It’s the first working day of December.
However, there’s a slight bright spot. A couple of weeks ago, one of my colleagues (the same one who thought I should decorate my desk because I’m a Christian) bought us all Advent Calendars. Freddo Frog Advent Calendars at that. So every day between now and Christmas I get to open another little door on the Advent Calendar and out pops a Freddo Frog to greet me with its chocolatey goodness!
However, this got me thinking about the reason behind Advent Calendars. I remember having them growing up – in fact, I think I even recall making them in school in some instances. It was always a bit of entertainment, seeing what was going to be behind each door when we got to school. Then came the recycled ones that you’d already seen last year, and it was just a case of opening the door again this year to see the same pictures.
But why were they invented? Who came up with the idea of a countdown of the days to Christmas?
Well, I looked it up, and sure enough there’s an Advent article on Wikipedia!
I discovered that Advent, or adventus in Latin is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Essentially the whole thing means ‘coming’ and talks of the coming of Jesus. Traditionally, Advent Sunday is the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, making it yesterday. Apparently Freddo decided to get in a bit early, he wanted to start on the 1st.
Here’s the sentence that I liked best though:
“The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.”
At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ; God incarnate who came to Earth as the true messiah. It’s sometimes, probably, easy to forget exactly what this means to the world. It’s sometimes easy for us to take for granted the concept of Salvation and Grace in our lives today, so far detached from the days when Jesus actually walked the Earth, but this is actually a big deal.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23
When Jesus came to Earth, it wasn’t just because he’d gotten bored in heaven watching, and decided he wanted to come down and actually play with us instead; it was a necessity. When God created this world, when he created mankind, he created us for relationship with Him. We broke that covenant, that relationship, and when Jesus came, that was God reaching out to us. This was God actually showing just how much he loved us.
This was a pretty major thing. As we begin the countdown to Christmas, why don’t we think about this a little more? With each Freddo that I chomp into from this advent calendar, I’ll be taking that moment to reflect on just how much we all needed Jesus, and how we look forward to the day he comes again.
Christmas or Christmyth?
I saw a post on Facebook this morning, it read:
To all my friends, please remember that Christmyth is a time for family, friends, love and presents
Oh and of course, honouring our Lord and Saviour… Money, that is.
Whilst I accept that it’s a sad reflection of our society that money is considered to be the “Lord and Saviour” in today’s world, it’s understandable that people would have this consideration. The fact is that in a world and society where currency is the currency of the realm, if you remove Jesus from the equation, what else is there?
We live in a world today that’s devoid of hope, and is it any wonder when we consider statements like this? That our “Lord and Saviour” is money?
But I digress; what about this ‘Christmyth’ concept? This is a question far deeper than the shallow surface that it portrays.
I grew up in a Christian home, and Christmas, therefore, was just a part of life. I grew up hearing of tales of the three wise men, the shepherds being spoken to by angels, King Herod trying to kill baby Jesus and of course, the virgin birth. It was all just stories and history that I took for granted, no less real than Napoleon, Julius Caesar or Joan of Arc.
The thing with just taking it for granted, though, was that when I hit a bit of a crisis in my life as a young adult, everything came crashing down around me. I didn’t know why I believed in Jesus, I didn’t know why I believed in God. It was what I had always done in my life but lacked any depth. My salvation was shallow, something on the surface because that was a part of who I’d always been.
I was therefore away from God for a very long time, but during that time I kept searching for truth. I kept searching for meaning to my existence, for a reason behind everything that happened.
I’m not going to go into the historical evidence for Jesus’ existence, but needless to say, you’re in the very small minority of historians if you want to argue that he is a myth. Jesus existed, there is no Christmyth, and it was only a matter of time, in my search, before I came to this understanding.
When I came to this understanding, I didn’t have much choice. I clearly remember standing in a church service saying to God that I know he exists, that I know Jesus exists, and I know that Jesus died and rose again to save me from the consequences of my own sin. I clearly remember saying to God that regardless of anything else, if I can’t deny those three fundamental things, then I have no other choice than to follow Him.
So what about the Christmyth? If Jesus existed, then he was born, that’s about as simple as it can be put. Yes, it’s unlikely that the date he was born is the date that we celebrate – but then, the date we celebrate the Queen’s Birthday (here in Australia) isn’t her birthday either. August 1 is considered to be every horse’s birthday, that doesn’t mean that every horse is born on August 1 each year!
