I don’t want to be legalistic here, but one thing I noticed from yesterday and the day before’s readings: God has a lot of specifics listed in his instructions for Jewish worship. He has listed who is supposed to clean up the sacrifices, organize the people, blow the trumpets….down to every last detail.
Side note: though these passages are very specific, they’re not really that complex. We often fall into a trap of thinking that the Old Law was so complicated and thus, difficult. The Old Law certainly was difficult — but that wasn’t due to its complexity. That was becasue attaining perfect righteousness through lawkeeping is inherently difficult in light of human nature! People throw around this stat a lot: there were 613 commandments in the Old Law! That’s so tough!
Have you read your drivers’ handbook? I started counting once, and as I could identify them in one chapter….just two or three pages in I’d already identified close to one hundred rules, yet I drive my car every day without worrying about whether or not I can remember each one. In fact, most days I knowingly break at least one! (Cough speed limit cough!) My point is — it’s not the complexity that made the law difficult; it was its nature.
Another example: God gave specifics about how his incense was to be made. If I counted right, there were four ingredients in two different quantities. If you’ve ever made chocolate chip cookies from scratch — you know that there are way more than 4 ingredients, and way more than two measuring spoons/cups dirty at the end of the process!
So let’s stop focusing on the complexity of the old law.
Why would God be so specific, though? Does he really just prefer a certain combination of spices? Does he think his fire and lightning look best against a certain gold backdrop?
Those are silly answers, of course. I think maybe he’s trying to teach a lesson about the value of worship. There’s something to be said for spontaneous outbursts of prayer and thanksgiving, but we shouldn’t neglect the beauty of spending time planning and thinking about how best to say ‘thank you.’ After all, don’t we say it’s the “thought that counts”?
It would behoove us to occasionally spend some time in preparation and planning for worship. Perhaps that could make an end of our age-old gripe, “I’m not getting enough out of it…”