Blood for Atonement
17 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded, saying, 3 “Any man from the house of Israel who slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or who slaughters it outside the camp, 4 and has not brought it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord before the [a]tabernacle of the Lord, bloodguiltiness is to be reckoned to that man. He has shed blood and that man shall be cut off from among his people. 5 [b]The reason is so that the sons of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they were sacrificing in the open field, that they may bring them in to the Lord, at the doorway of the tent of meeting to the priest, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to the Lord. 6 The priest shall sprinkle the blood on the altar of the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and offer up the fat in smoke as a soothing aroma to the Lord.7 They shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the [c]goat demons with which they play the harlot. This shall be a permanent statute to them throughout their generations.”’
8 “Then you shall say to them, ‘Any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, 9 and does not bring it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to [d]offer it to the Lord, that man also shall be cut off from his people.
10 ‘And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the [e]life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the [f]life that makes atonement.’ 12 Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘No person among you may eat blood, nor may any alien who sojourns among you eat blood.’ 13 So when any man from the sons of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, [g]in hunting catches a beast or a bird which may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth.
14 “For as for the [h]life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its [i]life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the [j]life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.’ 15 When any person eats an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or an alien, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening; then he will become clean. 16 But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his [k]guilt.”
Throughout this chapter, there is the obvious practical concern God had for his people, which was that drinking the blood of an animal could make you very sick, even to death. But there are a couple other things at play here. First, is that the sacrifices were likely a significant portion of the provision for the Priests and Levites. They were set apart to serve God, and a portion of most sacrifices belonged to the priest. By offering sacrifice elsewhere, it robbed the priest of his portion. Secondly, there is a note about idol worship. The only good reason to make a sacrifice elsewhere was because you were making it to an idol and not to God. This was in direct violation of His commands, and you cannot serve two masters. As it says elsewhere, you will end up loving one and hating the other. And if you hate your idol worship, then what are you doing it for? More likely, you can’t quite break your old habits, and are afraid of what God will say. He wants you to come to him, so leave your baggage behind, and come running!