There is no Christmyth. It’s a real celebration of a real person’s birth; a person who – even if you don’t want to accept that He’s the messiah and son of God – was arguably the most influential man in human history.
This is another follow on post from an entry I wrote recently talking about Christianity and being a good person. The entire topic sparked a bit of debate amongst myself and some friends, essentially asking if I was suggesting that as Christians we should therefore go out and do whatever we want. This interpretation of Christians and Sin wasn’t actually a point of the article, but it did raise the question and therefore I feel it warrants addressing.
The topic of Christians and Sin is an interesting one, and I’m sure there are a lot of people with fairly firmly-held beliefs and opinions.
I think the first and most important point, though, is to go straight back to scripture.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? ~ Romans 6:1-2
Here’s the thing. In becoming a Christian we accept the gift of Salvation that is ours through Jesus’ sacrifice. We then become his children and heirs to the heavenly kingdom, and like any prince or princess on earth, with that comes an element of representation and responsibility.
What do I mean by this?
Personally, I think it’s a really simple concept and we tend to try and overcomplicate things, and I think we like to overcomplicate things so that we can find the grey in things that are black and white. I know that I’m very guilty of this.
To be simple, though, you have to be blunt, so here it goes.
We have a responsibility to live a righteous life and to set an example to the rest of the world of what this actually is.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”. ~ Matthew 5:14-16
It’s our actions that are meant to be seen. There’s no room for grey here, Jesus quite plainly tells us that it’s through our good deeds that God will be glorified. He doesn’t say it’s through our biblical words, or through our holy aura, but it’s through our good deeds.
It’s cliché but true: Actions speak louder than words.
But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. ~ Romans 6:17-18
Sin is slavery – many people don’t realise it, but it’s true. When the Israelites were in Babylonian captivity, Daniel and others were brought before king Nebuchadnezzar to serve him. Daniel refused to consume the standard Babylonian fare and instead offered a challenge: that he and the others would take ten days living on vegetables and water rather than the food given to the rest of the servants. At the end of it Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were all better off, so they were allowed to keep going.
Live a life of chocolate, McDonalds, KFC, coke, and other junk food for ten days and tell me how you feel. Then live a life of vegetables, water, and wholesome, natural food for ten days. I don’t think anyone in the world would be able to do this and say they felt better, healthier and happier at the end of the junk food period than they did at the end of the vegetables.
Yet in so many people’s perception the junk food, the chocolate, the coke all tastes better than broccoli, carrots and water. It’s the same with life – what we think feels better doesn’t necessarily make us better. Even if we don’t always want to admit it, God has our best interests at heart by telling us how to live righteously.
Christians and Sin. Not only are we not supposed to be acting however we want – in fact Jesus calls us directly to good actions – but the fact is that through good actions we actually will benefit.
So, on a slightly non-topic note, I’m using Chrome for the first time ever to write this blog.
It’s amazing, sometimes, to see who God uses for certain things. Jacob was the younger son, who deceived his way into getting the birthright and blessing that should have gone to his youngest son. Joseph was a Hebrew sold into slavery, who managed to become Vizier over Egypt and save not only Egypt but the nations from a seven year famine. Moses had difficulty speaking, and yet faced the Pharaoh of Egypt as the spokesperson of God and his people.
Now, we see a prostitute housing two Israelite spies who are checking out the city of Jericho.
My footnotes here give the option, “Or possibly, an innkeeper.” Which paints Rahab in a much more positive light.
You know what question I wonder, though, as I read this. Why did they enter the prostitute’s house? I mean, perhaps God guided them there, perhaps it was a more subtle hiding place – or perhaps they just figured, “Hey, we’re on a mission, but let’s have some fun while we’re at it.”
Some might consider that thought almost sacrilegious, but what I think sometimes we tend to forget is that these characters in the bible were human and mortal too. They had the same vices, issues and hangups that prevent us from managing to walk in the fullness of our destiny with God.
More to the point though, does that really matter? Not really.
So I ask, therefore, what is the point of this story? Why bother telling us about Rahab at all?
Rahab wasn’t an Israelite. She was a Canaanite. She was a prostitute. She was – I would imagine – a bit of an outcast.
None of this mattered.
When the time came to make a choice, she chose God. She didn’t sit there stubbornly refusing to accept what was coming. She saw what was coming their way and realised that the Israelites? They were blessed, and being looked after by God – someone more powerful than any of the deities that they had in Canaan. So she chose, there and then, to follow him.
