The Age of Israel: is there scriptural support that the elements of communion change into the Literal Body and Blood of Christ?

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  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published February 22, 2024
  • Word count 2,414

At Communion, Is the Supposition That the Bread and Wine Change into the Substance of the Literal Body and Blood of Christ Supported by Old Testament Scriptures During the Age of Israel?

This is another period when God worked with specific people, unveiling His particular plans and purposes. This era is called the Age of Israel, i.e., the dispensation when Moses led the children of Israel out from their captivity in Egypt to the birth of Christ. God prescribed to them very precise rules and regulations as spelled out under the institution of the Mosaic Law. Some pertained to food and drink restrictions. Let’s find out what these were and see if they might help us in this study.

Let’s begin briefly in the book of Exodus and then proceed to the book of Leviticus, where we’ll attempt to answer the following question.

What was the significance of blood in the offering of animal sacrifices?

Suggested Reading: Exodus 33:7; Leviticus 1:1-2; Leviticus 17:1-16;

Exodus 33:7 And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp, afar off from the camp, and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And it came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp.

The children of Israel were residing in an area around Mount Sinai. Moses built an interim or provisional tabernacle where no sacrifices were to be offered other than those where he’d consult Yahweh on behalf of the people, applying for divine counsel (tokens of divine favor) and receiving revelations of the holy will.

Leviticus 3-4, 11 What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people; For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

Moses and the children of Israel would soon pick up camp and go on their way through the wilderness to the land God had promised, the land of Canaan. God instructed him to build a portable tabernacle, that would accompany them on this journey (Exodus Chapters 25-40). This tent life structure would be where the sacrifice of animals would be made for sin so that the Israelites wouldn’t be tempted to offer sacrifices to other gods at any place or at unapproved shrines.

If a person sinned, they’d bring an animal to be sacrificed. The object of the atonement was not the sin, the impurity, or the sinner, but the blood. The blood of the animal was to be taken and sprinkled upon the [altar to] purify it on behalf of the sin, impurity, or the person that tarnished it.11 This decontamination of the sanctuary rendered the [offeror] clean and paved the way for his reconciliation with God.12

12 Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood.

Similar to the command given to Noah in the previous dispensation, no one was allowed to eat meat from which the blood hadn’t been drained.

What was the basis for this prohibition?

It was because the sacrificial animal’s blood was the means of atonement for sin. God appointed the blood for the altar, as containing the soul of the animal, to be the medium of expiation (to atone for; to make amends) for the souls of men, and therefore prohibited [it] being used as food.13 Its purpose was to maintain the sanctity of God’s presence in their midst.14 Likewise, Christ’s blood was the price paid to divine justice to atone for the sins of the world. With that said, how would you answer the following question?

In the New Testament, if an unbelieving Jew found out that drinking Christ’s blood would be the means for becoming more like Him, do you think they’d repent and believe in Him as their Messiah/Savior regarding salvation?

We have one more scriptural section to look at. These verses talk about another prohibition that would’ve been prominent in a devout Jew’s mind that would probably have set off alarm bells concerning Jesus’ proclamation about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Any idea what this restriction pertains to? Please go to the book of Exodus, and we’ll find out.

Exodus 20:1-5

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.

The Lord asked Moses to meet with Him at the top of Mount Sinai, where he was instructed to go back down the mountain and speak to the people and the priests, telling them not to proceed up there but stay where they were and wait for a Word from the Lord. At the appropriate time, God spoke to the people out of thick darkness, giving them certain commandments, they were to obey. One of these commands was that they were told not to make any graven image. What is meant by these words? A graven image refers to something made or carved into the shape of an animal, human, or some other object15 or any likeness, an image of any sort; for the purpose of worship. And whatever this was, it would be considered a god before (in opposition to) Yahweh. Based on what was just presented, here's a question to consider.

If, at communion, the bread and wine, in whatever form, are transformed into Christ’s literal body and blood, wouldn’t these elements be considered graven images because they’d be thought of as objects of worship that allegedly provide spiritual nourishment?

One of the things that was brought to my attention as I looked up on the internet articles on graven images was that there are a lot of articles about whether Scripture prohibits a believer from wearing a cross around their neck or a Christian ring on their finger, etc. I can honestly say that I’ve never given this much thought. So, without further ado, here’s an article about such that I believe you’ll enjoy.

IS IT WRONG TO WEAR CHRISTIAN SYMBOLS?

I heard Christian symbols have pagan origins. Is [it] wrong to wear a cross or other [symbols]?

