The Bible’s Most Crucial Verse

Posted on October 6, 2020

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By David Ettinger

A Big Claim
The title of this article is certainly dramatic and somewhat attention-grabbing – unless, of course, the claim can be supported. What would be the parameters for determining the Bible’s most crucial verse? I suppose the Bible’s most crucial verse would have to be the one which communicates the Bible’s most important message.

That God is the creator of all things is certainly an important message. That God loves the world He created and those who inhabit this world is another important message. But perhaps the single most important message in the Bible is that sin has eternally separated God’s chief creation – the human race – from Him. Fortunately, this most crucial of messages has two parts. Part 1 is that humanity is separated from God because of sin, and this is tragic. But there is Part 2, and it is wonderful: God has provided men and women a way out of sin and a pathway back to Him.

The Way Back to God
Ever since Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden, men and women have been “born” into sin (Psalm 51:5) and, spiritually speaking, are enemies of God. Those who sought an end to the enmity and “good standing” with God were hopeless because anything emanating from themselves was stained with sin. Though their intentions were noble, they lacked the means by which to make their way right with God.

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Between the time of the Fall in the Garden and the creation of the nation of Israel, pardon of sin came through righteousness and a true heart. In other words, God knew those who were His and, we can rightly assume, took them to be with Him at their deaths. (Though, eventually, their sin would be ultimately covered through Christ’s sacrifice.) Such individuals included Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and no doubt many more whom God touched with His presence (see Hebrews 11).

However, with the creation of Israel, God instituted a new way, the sacrificial system by which God would accept the slaughter of animals to cover the sins of human beings. It was humanity’s first “system” of salvation. But why would God do it this way? Is there a single, crucial verse which explains why God would institute such a (humanly speaking) barbaric system?

The Key Chapter and Verse
The heart of the matter is revealed in the Book of Leviticus. It is this third book of the Bible that best explains God’s requirements for forgiveness of sin. As you progress through this book, you will come to what I believe is the single most crucial verse in the Bible, Leviticus 17:11: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (italic added).

The primary truth here is that God has provided atonement to humanity for its sin. The raw definition of “atonement” according to the Oxford Dictionary is “reparation for a wrong or injury.” This means that men and women must set right the wrong they have done. In this case, the wrong is sin.

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The second truth of Leviticus 17:11 is that atonement can only be accomplished by the shed blood of something other than the sinner; his or her own blood will not suffice because it is stained with sin. In other words, the blood of the sinner is, spiritually speaking, “tainted” blood and unacceptable before a holy, pure, and righteous God.

The third truth of Leviticus 17:11 is that the blood required for atonement can only come from a living creature that is free of sin or “without blemish” (Leviticus 22:21; see also Exodus 12:1-5). Eventually, at the perfect time in humankind’s history, God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world (Galatians 4:4). His death upon the cross would be the perfect – and final – blood sacrifice which would provide atonement for the sin of men and women.

The Crucial Truth
However, before an individual can come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, he or she must understand the soul’s need for a blood sacrifice. Leviticus 17:11, I believe, is the most crucial verse in the Bible because it is the first to so definitively declare humanity’s most fatal affliction – sin – and its only remedy – a blood sacrifice.

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Leviticus 17:11 makes it absolutely clear that atonement cannot be achieved through the works of a human individual (Ephesians 2:5 and Titus 3:5), but only through the shed blood of a perfect sacrifice. There can be no other way to salvation. Sadly, the world’s other religious belief systems teach that humanity can save itself, and in so teaching, these religions are “bloodless” and therefore devoid of atonement. To die in this deficient state results in eternal separation from God (John 3:36; 1 John 5:11-12).

May we who have accepted the truth of Leviticus 17:11 – and that Jesus Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of this towering verse – faithfully declare this crucial message to those who have not yet sought the shed blood of Christ to atone for their sin and separation from God. Leviticus 17:11 is a radiant light in our dark and dying world!