AN INVISIBLE DANGER

INVISIBLE DANGER

THE REASON FOR SACRIFICE

TAKING PRECAUTIONS: LIKE A SURGEON PREPARING TO OPERATE (INVISIBLE DANGER)

YOU MUST DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE UNCLEAN AND THE CLEAN. LEVITICUS 11:47

FOR MANY YEARS SURGERY REMAINED A DESPERATE LAST RESORT FOR THE HOPELESSLY ILL. SURGEONS KNEW NOTHING ABOUT GERMS. WITHOUT WASHING, THEY WOULD DON OPERATING GARB, USUALLY AN OLD COAT CAKED WITH BLOOD AND PUS FROM NUMEROUS OPERATIONS, THEY WOULD PICK UP THE SCALPEL, WIPED CLEAN WITH AN OLD RAG AFTER THE LAST OPERATION, AND GO TO WORK. HALF OF THOSE OPERATED ON DIED.STUMBLED ON

ONE PIONEER AFTER ANOTHER STUMBLED ON THE CORRECT STERILE TECHNIQUES. BUT EACH WAS SCORNED AND HUMILIATED BY FELLOW DOCTORS. PROFESSOR SAMUEL SEMMELWEIS, FOR ONE, DISCOVERED THAT MAKING DOCTORS WASH THEIR HANDS COULD DRAMATICALLY CUT THE DEATH RATE IN MATERNITY WARDS. YET HIS COLLEAGUES OPPOSED SEMMELWEIS STRENUOUSLY, AND THOUGH HE ARGUED FOR HAND WASHING THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE, HE DIED WITHOUT SEEING HIS IDEAS TAKE HOLD. (INVISIBLE DANGER)

WHY SO SLOW?

WHY WERE DOCTORS SO SLOW TO ADOPT STERILE TECHNIQUES? THE ANSWER IS SIMPLE: GERMS HAD NOT YET BEEN DISCOVERED. DOCTORS COULD NOT SEE—AND REFORMERS LIKE SEMMELWEIS COULD NOT GIVE THEM—ANY REASON WHY WASHING HANDS SHOULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

THEN LOUIS PASTEUR DISCOVERED MICRO-ORGANISM UNDER HIS MICROSCOPE. STERILE PROCEDURES BEGAN TO MAKE SENSE—THEY MADE WAR ON GERMS. EVEN SO, EACH REFORM, FROM RUBBER GLOVES TO GAUZE MASKS, WAS ACCEPTED ONLY GRUDGINGLY AND WITH CONSIDERABLE OPPOSITION. IT WAS AS THOUGH DOCTORS HAD A HARD TIME REMEMBERING THAT SOMETHING INVISIBLE COULD BE SO DEVASTATING. FIFTY YEARS OF CONSTANT EDUCATION AND REFORM WERE NECESSARY BEFORE “STERILE TECHNIQUE” BECAME A ROUTINE PART OF SURGERY, AND GERMS BECAME “REAL” TO MOST MEDICAL MINDS. (INVISIBLE DANGER)

WHY ALL THE RULES?

AS GERMS ARE TO A SURGEON, “UNCLEANNESS” IS TO LEVITICUS. CHAPTER 11-15 DESCRIBE ELABORATE PRECAUTIONS—WHAT ANIMALS TO AVOID AND HOW TO TREAT “UNCLEAN” SKIN DISEASE, MILDEWED CLOTHING OR WALLS, AND BODILY EMISSIONS.

SCHOLARS POINT OUT THAT MANY CLEAN AND UNCLEAN RULES HAVE GOOD HEALTH HABITS BEHIND THEM, SUCH AS THE RULE TO QUARANTINE A PERSON WITH AN INFECTIOUS DISEASE OR THE RULE AGAINST EATING PORK (WHICH CARRIES MANY PARASITES).

OTHERS SAY THAT DIETARY LAWS WERE MEANT TO KEEP THE ISRAELITES APART FROM THEIR NEIGHBORS. PIGS WERE PROMINENT IN CAANANITE WORSHIP; THEREFORE THE ISRAELITES WERE NOT TO EAT THEM. A DIFFERENT DIETARY STANDARD WOULD KEEP THE TWO GROUPS FROM MIXING SOCIALLY, FOR A MEAL WAS ALWAYS PART OF MIDDLE EASTERN HOSPITALITY. (INVISIBLE DANGER)

STILL OTHER SCHOLARS SUGGEST THAT THE UNCLEANNESS RULES SIMPLY FIT INTO WHAT ISRAELITES INTUITIVELY SCAVENGER BIRDS, BODILY EMISSIONS, AND SKIN DISEASES.

