I like to use the Bible in One Year reading program. It’s an easy way to read the whole bible in one year.
But it also exposes me to embarrassing parts of the bible that I wouldn’t normally read.
For example, I had to read Leviticus chapters 14-15.
It has cringe-worthy stuff on what to do with skin diseases.
The person to be cleansed must wash their clothes, shave off all their hair and bathe with water; then they will be ceremonially clean. After this they may come into the camp, but they must stay outside their tent for seven days. (Leviticus 14:8)
or mouldy houses.
the house is unclean. It must be torn down—its stones, timbers and all the plaster—and taken out of the town to an unclean place. (Leviticus 14:44-45)
or bodily discharges (yeeeeew!).
Anyone the man with a discharge touches without rinsing his hands with water must wash their clothes and bathe with water, and they will be unclean till evening. (Leviticus 15:11)
I used to roll my eyes whenever I read this “clean” and “unclean” stuff.
It’s so old-fashioned and unnecessarily strict. Something a superstitious Chinese grand-auntie might make you do, but not a modern Westerner.
But during Covid, these weird Old Testament laws suddenly made sense.
They ask us to do what we’ve done during the pandemic: social distancing, isolation, and washing hands.
Covid taught us that diseases are easily transmitted. Our individual actions have consequences upon friends, family, and community.
Covid taught us that we’re all at risk. Worse, we can be carriers of disease without knowing it.
If we’re socially responsible, we will do as we’re told. Wear the mask. Keep your distance. Stay at home.
But pride stops us from wanting to do these things. There is something humiliating and stigmatising about wearing a mask in public.
These old testament laws function the same way. They are God’s ways of humbling us. None of us are immune to uncleanliness.
The OT laws are God’s ways of saying that it’s not just our skin, houses, and discharges that are unclean. Our hearts are desperately unclean.
And even if we can clean up our skin, houses, and discharges, our hearts can never be clean.
And that was the whole point of sending Jesus. To perform a deep, deep cleansing of our hearts.
During Covid, we had to wear masks, socially distance and isolate ourselves.
But because of Jesus, we can stand unmasked before God. Never distanced. And never isolated.
Article supplied with thanks to Espresso Theology. Sam Chan is a theologian, preacher, author, evangelist, ethicist, cultural analyst and medical doctor.