In the Law given to Israel, the Lord commanded in Exodus 20:4-6:

You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. [NASB]

This commandment prohibited the sin of idolatry, [i.e.,] worshipping graven images. A graven image is a likeness of God, and anything we might imagine [that represents] God will be - by necessity - incomplete and insufficient. The Creator of Heavens and Earth cannot be compared with His Creation. Furthermore, the context of the commandment is that we [aren’t] to make such an object for the express purpose of worship.

We know that the making of an image of Heaven by itself is not [sinful] since God Himself commanded Moses to make cherubim (angels) that were on the top of the Ark of the Covenant. He also commanded Moses to make a bronze serpent that the Israelites were to look [at,] so they’d be healed if they were bitten by the poisonous snakes God sent to punish them (Numbers 21). God's concern was making an image for the purpose of worshipping it (as the Israelites did in the desert in Exodus 32).

In fact, Hezekiah ended up destroying the bronze serpent because [eventually,] the Israelites did begin to worship it (1 Kings 18). So, we see that making an image of something [isn’t] in and of itself against God’s commandment. Importantly, as a side note, Christians [aren’t] under the Mosaic Law; however, this same law overlaps commandments we receive in the New Testament that expressly forbid idolatry (e.g., 1 Corinthians 10:14).

Furthermore, we read in Genesis 24 that Rebekah is given a ring and bracelets when she is chosen to be Isaac’s wife. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says,

“Your adornment must not be merely external--braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” [NASB]

Adornment here [isn’t] prohibited, but it is to be modest so that a woman’s spiritual adornment from God can be seen. A similar command is given in 1 Timothy 2:9-10. Therefore, we see that God’s word allows for us to wear jewelry, which would include a cross, chi-rho, fish, or Trinity sign, whether worn on our person or on our car. Having said that, there are things to consider before wearing such jewelry or putting them on our cars.

First, if we fellowship regularly with a Christian brother or sister who (incorrectly) believes that wearing such jewelry is sinful, then we [shouldn’t] wear the jewelry for the sake of our weaker (in the faith) brother or sister. This is clearly stated as a commandment in Romans 14.

Second, and this is my opinion (based on God’s word) rather than God’s explicit word, we should be careful about putting such symbols on our [cars] or wearing such jewelry. People understand what the fish symbol [means] and what the cross means. If our witness is such that we do things that are not Christlike, people are much more apt to have a negative view of Christianity, and God is not glorified.

For example, my pastor, who is an ex-policeman, tells the story of the lady he pulled over for speeding. [He’d] been trying to witness to his partner about Christ. When they proceeded to give the lady a speeding ticket, she began spewing profanity because she was angry that she got caught speeding. Yet, she had a Christian fish symbol on her car, which my pastor’s partner noticed. In this way, the lady set a poor example of what a Christian looks like.

The point here is that when we “advertise” that [we’re] a Christian, we better be the real deal, or else the world thinks [we’re] fake, just like everyone else. Better to let our good works shine before men so that our Father in heaven is glorified. Indeed, that is the point in both the 1 Peter and 1 Timothy passages cited above.

In summary, it [isn’t] sinful to wear a cross or put Christian symbols on our cars, as long as we do not worship them, making them an idol. Also, [we’re] to take into consideration how other Christians with whom we regularly fellowship view [this] so as not to sear their conscience. Finally, we need to be imitators of Christ, walking as He walked. Wearing these symbols makes that all the more important.16

I found the article informative and balanced. The only issue that I had with it was the idea about being careful not to sear a weak believer’s conscience by wearing such or such or whatever it is that causes them to have an issue. The recommendation seems to be saying if a believer doesn’t support such and such, then don’t continue on in whatever ever that is.

That’s a pretty broad statement. A fellow believer could have an issue with the clothes we wear, the car we drive, what we drink, etc. Romans chapter 14 was mentioned as the basis for this admonition. In particular what is referred is found in verse 14.

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

If we were to read the next verse, we’d get a better understanding of what this was all about.

15 But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.

This has to do with eating meat. In what sense? It could refer to eating the meat of animals sacrificed to idols at pagan temples (1 Corinthian 8:10-13). This action could be a spiritual hindrance. I think there’s a difference between this type of activity and one which involves someone’s personal preferences.

Where will we go next? We’ll continue on the same dispensational road. The following one involves The Incarnation of Christ, the time encompassing Christ’s birth to the day of Pentecost. Hopefully, this will provide further information to help us determine whether the elements of communion should be designated as literal or figurative.

Endnotes

11IVP.

12IVP.

13Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 27 March 2009

˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

14IVP.

15UBS Old Testament Handbook Series Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 26 March 2009˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.

16“Is it wrong to wear Christian symbols?” VERSE BY VERSE MINISTRY INTERNATIONAL 15 January 2023

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My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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