You are what you eat ??

5 03 2011

DAY SIXTY-THREE : Leviticus 11 v. 1 – 12 v. 8; Mark 12 v. 13 – 27; Psalm 30 v. 1 – 7

(eek – witchety grub – clean or unclean – ‘get me out of here’…..)

God instructs Moses and Aaron over which foods are acceptable to eat

Clean and Unclean Food
– of the land animals, only those with split hoof, and that chew the cud can be eaten (camel, coney, rabbit and pig are given as examples of forbidden food);
– of the sea creatures, only those with scales and fins may be eaten (guess that rules out crab, lobster, mussels etc.)
– of the birds, no owls, eagles, vultures, raven, storks, bats (to name a few) may be eaten
– of the insects, only those with jointed legs for hopping may be eaten (locust, crickets, grasshoppers) – I was just imagining all the stuff they are made to eat on programmes like “I’m a Celebrity”….yeuch !!
– touching the carcasses of animals makes the Israelites unclean
– though there is no prescribed ‘punishment’ for disobeying any of the food laws, the individual is said to be ‘unclean until evening’, which presumably cuts them off from the community / worship for the whole day

“I am the Lord your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy….I am the Lord who brought you out of the Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.”

this, to me is both a command and a promise, that as we ‘consecrate’ ourselves, offer ourselves wholly to God, His holiness affects and infects every area of our lives – it is an act of will on our part, but it is God who sanctifies, makes holy.

Purification after Childbirth –
mmm, I was asked only a few weeks ago (at a churches together in Leyland unity week lunch) if the Methodist Church required new mothers to be ‘churched’ some weeks after childbirth. It’s never been part of my experience, though it clearly had been, within different denominations for several people around the table. Good lunchtime banter !!
Though these verses in Leviticus clearly show that, for the Israelite community, childbirth was a sacred and holy matter, it makes strange reading to twenty-first century readers.
Firstly, when I read that the woman needs to offer a burnt offering and a sin offering (rather than a thanksgiving offering or celebration) for her purification, I need to remember that this is not about ‘sin’ (childbirth is not ‘sin’), but the loss of blood and about purification.
Secondly, when I read that the length of time a woman is unclean is double after a baby girl (80 days) rather than a baby boy (40 days), I need to remember that a higher value was placed on the male line.
All that said, childbirth is a significant moment for the community, and I’m sure the woman’s full return to the community was a time of celebration and thanksgiving.   

In both parts of the reading today from Mark, religious leaders are trying to trap Jesus, to make Him look foolish. They realise, though, that they won’t defeat Him by their words….His wisdom is greater.

Paying Tax – first off, today, it’s a collaboration between the Pharisees and the Herodians on the issue of tax. If Jesus says ‘let’s not pay taxes to Caesar’, the Pharisees will be happy, but the Herodians will have a reason to apprehend Him; if Jesus says, ‘yes, we should pay taxes to Caesar’, His claims to be the Messiah will be further questioned, and though the Herodians will be happy, the Pharisees will use this propaganda against Him.
Jesus realises the trap they’ve set, bides His time asking for a coin, and shows great wisdom in stating that devotion to God involves living as a faithful citizen, where there is no compromising of the faith. It could be read that ‘rendering to Caesar’ does challenge those distasteful tax collectors who pocket extra for themselves.
I was amused by the Pharisees’ approach to Jesus,
“We know You are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because You pay no attention to who they are; but You teach the way of God in accordance with the truth….”
If that is what they believe, why are they going to arrest Him on the charge of blasphemy ? Never have the Pharisees spoken such truth, yet it’s all hypocrisy, and Jesus isn’t flattered !!

Marriage – next, it’s the turn of the Sadducees, the opponents to the Pharisees on the issue of resurrection, an after-life. The Sadducees seek to poke fun at the notion that in the resurrection, a woman might find herself married to many men, if, even as the Mosaic law commanded, she had married several brothers, one after the other, when she is widowed time after time.
Firstly, Jesus corrects their assumption – in heaven, our angel-like existance will be of an entirely different nature, where marriage will not be an issue.
Secondly, Jesus corrects their teaching – telling them they are in error, and that scripture itself points to an after-life.

“O Lord, my God, I called to You for help and You healed me…..
  weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”




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