Wednesday, April 14, 2010

deja' vu

Leviticus is a tough book. The first 3 chapters simply describe how to perform different sacrifices. There isn't even an explanation why - just blood and fat and flour and oil and a pleasing aroma. Without context (and reading it from a completely different one) it can be difficult to understand or even care about. But, there are some things that seem oddly familiar mixed in.

The first one that jumps out is leaven (yeast). Just a few chapters back, the Israelites were commanded to bake bread without leaven because they would be in such a hurry to leave Egypt that they wouldn't have time to let the bread rise. Now, unleavened bread has become a staple. They are forbidden from offering anything with leaven in it as a sacrifice. We see leaven again in the New Testament. Jesus uses it as a simile for how things (incorrect teaching for example) spreads amongst those who are exposed to it.

Another that catches the eye is salt. The opposite of leaven, the sacrificial instructions say that nothing should be offered up without salt. When Jesus comes back to salt, he says that it is something we all need to be. We are the salt of the earth.

You can't possibly read Leviticus without encountering copious amounts of blood. (This could really catch on with all those Twilight fans.) It is poured out on the altar, splashed on the sides of the altar and even at one point in Exodus sprinkled on the people. Blood is everywhere - but it cannot be ingested. There are copious amounts of blood in the new testament too, most surrounding the sacrifice of Jesus.

His blood was poured out when he was whipped, when they nailed him, when they pushed down the crown of thorns, when his side was pierced. The similarities are undeniable. But at the last supper, Jesus flips it all upside down. He passes around the cup and everyone has their drink. Then he says, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many." The one thing that was forbidden about blood was to ingest it.

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