I finished reading through Leviticus this week, and I have to admit, I didn't enjoy the book any more than I expected to. One good thing, though, is that reading through the weight of the law put me in a proper perspective to appreciate Pastor's sermon on grace on Sunday (and God further emphasized the power of covenant over law to me when I skimmed through the book of Hebrews this morning). Sometimes I struggle to reconcile the God of love--the intimate Father whose voice I recognize--with the rule-imposing, strike-them-down-with-plague God in Exodus and Leviticus. I know that He is the same throughout history, but it's often hard for me to see His love through the burden of the law.
Perhaps because I'm a woman and therefore concerned about God's relation to women, or perhaps because I love babies, the requirements for a woman's purification after childbirth in Leviticus 12 grabbed my attention. My heart hurt to read that the time required for purification after childbirth was doubled when the woman had a female child. Is this really how You see us, God? Were women so far beneath Your esteem that our very births were cursed?
Fortunately for me, the Lord led me to an online blog that gave me a new perspective. One of the things that the author suggested was that the issue with the birth wasn't so much about a curse as it was about future gender roles. The purification sacrifice that the woman had to offer to be clean again was the same regardless of whether she gave birth to a boy or a girl; she didn't have to bring a bigger sacrifice for having a female child.
However, the time she was "unclean" was time she spent bonding with her newborn infant. The male child would enter into the covenant through circumcision eight days after his birth, and then embark on a journey into manhood with all the duties and responsibilities that entailed--duties and responsibilities he would learn from his father and from other men in his life. The female child, however, would be more dependent on her mother to teach her how to become a woman. The time allotted for a mother to bond with her female child was longer, setting up the foundation for their future relationship.
In the end, I learned that what I thought was God's displeasure against women was actually His blessing. How true this is in my own life. I complain against a perceived burden only to discover in time that it is really a blessing.
Billy Humphreys from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, said something recently talking about the story of the unjust judge that really blessed me. The paraphrased version is this: If an unjust judge would finally grant justice to a widow because of her persistence, how much more will a God established in justice respond to the prayers of His bride?
He's just, He's faithful, and He loves you. Don't stop praying.