Beneath the Surface
- February 27, 2019
- Tiffany McCrary
I set a goal this year to read/listen through the Bible in a year. After many failed attempts in years past, I have made it through Genesis and Exodus so far this year. These first two books are full-on edge-of-your-seat stories: creation, the fall, Noah’s Ark, Abraham, Jacob and Esau, Joseph’s redemption, Moses and the Exodus from Egypt, just to name a few.
Then, right around the middle of February, I got to Leviticus. And oh man, it was quite a different read than the previous two books. A little background if you are (like me) new to this reading material: Leviticus was written as a set of rules and rituals for the Israelites to live by in order to live in the presence of the holy God. The Israelites had just broken the covenant and needed a new way to God. It is one of the books of the law, so it is not meant to be read as a narrative. But to be honest, I wondered why it was even necessary to put every single detail of the law in the Bible. It seems repetitive, bloody, and excessive.
The whole time I was reading over and over about every single thing that the people had to make sacrifices and offerings for, I was reminded of the overwhelmingly beautiful fact that we don’t have to live like that anymore, because Jesus erases every bit of that. He is our ultimate sacrifice. I’ve always been grateful for that, but I have a new perspective and appreciation after reading Leviticus.
I was also struck by the fact that God cares about what is unseen more than what is seen. When describing the way to tell whether a person is clean or unclean, it says,
“When a man or woman has a disease on the head or the beard, the priest shall examine the disease. And if it appears deeper than the skin, and the hair in it is yellow and thin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean” Lev 13:29-30.
Then again, it gives directions about telling whether a house infested with mildew is clean or unclean,
“And afterward the priest shall go in to see the house. 37 And he shall examine the disease. And if the disease is in the walls of the house with greenish or reddish spots, and if it appears to be deeper than the surface, then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house and shut up the house seven days.” Lev 14:36-38
Repeatedly (see the theme?), God points out how things are unclean if the infection goes beneath the surface. However, he doesn’t just leave the people or house as is and give up on them. He tells how to make them clean, what offerings to bring to be cleaned, how to wash clothes, body, house, and how long to stay away from others.
Reading this part of the Bible also gives me a new appreciation for the times Jesus heals the lepers or anyone else considered by the law to be unclean. It was such a beautiful picture of his physical healing power that also mirrors the spiritual healing that was happening.
A few years ago my grandparents passed away. When visiting their house as a child, and even into adulthood, I always thought it was clean. It didn’t strike me as messy or unorganized. But when we started to clean out all the belongings to sell the house, the closets, attic, and basement told a different story. There were boxes upon boxes upon boxes of papers, nicknacks, dishes, trinkets, tax papers from 1960, etc! It was a facade – the image of a perfect house from the outside, and even in the common areas of the house, but once you peeled back the layers and dug a little deeper, it was chaos. It made me think, does my life look the same?
Am I guilty of playing the part of the perfect Christian: Bible verse quotes on social media, attending church on Sundays, doing my quiet time, and saying my prayers. All the while not dealing with the issues that run deeper? Do I think that God doesn’t already know and love me through the real mess of my life?
No, as learned from Leviticus, and in Luke 12:7, “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” He cares about every single part of my life. God wants to know me, not just the picture perfect me.
My prayer is that of Psalm 139, specifically verses 23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”