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For me, one of the most important revelations of the past week came when discussing the testimony of the blood of Jesus.
Dr. Henderson wrote about this in one of the chapters in his book, along with the testimony of the martyrs. It was based on the story of Abel, whose blood cried from the ground and “still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4).
The soul (nephesh) is in the blood, Leviticus 17:11, 14 tells us. The blood was not to be drunk but was to be poured out under the altar of sacrifice. Hence, the “souls” under the altar in Revelation 6:9 are pictured as sacrificial lambs as part of the body of Christ, who was the Head of this sacrifice.
A martyr is a witness or testimony. Therefore, the blood of martyrs have a voice in the divine court and are called to testify about what they know as truth. Because they are said to have died for the truth of their earthly witness of truth, their death does not end their testimony. It only adds to it.
The Cursed Earth Drinks Blood
In re-reading the story of Cain and Abel, I came across a detail that I had not considered before. Genesis 4:9-11 says,
8 … Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.”
Here is the beginning of God’s “visitation” to investigate the murder of the martyrs. Killing a martyr may silence their voice on earth, but it does not silence the voice of their blood that speaks from the ground. The law forbids drinking blood, not only in Leviticus 17:12 but also in Acts 21:25. Blood was not meant to be consumed either by the Israelites or by the aliens. When men consume blood, they join with the earth in consuming the blood of Abel and of all the martyrs. They make a covenant with death to be bloodthirsty, even as Cain.
Esau too was bloodthirsty, and his descendants were condemned for it in Ezekiel 35:6,
6 “Therefore, as I live,” declares the Lord God, “I will give you over to bloodshed [dam, “blood”], and bloodshed [dam, “blood”] will pursue you; since you have not hated bloodshed [dam, “blood”], therefore bloodshed [dam, “blood”] will pursue you.”
The descendants of Esau-Edom, who lived in Mount Seir, were quick to shed blood to defend themselves, their gods, and their religion. They were also willing to shed blood to take back the land of Canaan, which they believed was rightfully theirs. Their descendants today still carry this motive.
The earth “opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand,” God said to Cain. In other words, the earth became bloodthirsty as the result of the curse that was imposed upon it on account of Adam’s sin (Genesis 3:17). All who attach themselves to the earth (that is, those who are carnally minded) are in danger of being bloodthirsty. They may not literally kill anyone, but they all become angry with their brother (Matthew 5:21, 22) because of self-interest.
This extends to whole religions, which believe that God requires them to kill His enemies (“infidels”) in order to please Him. They see God as bloodthirsty, and so their theology leads them into bloodshed. They do not realize that this viewpoint links them to the ground that was cursed and which was the first to drink the blood of men.
Drinking Jesus’ Blood
The law in Leviticus 17 made it difficult for the Jews to understand Jesus’ statement in John 6:53-57,
53 Jesus therefore said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.”
This forms part of Jesus’ explanation of the miracle where he fed the 5,000 earlier in the chapter. To drink His blood is to believe His words. It is to be in unity with Him, because we are what we eat. If we drink blood in a carnal way, we follow the way of death. We become carnally minded (i.e., bloodthirsty) and identify with the cursed earth. But if we “drink” the blood of Jesus in a spiritual way, we partake of His life, and “I will raise him up at the last day.” (This is a reference to the First Resurrection.)
Leviticus 17:12 made it unlawful to drink physical blood, because it made a covenant with the cursed earth which was the first to do this. But the Last Adam (Jesus) came to reverse the curse by shedding His blood on the earth. The earth again opened its mouth to receive Jesus’ blood and was shocked to taste the Life in it.
When the earth tasted the blood of Jesus, it ensured that the curse would be removed from the earth itself and all who had identified with it in a bloodthirsty way.
All those who have killed the martyrs, thinking that they were doing God a good service, have only been feeding the earth with blood. They perpetuate the curse upon the ground. But finally these bloodthirsty men killed the Messiah, not knowing that His blood would reverse the curse and give life to the ground and all who served it. God blinded their eyes and tricked them into acting as agents of universal salvation.
Because they did not know the real purpose of the law regarding consuming blood, or its application to the earth itself, they inadvertently set the stage for the testimony of blood in the divine court. We were able to use that testimony in our divine court case last week. The testimony of Jesus’ blood was Part 1; the testimony of the martyrs’ blood was Part 2. The testimony from the Head was followed by the testimony of the Body.
These two testimonies are mentioned in Revelation 12:11,
11 And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony [marturea], and they did not love their life even to death.
There are two factors that must come together to overcome the “great dragon” who has deceived the whole world. The first is “the blood of the Lamb.” The second is “the word of their testimony,” or “the word of their martyrdom.” They were martyrs because “they did not love their life even to death.” Their voice was the voice of truth, and they bore witness to the truth and life of their Head.
It was necessary in the divine plan that the earth should drink not only the blood of Jesus, but also the blood of the martyrs. In their identification with Christ, the martyrs’ blood was also the blood of Christ, and the earth found itself continually drinking the blood of Christ. Hence, even as Christians were instructed to partake of Communion in order to eat His flesh and drink His blood, so also has the earth itself done the same. Though men have not generally understood what was happening, nonetheless, the earth has been drinking life unto itself.
This will culminate one day in the removal of the curse from the earth itself. The ground will no longer bring forth “thorns and thistles” (Genesis 3:18), but will instead bring forth the Tree of Life. Revelation 22:2, 3 speaks of this, saying,
2 … And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall no longer be any curse…
Then will the nations be healed—the same nations that were in a rage and an “uproar” in their opposition to the Messiah (Psalm 2:1, 2). Note the contrast between the earth under the curse and the earth after the curse has been removed. As I showed in my book, The Genesis Book of Psalms, Psalm 2 commemorates the first martyr (Abel), while Revelation 22:2 pictures the renewed earth without the curse.
These two “earths” also represent the two Adams, because the Hebrew word for “ground” is adama. Adam was named for the ground from which he was taken (Genesis 2:7). Adam’s sin brought the curse upon the ground, whereas the Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45) removed the curse. Hence also, the cursed earth drank the blood of Abel in its bloodthirsty covenant of death; but this was reversed by the blood of Jesus which the earth drank at the cross and also by drinking the blood of the martyrs.
We are what we eat. In the end, the earth itself will manifest the glory of Christ by drinking His blood. The testimony of blood speaks from both heaven and earth. The blood of Jesus was brought into the temple in heaven (Hebrews 9:11, 12), where it voices the testimony of salvation that is given in Revelation 5:9, 10,
9 And they sang a new song saying, “Worthy art Thou to take the book and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. 10 And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
The blood of the martyrs remained under the altar, giving voice to the same testimony but from the dust of the ground (Revelation 6:9-11). The lifting of the curse gives all creation an Amen voice in response to the heavenly voice. This is written in Revelation 5:13, 14,
13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped.
The power of Adam’s blood kept the earth in bondage under the curse. The power of the Last Adam’s blood has brought salvation to the entire creation. The day will come when all creatures on earth will say “Amen,” bearing witness of the voice from heaven, “which speaks better than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). When heaven and earth is once again in agreement and unity, then the story of earth will be concluded.