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A Little Clarity

Leviticus 3:16b
“All fat is the LORD’s.”

After asking the LORD for insight yesterday, I took the time to read Jewish commentaries on this Scripture in hopes of broadening my understanding of the Hebrew word, helev, discovering that it literally means ‘the layers of fat covering vital organs in the body.’ With that as a backdrop, I’ve come to the conclusion that this Levitical law itself is a helev around the heart of God, beyond the reach of finite human wisdom. Leviticus 3:16, similar to John 3:16, is a mystery so intertwined in divine Being, so hidden from human eyes, that the only way to uncover it is to open up the whole infinite Body and pick it apart piece by piece, which no theologian can do. Only Providence knows what Providence knows. Only Omniscience sees the parts as well as the whole. Only the Creator of body and soul can understand why thin layers of hidden fat are meaningful both as sacrifices and as symbols.

But consider the contrast between this Levitical ordinance and the New Testament ordinances of baptism and communion for insight. There’s an apparent difference between “All fat is Mine” and “Do this in remembrance of Me”. The first ordinance is a gift to God, for His partaking, and the others are gifts to us, for our partaking. For instance, by receiving Communion, we symbolically eat and drink of Christ’s sacrifice. And by passing through the waters of Baptism, we symbolically participate in Christ’s death and resurrection through a formal re-enactment. We know what they mean; we recognize that through them we imitate our Savior; and we’re grateful for a way to symbolically share in His redemptive work. But that is not the case with Leviticus 3:16. God alone is the symbolic partaker of this helev—not us. Which is why I see expressed in this sacramental mystery the chasm between divinity and humanity. The positive way to say it is that the feast of Christ’s covenant fills us to overflowing. The negative way to say it is that there’s so much more to the sacrifice than we can’t possibly swallow.

In a word, Leviticus 3:16 is just part of the helev of Redemption’s story—the fat of the Kingdom feast—those morsels of divine mystery that will always be indigestible to our human understanding.