Friday, February 12, 2016

Leviticus: My Many Burnt Offerings

This year I decided to read the Bible.  Not just a few chapters but the entire thing from Genesis to Revelation, in that order.  I didn't have any particular reason other than trying to find ways to keep my sanity while in Rwanda.  I figured why not, let's do it.

Maybe readers should start with the New Testament.  I grew up in a religious family, went to Catechism class, was confirmed, got kicked out of church and over the years found myself back with God.  Not so much religion, any particular religion, definitely still not church, but I'm good with God and really in the end, that works for me, but the first few books of the Bible are not light reading!

I am proud to say, I'm still on track and the reading has sparked some very interesting conversations, none as much as the reading of Leviticus.  Genesis is pretty much creation and the procreation of God's chosen people, the Israelites.  Exodus is the exit of the Israelites from Egypt under slavery to Pharaoh, even though frankly, the Israelites were a pain in Moses' ass.  My main takeaway from Exodus was God chooses the most unlikely people to be heroes or to do great things.  Moses never wanted to be a leader, kept asking God to give it to someone else.  God knew what he was doing even when Moses was a bit whiny.  Exodus contains one of my favorite passages in the Bible:

Exodus 14:14  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.  

Still....that's where I struggle.

And then there's Leviticus how to be perfect in the eyes of God and if not, what you need to slaughter.  As I read all the protocol around which animal to sacrifice based on the sin you committed I began to realize, I am so thankful I did not live in the desert in the time of Leviticus.  I don't think I would have had a herd big enough to handle all my sin offerings on a weekly basis.  I write this tongue in cheek...somewhat.  Reading Leviticus made me "check" my daily behavior.  Throw down an F bomb, there goes a male lamb one year old.  Speak poorly of someone, go round up a goat free of defect and head to the tent of meeting.

The rules are very specific.  Aaron, Moses's brother, had two sons Nadab and Abihu, they were given the job of putting the incense in the censers and lighting them.  They lit an unauthorized fire and bam the Lord consumed them with fire and they died.

Don't forget to double check the instructions!

A rule I highlighted which should be put in force more today...Leviticus 5:2...If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible.  

In other words, it is your duty to speak up!

Several chapters cover defiling molds, skin diseases and discharges.  

The term, scapegoat, comes from Leviticus, to take the sins of others.

One thing I am left questioning, other than the amount of animals necessary to cover the sins of 650,000 Israelites (that's just men counted in the Bible), is the value, or lack thereof, placed on women.  Judaism takes the first five books as the Bible as the Torah.  The Muslims believe these books were given to Moses via God but they are corrupted by Jewish translation in the Torah.  Either way, women do not have many rights in the traditional Jewish and Muslim religions.  Why did God specify 50 shekels for a man and 30 for a woman?

As you can imagine, it has created some lively morning discussions over coffee.

As I ride my bike trying to ignore the onslaught of people hassling me for money, I try to remember....throw down the F bomb or smack that kid screaming MUZUNGU AMAFARANGA, go home and sacrifice a goat.

It's keeping me on the straight and narrow.

How many animals would you have sacrificed for your sin offering today?

Be a lamb.

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