Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Leviticus 1-4: I am a suburban princess, and I don't like blood in the mud.

From Garden to City reading: Leviticus 1-4

What can I say about Leviticus 1-4?  

Well, God provides very specific instructions about burnt offerings and  how to kill goats and sheep and chickens and bulls.  And how to wash them.  And what to do with the blood.

And we can read that and say, well, God is an orderly God.  There's a right way.  And a wrong way.  And it's important to follow God's detailed instructions.  I agree.  

But as I read this, I started thinking about the mess.  About the altar.  About the blood.  I mean, it's not like the priests could take a hose and wash down the pavement.  And it's not even like there was pavement.  The blood seeped into the soil or the sand or whatever the ground was made of. 

And the stench.  The carcasses.  The bones.  The animal feces.  

I grew up in the suburbs.  We don't see too many cows or chickens.  And we don't see them die.  We buy our meat in the supermarket.  I'm happy with this arrangement.  Really I am.  This talk about blood and guts and dead animals makes me uncomfortable.  Watching them die would make me even more uncomfortable.  

For the Hebrew people, the book of Leviticus was an instruction manual, but we don't sacrifice animals for our sins anymore so we don't really need to know how to drain the blood out of doves.  For us, this book should serve as a reminder of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

He suffered and died on a cross.  Nothing sanitary about that.  Blood flowing.  Internal organs.  Glassy eyes.  Dead bodies.  

Think of the sounds of men dying.  Groans.  Screams.  Crowds cheering.  Women wailing.  

This is the way Jesus died.  And it's not pretty.  
But he died for me.  For us.  

And this is Jesus, we're talking about.  The man John described as full of grace and truth.  He is the "image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15), the "exact representation of his being" (Hebrews 1:3).  

He is God in the flesh, and he suffered and died "for the joy set before him" (see Hebrews 12).  That joy is fellowship with us.  He loved us that much.  

I am a suburban princess who prefers buying boneless meat in the grocery store, not really thinking about where it came from, but I need to think about this.  

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