The worship system is not designed to keep God safe and clean from those grubby people, but to keep those grubby people safe from the God of whom a very glimpse would make you melt like the Nazi bloke in Indiana Jones who opens the ark of the covenant. Eyeballs dropping all over the place. There would be a certain nervousness to the priests. Have I got this right? Did we do this the right way?
I’ve taken the opportunity during our extended, and gloriously sunny, beachside holiday to plough through the Pentateuch.
Genesis was a riveting read, as was most of Exodus.
Then we get a bit bogged down. Lots and lots of worship ordinands. And don’t let me catch you boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk. The command not to is in Exodus twice, and Deuteronomy once. Okay we get it! By that stage I’m ready to grab the kayak and go lie on the beach for a while.
Theories abound surrounding that particular prohibition, ranging from the ickiness of doing that to a baby goat, to the speculation that such a practice was a pagan one grounded in a fertility cult.
Still, nothing better than sitting on a verandah overlooking a crystal clear ocean and ticking off the list of meals you are definitely not going to eat while on holidays, if ever.
But it’s striking how complicated the worship requirements are. I mean, who even knew there was a long lobe on the liver that was supposed to be burned during a variety of offerings?
And what’s that about not putting honey on the altar? And never mind leavened bread, you can’t even replicate the perfume mix used on the altar of incense for your own personal use. You risk being cut off from God and his people.
It’s readings like that – and large, extended, convoluted readings like that – that put Christian people off reading the Torah. And perhaps it confirms what some, such as gleeful atheist Peter Fitzsimons calls, the “gibberish” nature of the Bible. And if not “gibberish”, definitely giblet-ish, given how many entrails get hauled off to different places.
But to dismiss it as such is to miss the central point of where the Bible is headed. And as we read these passages in light of the cross of Jesus, and in light of Jesus’ own assertion that the Law and the Prophets were both fulfilled by him, and completed in him, here’s what we must conclude:
Jesus takes the worry out of worship
Why is worship a worry?