Recently I was reading through a Bible Encyclopedia. (Yes, I know, I am a geek reading an encyclopedia, but even as a 5th grade boy I was fond of encyclopedia’s. I read an entire set that year.) It is amazing the kinds of things you can find in a well written encyclopedia. Here is a case in point, from the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible:
“Many social customs had a religious significance in OT days. For example, the prohibition of mixtures (Dt 22:9–11), the food laws (Lv 11), and the insistence on ritual washing (Lv 15) symbolized Israel’s calling to be a pure and holy people. Eating meat was only permitted if all the blood was drained out of the animal first (Lv 17:10–16; Dt 12:15, 16). Keeping up these customs provided the faithful Israelite with occasions for worship each day and was a reminder of God’s grace and demands.”
Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 2164.
The authors remind us that the reason for many of those obscure rules in the Old Testament that we struggle to understand and apply to our life had to do with daily worship. The laws God gave to Israel were about creating a unique people where even ordinary things like eating and dressing were opportunities for worshiping and thinking about what it means to be a holy people, separated unto God.
While as reformed believers, who recognize that Christ is the end of the Law and the completion of all that it pointed towards, the call to be a separated people and to worship the Lord with all our heart and soul and mind and strength has not been eclipsed. These Old Testament laws give us an insight into ways we might consider adding to our daily worship. Might it be that mundane things like washing clothes and cooking meals are actually opportunities to reflect on cleanliness, purity, and the feeding of our souls. Might it be that when we quit thinking that the foods we eat mattered, we also lost out on an important insight – what we feed on has effects on the body. I am not arguing that we need to return to the food laws, Christ clearly destroyed these when he gave Peter the vision of the sheet with all kinds of things in it and called him to kill and eat (Acts 9-11). But that didn’t mean that we needed to give up the reflective process which eating affords. The things we put into our souls, do in fact nourish them, or bring them sickness. The movies and entertainment we feed upon have great effects on our spiritual welfare.
The same is true of washing clothes. A mundane tasks, but in washing clothes might we not worship and thank the Lord that he is constantly washing the sin from our life? Might we not reflect upon the things that cause our jeans to get dirty knees and see the parallels to our life and ask, “What is causing my spiritual life to be dirtied and what steps need i take to avoid repeating this dirtying?” Might all of our life be a chance to worship and reflect upon our worship of the Almighty?