If you are reading the through the Bible Chronologically you may have recently found yourself reading Leviticus. It is easy to place these laws in the waste bin of things that don’t apply. In fact, most of the Christian world and some of the Jewish world do just that. I would like to reframe some of these rules and perhaps open our understanding of what I believe is a wonderful revelation of the heart of God.
First, remember that God always meets people where they are; Recognize that God is dealing with a broken people, limited in mind and body, living in a specific time of ignorance. This applies to you and me, and to all who have and will come.
Consider therefore the revelations of the Torah rules for those people. They live without antiseptic, personal soaps, antibiotics, doctors or sanitation systems. Instead of criticizing the rules as punitive or putting emphasis on the value of males realize the tremendous need that Israel had for education of the most basic kind.
God had a group of people that numbered between three hundred thousand and three million. Consider what an epidemic of things as simple as the flu could have done to them. When God tells them to wash because they are ritually unclean, if there is a possible skin disease, or if they touch a dead animal or person or even if there is a bodily fluid coming from within another human; it is a great act of kindness not a weird prohibition or religious oddity.
Israel had been a nation of slaves, they had lived in Egypt for 400 years, they had not been in charge of themselves in a minimum of 200 years. The distinctions that modern people make between being physically dirty and communally unclean were not so narrowly divided. God speaks to them there and tells them sometimes you need to wash up and wait until evening before rejoining the group. Sometimes you will require inspection by the priest, who acts like a doctor in this case. The priest has the person remain in isolation and return a week later for another appointment, sounds a lot like a modern doctor visit right.
We know what happened when people stopped doing these things. During the Dark Ages, ignorance reigned among people in Europe’s cities. For lack of simple practices of like washing, keeping water and food supplies clean, making sure that human waste was kept away from the community, millions died.
But God not government was leading Israel out of Egypt! God was unwilling to leave them ignorant of the need for basic cleanliness and disease control. Because that is what love does.
He could not teach them things they had no context to understand, but He could tell them if human blood gets on you or your clothes, or your pot you have to clean or throw away that item. If their only context was ceremonial uncleanness, then that was fine. Because they needed to know how to live more abundantly.
When you read these, sometimes tedious, feeling chapters consider the motivation of God and the times He is addressing. These pages shout God is Love in the most practical terms.