Unclean – Leviticus 15
Today’s art is a response to Leviticus 15. Mollie’s thoughts on the passage and her art follow here:
As I started reading through the four available passages for today, I thought, “Leviticus! I probably won’t paint anything from there.” Then I began reading the chapter, Leviticus 15, and thought, “Yes, I really don’t want to paint any of these images!” It’s all about bodily discharges and how they cause basically everything and everyone you touch to become unclean. A good, solid Leviticus passage on hygeine from a time in history when breaking the contaminated pottery killed 99.9% of germs. Within 33 verses, I counted 34 instances of the term “unclean.”
But of course God wasn’t writing an early Lysol commercial, and the issue goes much deeper than hygiene. By the time I finished reading the chapter, I knew this was the passage to paint. After all, we’re in the Lenten season. Christ came because we ARE unclean…more than that, washing our hands and avoiding contact with other people until evening would not cleanse the filth that lies within. Discharges (from the male or female mentioned in Leviticus 15) come from the private, hidden parts. Yet, they affect everything the person touches, sits on, rides on, wears. God’s Old Testament covenant of circumcision was chosen as a reminder that He wants ALL of us, every aspect of our lives, whether public or private. He desires truth in the hidden parts (Psalm 51:6) because He knows that the hidden parts leak out into other parts of our lives. We cannot keep a lid on sin, deceiving ourselves by saying, “I’ve got it under control. No one is affected by this except me.” The reality is that innocent people, who may (or may not) know about our sin, come into contact with us and are contaminated by it. Leviticus 15:6-7 states it: “Whoever sits on anything on which the one with the discharge has sat shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening. And whoever touches the body of the one with the discharge shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.”
Thus we come to the cross. We come to a new covenant and a new circumcision…circumcised hearts. God still desires truth in the inner, hidden parts. However, now we have Christ’s blood as the sacrifice to “make atonement for the man before the LORD for his discharge.” (Leviticus 15:15) Christ’s redemptive work takes the private, hidden, unclean places and washes them whiter than snow. He refreshes. He restores. He renews the steadfast spirit within us.
The illustration above is rooted in the Leviticus passage, though most of the text you see comes from Psalm 51. (This is David’s psalm after being confronted by Nathan about his adultery and murder in the affair with Bathsheba.) The image is a man whose feet are bound in the concrete of his sin. “UN” can be so many things in our fallen existence…feeling unloved, unworthy, unable, unwanted, unclean. I wanted something growing up from the word “CLEAN” that could break through and break apart the concrete burden. Looking online, I found photos of flowers, rain lilies, that grow up through the cracks in rock. These flowers get their name from the fact that they bloom in dry areas after a storm. What a perfect image! As we lift our hands, parched and weary, the Holy Spirit rains down on us. And, as we abide/remain for the cleansing, tender shoots break apart our hardened hearts. New growth begins. The joy of salvation can be restored.
Editor’s note: This is Mollie’s first post with us. Check out her site and help us give her a big welcome!
Mollie is a high school drawing and painting instructor, with her MFA in Illustration, who lives near Chicago. She grew up surrounded by children’s books and bedtime stories. Though she doesn’t have children of her own yet, her picture book library is well stocked with new and old favorites. Whether working on children’s book illustrations, murals, or private commissions, Mollie enjoys the interplay of imagery with text. The Bible in particular has so many stories to tell. She likes the challenge of bringing scripture passages to life through calligraphy or illustrative portraits. Preferring to work in watercolor and ink, she chooses her medium based on the effects she hopes to capture in a piece. Her blog, Telling the Story Between the Lines, can be found at MollieBozarth.wordpress.com.