v. 18. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.
v. 19. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people,
v. 20. saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.
v. 21. Moreover, he sprinkled with blood both the Tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry.
v. 22. And almost all things are by the Law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
The statement of the preceding paragraph, that Christ became the Mediator of the New Testament by His death, by the shedding of His blood, is here substantiated by a reference to the type of the Old Testament: Whence neither the first (covenant) has been inaugurated without blood. The children of Israel were received into the covenant of the Lord through death, over the dead bodies of the sacrificial animals as representing the people. The death of these animals was necessary, partly as a means of expiating the sins of the people, partly as indicating that the people died to the past and became wholly the peculiar nation of the Lord. So even the first covenant, imperfect and temporary as it was, was not ratified without the shedding of blood and the resulting death of the animals substituted for the believers.
This fact is shown in one pertinent instance: For when every command according to the Law had been spoken by Noses to all the people, he took the blood of bullocks and of goats with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled it upon the book itself and the entire people, saying, This is the blood of the covenant which God has enjoined upon you. The inspired author here refers to a story with which his readers were familiar. After Moses, in agreement with the command of the Lord, had repeated to all the people all the precepts which God had spoken, when they all had had an opportunity clearly to understand the obligations they assumed on entering the covenant, then Moses impressed the matter upon their minds by a solemn ceremony. The proper animals having been slaughtered, he took blood of bullocks and goats, added water to it, either to prevent coagulation or to symbolize the fact of cleansing, tied some scarlet wool on a stick of hyssop or wild marjoram, which was also associated with purifying, and then used this device for the purpose of sprinkling. See Num_19:6; Lev_14:4-7; Lev_14:49-52. He first sprinkled some of the blood upon the book itself, that is, upon the roll on which he had written the words of the Lord, the terms of the covenant, and then upon the people, as a party to the covenant, saying, at the same time, that this blood was the blood of the testament, that God thereby ratified the covenant between Himself and the nation chosen by Him. See Exo_24:3-8. Note that the words used by Moses are very much like those used by Christ at the institution of the Eucharist, by which the Lord signified that by the shedding of His sacrificial blood alone, for the remission of sins, the everlasting covenant of the New Testament is ratified.
But the author adds another point: And he even sprinkled with blood both the Tabernacle and the vessels of the ministry likewise; and practically everything is purified with blood according to the Law, and without the shedding of blood remission does not take place. What had happened on this occasion was later repeated in just as solemn a manner, Lev_8:15-19, namely, when the Tabernacle was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies, Aaron in this case acting on behalf of Moses, at God's command. It seems that while Moses attended to the anointing of the Tabernacle and its appointments personally, Exo_40:9-11, and also sprinkled the blood of Aaron's sin-offering upon the altar with his own hands, the high priest afterward performed the consecration of all the holy vessels used in the work of the Levitical priesthood. The author is right, therefore, in stating that practically all things were cleansed by blood according to the rite of the Old Testament, blood being the symbol or agency of purification. Water was used for cleansing only from certain pollutions. The conclusion, then, is fully justified that without blood-shedding there is no remission of sins. Thus it was in the Old Testament. The application for the new covenant is obvious, namely, that there is no salvation but through the sacrificial death of Christ. He gave His life for the life of the world, and thereby gained eternal life for the world.