What a Bloody Mess!

20 Jun

I read Leviticus last week. If you haven’t read it (or haven’t read it recently), allow me to offer this brief summary:

God instructed the Israelites regarding sacrifices. For atonement of sin, to please the Lord, and for inducting new priests into service, they were required to slaughter bulls, sheep, goats and/or birds. Sometimes they just needed one, sometimes they needed a bajillion. And there were all kinds of rules about where to pour the blood and where to smear the blood and what to smear it with and what chunks of the animal were to be placed where and what was to be burned right up and what could be eaten and more instructions about splattering blood. 27 chapters of it. (Plus a few tidbits about uber-personal infections and hygiene. It’s weird.)

With all the gory details included in these 27 chapters of blood-splattering, what is most appalling to this mother of four is that there is not one single verse about cleaning it all up. I am not OCD about keeping a perfect house, but I do expect my kids to clean up their own filth. I should just record an album. “Who made this mess? How did this happen? Who spilled this? Who tracked this mud through the house? Who completely covered the living room floor with Lego? Whose science experiment is leaking all over the kitchen? If someone doesn’t come down here and clean this up in the next 30 seconds, you are all grounded until you leave for your honeymoon!” I could probably sell this album to other moms and put Kristin Stewart’s income to shame. (Highest paid actress in Hollywood this year? For the love of vampires. She’s 22.)

Vampires? Hollywood? Where was I? Oh yes, cleaning up scads of blood. Or not, as Leviticus seems to indicate. What’s up with that?

I’ve been reading through the Bible this year trying not to over-analyze things or get caught up on details that I find confusing, but instead just reading, reading, reading for The Big Picture. Who is God and what is He all about? So I didn’t want to get stuck on this surprising lack of Lysol in the Old Testament. I wanted to just consider it an odd piece of the puzzle and move on to see where it fit within the grand scheme of things. But I’m also reading in the context of my present tension about what ministry should look like for me. Who would’ve expected that God would use Leviticus to speak into that? (I’m glad He did, for I previously haven’t had a whole lot of personal use for Leviticus.)

I tried to just turn the page and let it go. Big Picture, Anita. Big Picture. But I couldn’t do it. All that blood just stuck in my craw! And apparently God had something to say about it. When I finally listened for a moment, here’s what He said: Don’t worry about the mess. Soul-purity, worship, and ministry are messy. Get over it, and focus on the task at hand.  Put your priority on purity, worship and ministry. And don’t worry about the mess.

A pristine building is nice. A flawless worship service is nice. A mutually edifying ministry relationship is nice. But those things are not where our whole focus should be. Thanks, Leviticus.

P.S. I’ll probably get to a chapter about this exact thing in Interrupted tomorrow. Jen Hatmaker tends to do that – copy my ideas and put them in a book a couple of years before I blog about them. Just so’s ya know, I came up with the whole broken body comparison thing ( all by myself. And then I read my own words in her book today! Sheesh. She’s as bad as Beyonce. (Fine, I admit that “Single Ladies” wasn’t mine first. But still, my rip-off is top notch! Oh you know you want to see it again.


Posted by on June 20, 2012 in God, Personal Growth


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4 responses to “What a Bloody Mess!

  1. Karen Looby

    June 20, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    Wow! Just wow! Great writing and great message. I had never thought about the whole mess thing. It’s so amazing when God teaches us. It’s like He knows us or something, eh?

  2. Rhonda

    June 20, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    Ministry is messy. I like it. Thank you Anita.

  3. Emily Mazzone

    July 19, 2012 at 9:22 PM

    Anita! Really loving the gut-reaction to Leviticus. I personally find a lot of meaning and don’t see all that blood, but I have grown up with listening to the King James Version on audio tape since I was little. Having Alexander Scourby read through it gracefully, eloquently, in five minutes probably helped. However, I want to add that there IS cleaning up of the Sanctuary, and all that blood… maybe not in the 27th chapter. But it’s there. It’s call the Atonement. Once each year, the temple is cleansed, top to bottom, of blood *and* sins. Like many things in the sacrificial rites of that day, there are two symbols: type and antitype. The temple services on earth were the symbol of the heavenly. There is a lot of powerful stuff in Leviticus that matches everything from Genesis to Revelation… and without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, so I guess there ya have it on the blood thing.

    • Anita Neuman

      July 19, 2012 at 9:25 PM

      Wow, thanks! I have read it before and not really noticed the blood as much. The mess just stood out to me in this reading. Thanks for the extra info about the cleaning, though. Fascinating!


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