Blogging the Bible 31 – Leviticus 15-18 – Holiness behind the curtain

Oh dear.

I’d hoped for something good to mark a month of posts without missing one, and after a full (and great!) day at church celebrating St Thomas (we move his day to Sunday, as he’s our patron saint), this morning welcoming Ness, our lovely new curate, baptising the wonderful Amelie then this afternoon baptising Molly and Francesca, then Evening Worship then collapse, and open the Kindle to find chapters¬†about unpleasant bodily discharges and barred marital relations which would make the ‘Table of Kindred and Affinity’ in the old prayerbook look pleasant reading by comparison.

I can’t face spending too much time on that, I’m afraid! But in the middle of it all is the first mention of the curtain in front of the Holy of Holies, and the Day of Atonement, the one day of the year when the High Priest could enter the presence of God, provided he did it in the right way.

By the time of Jesus, the Holy of Holies stood at the middle of ring upon ring of separation between God and the world, but the curtain was still there, and the High Priest was still going in once a year.

Then when Jesus died, the curtain was torn from top to bottom – God wasn’t hidden away any more, he was loose in the world. And it wasn’t just one person who could approach him, once a year, carrying the right sacrifice. Now God opens his presence to anyone who approaches on the basis of his love shown through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

A month in

So a month in, and a bit bogged down in Leviticus, reading bits of the Bible I’d never choose to spend time thinking about, what have I got out of it?

Quite a bit – a different perspective on Genesis and Exodus, for a start. But from Leviticus, I’ve perhaps got something even more valuable. I realise that I’m valuing what Jesus did for me on the Cross in a deeper way; more aware of the whole system of sacrifice, uncleanness, ritual and separation from God that he’s fulfilled and washed away for us by his sacrifice of himself. It’s not just that by his death he makes our forgiveness possible. He opens a way for us into God’s presence, which the people of Moses’ day could only have dreamed of.

I’ve been reminded what a privilege it is – one we so often take for granted – to be able to come into God’s presence freely in prayer, anywhere and at any time, whether I’m feeling holy or not. Without having to bring anything except myself. Without needing anyone to sacrifice for me.

That’s worth spending a few days bogged down in Leviticus for.

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