adom (אדום) is red. You should also know that the word for man, or humanity, is adam (אדם), hence Adam's name. And the word for earth, from which he was created, is adama (אדמה)These words are all related, and come from the same root. Earth came first, then man was formed out of that earth (Adam came from adama), with blood, which is red (adom). And doesn't matter if you're a man or a woman, Inuit or African, it's gonna be red. Whether you're ninety or nine weeks old, slave or free, Jew or Gentile. It's all the same. Adam, dam, and adom. We all bleed the same. If we lose too much blood, we will die. God created us in this manner, with the message: The life is in the blood. It's very serious in God's eyes. It's not just symbolic, it's a matter of life and death.

Adam and Eve didn't take long to disobey God, and sin slithered into God's garden. The whole of creation fell. But even as God sacrificed an animal to provide cover for Adam and Eve (the word for cover and atonement are the same: kapara) the skinned beast lost its life in the process.

The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. (Genesis 3:20-21)

Life and death. Sin and sacrifice. Blood was spilled, and covering was provided.

As Paul explained to the Romans, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Sacrifice, the spilling of blood, is the only way to atone for sin.

A life for a life.

God set up the Sinai Covenant full of symbols and metaphors to help His people understand the deep spiritual realities of sin and slavery, freedom and forgiveness, sacrifice, death, and eternal life. Like a child's toy till with plastic coins, the sacrificial system illustrated the terrible price that had to be paid for sin. So many animals were slaughtered in accordance with the instructions given to Moses, and so much blood was spilled it must have looked like a Tarantino movie. Seeing the abattoir-style sacrificial system in action must have been stomach churning. Certainly not for the faint-hearted. It seems so profoundly unfair—all those innocent animals. Reading Leviticus in the twenty-first century, it all sounds so utterly outrageous. But it's supposed to be. It is an outrage. God clearly values us getting this point even more highly than the lives of all those animals we know He cares for.1

Blood sacrifice

The Passover lamb - Jesus is the passover lamb according to scriptureI went to a Samaritan village for their version of Passover one year, and every household brought their own lamb to slaughter. They did it together as a community, all at the same time. Hundreds of throats cut in unison. I can hardly describe the visceral sense of devastation and shock I felt. It's hard for us to imagine the sight, the smell, the horror. It was a powerful visual aid, necessary to help the Israelites understand…

For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Hebrews 9:19-22)

This rite described here in Hebrews refers to the perfect red heifer that is killed: together with its ashes a red strand of wool and some hyssop are put in water which goes to purify everything. But as perfect as those specimens may be, those animals were also part of the fallen world. They were part of the broken system. They cannot actually take away sin.

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:1-4)

They provided a necessary lesson, but they didn't actually remove sin, just covered it over for a while. To properly deal with the problem of sin for good, you need someone from outside the system, the Creator himself, to come and give His blood. It's the only way.

Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:2-28)

The blood cries out

When Cain killed Abel in Genesis 4, God said that Abel's blood was “crying out”. The very ground, the adama, decries the blood of the innocent.

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
(Proverbs 6:16-19)

We are seeing a lot of lies breathed out in this time of conflict, blood libels against Israel, as well as murder and mayhem from terrorist savages. Israelis are not sinless, no more than any other nation at any rate, but cruelty of the killing spree on October 7 and the barrage from Iran will not go unnoticed by God.

The day after that Iranian attack there were terrible storms in Iran and the whole area. In Hormuz the floods led to what looks like a river of blood. This phenomenon is known to happen from time to time, but it was still a striking image. The color is due to high concentration of iron oxide in the sand, which colors the waters—but the result is reminiscent of the first plague.

It's all very well assuming that the Middle East fits neatly into good guys and bad guys, but there is innocent blood shed here in Israel too. Abortion is rife, and babies in the womb couldn't be any more innocent. There have been grievous injustices on this soil. This land is soaked with more than its fair share of innocent blood. The earth shakes. Life is so precious.

God is a God of justice, and He will see to it that justice is done. He has absorbed the sin in his body and defeated it on the cross. His blood shed for us transformed the entire cosmos, the whole created order now has an outlet, an escape from death. We can be made clean. Freedom and forgiveness is offered even to the vilest offender: the head of Hamas, the murderous abortionist, the corrupt politician, the wicked militant, the evil liar. No matter how scarlet our sin, we can look up at this time of redemption, the year of the Lord's favor, and be acquitted forever. Just one drop of His blood is terrifying to the terrifier. The Accuser has nothing on us once we're safe under His blood. The wages of sin may be death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Messiah Jesus our Lord.

God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son… and that Son loved us so much that He willingly laid down His life.

His blood has set us free.


  1.  See the last verse of Jonah, for example
  2. Back to Jerusalem, Many Dead as Angry Storms, Deadly Floods and Hail Unleashed in Middle East, Dr. Eugene Bach, April 15, 2024

Photo by Aman Chaturvedi on Unsplash

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