And in turn, she received a promise of salvation. She would be provided with freedom, because she helped the Israelites.
She and her family could be saved, but there were things that she needed to do, too. She needed to tie the scarlet rope in her window. She needed to make sure her family were present in her house – they would not be protected if they were outside the house, and she needed to keep her commitment by not saying anything about it to anyone else.
“If anyone goes outside your house into the street, his blood will be on his own head; we will not be responsible. As for anyone who is in the house with you, his blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on him.” ~ Joshua 2:19
I think this speaks to us today, too. We need to be in the house, to be saved. If we are outside in the streets, then our blood is on our own heads. To be saved, we must be in the house of God, under the protection of the scarlet cord – perhaps a metaphor for the blood of Jesus?
Here’s a moment of realisation.
“With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those miraculous signs and great wonders. But to this day the LORD has not given youa mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.” ~ Deuteronomy 30:3-4
There are a great number of ‘Christian Cliches’ out there that people like to throw around – and I say throw around because quite often, I feel, they are statements that get said without really thinking of the meaning behind them. We sing in church lines like, ‘take all of me’ or ‘I give you my life’ and other things like that – but do we sing them with a conviction in our heart as to what they actually mean as a commitment?
The other side, though, of cliches, is that they become cliche for a reason. They just work. They are short statements that actually convey what a person is trying to say.
One other one that I’ve heard many a time is about the ‘scales falling from their eyes’ - going back to Saul/Paul’s conversion and how ‘something like scales’ fell from his eyes.
This is basically used to describe that moment of realisation, of actually recognising God and his awesomeness.
It’s kind of like what’s going on here for the Israelites, too. Things that they may not have thought of, or had gotten to a point of taking it for granted, were pointed out to them as something to go, “wow” at. In forty years, their clothes didn’t wear out. They ate no bread and drank no wine. They won battles – and considering the fact that really, they probably had no military training, this too was something to be able to look at and realise that God had been taking care of them the whole time.
I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD your God. ~ Deuteronomy 29:6
I remember nice and clearly my own moment like this. My moment of ‘scales falling’ so to speak – when I came back to God last year and opened my heart and life to him again. I’d been going through a process of being drawn back in, I guess, and finally stood there and realised: I could not, and cannot deny God’s existence; and I could not, and cannot deny Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. At that point I realised, nothing else actually matters in the long run – if I cannot deny those things, then I have no choice but to accept the gift of love, grace and salvation that God gave to me.
What moments of clarity have there been in your life?
A confession: I struggle with personal debt. It’s just a fact. At one point a few years ago, I was given the opportunity to basically take out more money than I should on credit, and through a combination of poor financial management and a few personal circumstances, it got out of hand. It’s a long way from good; but it’s been a lesson – the question is whether that lesson has sunk in or not.
What I can say, though, from personal experience is that having debt that’s outside your realm of ability to pay is perhaps one of the most oppressive and difficult things I’ve ever dealt with. You have creditors and collectors calling, not only yourself, but people you know, your family and others – and it just becomes that you end up scared to pick up the phone because you’ve got no answers.
I was unemployed for over a year, on Centrelink payments, barely able to survive on the meagre amount that comes from welfare; and every time one of those calls came, I still had no answers. Here these people are calling every third or fourth day trying to squeeze blood out of the stone that is your own personal financial situation. It doesn’t get better, it just seems to get worse.
God does not want us to be in this situation. He does not want us to be suffering from debt – so much so that he actually told the Israelites that they were to regularly cancel debts owed to one another.
When you think about the society that God was creating in the Israelites, it’s a wonder why we’ve had to develop any other system of civilisation – let alone actually continue to use them. As I read Leviticus and now read Deuteronomy, I see this picture of a society where they’re encouraged to work hard, to continue to grow, where they each own their own land and possessions, but not to the detriment of the community. He makes it very clear, both in talking about the year of Jubilee, and now here, that there are limits to individual accumulation.
Every seven years, they’re told here, to cancel any debts to their brothers. Interestingly, they’re entitled to ask for payment still from a foreigner, but within the nation of Israel, they are to cancel any debts. They are also told not to get selfish when it’s getting close, and withhold assistance from someone because the seventh year is near so they probably won’t get their money back.
