“Mark’s done, Luke’s begun, and Numbers is, well, just indescribable!”
Such is the subject heading of my email from Community of Readers this week, which sums things up quite nicely. Still keeping up to date, amazingly. Not fazed by Leviticus, handling Numbers – although it does get somewhat repetitive when it lists the exact same thing for each of the twelve tribes (or their representatives!).
While looking at Leviticus 20 some days back, I was particularly struck by verse 4, where it talks from verse 2-5 about those who sacrifice their children to Molech, and the penalty for it (death). But verse 4 for me stood out as it said ‘and if the people of the land should ever close their eyes to them, when they give of their offspring to Molech…‘ (NRSV, italics mine), and do not deliver the penalty for it, they will be cut off from their people and the LORD will ‘set his face against them’.
For some reason as I was reading the phrase ‘close their eyes’ really struck home. Turning a blind eye to such appalling acts results in their God ‘setting his face against them’ (NIV) and banishment from the chosen people. It is, in essence, a sin of omission. Ignoring the terrible act of others has its own consequences.
Of course, this is Old Covenant law and a specific situation and we need to place it all in context – but the principle stands, and should not be ignored. What do we ‘close our eyes’ to in today’s world? When do we fail to act? What appalling situations do we hear of and yet make no attempt at response? What right do we have to profess ourselves Christ-followers and yet walk by on the other side?
It’s not that we don’t hear about these things. In our contradictory world we hear of the horrors one moment and are persuaded to buy the latest model-of-whatever the next. We inhabit a society gagged and bound by confusion and mixed messages, mass abuse and mass consumption.
Well might Lily Allen sing in The Fear :
‘I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore
I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore…’
How many of God’s people today close their eyes to horrors going on around them? How many, intentionally or accidentally, ignore the horrific abuse of human by human? How often do we even really think about it, let alone take any action? Do we sigh, shake our heads, and then feel peckish and go get something out of the fridge to satisfy our appetites?
A kind of paralysis sets in as we cannot imagine how to make any effect, so we lose all movement. And meanwhile the horrors go on: people trafficking – (the modern slavery which is far more widespread than the institutional slavery in the time of Wilberforce), child pornography and abuse, torture, persecution, neglect, violence, rape. The list continues and wraps its blackened ribbon around a hurting world.
What will it take for paralysed people to open their eyes?
Today: 5/10, medium