You'll find out next week just how much I appreciate the writings of C.S. Lewis. So I had to buy, as a Christmas present for myself, a copy of the C.S. Lewis Bible when it was released last fall. When it arrived, I gave it permanent residence on my treadmill.
By the way, it's not a study Bible; it has the full text of the Bible with some of Lewis' quotes strewn throughout.
If I walk at a slow pace (somewhere like 2.5- 3.2) I can read on the treadmill, and I tend to walk for longer periods of time that way. But if I go faster than that, the words "jump" around too much - so after reading a while I'll switch from reading to listening to music on my iPod and pick up the pace. All you Made to Cravers, you can do your quiet time and your exercise at the same time!
At the turn of the year I read through Genesis for a sermon series our church was planning. Then I continued on into Exodus and Leviticus in my C.S. Lewis Bible. I'd read Leviticus before, but it had been a while.
Around chapter 11 all the comments about how perfect the sacrificial animals had to be started jumping out to me. I already knew that they were to sacrifice the best animals to the Lord. I knew that full well. I had no problems with that - I want to give God my best!
A day or two later I'm walking again and reading up through Leviticus 21. That's where I was thrown off ...
You are probably smarter than me and wouldn't trip over this but I did for a little while. I read the following passage where the Lord is talking to Moses about who can and can't make an offering at Gods' alter. God said:
“Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; no man with a crippled foot or hand, or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles.
No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the LORD. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the LORD, who makes them holy.’”
I finished reading that, looked up and thought: This makes it sound like God only accepts - or only truly likes - "perfect" people. Can someone help it if they are crippled in some way? God, what if a freak accident injured their hand? What if an ox stepped on their foot? And can they help it if they are blind? What if they were born blind? You are the one who knits us together - what if they never asked for this or did anything to cause it? This just doesn't seem like the God I know.
I kept walking. And thinking, because it didn't sit well with me. I have friends who are blind. I have friends who cannot walk. I have friends with hands crippled by polio or arthritis. They love God. Would that mean they couldn't approach the alter to offer a sacrifice if they were in Arron's family?
I read the passage again. Then I told God:; I don't think this is like You - to demand perfection of people before they can approach Your alter. I know You are holy but You came to Abraham, Noah and Moses. Maybe they weren't blind or handicapped but they certainly weren't perfect. Not morally perfect - and You've taught us that's more important than how we look. I've got to be off in my understanding of this passage somehow - help me understand this please, Lord.
Maybe you already see it but I didn't yet that day. So I kept walking. Then I thought of Jesus, which is where my mind always goes when I'm confused over scriptures. I'm a Jesus girl and I see my main task as following Him. When I get lost or confused, I look to Jesus.
Jesus welcomed everyone who believed in Him. He healed the blind, and the lame, and the sick. He had no problem walking up to a leper and touching them. In fact, He always seemed to be hanging around the "defective." So why were they not allowed to make a sacrifice here in Leviticus 21?
I walked on and waited for the illumination to come, if it would. Then it hit me. This command wasn't about the people being perfect, it was about the sacrifice being wholly perfect. I was focusing on the wrong thing.
I remembered all the verses that denoted how the animal had to be perfect too. Every part had to be perfect for us to "get" the fact that we need something we can't accomplish on our own. We need a Savior - a once and for all perfect, sinless sacrifice. We need the Lamb of God, and not just the best lamb we can find in our pasture.
The priests offering the animals were part of the representation of God offering Christ as the ultimate sacrifice. God has nothing but love for a devoted priest with a broken hand or a physical handicap!
And all the demands that the sacrificial goat or dove be "without blemish" isn't just a "give God your best" direction. It points to the fact that the sacrifice has to be perfect (sinless) if it's going to accomplish the task.
So that was my ah-ha moment on the treadmill a couple weeks ago. I tell this long story just to assure you that I don't always "get it" either when reading my Bible. But I no longer give up and let that keep me from reading.
You might not be tracking with me in this story - either with my confusion over this, or in how it came to be cleared up. But my point is that while step one is to SHOW UP (meet with God and read His Word with faith), there is a second step and that is to SPEAK UP.
Step two means talk to God. Don't get thrown by the fact that occasionally we'll show up with faith and still trip over a passage or command. Tell God what you don't get. Pray for understanding and wait for it to come in His timing. He'll show you what you need to see, when you need to see it. He never hides truth from those who show up and speak up.
PS. Tomorrow we'll have a link up here on my blog so if you've written about It's No Secret on your blog this week, plan to stop back by and enter your post in the carnival - instructions on that tomorrow. See you then - can't wait to read your posts!