I have one more New Testament redemption of an Old Testament event for you (at least for now). In recent posts we’ve looked at Babel and Pentecost, and then at the connection between the golden calf and Pentecost. This one is about access and how imperfection becomes perfection
Old Testament imperfection
When God called Israel out of Egypt, He meant to have a sanctified people for Himself. A holy people. Holy like He is. When He gave the requirements for the priesthood, He included physical restrictions on the priests. There was an age limit. A man couldn’t be lame, or blind, or have any other physical defects and serve the Lord as a priest (Leviticus 21:18-22). Why? Because the priest not only represented the people to God but he also represented God to the people. He was the go-between, the mediator, the intercessor.
Not only were the priests restricted but in Deuteronomy 23:1-8 Moses reminded the people that God also had standards for who could be part of the congregation of Israel, that is, who could participate in the covenants, who could receive the blessings and who could join in the public worship. It specifically mentions eunuchs, illegitimate children, and people from Ammon and Moab. (Voluntary castration was a Canaanite pagan practice.) The reason was that God Himself dwelt with His people and because of His holiness, the taint of sin and rebellion were not allowed. Those people could still live within the boundaries of the nation but they would never be full participants.
(Side note: This sounds cruel on God’s part, but remember, He is operating from a much greater perspective. And Ruth, from Moab, not only became part of Israel but she was the great-grandmother of David and the ancestor of Christ. God always acts with mercy and grace.)
New Testament imperfection
Now, knowing this … how much more amazing was the message of Jesus? Come. Whosoever. (John 3) Anyone who thirsts, come and drink of the water of life freely. (John 7) It was a radical idea. But to make sure people understood, Jesus told a parable in Luke 14:15-24. A great man gave a huge banquet and the invited guests gave weak excuses and refused to go. So the man told his servant, “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ (Luke 14:21)
Now the man giving the banquet is clearly representing God, and the banquet represents being in His kingdom. Not only are the defective allowed to participate, He ensures they know that. Bring them in, especially them he tells the servants.
Jesus came. He is the Great High Priest so the perfection in the priesthood is achieved. Further, we have our perfection in Christ. We don’t have to bring our own. The Holy Spirit can dwell IN us, not just with us because we are made whole and complete in Him. And that perfection in Christ allows us to approach God in a way that Old Testament followers of God never could.
Jesus changed everything. He redeemed the exclusion of the imperfect to open the invitation to all who would come to His kingdom. The invitation is still open.
(One more side note: Of course, we’re not perfect. We’re not even mature and complete. But God views us as if we already were. We will be one day, and because that has been credited to our account, we live with the benefits now.)