I was reading Exodus on the Lord’s Day and arrived at a glorious moment when Moses sprinkles the blood of the covenant on God’s people, reminding us of the long-standing Covenant of Grace which unites the Old and New Testaments:
And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words. (Exodus 24:5-8, emphasis mine)
Was there any inherent efficacy in the blood of the oxen? No, as it is said in Hebrews 10:40, the blood of animals cannot take away sins. The true efficacy of this blood is that it typifies that of Christ – in light of the Covenant of Grace, the believing Jews received the blood of Christ; they were saved by grace through faith in the Messiah in whose advent they had faith, yet still under the veil of their ceremonies. We, however, are blessed to know Christ without this veil and to have a fuller outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Jesus echoes the words of Moses when he says:
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:28)
Notice that this is no longer just the blood, but as Jesus says, “my blood”. He claims it as his own because he always has been the substance of the Covenant, but that substance is now exhibited under the New Testament. In the words of the Westminster Larger Catechism Q. 35, grace and salvation are now “held forth in more fullness, evidence, and efficacy, to all nations” through the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper.