Nick Poindexter

My style's like a chemical spill

Tag: Leviticus

The Harness Of Slavery

“I’ll set up my residence in your neighborhood; I won’t avoid or shun you; I’ll stroll through your streets. I’ll be your God; you’ll be my people. I am God, your personal God who rescued you from Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians. I ripped off the harness of your slavery so that you can move about freely.
-Leviticus 26:11-13 (MSG)

It’s difficult for me to imagine what it would be like to be enslaved. A “life” full of nothing but forced labor. Not being viewed as a valuable creation but rather as as machine owned and controlled by someone else. It had to be a very dehumanizing and undignified experience.

The people of Israel however could imagine what that was like because they experienced it firsthand in Egypt. And here God makes a subtle yet beautiful reminder to them: I’m here. I’m your’s and you’re mine. I rescued you. You’re free.

I can bet that the idea that God had ripped off the harness of slavery was something that could really resonate with them. And the more I think about it, it is something that Christians should be able to relate to as well.

I once was a slave too, specifically a slave to sin. It had control of me. It consumed me. But God ripped off the harness of my slavery though the sacrifice of his very own Son. The shame of my past in slavery is gone; God has forgiven and he has forgotten.

God’s words to the Israelites are almost as if he’s saying, “Hold your head up high. You are not who you once were. You are free from your past, and that is something that is worth celebrating.”

Thank you Lord for the gentle reminder.

The Edges Of My Fields

“When you harvest your land, don’t harvest right up to the edges of your field or gather the gleanings from the harvest. Don’t strip your vineyard bare or go back and pick up the fallen grapes. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am God, your God.
-Leviticus 19:9-10 (MSG)

I think it’s easy for most people today to overlook a passage of scripture like this and assume it’s not applicable. The reason being that most of us do not grow our own crops and, and thus the harvest lifestyle is generally just not something that most in the 21st century can relate to.

However, the point of the law was not about crops but rather about people. It’s purpose was for the poor and the foreign travelers who had no food or money to buy any. God was making it clear that the poor/foreigners had a need, and it was the Israelites’ job to provide and fill it. In a way, God was emphasizing his character of generosity. In essence he was reinforcing the idea that the land was his to begin with, and the people were just the caretakers.

Obviously, I’m not a farmer and I can’t say I’ve ever grown much of the food I eat. God does provide for me though. My money and possession are really all his, and I’m only the caretaker. So the question is: Am I looking to fill a need, especially with the poor, with what God has blessed me with? Or, am I only thinking of myself, keeping everything I’ve got and hoarding it all away?

God, it’s all yours anyway. Thank you for giving me a plentiful harvest. Please help me leave the edges of my fields for your use.

Flirting With Carcasses

God spoke to Moses and Aaron: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, Of all the animals on Earth, these are the animals that you may eat:

“You may eat any animal that has a split hoof, divided in two, and that chews the cud, but not an animal that only chews the cud or only has a split hoof. For instance, the camel chews the cud but doesn’t have a split hoof, so it’s unclean. The rock badger chews the cud but doesn’t have a split hoof and so it’s unclean. The rabbit chews the cud but doesn’t have a split hoof so is unclean. The pig has a split hoof, divided in two, but doesn’t chew the cud and so is unclean. You may not eat their meat nor touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.
-Leviticus 11:1-8 (MSG)

God begins his instructions to the Israelites with land animals that are OK to eat. He specifically goes through example by example naming some of the “unclean” animals… No camels, no rock badgers, no rabbits, no pigs. And to sum it up he simply says, “You may not eat their meat nor touch their carcasses.” And as he continues on in later verses referring to other types of animals he makes the same request.

As weird as they sound today, God did had reasons for the avoidance of eating certain animals: for the general health of the people; to separate them from other pagan religions; because of symbolic associations, etc. When you think about it, those do make sense. But why was he so concerned that they not even touch the body of a dead animal?

I think God was pointing out the severity of sin and the dangers that come with association. He was making it clear that not only do we need to not do the things he’s told us to, we need to go as far as to be totally separated from them. It’s as if he’s saying, “Don’t eat these meats… And to make sure that doesn’t happen, don’t even touch the carcasses.”

I wonder how often I have justified my flirtation with sinful things by thinking I was alright because I technically wasn’t committing the sin. The situation may be tempting but I haven’t done anything, so I’m OK, right? Not quite… The line of sin and temptation is very fine, and God recommends that we don’t even go near it.

When you think about it, God is comparing temptation to a stinky, rotten, bloated, maggot-filled, dead animal. To most the thought of even getting near a carcass sounds disgusting, let alone touching it. Flirting with sin and temptation should sound likewise.

Playing With Fire

That same day Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons, took their censers, put hot coals and incense in them, and offered “strange” fire to God—something God had not commanded. Fire blazed out from God and consumed them—they died in God’s presence.
-Leviticus 10:1-2 (MSG)

Chapter 10 of Leviticus begins with an introduction of two of Aaron’s sons: Nadab and Abihu. With their father being the High Priest, they certainly were in a position of authority themselves. They made an offering of fire to God, but this was “strange” fire. One verse later, they are dead, consumed by fire from God.

Strange story, for lack of a better adjective.

So what exactly is “strange” fire? The general assumption is that the fire they brought was simply from another source. In other words, it was not from the alter as God had previously commanded and therefore the wrong kind of fire.

Were Nadab and Abihu deserving of instant, fiery death because of this decision? Ultimately, I’ll leave that up to God.

However, they were playing with fire. What I mean by that is both men weren’t taking their duty seriously — they thought just any type of fire would do, even though in the previous chapters of Leviticus God had precisely laid out how their worship was to be conducted. Nadab and Abihu were in a leadership position so they certainly knew what God wanted, and they still flagrantly chose to ignore God’s request and do otherwise. The special responsibility they had to God and his people (who they were an example for) apparently was taken for granted and treated with indifference.

Lord, thank you for the reminder of the responsibility I have as a leader — accountability to you and to those who I lead.

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