By Horatius Bonar
"And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me front the ground." -- Genesis 4:10
"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." -- Hebrews 12:24
THIS cry of Abel's blood reminds us of the "How long?" of the martyrs (Revelation 6:10), and of the injured widow's "Avenge me." It was a cry from the ground where it had been hidden from every eye but God's; a cry to God; a cry which brought down a curse.
The "blood of sprinkling" is, first of all, the blood which was sprinkled in the tabernacle; which, with all its imperfections, spoke better things than Abel's. But it is especially the blood of the Lamb of God as sprinkled on the conscience, in believing.
In one aspect the cry of Christ's blood is the same. For it is that blood that now rests on Israel. Through it the long curse has come upon the nation. But still this is not the direct and proper meaning or application of the blood. It speaks better things than that of Abel.
I. It speaks of love, not hatred. It was to Cain's hatred, a brother's hatred, that Abel's blood bore witness. The blood of sprinkling speaks of a brother's love,--the love of Christ, the love of Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. It is truly of love that the blood so loudly and explicitly speaks. Thus it speaks better things than that of Abel: for it speaks both of a father's and a brother's love. "God is love" is its message. Of the love which passeth knowledge it bears witness to us;--love unto death; love stronger than death.
II. It speaks of grace, not of wrath. Because of Abel's blood God was angry. It was divine wrath that spoke out in his words to Cain. But it is divine grace and mercy that speak in the blood of Christ. The blood of sprinkling propitiates God, and draws out grace. It says, Where sin abounded grace did much more abound. Grace "abounding" over divine wrath and human sin; "riches of grace;" "exceeding riches of grace;" the "grace of God that bringeth salvation,"--these are the voices which come from it to us."
III. It speaks of forgiveness, not condemnation. The blood said, Father, forgive them. It was not condemning blood. He who heard of it, and believed God's testimony to its meaning and efficacy, was thereby assured of forgiveness. The blood shewed the true basis and the true way of pardon; pardon through the condemnation of another; Pardon through the blood-shedding, for the blood-shedders themselves; righteous, true, holy, unchangeable, eternal Pardon. "No condemnation;" nay, justification through the great transaction on the cross.
It speaks of comfort, not of terror. Abel's blood was dreadful to all who saw it; full of terror to the murderer; alarm to his conscience; remorse to his spirit. Not so with this better blood. Its voice is comfort. It soothes the sinner's terrors. It does not palliate his sin; yet it so speaks to him concerning it as to let him know that the blood-shedding which brings him in guilty, and deserving of a murderer's death, assures him at the same time of the removal of all his fears. It is indeed nobler, richer blood, the blood of God, and so bringing on the shedder more awful guilt; yet by its propitiatory nature, its expiatory power, it announces, with divine certainty, the deliverance from the infinite danger under which they who had shed it had brought themselves.
It speaks of peace come, not of peace gone. The blood of Abel said, Peace is gone; peace has forsaken the earth; it has left man and the families of man. All is now hatred, variance, murder, separation between man and God; between man and man; between brother and brother. The blood of Jesus tells that peace has returned. He is our peace. His blood has brought it back to earth. He has made peace by the blood of his cross. It has come! It has come down from heaven. Heaven and earth are meeting. God and the sinner are being reconciled. There is yet hope for man and man's earth. We need not despair, as if peace had fled away forever.
VI. It speaks of the blessing, not of the curse. Abel's blood spoke wholly of the curse; it brought the curse on Cain; and on the earth. It doubled the curse which Adam's sin had brought to the world. Christ's blood blesses and curses not. Its voice is the voice of blessing. It means blessing in every drop. It meant blessing when first shed; it means blessing still. There is no curse in it, saving to those who reject it. In it is the fullness of eternal blessing, blessing such as the sinner needs; the removal of all curse for soul and body.
VII. It speaks of nearness, not of distance, between man and God. Reconciliation, friendship, communion, nearness***all these are contained in it. "We who sometime were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ." No separation, no darkness, no uncertainty of relationship, but re-cemented union, on the basis of a purged conscience and an everlasting righteousness. Every hairbreadth of the distance which sin had produced is forever swept away. Perpetual nearness! Eternal fellowship! This is our portion; secured to us by the righteous removal of all that intervened between us and God; either on God's side or ours.
VIII. It speaks of the purged, not of the pricked and despairing conscience. Abel's blood spoke to Cain's conscience; it must have been a perpetual pricking and wounding. Christ's blood speaks of purging, healing, soothing. No more conscience of sins! A conscience purged from dead works to serve the living God! Every wound in it healed; every trouble laid to rest; every shadow resting over it dispelled. Not despair, but hope.
It speaks of life, not of death. Abel's blood seemed the seal set to the death of the race. Brother murders brother,--what is to be the end of this? But Christ's Word speaks of life; the reversal of the sentence by the payment of the penalty. There was no life through the Word and death of Abel. There is life through the blood and death of the Son of God. Life from the dead is the voice of the blood; life to the slayers of the Prince of life. The voice from the cross was one of life;--"I give unto them eternal life." The voice from the tomb was the same;-- "quickened together with Christ."
It speaks of restoration, not of expulsion. It was Abel's blood that made Cain a fugitive and vagabond, Christ's blood brings us back from our wanderings; restores us to Paradise; delivers us from exile; gives us possession of the Paradise of God, the heavenly city, the new heavens and earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. It is the blood of the Son of God that makes us friends, children, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.
Let us receive God's testimony to this blood, this better blood, this blood of the everlasting covenant. The reception of this divine testimony is life, and peace, and holiness.
Be warned against the rejection of this testimony and trampling on this blood. It is blood which, when sprinkled on the soul, saves; but which, when not sprinkled, condemns. It will sink the rejector to the lowest hell.