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The Hermeneutic of Hindsight

Leviticus 7:17-18a
“But what remains of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burned with fire. If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten on the third day, he who offers it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be credited to him.”

Reading through law codes like the ones we find throughout Leviticus gives us a perfect opportunity to reflect on the diverse layers of meaning in the biblical text and of what readers in the 21 st century might derive from the words that readers in this Canaanite wilderness could not have ascertained. We can call this the Hermeneutic of hindsight: the ability to read the Old Testament through the light of the New, comprehending ancient rites and sacraments through the lens of Christ’s Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection, understanding that what God sowed in the hearts of patriarchs and prophets and priests as a mustard seed has been growing and branching out and bearing fruit ever since.

We don’t open our Bibles to Leviticus 7 and effectively discover that first uncracked, unrooted seedling, but through hindsight, through what we’ve witnessed of God’s revelation in the ages since, we find a tree in its adolescent phase, nearing maturity, nearing that harvest of everlasting reaping. We hear in the line, “If any of the flesh of the sacrifice…”, a better word from Heaven: “Take, eat; for this is my body that is broken for you!” For the flesh of these sacrificial offerings is but an ungerminated vision of our coming Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. And when we read the warning not to partake of that flesh on ‘the third day,’ we see better the ripening blossoms of the prophetic metaphor; we understand that on the third day our Sacrificial Lamb was no longer dead, but alive! Our Easter feast is not a partaking of His death—oh no! Not here; not now! On the first day, yes; but on the third day we partake of His death-defeating life!

Remember this as you study the Scriptures, friend: the subjective questions of “what does this mean to them?” and “what does it mean for me?” both hinge on the ultimate objective question, “What does this mean to God?” And the answer to that, just like a mustard seed, becomes more manifest by the day.