OT: Lev. 16:29-18:30
It was kind of weird to me that God went into such detail about taking a Sabbath once year on the day of Atonement. Don't the Israelites already do that once a week? It was funny to me that He warned them not to work and said that, "you must deny yourselves" (16:31). I thought, "Yeah, that would be really hard, but I think I would manage to 'deny' my desire to work for a day!" However, the more I thought about it, maybe wanting a true Sabbath is like Midas wanting the golden touch. It sounds great until all that you can't do really starts to sink in. If I was at my house all day and could do no work, I think I might start to go a little crazy. Can you cook on the Sabbath? How would we eat? Could I not clean a little? I wouldn't want things to be messy all day! I mean, I like to be lazy as much as the next person, but you need to do a little work to be able to enjoy your laziness sometimes:). Like I said, I love the idea of a Sabbath, but I can see why God felt the need to warn them sternly against working.
I also found it incredibly amazing--no hyperbole--that God says that people who sacrifice animals outside of the proper channels are "guilty of bloodshed" (17:5). I understand that God would cut off people who did not sacrifice things the right way, but "guilty of bloodshed"? Are you kidding me? So far, that has not seemed to be God's chief concern! Actually, this pronouncement really puts a lot into context for me. It's not that God didn't care about animals or that He took their lives lightly. On the contrary, He took their lives very seriously, to the point that killing an animal for a faulty sacrifice would make a person "guilty of bloodshed." It shows me how the animals' blood truly was a sacred offering to God, and a high price to pay for sin.
Next, we have a long list of rules about sexuality. When you start realizing all the ways that sexuality can be expressed, you start to see that God has a very narrow view of proper sexuality. We talk a lot about what is "natural" today in society, and people disagree over the definition of "natural," but to God, all sexuality except heterosexual sex within marriage is "unnatural." Because sin is "unnatural." We can have every desire in the world (and apparently, people back then did--geez Louise!), and those desires might totally come from our "natural self," our core identity, but according to God, they are "unnatural."
NT: Mark 7:24-8:5
I have always found Jesus' reaction to the Syro-Phonecian woman to be somewhat perplexing. Was Jesus joking around with her? Was He being playful? Or was He dead serious? Would He really have not healed her daughter if she had not given a witty response?
Next, Jesus heals a deaf-mute, and then feeds the 4,000. I noticed today that these people hadn't eaten in three days. I think it was because I was hungry as I was doing my Bible reading that I was really struck by how crazy that was. I guess people were more used to "going without" back then (I think just about everyone in history has been more used to "going without" than I am in my middle-class American position), but still! That is some dedication, to stay with someone for three days without eating.
Psalm 41: 1-13
I love verse 1, of course: "Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble."
I have some vague, half-thoughts about David's notions of and desires for justice, but they haven't quite formed into anything coherent yet. Clearly, this post is one of my less spectacular ones. I am having a real problem with abstract thought right now! I need to go to bed:).
Proverbs 10: 15-16
Even in my current lack of depth, verse 15 sounds incredibly redundant to me. "Poverty is the ruin of the poor"? Well, yeah...
Verse 16 is interesting. I am always attuned to "life" verses and am drawn to finding out all the things that bring "life." It's interesting to me that a good person's income is life-giving, according to this verse. It occurs to me that, in light of the surface-level logic of verse 15, perhaps verse 16 isn't saying anything deep about "true life." Instead, it is just saying that we need money to live, and when you earn your living honestly, you can have have life without punishment (unlike the wicked).