Basically, what God’s saying is that he will bless them; but he wants to bless them as a people, not as individuals. No one should be suffering, when the favour of God is upon them. He’s giving them a mandate that says, in their financial and material prosperity, they are to look after one another. He’s placing the family and the community above wealth.
God didn’t want to have his people living with the oppression of debt hanging over their heads. He wanted them to be free. It’s unfortunate that our society is so dominated by money today; because it means that financial freedom is basically the key to most freedoms. It’s hard to feel free in any sense, if you’re feeling trapped by your financial situation.
We may not get our financial debts cancelled, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t live in freedom though. Spiritual freedom is available right now.
Our debts for sin were cancelled when Jesus hung on the cross. He hung there, paying the price of death for each and every one of us. He was without blame, and yet he carried the price for all the world.
Why? Because he loved us. Because he didn’t want us to live with debt hanging over our heads. Because he wanted us to have freedom, and true freedom comes from one source: Grace.
So, the first thing that I wondered as I read this chapter – I thought that there was a whole heap of these offerings to keep the Levites fed. I miscalculated, I guess. I mean, even if the Israelites were offering enough by way of cows, sheep and other creatures to feed all the Levites, could the altars physically manage to keep up with that amount of meat on a daily basis.
I guess I had a bigger view of things than really was possible.
So even though the Levites weren’t going to get any specific inheritance in the Promised Land, they were given cities. 48 of them in fact. In this occasion, too, it seems like all the Israelites got a piece. The word, when talking about the Cities of Refuge that are to be set up, says that three are to be set up on this side of the Jordan, and three in Canaan. So even if they didn’t get included in the Western Jordan inheritance, the tribes who decided to settle on the East of the Jordan did still get included when it came to the Levites – they were still given people to intercede between them and God.
I find the terminology here interesting. The passage speaks repeatedly about someone who kills another person.
Murder is just plain murder; the person is guilty and under the law – which does say an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth – it is also a life for a life.
The term used is the “Avenger of Blood.” To me it sounds like some kind of superhero, although I don’t know quite for certain whether he’d be a hero or villain.
The point is, though, that a person who sheds blood and takes a life is allowed to be killed by a person avenging them.
There is a recognition, though, that accidents can happen and so here, God provides provision for those situations. He says that they are to set up six Cities of Refuge, where a person who accidentally kills someone can seek salvation.
They are only safe, though, as long as they remain in the walls of that city. If they step outside the land of that city, and are found by the Avenger of Blood, then that person can kill them without further ramification. This is the way until the High Priest dies.
In the Psalms, and in quite a few modern songs, God is called our refuge.
We have all sinned. Perhaps we’re not all murderers, but we’re all guilty and thus deserving of the consequences of our actions – eternal separation from God. Yet we have a refuge – through the death of the High Priest – Jesus – we can seek refuge in God’s own throne room. Through the blood of Jesus, we can seek refuge.
But we too, are only really safe if we remain within the walls of that refuge. If we remain in God, then we are safe, but if we wander out of that place of safety, then we put ourselves in danger once more. We are safe in God; safe in the arms of our refuge and shelter.
So, I’m home again.
New Zealand was great. I won’t spend too much time going into many of the details that I missed previously, but I will say that I want to go back.
The short version of the story is that I visited Te Papa – New Zealand’s national museum, in which I learned a great deal about the country’s history; went on a couple of quite fun rides, stood in a ‘house’ and felt what an Earthquake is like, saw a Colossal Squid and viewed an exhibition of Brian Brake’s photography – one of New Zealand’s most well known photographers, and it was easy to see why.
I also caught a ferry (Phaerie, for Claire!) across Cook Strait, met a couple of German tourists as we all braved the cold for the entire trip searching for good photographs. Stayed at a Backpackers hostel in Picton which was a better night than any that I spent at the hotel. The next morning I visited the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum, which is the home of the ninth oldest surviving ship in the world, before flying back to Wellington on a Cessna 208, which I have to say was a rather interesting experience.
The plane was tiny – and the ‘airport’ was nothing more than a shed in a field as you can see! Still, it was a good flight back, and quite fun.
That afternoon I did a Lord of the Rings tour – and was probably blessed in that the stop at the Weta Cave didn’t have too much in the way of LOTR Merchandise to buy. As it was I had to force myself not to fork out far too much money for a One Ring (My precious)!
Arise Church in Wellington on Sunday, and then home again! More about church later, I guess.
I really like this story, apart from the early stages of Balaam and his donkey, there’s a few things that are really well demonstrated in this chapter.
