Monday, August 14, 2017

Warnings for Unclean Meteors

Smallville changed the Superman mythology from the very first episode by sending the Kryptonian infant to Earth in the middle of a meteor shower, an element which (as far as I know) had been missing from Superman's story until then. The reason for this change was partly dramatic, but partly to give a reasonable explanation for why his craft wasn't detected by radar and satellites as he descended toward Earth. After all, picking out one particular falling object among hundreds is much more difficult than if that same object fell by itself. One episode, however, revolved around a man who was in a plane, crop dusting, when the meteors fell. He saw one object fall from the sky like all the others and then swerve at the last minute and land rather than simply strike the ground. This one object was different than the others.This one object was not normal and required a closer look.

When God gave Moses the Law, God included a number of laws which revolved around being ceremonially clean and unclean. In most of those laws, once a person's time of uncleanness has come to an end, the formerly unclean person was required to sacrifice a sin offering to purify them spiritually as well. But there were some unclean conditions which did not require a sacrifice. One of those reads, If a man lies with a woman and has an emission of semen, both of them shall bathe themselves in water and be unclean until the evening (Leviticus 15:18, ESV) but there is no sacrifice required. Another example immediately follows this exemption and it is the uncleanness that occurs during a woman's menstrual cycle. All of the exceptions to the sin offering requirement were instances of natural bodily functions and normal human conditions. Sex, menstruation, death of family members, even eating unclean animals (the ones that wouldn't get you exiled) were all exempt from the sin offering requirement.  But for uncleanness brought on by "abnormal" circumstances, things that meant something was wrong, sacrifices were required, whether the uncleanness resulted from a disease like leprousy or because a house had been infected by mildew. Anything that required intervention because something needed to be fixed or healed required a sacrifice.

Even in the Old Testament Law, God distinguished between things that were normal parts of life and things which required intervention because something was wrong, and God built in requirements to the law to remind people of these differences. Not only do these requirements remind us that sin creates unnatural circumstances in our lives but they remind us that we need to watch for the warning signs, which tell us that we are facing something abnormal, something wrong, something which requires intervention.  They remind us that God wants us to watch for red flags because some things simply aren't normal.

What warning signs have you been seeing, telling you that something is wrong in your life? Do you find yourself suddenly losing sleep and you don't know why? Have you been getting sick or facing difficulties at home that go beyond the normal, everyday occurrences of life? God wants us to remember that sometimes we need to seek out some intervention, that something outside of the norm requires a solution outside the norm and there is no shame in seeking help. Some difficulties and inconveniences are a normal part of life while others are indications that something is wrong. Don't be afraid to admit the difference.

Insulting Your Dinner Host

Suggested Reading: Ephesians 3 One of the things that drove me crazy when my children were younger was how they had no shame in asking p...