Leviticus is part of today’s readings again, and it difficult, or maybe impossible for many of us to really appreciate what this passage is about (and also a prior one discussing leprosy in graphic detail). I am sure I’m not competent to instruct us on the complexities of Jewish culture and history, but it is apparent that there is more to this than we automatically know and assume.
Every culture, or group, or community has rules for how one behaves inside of the group, and violators will be pushed out of the walls of the community or killed. Some rules are obvious, such as not starting a fire outside when there are high winds, not hurting other people inside the group, and so on.
Perhaps Leviticus has more to do with good health. And for a people living in close quarters in Israel, and sharing scarce resources and lives perhaps the rules have to be very strict.
We need to think about this as Christians and disciples of Christ. How should people live in this kingdom of God, where the earth is as over-populated as Israel, and where resources of land, water, good soil, climate and fortunate weather and commerce are all in scarce supply? In Israel it was devastating to poison a well. Maybe on earth now we should consider whether poisoning the Gulf of Mexico (and every other body of water on earth) is like poisoning a well in a desert region, or a semi-arid grazing land. Purity may be a relevant notion again.
Pray for peace
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1I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
2O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.
3O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
4Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.
5For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
6As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
7By your favor, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed.
8To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication:
9“What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!”
11You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
12so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
14The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2This shall be the ritual for the leprous person at the time of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest; 3the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall make an examination. If the disease is healed in the leprous person, 4the priest shall command that two living clean birds and cedarwood and crimson yarn and hyssop be brought for the one who is to be cleansed. 5The priest shall command that one of the birds be slaughtered over fresh water in an earthen vessel. 6He shall take the living bird with the cedarwood and the crimson yarn and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was slaughtered over the fresh water. 7He shall sprinkle it seven times upon the one who is to be cleansed of the leprous disease; then he shall pronounce him clean, and he shall let the living bird go into the open field. 8The one who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and bathe himself in water, and he shall be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, but shall live outside his tent seven days. 9On the seventh day he shall shave all his hair: of head, beard, eyebrows; he shall shave all his hair. Then he shall wash his clothes, and bathe his body in water, and he shall be clean.
10On the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb in its first year without blemish, and a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of choice flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil. 11The priest who cleanses shall set the person to be cleansed, along with these things, before the Lord, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 12The priest shall take one of the lambs, and offer it as a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and raise them as an elevation offering before the Lord. 13He shall slaughter the lamb in the place where the sin offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered in the holy place; for the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest: it is most holy. 14The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, and on the thumb of the right hand, and on the big toe of the right foot. 15The priest shall take some of the log of oil and pour it into the palm of his own left hand, 16and dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand and sprinkle some oil with his finger seven times before the Lord. 17Some of the oil that remains in his hand the priest shall put on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, and on the thumb of the right hand, and on the big toe of the right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering. 18The rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed. Then the priest shall make atonement on his behalf before the Lord: 19the priest shall offer the sin offering, to make atonement for the one to be cleansed from his uncleanness. Afterward he shall slaughter the burnt offering; 20and the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement on his behalf and he shall be clean.
11God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, 12so that when the handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were brought to the sick, their diseases left them, and the evil spirits came out of them.
13Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15But the evil spirit said to them in reply, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” 16Then the man with the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered them all, and so overpowered them that they fled out of the house naked and wounded. 17When this became known to all residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks, everyone was awestruck; and the name of the Lord Jesus was praised. 18Also many of those who became believers confessed and disclosed their practices. 19A number of those who practiced magic collected their books and burned them publicly; when the value of these books was calculated, it was found to come to fifty thousand silver coins. 20So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Aaron and His Sons Consecrated: Leviticus 8:1-36 (New King James Version) (egrejeen.wordpress.com)
- Bible Readings-6th Sun in ordinary time. (npitapete.wordpress.com)
- Leviticus is Gracious Book (paukhtrask.wordpress.com)
- The Bible in 52: Week 7 – How to Worship a Holy God (yourlifemattersinc.com)
- Acceptance – Ezekiel 43:13-27 (thisdaywithgod.wordpress.com)