Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Reboot

Imagine being told that if you had any of the following you could not come to church: leprosy, scabs, pimples, boils, burned flesh, eczema, infection, scales or pox, or infectious spots on a bald head (baldness itself is permissible). In some cases we are like, “no brainer”, but I will venture a bet (yes, a good Christian bet) that someone reading this right now is disqualified according to the list.

Leviticus 13-18: God cannot have “unclean” in His presence because He is holy. The unclean must be removed. Any person with any of these symptoms is unclean and must publicly declare himself so and live outside the camp. We think that people have a reason now to be out of church—well how about these?

Got pimples? UNCLEAN!

What about mold? If a garment is leprous, another word for mold in this sense, it is unclean and is to be destroyed if it cannot be cleaned. People can be healed and restored to the fellowship of God and community, but they cannot have moldy clothes. Garments must be washed. And inspected. A house can be declared unclean and quarantined. God just cannot have uncleanliness in His presence. Ever wonder where the term, “cleanliness is next to Godliness” comes from? This is it!

Guess what else God can’t have in His presence—bodily discharge. If you have any of the following by accident or on purpose, you are unclean: have a seminal emission, feminine discharge, or go to the bathroom at all. This is why a saddle is declared “unclean.” Can you imagine trying to keep clean before the LORD knowing that going to the bathroom would make you unclean? What does one do—run outside the camp? The population of my city was just over 4 million in 2000. Scholars estimate the number of people that left Egypt was upwards around 6 million. What are you going to do (pardon the pun)? What about this: if we were still living under ceremonial law, bathrooms would not be allowed in church!

Got potty? UNCLEAN!

Imagine: bodily functions require sacrifice to maintain right standing before God. Let that sink in for a minute. How long will it take until one runs out of herds or flocks (assuming one owns any to begin with that are acceptable to give in the first place)?

It is impossible to dwell in the presence of God. And God demands His people be holy because He is holy.

Got grace? CLEAN!

Let us not forget the priest. He is the one who gets to be inspector-general. The priest is the one who gets to examine all the sores, scabs, hairs, garments, houses, etc. The priest get to declare according to God’s standard what is clean and unclean. He must know what God thinks and see how God sees. His ministry is not one of lofty exclusion, but of intimate inclusion. He is to restore, not segregate. And because he must come into contact with it all, is the most unclean person in the camp.

Notice (if you are reading in your Bible) that right after all these descriptions of what is clean and unclean, God lays out the plan on how everyone is to be made clean in the Day of Atonement. The Annual Default setting. One sacrifice covers all people.

Reboot.

Clearly, God’s demand for holiness reaches every nook and cranny of one’s life. In every aspect God expects His people to be like Him—and it is impossible unless He provides for it. This takes us back to the concept I introduced previously that Leviticus is the book of unrecorded miracles.

The whole system is in place to demonstrate that 1) all are sinners; 2) a sacrifice must be made; 3) what was unclean and sinful can be declared to be clean and holy.

The one who accepts this by faith is the one who is made holy, set apart to God from the world. Bottom Line: God takes us as we are.

"For let our debts be what they may, however great or small,
As soon as we have nought to pay, or LORD forgives us all.
'Tis perfect poverty alone that sets the soul at large;
While we can call one mite our own, we have no full discharge."

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