Dietary laws. Are they still valid? I watched a special on the news awhile back about a woman who had a brain tumor and they went in to do surgery, at which time the surgeon discovered a "brain worm." Some big long slimy maggot-looking thing that was in her brain stem, eating away her tissue, was the result of a pork tapeworm. I thought, "Maybe there is something to those dietary laws!" Seriously, I do not believe we have to follow any dietary laws, we truly have been given liberation for our diets. But I like what Paul said, "Everything is permissible for me" - but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me" - but I will not be mastered by anything." 1 Corinthians 6:12. Yes, I can eat whatever I want, but it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that certain foods make people sick more than they should—shellfish and pork among them. So then, for me it becomes not a law, but a "love." I love feeling healthy and good, I love not getting port tapeworms in my brain, so I will choose to eat the foods God said would promote health, and try to stay away from the ones He said would be a detriment. That doesn't mean you won't ever see me eat pork again though. It's not a legalism, but an empowered choice and guideline for living.
12:6-8 "When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering. He shall offer them before the LORD to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood. "'These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl. If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean."
Why did women have to bring a sin offering after waiting 33 days for purification (or more)? On one Jewish site, I found their teaching enlightening. Basically women had to make a sin offering because of the spiritual impurity involved in childbirth, bringing about "death, decay, contamination, defilement, and pollution" through the entrance of a sinful person into the world. So then, these offerings were required as a reminder that when we mothers give birth, we bring about a person who is sin-contaminated, spiritually dead and defiled. But Jesus (the sin offering after birth) came so that each person "born again" could be full of life, undefilement, and cleanness!
There are at least two amazing applications from two separate events we can make from this Leviticus passage. Coincidentally, one event falls in today's reading. The first is in Luke 2:21-24 when Jesus' parents brought a pair of birds to the Temple for their purification offering after Jesus was eight days old, and to present Him to the Lord, since He was their firstborn. This shows from the allowances in Levitical Law that Joseph and Mary were poor, and they brought the best offering they could. Did they know that, along with their birds, they also brought The Lamb, the best and most costly offering, for their sin offering?
The other cool observation is from Mark 5:24-34. I always wondered what was the big deal with this woman (bleeding for 12 years) touching Jesus' clothes-why she was so ashamed and why He even noticed one more person touching his garment.
According to Levitical Law, for a woman bleeding (as from childbirth or anything else), she was considered unclean. Think about it this way, nobody wanted to touch her or to have her touch them. It was probably akin to a curse. In fact, Leviticus 12:4 from today's reading says, "During this time of purification (or while she is still bleeding), she must not touch anything that is holy." Many people, especially religious leaders of that day, considered themselves "holy" because they did not interact with anything unclean. Hence why Jesus called the Pharisees, "white-washed tombs."
So here is a woman considered unclean by everyone, not unlike a leper, yet we find her going against the letter of the Law to touch the Holy of Holies! What a powerful moment it must have been. In faith, she saw this man was different than the religious leaders of the day. The religiosos (Julie's new word) would send her away because she was unclean, but Yeshua would welcome her and finally make her clean through His atoning blood. Not only does He make her clean, He calls her, "Daughter."
"Hey, daughter! You and me? We're family. You're no longer an outcast." Can you imagine how many times in her life she played His words over and over in her heart, and the joy it brought?
When you begin to put these pieces together, how much more beautiful the Word becomes!
Questions for reflection:
Have you ever felt like an outcast from friends, family, church, or even school? I know I sure have! What made you feel that way? How did you deal with it? Sometimes we bring some of it on ourselves, but sometimes it is just the forgetfulness, inconsideration, meanness, or even woundedness of others that make them treat others like the outcast. Since we can't change how others behave, the only solution I know of is to touch His garment, and let Jesus be the One we hope in for healing, significance, and meaning in life.