27. Obedience

Short Meds in Getting Ready in Covid-Advent: 27. Obedience

Lk 2:22 Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.”

A little over a month has passed and the little family must have found a more permanent place to stay in Bethlehem. Now these are a couple who are concerned to obey the Law of God so they walk into Jerusalem a few miles away, to the temple to make an offering to say thank you to God.

But it was more than being merely thankful, it was an act of obedience to the Law: “When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” This righteous couple have clearly been taught in the synagogue each week and they know the rules and rituals of Judaism. Lev 12:1-4 lays down the rules after childbirth, a forty day period in which the woman is considered ‘ritually or ceremonially unclean’. This does not mean she was dirty but for the sake of the rituals of Israel, it was simply that she was not in a fit state to participate in such rituals, she was still getting over childbirth and needed to rest from such rituals, which would be a relief for her. However, to both recognize that as from God and that it had now come to an end, there came ‘purification’, bringing two offerings (Lev 12:6), a burnt offering (simply to establish fellowship with God and a sin offering (to acknowledge need of cleansing, forgiveness etc., all of us sinners before God), both acts indicating that she is re-establishing her part in the covenant worshiping community. After a time aside, focusing on having the baby, she is now reassured she is back part of God’s worshiping people. However, there is another element, the child is ‘presented’ to God. Since the Exodus, every first-born son was considered to belong to God (Ex 13:1,2) and to avoid simply a life in the tabernacle, now taken by the Levites (Num 3:12,13), each first born son had to be ‘redeemed’  by a payment of five shekels (Num 18:15,16). The whole picture speaks of and emphasizes covenant relationship since the Exodus. Thus this couple are not only expressing their thankfulness but also their obedience and declaration that they are part of the redeemed community of God To the wise, being thankful is an ingredient in all our lives all the time (1 Thess 5:18) especially when obviously good things happen – like food is on the table, Christmas has been and gone successfully and so much more. Here it is again, another reminder to live thankfully as the people of God. Did you know that according to research, thankful people live longer? Not just a biblical command, a wise command.

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