Wednesday, November 10

Sacrifice, Leviticus, and the modern world

The first zillion (err ... 12) chapters of Leviticus go into intimate (dare I say numbing) detail about the sacrificial rites established by Moses for the Israelites as they embark from slavery into the Canaan. These chapters sets out for that priestly people (the Israelites) information which their neighbors kept as secret knowledge of the priests. Specifically, exactly how, when, and why sacrifices of atonement, purification, and peace are to be performed. This sort of knowledge had been reserved for the priests. Here it is available for all. The "secret instruction manuals" for the priests, made available to the whole of the (priestly) Hebrew nation.

For Christians, our sacrifice has been performed for us by the paschal lamb, i.e., Christ. However, there remains a point to these sacrifices which has been somewhat dimmed through the ages that we should perhaps not forget, and this is the main point of this post. The reason for the sacrifices being made publicly, was because the failure to perform those sacrifices affected the people and not just the individual. Today we are hear about (and perhaps stress) our personal relationship with Christ. However, the Levitical sacrifices were done in a large part to that God would not abandon Israel and the people.

What are the implications of this. Well, for one it promotes the nosy neighbor syndrome. If you neighbor commits sins, and doesn't have them atoned by sacrifice. Well, it isn't just relationship with God that is threatened. If things like "that" were ignored, and became common, God would leave the land and his blessings would depart. So the sin's of your neighbor are your business as well.

For us, between religious freedom and our "personal" relationship with our God, this ethic has been lost to us. So much so, that parents fear to let their little ones play outside unattended for long because we don't even know our neighbors at all let alone know them well enough to trust them help keep a wary eye out. We walk in our own neighborhoods with blinders on, in a see-no-evil stance to ward away the possibility of having to live with seeing something we will regret that we did. Perhaps when we Confess our sins on Sunday's services, we should really be confessing our neighbor's sins as well. We should be encouraging that neighbor to join us in our confession, otherwise, our nation may not be "under God" as much as it wishes.