So, Balaam finally meets up with Balak, the king of Moab, and he’s warned the king that he can only actually tell him what God says. Balaam tells Balak to build seven altars, and sacrifice seven bulls; which he does. While Balak’s standing beside the altars, Balaam goes up to a mountain and has a chat with God; and God sends him back with a message.
To bless the Israelites.
Balak, quite understandably, is a bit perturbed about this. Instead of listening, though, he goes off and does it again – only to find the same result.
There’s a couple of things that stand out to me in this.
First of all, even though God’s chosen the Israelites as his people at this point, his relationship wasn’t totally closed off to the rest of the world. Here’s Balaam, who’s into divination and cursing people – and it would seem, has been making a good living off it to date too. He must have had a good reputation to be called upon by the king.
Even though Balaam came to him with the word of God, though, Balak ignored it and instead tried to circumvent it by trying from a different angle.
It doesn’t matter how much we try to circumvent God, though. Ultimately he’s the one with the trump cards, with all the power and authority and strength.
I heard a story this Sunday, after church, about a church pastor in America. Allow me to first acknowledge that this is a story coming third or fourth hand. Apparently this pastor was preaching a sermon, and there was one man in the service whose gaze never left the preacher, and he remained intent on him the whole sermon. At the end of the message, the preacher performed an altar call, and this young man came forward. He had been sent there to kill the preacher, but in the middle of the sermon, when he had tried to stand up so that he could shoot this pastor, he couldn’t move, he was paralyzed and forced to hear the entire sermon. At the end of it, he gave his life over to God.
I’m going to admit to something. I don’t think God’s a vending machine or a man behind a curtain pulling levers and pushing buttons. I don’t think God’s sitting in heaven moving us all around, pushing us back and forth like some mega chess game. I think that on the whole, he respects and honours his gift of free will to us. I do, though, also truly believe that he does intervene when it’s necessary.
When it comes to the important moments, our ways aren’t going to cut it.
I have a confession to make. I struggle with giving as a love language. I seriously do.
Which makes things hard at Christmas time.
Last weekend at The Way Church, was a Christmas Carols service; and during the night they punctuated the singing with a little skit about a detective who had been hired to find the true meaning of Christmas. He started off in a Department Store with the cashier, then the store Santa; following that he went to a family Christmas dinner and then to a church. What I found interesting was the way they conveyed the family. They portrayed a family with a stressed mother who was freaking out about the fact that she had dozens of relatives showing up, all expecting to be fed, she had to cook and prepare for all of them, and then would probably have to clean up afterwards.
Her heart wasn’t in it, it was about something that she HAD to do. It was an obligation, a requirement, and therefore, a pressure that caused stress, irritation, frustration, anger, blame, etcetera.
That’s sometimes how I feel about gifts. Not all the time, but sometimes. It’s not about the love behind the gift, it’s about the gift itself. Giving sometimes feels like an obligation – especially at Christmas time in today’s society. Christmas is all about the gifts. Even in church tonight, part of the farewell from the Pastor was a hope that everyone gets great gifts.
Sorry, gifts aren’t Christmas.
Christmas is about Love. God gave us Jesus, yes. Jesus gave his life, yes. But the essence of Christmas comes down to perhaps the world’s best known bible verse.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16
Before God gave, he loved. God so loved the world that he gave…
I love giving out of love; this is something that I’ve realised in recent months, that I am actually a lot more generous than I probably previously realised. The difference is, though, that when you’re giving out of love, rather than obligation, it’s all so much easier.
God gave out of love. Jesus gave his life out of love for us. That’s what this season needs to be about, not gifts – love.
So I had to do the title with this chapter. For those who don’t know what I’m on about, there’s a comedy sketch that I found quite funny in the past from Eddie Izzard.
So the chapter’s weird, it’s like we get this strange little interruption. First it’s all on topic, oil and bread to be set before the Lord. It’s more tabernacle rules about how to lay out the bread in the Tabernacle. This bread was holy bread, specifically there for the priests to eat in a holy place. Incense needed to be burned, oil lamps needed to be lit, and then they had a specific recipe for the special Tabernacle bread.
Then suddenly we just cut into an actual story, as opposed to the last 24 chapters of rules, regulations, guidelines and directions.
