Saturday, February 27, 2010

February 27

OT: Lev. 20:22-22:16

The first few verses here mention a concept that intrigued me yesterday: the idea of the land "vomiting" the people out. That is a potent image. Today, we hear that people are often bad for the land in strictly environmental terms, that we physically mistreat the land. But God is talking about the idea that their immorality is so "unnatural" that nature itself will vomit them out. Of course, when he earlier refers to the inhabitants of Canaan being vomited out, the reader knows that His people are going to "help" the land along in that process. It does put the Israelites' actions in a different light. Many modern readers might consider their actions to be genocide. In God's eyes, however, it seemed to be a natural, inevitable consequence to their sin.

The main thing that got my attention today was the instruction regarding priests with physical defects. Had Dr. Briley not written his earlier comment, I would have taken huge offense at that. Again, it seems like a lot of these laws would have helped to establish the inferiority of certain people in the eyes of the Israelites. People generally cannot help if they have a physical defect. Didn't God make them that way, after all? Why can't they serve Him as a priest, then?

However, Dr. Briley's comments have helped me see the possible metaphorical nature of "abnormality." Things like birth defects and death came solely as a result of sin. And for that matter, so did painful childbirth. And frankly, so did the spilling of any blood, even animal blood. Adam and Eve, as I noted, were apparently vegetarians. So all those things (including, apparently, the blood itself) were "unclean." And yes, people could not help the effects of sin that they were experiencing, but those effects still separated them from a holy and perfect God. Hmmm, I finally feel like I might be kind of getting this. Kind of.

NT: Mark 9:1-29

In light of those ideas, it is cool to me how Jesus did touch all those people, and He healed them. He healed the demon-possessed boy today. And in healing them, He often makes the point that the physical healings weren't the heart of what He came to do. He did those things to point to the heart of His message, which was about spiritual healing. Even in the NT, the physical and spiritual are linked. And the intent is that the physical would point to the spiritual. I think the same might be true of the OT Laws.

I'm getting ahead of myself in our NT reading, though. First, we have the Transfiguration. This has always been a very interesting scene to me. Today, I reflected on its purpose. Jesus took only his three closest disciples to witness the event. I wonder exactly what it conveyed to them (or what it was intended to convey. It seemed to mainly convey fear.) Jesus already seemed to be establishing His authority in powerful, undeniable ways. I wonder what this appearance with Moses and Elijah added to all the miracles. Maybe it was just one more thing to help people believe and understand.

Speaking of understanding, I thought it oddly hilarious and kind of sad that the three disciples struggled to figure out what "'rising from the dead' meant" (10). To their credit, they are catching on to Jesus' use of figurative language, and there's no doubt the "yeast of the Pharisees" debacle is still fresh in their minds. However, this was one time when Jesus was being strictly literal. In other words, they can't win for losin.'

Psalm 43: 1-5

Our footnote said that in some manuscripts, these verses were part of Psalm 42. I think I would go with those manuscripts. The text seems to be very much a continuation of those themes. But I guess that either most manuscripts or the oldest manuscripts have them separate. Otherwise, the compilers would have combined them. Also, in one of my Bible classes, I learned a weird rule of thumb about differing manuscripts (yes, I'm really going in this direction with the reading). If two manuscripts differed in what they said, and all other things were equal (like their age or the amount of corresponding manuscripts), then the general rule was to go with the one that was more problematic, that made the least sense. That's because, as manuscripts are copied, they usually go from "messier" to "cleaner," as the scribes "clean" up confusing or problematic passages. Thus, the "messy" one is probably the original. I think that's why the alternate footnote translations often make more sense to me.

Proverbs 10:18

It is weird that Proverbs condemns the concealing of our hatred. What are we supposed to do, be open with it? That hardly seems loving. Wait--I guess hatred itself isn't very loving:). So maybe we shouldn't have hatred at all:).


  1. (Mark) You said something like "physical healings were not the heart of what Jesus came to do. He did those things to point to the heart of his message, which was about spiritual healing." I just loved that. Thanks.

  2. (Mark) One more thing: Was that the same demon-possessed boy found on Jan. 26, Matthew 17:14? If so, I loved, loved, loved the man's response in Mark 9:24, "Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me to overcome my unbelief!" How many times this year I have repeated those words...even today. With the anniversary of our precious son's death quickly approaching, I have found myself swallowed up in sorrow. This verse always helps to turn my heart around!

  3. Mom, I know. It has been hard for me, too. I can't wait for you to see what I wrote on the Psalms passage for tomorrow (March 1). It reminds me of your great attitude in our conversation today.
    I love you!