Sunday, March 13, 2011

Disabilities and Leviticus- Lent Day 5

Disclaimer: I am not a Biblical scholar and I don't play one on TV.

I ended up on Leviticus 21 today. Here is a passage:
16 The LORD said to Moses, 17 “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God. 18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed; 19 no man with a crippled foot or hand, 20 or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles.21 No descendant of Aaron the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the LORD. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God. 22 He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food; 23 yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the LORD, who makes them holy.’”

Lovely. Made me cringe. So those with disabilities can't even offer up a sacrifice even if they want to? What does God think of those with disabilities? The questions continue...

First, I am glad to be a Christian. The veil has dropped and all have access to God. I have seen Andrew 'in action' when he is close to God and it is real. He hears from God, even in the area of sacrifice and giving. (That is another day's post.)

Second, I DO think disabilities are not the original intention of God. They were not in the Garden of Eden. There will be no disabilities in Heaven. Jesus healed the sick and those with a variety of disabilities..physical and emotional as well as spiritual. So why do we think, "that is the way God made you." (This is a pet peeve of mine.) Yes Andrew is made in God's image. But we ALL have disabilities, which can be physical, spiritual or emotional. These disabilities are something to be healed and while God always has a purpose and a plan that was not the ORIGINAL intention pre-apple eating era.

I started googling for interpretations. Most were less than insightful and I probably should have stuck to just listening to God for revelation. The Christian websites pretty much said my first comment above. The Jewish websites commented on Leviticus without the light of Jesus on the cross were not hopeful. I had to 'x' out several before reading too closely because they made me sad. I get the "why" of it. They were not 'perfect' and therefore could not get 'close' to God. I wonder though, how did they feel? What did they think? Do our kids today think of themselves as 'less than' and how do we build them up? Did they feel less loved? Were they angry that others could get close to God? Did they wonder how 'Bob' could get 'close' to God when Bob harbored ill will in his heart and all they had was a physical disability? Why did God place these limitations on just physical and outward appearance? I think He cares much more about heart / internal issues today.

So I need God to speak to me personally on this a bit more. The verse that comes to mind is that God desires mercy, not sacrifice.

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’a]"[a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13

This verse too reminds me who Jesus came for. Some might apply this verse primarily to the spiritually sick but I think that in light of the Old Testament and how God does not view disabilities as 'perfection' one could say that he came for those both spiritually and physically (and emotionally) sick. But that we need not focus on the sacrifice... but on mercy.


Trish said...

I am not an expert, but my first response is, that is part of the Law...not all of the Law applies today. (I do not throw all the Law out like some, so don't interpret that into my words, please). Christ is our perfect sacrifice and this part of the Law is done away with.

This passage is speaking specifically to ceremonial sacrifice and the tabernacle. God wanted these areas and the priests to be holy/perfect. They were held to a higher standard.

I do not think that meant that people with disabilities couldn't have a relationship with God. He is speaking about and to anyone who would be a priest, not to every one.

Priests stood in God's presence and had to be holy/clean in order to do so. They wore bells on their robes and ropes on their feet to be pulled out if they entered the Holy of Holies unclean because God struck them dead.

The priests had to be perfect both in body and spirit in order to sacrifice on behalf of the people. This part of Levitical Law was set in place for a reason. Because there was a need for a perfect sacrifice. Even the lambs had to be perfect.

It was not until Christ came that this was done away with. He could be our sacrifice because He was perfect. He was also the perfect priest.

I do not think this is God’s way of cutting short or speaking about children or people with disabilities because He says that they can eat and have holy food and participate, they just can’t be priests or enter the holy areas of the tabernacle.

I agree that disabilities were not part of God's original plan. They are like everything else not good. A result of original sin. I do not think that God loves our children or someone with disabilities any less than He loves someone "whole".

Just as the man born blind was born that way for God's glory, (Jesus speaks specifically to this) so too these special ones are created and are used for God's glory. Sometimes in ways no one else can. I personally think that these precious ones are near and dear to God’s heart and He holds them closely.

My 4 year old niece was born with a disease which slowly shut down her body one function at a time until her death a few weeks after she turned 4. Did God love her less? Did He not create her? Allow her body to be racked with this horrible disease?

These are hard questions, but I can tell you that He has been glorified a thousand times over by her precious short life. She never spoke a word in this world, or walked, yet, God has spoken volumes through her and many have come to Him because of the testimony and life of my brother and his family.

I'm rambling. Maybe I should write a post about this instead...but I wanted to encourage you. I hope that I have given a least a little least know that this passage is specifically meant for the priests, not for everyone.

I hope I haven't overstepped bounds.

Your words have given much thought and discussion between my husband and I today. Thank you again for participating.

PS. If you want, please feel free to not post this comment if you feel it is not helpful or encouraging.

Our Village is a Little Different said...

So now I'm all sniffly and weepy... *sigh* But it's good. Jesus came and said, "Behold, I make all things new." Like Trish, I don't throw out all that is old - but I also know that he went to the lepers, and the lame, and the sick. Our beautiful boys are welcomed at his table.

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