SOAP Journal – 17 February 2017 (Leviticus 15:31)

“Thus you shall keep the sons of Israel separated from their uncleanness, so that they will not die in their uncleanness by their defiling My tabernacle that is among them.”

Leviticus 15:31

Leviticus 15 is all about uncleanness from emissions and it seems to be focusing in on emissions that occur below the waistline. The chapter includes instruction about an emission generally (vv 1-15), seminal emission (vv 16-18), menstrual emission (vv 19-24), and something similar to but not the same as menses (vv 25-30). And I thought that “having the talk” was going to be difficult for me.

The instructions given make a degree of sense. Do not touch anything that may have come in contact with the emission. Rational enough, seeing how non-porous personal hygiene items were not really a thing yet. If you did happen to come in contact with anything that had been touched by the region from which the emission came, you had to wash up and consider yourself on quarantine for the rest of the day. It is interesting to note that the discharges not specifically linked to sexual reproduction — that is, the emissions that are neither seminal nor menstrual — require a small sacrifice of purification eight days after the discharge has stopped. The ones linked to reproduction just require bathing. This implies a difference between these emissions. I will not speculate on the ramifications or implications of such a difference, but I find that I want to dive right into that.

God wraps this set of instructions up with the statement that is this morning’s verse. These things are done to keep the sons of Israel separated from their uncleanness. The idea, as stated later in the verse, is that they will not die in their uncleanness by their defiling [God’s] tabernacle that is among them. Everything the person with an emission touched was made unclean, so the entire tabernacle was at risk. This could mean broken fellowship with God for all of the Israelites for an extended period of time while everything that was rendered unclean by a touch was replaced — new items made and consecrated.

There are two things that seem applicable to me as I come away from this chapter.

First, the instruction about seminal emissions is a bit on the nose for a man. There is an implication about it that I find interesting. One translation of this passage renders the emission as a nocturnal emission, implying that the emission is a result of dreams. I cannot, as an elder saint once said, stop birds flying around my head, but I can stop them building a nest in my hair. What he was on about is that I cannot control what thoughts pop into my mind or what dreams come while I sleep, but I can control what things I dwell on and ponder throughout the day. The washing after an emission is, I think, a reminder that it is not what goes into a person that makes us unclean, but what comes from us. It is not the thoughts that pop into my mind and immediately cause a reaction in my body that make me unclean — those can be as easily washed off as they are forgotten, but the thoughts that I might continue to hold in mind that would lead to my bathing being of no effect.

Second, the point of this is not to chastise me or guilt me or any other such thing, but to keep God’s dwelling holy. The only attribute of God that I see repeated three times in The Bible is that He is holy. I was once told that threefold repetition of something was an idiom in ancient Hebrew for the superlative; as in good, better, best. God’s holiness is something that I, as His child, must look to preserve. And He wants me to be a part of that.

Thank You, Father, that You are concerned about my cleanness. Thank You also that You give me a chance to be a part of preserving Your holiness as perceived among people.

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