You shall slaughter the ram, and take some of its blood and put [it] on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the lobes of his sons’ right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet, and sprinkle the blood around on the altar.
So, the whole “Purify what you hear, what you do, and where you go.” bit has already been done with this verse and others like it. Something else struck me as a possibility for this verse this morning.
The lobe of the ear didn’t really change, in my mind, except to go from “purify” what I hear to “listen with Jesus’ ears”. And there is a subtle difference. If I purify what I hear, then I will start excising all things that might stumble me from materials that I listen to. I will toss out some albums, throw away certain movies, get rid of certain audiobooks, and even consider ending certain friendships. I might also include books of the non-audio variety. All of these play into the concept of what I hear. It is very active and very obvious. And there is nothing inherently wrong with this interpretation. In fact, I think the text will bear this interpretation as well as the other. To “listen with Jesus’ ears” is just as active, but is far less obvious. If I’m doing this, then the news loses some of its depression factor (because the news is really depressing) and includes allusion to prophecies and promises made by God. The news also drives me to prayer when I listen with Jesus’ ears. There are items about which I can do nothing other than pray. And it takes learning to listen with Jesus’ ears—sanctified ears, if you will—to not just the news but to everything. The hurtful statement made by someone I love? Sanctified ears; Jesus’ ears hear the words but keep going to find the hurt behind them and compel the rest of me to find a way to heal that hurt if I can.
“Purify” my actions (blood on the thumb) transformed. It’s not that my actions don’t need a good cleaning up (because they do), but that Jesus’ statement that He is the vine and I am a branch and without Him I can do nothing came to mind. It’s not just that my actions need to be purified and sanctified, but also that my actions need to be empowered by Christ. The thumb, for those who’ve never done this exercise, makes a fair bit of what we do possible. Remove the thumb and our abilities become impaired — some actions become nearly impossible. So, too, we should have our thumbs—the enabling of our actions—sanctified; under the control of God.
The idea of purifying where I go; of not going places I ought not likewise transformed from a negative (Don’t go those places) to “Go where God sends you.” or, to borrow from the song Mytho X, “to walk with Jesus’ feet.” Jesus went to a great many places that the religious of His time would not have gone. This does not imply that I should be going to all the places that the religious folks of today will not go, because steering clear of some of those places is totally legitimate (and some places make no sense for me to be in). On the other hand, if God tells me to go someplace, then I know He is going there with me and I need not concern myself with the propriety (or lack thereof) of a Christian going there. If Christ goes there, then who am I not to follow?
That’s what this morning’s verse has boiled down to for me: Listen with Jesus’ ears. Work with hands empowered by Jesus. Walk with Jesus’ feet.