Did I Read That Right? Leviticus 21

Priest at Mercy Seat on The Day of Atonement

I know that today many people are struggling with Leviticus in trying to understand it’s contemporary meaning. Surprisingly I’m not touching on any of those hot topic issues here. But there seem to be landmines everywhere, odd twists that leave me wondering, what was God thinking and did I read that right? Being Lutheran I lean more towards blaming my reading than blaming God but after reading Leviticus 21 I want to ask God about my reading and at the same time share it with you. Here’s my dilemma, no one with an outward defect can be a priest.

Aren’t we all defective? What is it about the outward-ness of this law that God is trying to accomplish.  I suspect some of the work related tasks are difficult, high altar, steps, bearing heavy loads, slaughtering animals but it still seems strange to me that a club foot, being short or having another outward birth defect would preclude you from serving.  I have found that outward ‘perfection’ often makes people vain, aloof and sometimes inwardly hollow.

I struggle with the explanation that comes to my mind: in dealing with sin you don’t want the penitent to have any concern about the reception of their offering because of an obvious outward defect by the mediator.  Is that it?  Is that enough, is this meant to be a help though not dealing with the inward defects of the person but instead a help for the one who comes to the priest for the offering?

Perhaps nowadays, with the utter breakdown in the confidence people have in the clergy, we may focus too much on that brokenness.  All predatory or deviant behavior should be punished but on the flip side I see a culture saying that a broken person makes a better priest.  Perhaps we have gone too far the other way and perhaps we are now so far off that path the Leviticus 21 just stings the eyes and throttles the ears.  I am left to continue asking, “did I read that right?” and maybe more specifically “did I read that rightly?”

Or, is this high standard instead point a direct line past all of those who really never did measure up to the only one who would, to the perfection in Christ who would take on all of those defects of ours both inward and outward.  He never married except for his people as a church and man is the church full of defects.   He touched the dead only to raise them and died only to be resurrected.  His beard was pulled out, his face destroyed, his back striped and his hands, feet and side defiled for the sake of our defects so that He would be our mediator.  A priest we come to with our defects so that he will be our mediator before God.

Published in: on April 29, 2013 at 9:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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