I do find it interesting that this person was the child of an Egyptian father and an Israelite mother. I wonder, was the father with them? Was the mother alone? What is the backstory of this character who doesn’t even receive a name in the bible (only his mother is named).
The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name with a curse; so they brought him to Moses. (His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri the Danite.) ~ Leviticus 24:11
I’ve always wondered exactly what defines blasphemy. This particular character blasphemes “the Name” with a curse. The Name, I’m assuming, being the unspoken Hebrew term for God. So does it mean that he cursed this person by God’s name? I don’t know.
The Israelites, though, appeared to be uncertain how to deal with this at this point. I mean yes, God had said in the Ten Commandments not to take his name in vain, but unless I’m mistaken, there hadn’t been to this point, a definitive punishment for breaking that commandment. So they waited on God, and asked him what to do.
And the response is death. By stoning.
I find it interesting, also, that anyone who heard the blasphemy was to stand with the blasphemer and lay their hands on his head. Verse 15 says that the person who blasphemes will be held responsible. It’s like the people who heard it, who bore witness to it are required to remain involved through to the end. I wonder if this is to do, again, with how sacred ‘the Name’ was for the Israelites. That even hearing it, rather than just saying it, was taboo – and so resting their hands on the blasphemer’s head as they were stoned was like cleansing themselves of it, because the blasphemer was the one to take responsibility.
You know, responsibility’s a tricky issue when it comes to others.
I’ve been a strong believer in the idea that you aren’t responsible for how other people take you. I am myself, and I am how God made me – if someone else has issues with that, then so be it.
But our actions can directly influence, or directly effect other people. The above line ‘being yourself’ only goes so far. Actions that directly effect another person do fall under our responsibility. ‘Being yourself’ is not a right to offend or hurt other people. We need to be aware that other people are effected by our actions.
That’s what I took from that story, anyway.
I only have one more day of work until holidays.
Which, unfortunately, means that I’m probably equally distant now between going on holidays and getting back. Tomorrow will drag as if it’s going on forever, and then my holidays will flash by in what seems like a matter of hours!
Must find a way not to enjoy the holiday period!
I jest. Can’t wait. Melbourne and Perth here I come!
More seriously, I went to life group tonight (and got birthday cake – felt so special! It was actually home cooked and everything! Thanks Anna!), we had some interesting discussion topics come up throughout the course of the evening.
One of which, though, was about salvation – and the ‘moment’ of salvation, or the moment a person enters the body of Christ is probably more accurate than the moment of salvation. Where does a person become a ‘member’ (so to speak) of the body of Christ? Is there a defining moment,or is it something more gradual?
For me, and this is just my perspective, but Jesus didn’t give grey areas on this. He said straight out that no one comes to the father except through him. To me that says that without actually accepting Jesus’ gift, and without acknowledging him as Lord, a person isn’t necessarily a part of his body. I see that some things in the bible, in doctrine, in theology are and can be completely grey, but not here.
Just my thought for the evening. Feel free to comment with disagreements or points of consideration.
I don’t get this passage.
Why is a woman unclean after giving birth? This is perhaps one of the most rewarding and amazing moments in two people’s lives, when their child is born, but the woman is ceremonially unclean for actually quite a long period (forty one days if I calculate right for male children and double that for women.
Now I have heard, and I think I’ve referred to before, that there are actually very valid reasons for some of the laws that exist in the Levitical law. Laws that come under necessity of hygiene or prevention of illness, etcetera (I have no specific references on hand, this is just what I’ve heard); and that’s fine with me if it’s the case. I could look up something now and see what reasons there might be not to eat camels or badgers, or what reasons there might be for a woman to be ceremonially unclean for a month after having a baby.
Perhaps she’s more vulnerable to illness? I don’t know.
The thing that also stands out to me is the requirement for a sin offering.
Now as I read this I wondered why a woman would have to offer a sin offering after giving birth to a child. What sin has she committed? Leviticus 4 talked about the sin offering and said it was for sins people had committed without actually realising it. Well, what was the sin?
But just as I’ve been writing this, I wondered something. What if the sin offering isn’t actually for the mother? What if it’s for the child?
The concept of being born into sin is fairly well established throughout the church; and was certainly one struggling point and topic of interest for me in my time away from God. How could God judge guilty babies, infants and toddlers who really don’t have a concept of right and wrong? Well, ask ten people that question and you’d probably get ten different answers.
But I just wonder, is the sin offering a covering over the child from birth until they come of age to be responsible for their own actions?