THE HABIT OF CAREFULNESS

ALL THESE EXPLANATIONS HAVE MERIT, BUT THE UNDERLYING BASIS OF CLEAN AND UNCLEAN WAS RELIGIOUS. BEING UNCLEAN WAS NOT DANGEROUS OR WRONG. IN FACT, YOU COULD HARDLY AVOID IT. PRACTICALLY EVERYONE BECAME “UNCLEAN” FROM TIME TO TIME. BUT YOU COULD NOT WORSHIP GOD IN THE TENT OF MEETING WHILE YOU WERE UNCLEAN, NOR BRING ANYTHING UNCLEAN INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD. HIS HOLINESS WOULD DESTROY IT—AND YOU (LEVITICUS 15:31)

SO LEVITICUS TRAINS GOD’S PEOPLE TO WATCH THEIR LIVES AS CAREFULLY AS SURGEONS WATCH THEIR STERILE TECHNIQUE. THEY MUST DEVELOP THE HABIT OF CAREFULNESS, EVEN ABOUT SOMETHING THEY CANNOT SEE OR FEEL. THEY MUST THINK ABOUT PREPARING THEMSELVES FOR GOD, NOT JUST DO WHATEVER “FEELS RIGHT”.IT WAS NOT A QUESTION OF HOW THEY FELT ABOUT GOD, ANY MORE THAN A SURGEON’S CONCERN IS HOW HE “FEEL” ABOUT GERMS. CLEAR, ABSOLUTE STANDARDS LAID OUT WHAT COULD BE ACCEPTABLE TO A GOD WHO IS PERFECTLY CLEAN, ABSOLUTE, UNCHANGING. JUST AS SURGEONS HAD TO STRUGGLE TO TAKE GERMS SERIOUSLY,  SO GOD’S PEOPLE MUST LEARN TO “PURIFY THEMSELVES” FOR GOD.

TOUCHING THE UNCLEAN

THE UNCLEANNESS RULES OF LEVITICUS ARE OUTMODED BECAUSE OF JESUS’ DECLARATION THAT ALL THINGS ARE CLEAN (MARK 07:19; SEE ALSO ACTS 10:9-16). BUT THE LESSONS BEHIND THESE RULES REMAIN VALID. GOD STILL MAY NOT BE APPROACHED CARELESSLY. EACH PERSON MUST EXAMINE HIS OR HER LIFE, TO BE CERTAIN THAT GOD’S PURITY IS NOT VIOLATED.

UNTIL JESUS’ DAY, THE SLOW SPREAD OF UNCLEANNESS SEEMED IRREVERSIBLE. YOU COULD AVOID IT, BUT YOU COULD NOT GET RID OF IT. CONTACT WITH ANYTHING UNCLEAN MADE YOU UNCLEAN YOURSELF. NATURALLY, CERTAIN DISEASES, NOTABLY LEPROSY, WERE TWICE CURSED: THEY WERE BOTH DANGEROUS AND UNCLEAN. YOU KEPT AWAY FROM LEPROSY, AND ABSOLUTELY.

THEN JESUS TOUCHED A MEN WITH LEPROSY, AND HE BECAME CLEAN. JESUS TOUCHED A WOMEN SUFFERING FROM INTERNAL BLEEDING, AND SHE WAS HEALED. FOR THE FIRST TIME, CLEANNESS RATHER THAN UNCLEANNESS SPREAD. THE RULES OF LEVITICUS TELL HOW TO AVOID UNCLEANNESS. CONTACT WITH JESUS, HOWEVER, CHANGES THE UNCLEAN TO CLEAN.

LIFE QUESTIONS:

SUPPOSE SIN WERE VISIBLE—SMALL GREEN SPOTS THAT COME OUT ON THE SKIN. DO YOU THINK IT WOULD HELP PEOPLE TO TAKE SIN MORE SERIOUSLY?

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