Thursday, June 7, 2012

The 5-Second Rule

Drop food on floor and you have 5 seconds to pick it up and eat it.  Some believe that it takes at least 5 seconds for clean food to become defiled with germs and bacteria. In recent years, it seems that the 5 second rule has been put to the test a number of times, with varying conclusions (MythBusters even did a show on it). It’s one thing if the food item falls on a recently sanitized porcelain tile floor. But what about dropping food on beach or desert sand?  Would you eat it?

The tabernacle had no floor.  The floor of the tabernacle was the dust and sand of the desert.

While in service, the priests did a lot of walking (remember, there was no place to sit).  They walked on the dust and sand of the desert.  The source of defilement of their feet was desert dust of the floor of the tabernacle. While in service, the priests were to wash their defiled dirty feet at the laver.  

Even though the tabernacle had no floor, the floor of the tabernacle is actually mentioned once in the Bible (Numbers 5). If a husband suspected his wife of cheating, he was to bring his wife to the priest. To determine whether the suspecting husband’s suspicion was correct or not, the woman had to present an oblation (offering for food) and the priest was to scoop up dust from the floor of the tabernacle, you know, the dust and sand of the desert floor.  The scooped up dust was mixed with water and the wife had to drink it.  It was a bitter drink (Numbers 5:18).  After she drank of the bitter cup, her husband and the priest waited to see if her belly bloated and her thighs thinned.  If they did, the husband’s suspicion was confirmed (v. 27).

If this whole ritual wasn’t strange enough, the priest was to record the offense in a book, then blot it out with the bitter water (v. 23).

The lives of Gomer (unfaithful wife) and Hosea (faithful husband) illustrate the relationship between unfaithful Israel with faithful God.  Hosea had no reason to bring Gomer to the priests because, well, she didn’t do anything in secret...everyone knew what would happen if Homer drank the bitter cup.  Israel, on the other hand, Israel had to learn the hard way.  Israel has been unfaithful by idolatry and oppression of the poor.  God, the faithful jealous husband (remember the first commandment is first for a reason), wanted Israel to seek Him again and made Israel drink a bitter cup. That bitter cup was having the northern kingdom crushed by the Assyrians.

Jesus and the church are also compared to a husband and bride.  Are we any different than Israel?  Yes and no. Yes, although God is forever faithful,  we are guilty of unfaithfulness. But, no, we do not need to drink of the bitter cup. Jesus drank the bitter cup for us.

Jesus prayed in the garden: Father, if thou wilt remove this cup from me: -- but then, not my will, but thine be done. (Luke 22:42). A short while later, after Peter lopped off the ear of Malcus, the bondman of the high priest, Jesus said to Peter: Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given me, shall I not drink it?        

He, the faithful husband, intercepted the bitter cup and drank it. In His sacrifice, He drank the cup that was defiled with our sin.

So, if we are unfaithful, and Jesus drank the bitter cup for us, what do we drink?  We get to drink the sweet stuff, the cup of blessing which we bless, ...the communion of the blood of the Christ. Sweet!  Years ago, a recently-baptized teenager partook in the breaking of bread (and drinking of the cup) for the very first time.  She could not get over how sweet it was (and no, it wasn’t grape juice(!)).

Not only that, our sin of unfaithfulness is blotted out, and remembered no more (Isa. 43:25)

Death and the curse were in our cup:
O Christ, ’twas full for Thee;
But Thou hast drained the last dark drop,
’Tis empty now for me.
That bitter cup, love drank it up;
Now blessing’s draught for me. -- Anne R. Cou­sin

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