Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Day 63: Vampires and Demons

Leviticus 17, 18 and Mark 9:1-29

These sections of scripture remind me of modern day horror obsession with vampires and demons. All the talk about blood leads me to imagine one of the vampires from a popular television series reading this chapter and deciding to become a “vegetarian,” and the casting out of a demon reminds me of other popular shows. Perhaps it is time for a “scary stories from scriptures” show.

Leviticus 17

Again, in Leviticus we are given rules dealing with the killing of animals. This is part of what leads scholars to believe that there are two sources for this particular book. His discussion of the slaughter of animals is twofold. It is placed here to keep people from the practice of idolatry. Apparently, people were sacrificing to other God’s in the fields instead of giving all honor to the One God. It is also to keep people from indiscriminately killing animals without plans to consume them.
This section then continues with the vampires prohibitions. There is to be no eating of blood. Period. Blood is the life source for living things and therefore sacred. Vampires aside, this practice was often associated with the worship of other gods. For someone who prefers all meat well-done, this is not a difficult prohibition to follow.

Leviticus 18

This scripture deals with sexual relations between people. There is an extensive discussion of incest, thirteen verses to be exact. This includes prohibitions of relationships between people related not by blood, but by marriage. I guess no one told soap opera writers about that little nuance.
Of course, the verse that in our day gets the most attention is verse 22. I really struggle to understand our inordinate level of interest in it. Some say that the use of the word abomination is what makes it stand out. I would beg to differ, as the word abomination is used over 100 times in scriptures and we do not have the same reaction to those issues as we do with male on male sexual activity. This word is applied to:
  • Eating meat three days after sacrificing
  • Egyptians and Hebrews eating at the same table
  • Eating birds of prey
  • Acts of idolatry
  • Using false or unfair weights during exchange
  • Mixed marriages
Very few of these things (idolatry perhaps, but only when its not about our own personal wealth or spending habits) get much play in the angry Christian rhetoric of our day. If we do not still hold to these as abominations, why does this one verse seem unchanged?
Proverbs 6:16-19 lists six things God hates and seven that are an abomination to the Lord. Guess what is not found in the list?
16 There are six things that the Lord hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that hurry to run to evil,
19 a lying witness who testifies falsely,
and one who sows discord in a family.
I think our obsession about this verse says more about us than it does about God.

Mark 9:1-21

Mark continues showing Jesus’ miraculous works as he journeys closer and closer to the cross. Here we have the transfiguration of Jesus, where three of the disciples see Jesus speaking with Elijah and Moses. Dear sweet Peter even offers to build them shrines to dwell in so that all might know of this miracle.
They engage Jesus in a discussion about why Elijah came first, which just seems odd to me. Jesus responds that the prophet came first to offer a way of seeing things as God does, but the people would not listen. Here he might also be referencing John the Baptist and his gruesome ends.
The disciples bring a boy to Jesus who has been held by a demon for years. They were not able to cast the demon out, even though they had successfully healed and cast out demons previously. Jesus’ response reminds me of those snickers commercials where the catch line is “you’re not yourself when you’re hungry.” This response of calling the disciples faithless and crying out about not being with them long seems out of character to the Sunday School Jesus we all know and love.
It is important to remember that Jesus’ ministry is only one year in Mark and very fast paced. JI believe Jesus is earnestly concerned that the disciples are not picking up what he is putting down.
It is here that we find my favorite verse in Mark “I believe, help my unbelief.” This is my prayer quite frequently. Jesus hears this prayer and is able to heal the boy. He later tells the disciples that this one could only come out through prayer.

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