31 Dec '11
Certified: Pure for God!
It is a huge story in Jerusalem.
(Reuters) - Israeli archaeologists said on Sunday they had found a 2,000-year-old clay seal near Jerusalem's Western Wall, confirming written accounts of ritual practices in the biblical Jewish Temple.
The button-shaped object bears the Aramaic words "pure for God," suggesting it was used to certify food and animals used in sacrificial ceremonies.
The Western Wall is part of the compound revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, where Islam's al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine now stand in a holy complex Muslims call the Noble Sanctuary.
"It seems that the inscribed object was used to mark products or objects that were brought to the Temple, and it was imperative they be ritually pure," the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement announcing the find.
The authority said it believed it was the first time such a seal had been excavated, providing direct archaeological evidence of ritual activity in the temple described in ancient texts.
The book of Leviticus is often overlooked because of its emphasis on the moral, civil and ceremonial law. For instance, in the instructions regarding sacrifices one reads this: "You must present a male without defect from the cattle, sheep or goats in order that it may be accepted on your behalf. Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf (Leviticus 22:19-20)."
The moral, civil and ceremonial law covered all aspects of life: marriage, worship, personal purity, sexual purity, and relationships. They were a constant reminder to the Israelites that all of life is sacred to God, and there is no distinction between the sacred and secular! Every aspect of life is to be lived in light of God's holiness and purity. In fact, the prevailing theme through the book of Leviticus is "Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord. Do not profane my holy name. I must be acknowledged as holy by the Israelites. I am the Lord who makes you holy and who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord (Leviticus 22:31-33)."
This is why all sacrifices to the Lord had to be certified as "pure for God" as was written on the clay seal found in Jerusalem.
The constant theme in Leviticus in the moral, ceremonial and civil law is the holiness of God and the call for us to emulate that holiness. This theme is picked up often in the New Testament. Paul tells us "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)."
In a world that screams impurity, selfish living, offers many false gods and lifts up materialism as the ultimate goal, we need to ask ourselves if our hearts are certified as pure for God. Is this our goal and are we cooperating with the Holy Spirit to see this become a reality in our lives?
We need this reminder every day!