Leviticus 13-16 seems obsessed with how leprosy, blood, and semen make people ceremonially unclean. To modern readers, all the details about what to do if you happen to touch blood, or be menstruating, or have an emission of semen, etc., seem crazy. But to the Israelites, this was actually helpful information.
Leviticus 15:31 explains why. The Lord tells Moses:
“Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by wdefiling my tabernacle that is in their midst.”
It was a matter of life and death that the Israelites not enter the presence of God in an unclean state, so the purity laws in Leviticus are meant to help the Israelites know when they are unclean, and to know how to become clean again. Note that “clean” and “unclean” are not moral categories–good people would become ritually unclean all the time.
When Jesus came along, he explained (see today’s reading in Mark 7:1-23–great timing!) that though the ancient people thought that external circumstances could make a person unclean, in fact it is what comes out of a person’s heart-internal circumstances–that make a person unclean. So, we no longer concern ourselves with ritual uncleanness, because Jesus’s death (the ultimate sacrifice) makes all who trust in him clean before God.
It may be a bit confusing that we’re reading Leviticus, where we learn that all kinds of things, including a number of creatures, are unclean. And now, in Mark, we hear Jesus going back on that and saying, “Actually, no, there are no unclean animals. They’re all fine to eat. The truth is, in Jesus, the holiness people were trying to achieve by following the law, was fulfilled. Thus, what was unclean is now made clean.
- Some things that we consider very personal must have been more public in their culture to help others avoid becoming unclean because of you.
- 19-30 – Women were unclean during their period but did not have to give an offering for it. Women did have to give a sin offering if they had some other type of blood discharge.
- 8 – “Azalel’s” meaning is unknown.
- 20-22 – The goat that is set free into the wilderness is where we get the term “scapegoat”. All the sins were placed on this goat though none were actually his.
- 1-7 – The Pharisees were so tied to the law that they continually watched the disciples to see when they would trip up. Jesus calls out the flawed thinking of the Pharisees by quoting Isaiah in verses 6-7. It is easy to give God lip service, but it matters much more where our hearts are committed.
- 14-19 – Jesus declares all foods clean. Earlier in our reading in Leviticus, many animals, birds, and swimming creatures were deemed unclean to eat.
I find verse 40 in today’s Leviticus reading really funny. Can’t you see all the middle-aged Israelite men running up to Moses wondering what ritual cleansing they needed to undergo in order to stop their plight? “No, it’s cool man, you’re just going bald. Nothing to worry about.”
- Interesting that the priests even had power over medical conditions.
- 40 – You laughed at this one, right?
- 48 – The warp is the longitudinal thread in a woven fabric and the woof is the latitudinal thread.
- 1-6 – Instead of astonished and amazed at Jesus’ words and deeds, his hometown became angry because he was only a carpenter’s son from a small town.
- 10-11 – It was customary to welcome travelers into your home.
- 12-13 – The disciples watch Jesus for a while and then he invites them to be a part of his ministry.
This may be what comes to mind when you think of “confession”, but today’s psalm is one of confession and is not given through a screen to a priest. Instead, this psalm shows us David pouring out the sins of his hear to God and ultimately remembering God as his hope and salvation. What if we approached confession that way today?
- Though these eating instructions may seem tedious, it is good for us to have order and design of what we can and cannot do. And, as we’ve said before, following the instructions allowed the Israelites to remain clean and able to be in the presence of God.
- The differences between clean and unclean are based on what is good for us. This is somewhat reminiscent of when God gave the garden to Adam and Eve but designated one tree as not good for them.
- 28 – Clearly Jesus’ reputation preceded him if she had that much confidence in just touching his garment.
- 30 – Jesus had great perception of his connection to God and his power that came from him because he knew when any left him.
- 34 – Faith is often attributed with effectiveness in healing, miraculous acts, etc.
- 35-43 – The first time we read of Jesus raising someone from the dead. Certainly Jairus had lost hope. Once again, Jesus tells them to keep quiet.
- A Psalm that is helpful when we need to confess. Note that it still ends in praise addressing God as “my salvation”.