Tuesday, June 17, 2008

dedicated and cleansed

I guess I need to come out of the closet and admit something about myself...I am an Old Testament law geek. Not that I read Hebrew or anything as academic as that (though someday I'd like to!). But I do like to study the boring and dry books of the Bible that many people simply dismiss or claim not to really understand. And certainly, not having lived in that day and age or in the Middle East ever, there is much I'm sure I don't understand either. Knowing the culture, the time period, the customs of the day and the mindset of the people helps hugely in putting all that is written into a graspable context.

But the view I always try to take when reading the books of Moses, and I am now in Leviticus, is to simply use the entire text as my lens-in the New Testament the Apostle Paul wrote that the Old Testament was written "for our instruction" and to point to the coming Messiah. So I look at the elaborate code of ethics, the sacrificial substitution for the sins of the people, as being all embodied and fulfilled in Christ. That being said, I ran across a small text that stood out like a jewel to me this morning regarding a sin offering, which was an animal without blemish to be killed by the priest, "The priest who offers it for sin shall eat it; in a sacred place shall it be eaten, in the court or tent of meeting. Whoever or whatever touches its flesh shall be dedicated and made clean..."

The picture I have in my mind of the Lord Jesus is that people touched Him all the time, or He touched them. Once again, according to Old Testament law, if the unclean were to touch the priest or holy man, or anyone for that matter, it required of that person a huge ritual of separation and cleansing. I think of the lepers that Jesus touched, the women with the issue of blood (blood and skin-diseased people were really pariahs in society). But here's my jewel of understanding-according to the OT scripture I read, Jesus identified Himself not as the priest, but the offering for sin, and everyone who touched Him was cleansed. He became the perfect offering for us. I wonder if the crowd who touched Him knew the law and saw this thing! Some had to. And moving forward to the New Testament, the shedding of His blood was once and for all. Jesus was the living example of this OT principle. These things amaze me.


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