8/9 Reading (Leviticus 4-6; Acts 4)

I read a really interesting article in the Washington Post today titled Seriously, ‘Game of Thrones’ made me a better Bible reader. I encourage people to read it. I’ve already mentioned numerous times over this past month how I wonder if people realize just how much sex and violence is in the Bible. The author said this:

“As rough as the scenes in “Game of Thrones” can be, they are scenes similar to many in Scripture. Scenes of bloody battles and troubling sex. Scenes of torture and cruelty. Scenes of incest and sex between kings and queens with stomach-churning age gaps. Scenes in which women and the powerless have no ability or right to consent. To anything.”

I couldn’t agree more. This is spot on. What I really like about this article is that the author argues that it is important for us to understand that these types of things are in the Bible and to not sugar coat the messages in the Bible:

“When we sanitize — when we fail to fully let the Scriptures breathe and bleed and scream and reveal what’s contained — we lose. When we disengage our imaginations and insist on a safe, easy, G-rated Bible, we not only zap the stories of God and his people of their power, but also of their heart. It’s much easier to “get” God — his anger, his broken-heartedness, his longing to save his people — when we “see” what he saw, and sees.”

Well said. I’m glad someone else wrote about this. I’ve been thinking it for over a month now.

Leviticus 4: The purification offering. The level of detail for how one is to prepare the animal for sacrifice and then what do do with each part of the sacrificed animal is incredible. The text addresses all aspects of the sacrificed animal. This chapter addresses four different parties and how to atone for their sins: anointed priest (sacrifice a bull), the entire congregation of Israel (sacrifice a bull), a ruler (sacrifice a male goat), and ordinary people (sacrifice a female goat).

Leviticus 5: Purification offerings for 4 specific sins: “withholding testimony, contracting impurity from an animal, contracting impurity from a person, and failure to fulfill an oath due to negligence” (p. 148). I like that right after these are outlined, the text says for one to confess your sins once you become aware of what happened. That’s a relief. In earlier readings it sounded like confessing your sins didn’t always work (somewhere in Exodus I got this feeling when I read about how future generations would be impacted if I did something bad). It’s also interesting to me to read in the text all of the contingencies set up in case a person can’t afford to offer up the correct sacrifice (female sheep or goat). God makes it clear what order other offerings should be in just in case someone can’t sacrifice the correct animal.

The rest of the chapter deals with ways to atone for other sins such as general sin unintentionally or even sinning without know you sinned. The notes say this section is called the “reparation offering” or the “guilt offering.” The question I have here is how will you know if you sinned? That’s a serious question too. I don’t see how that will be known.

Leviticus 6: This chapter seems to jump around a bit. The first part seems like it would’ve fit better in the previous chapter. God specifically tells Moses what is to happen whenever anyone deceived a neighbor “in a matter of a deposit or a pledge, or by robbery, of if you have defrauded a neighbor, or have found something lost ad lied about it” (Lev. 6.2-3). What I find interesting here is that there was a bunch of deception going on in Genesis. Does that not count since it was before this time?

The reason why I felt the beginning of this chapter was out of place is because of what happens next. The text offers elaborations on what Aaron and his sons will need to do for the different rituals outlined in the first three chapters of leviticus. We see here the “ritual of the sin offering” or the “purification offering” from chapter 4.

Acts 4: Peter and John are arrested by pretty much the same people who felt so threatened by Jesus. Peter and John are told to stop these teachings, but they indicate they won’t do this. They pretty much make it clear that they will follow God and not them. The leaders end up releasing them anyway because of the shear number of people who now agree with Peter and John and will follow them. They returned to the other Apostles to tell them what happened. All 12 prayed to God pretty much asking for the strength to deliver Jesus’ message to the people. Something that would freak me out happened next: “When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4.31).

The chapter ends with all the followers selling their possessions as well as their property and giving the proceeds to the apostles.

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