“Value” is an interesting word. We talk about how valuable something is, or how something has value, or is a value. Yet, that value is not really standard. The saying goes that “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” What is important / significant / valuable to one person is worthless to another. One person sees “high art” another sees “junk”. One sees “junk” and another sees “potential”. Even the value of money is dependent upon the person and situation. To some people, money is everything! They seek after it even at the cost of the people around them. To others, money is nothing but a tool… and not a very good one at that!
So it should be no surprise that what Christ or God values can be very different than what we value. The disciples came to Jesus at one point and asked Him, “Who then is the greatest (has the most value) in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus response is, unexpectedly, a child. One must have faith as a child, and anyone who receives a child in His name, receives Him.
What’s more, anyone who causes a child to stumble (away from God) has done such a grave danger that he may as well have been drowned… not that Christ is condoning murder. This is such an issue that Jesus give His disciples the analogy that if their eye causes them to stumble, they need to pluck it out.
The analogy of value seems to continue with the picture of the flock of sheep. When one sheep wanders off, Christ says that He will leave the entire flock of sheep to seek out the ONE that is lost! He values each person so much, that He would leave everything else behind to rescue one lost soul. If that doesn’t define our value to Him, i don’t know what will.
He goes on even further. We must value others enough to not only discipline them, and kick them out when they refuse to accept the truth, but we must also forgive them as well! So when a man / woman sins against you, hurts you, and your pride, you must be willing to forgive; not just 7 times, but 7, 70 times (or as many as it takes). Yet that forgiveness does not preclude discipline and even to the removal of the offender. Why, because God values His creation, even to the point of understanding the need for discipline and the removal of the cancerous.
Do we value His whole creation? Or do we only care about those who directly affect us?
This chapter is a very controversial chapter and tends to bring up all kinds of questions and debate. In it YHWH deals with defilement (primarily sexual defilement); what defiles the people and what defiles the land. In this chapter YHWH gives instruction for the people not to uncover their relative’s nakedness (or have sexual relations with them). Incest is forbidden including incestual relations between a man and his mother, a father and his daughter-in-law, a man and both a woman and her daughter, and other relations.
There are other issues at work in this chapter as well. For instance there is the command not to uncover a woman’s nakedness during her menstrual period, not to sleep with a neighbor’s wife, and not to sacrifice your child to Molech (this doesn’t happen anymore… does it?). Each of these issues is very important and significant and should in no way be minimized.
However, the most controversial verse in this chapter (according to the current cultural view) is verse 22: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” You can see where a big part of the controversy begins here. There are many that say that this passage does not apply anymore due to Christ having fulfilled the law. That since Christ came and died and was raised again, and the curtain to the most holies was torn, we are no longer bound by the law. We do not have to fulfill the sacrificial rules and regulations because Christ became the perfect sacrifice. Since this passage is part of the legal instructions given to the Israelite people, it is completed and fulfilled and no longer applicable to us.
To some extent, that is an accurate (albeit flawed) understanding of Christ’s fulfillment of the law. This entire chapter holds a different kind of sway than most of the rest of the law. It is true to some extent that the law was for the nation of Israel, but this chapter is about what supersedes that law. Verses 24-25 explain this a little bit better:
“Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.”
It doesn’t take an exegetical genius to understand that the commands in this chapter aren’t limited to the people of the Israelite nation. These are laws that defy nature itself. They are not limited to the people of Israel. They apply to all people and all time. It is because of these kinds of sins that the Israelites have the right, and the responsibility to not only conquer the land of Canaan, but to destroy its inhabitants as well. The land itself has judged the Canaanites and is spewing them out because of the sins listed in this chapter. The Israelites are simply tools to the fulfillment of that justice.
So how should we respond to those caught up in these kinds of sins? Are we to judge and condemn them? Is that our “right”? I don’t believe so. God says, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” In that passage He is referring to not judging those of the world. That judgment is His, not ours to dole out. However, in I Corinthians 5 we are instructed to judge those within the body that are sinning against the body, and the sin refereed to there is a sin directly related to this chapter. It was a sin being accepted and even praised within the church that should have been condemned. That is a pattern we would be wise to heed. The leaders of the church are responsible for understanding and responding appropriately to sin within the body. In NO WAY should the church be lifting up and encouraging within the body what YHWH has condemned. We are to be the light of hope to the troubled and struggling, not following in the defilement of the world.
This chapter is the beginning of the fruition of of who Jacob has become and is becoming. It is Jacob in the process of not only seeing the fruit of deception, but becoming the target and recipient of it. He must learn to accept the consequences and purposes that are out of his control. He must also work hard to achieve what his father had been freely given. This is the time when Jacob has to make a choice, do i rise to the challenge and be a man, or do i try to force my will on another person requiring that they give me what i feel like (and rightfully do) deserve, acting like a spoiled child?
This is a struggle that every person must face, especially every man. Jacob is trying to prove himself. He is trying to work and overcome. In this and the following chapters he is trying to be a man. He is answering the questions: Who am i? What gives me value? Where is my purpose? Like most every man, he is seeking to understand his role and his purpose. As such, he is wrestling with expectations placed on himself, and what he can and does achieve.
Leah is going through the same struggle in this chapter. She sees her value coming from her relationship with other people. So she wrestles with that. The fact that she is given to this man who does not love her in trickery. The fact that even in her role within that marriage she still cannot find true acceptance. She does what every woman of her world does, she pursues childbearing as a large part of who she is. She even succeeds in having son after son, but she still does not gain the acceptance and approval that she seeks. Finally, after wrestling and wrestling and wrestling, she finally finds her love and acceptance in God. She recognizes that He is her source of love and acceptance. As a result, her final son she names Judah, meaning “praise”. Praise to the LORD for His blessing and love.
How do we respond in the face of struggle and trial? Do we face it like a man (woman), or do we throw a fit and attempt to make everyone else bow to our will through force, control, or manipulation? Understand as Leah did, that our love and value can only come from one source. If we wrestle with and seek fulfillment of those desires through anything else, we will eventually be let down. It will never be enough. It is only by wrestling and finding our love and purpose in the LORD, in YHWH that we can finally praise.
A Masterpiece in Progress