Leviticus | “The Atonement: Aroma of Sacrifice”

By Elaine Knudtson

Painting by Mindi Oaten

“I am the LORD.  If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its seasons, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit. . . I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.” (Leviticus 26:2)

Leviticus outlines the regulations for worship and the duties of the priests in the tabernacle. The LORD demands perfection, purity, and holiness.  Atonement for sins is made by the priests, through the blood of sacrifice and the keeping of the law.  Moses reminds the people of the blessings that follow those who remain faithful and warns of the curse that follows the rejection of the law.  Despite the obstacles, the LORD desires a relationship with his people.

“Into Your Presence

What shall I give in exchange for my sin?

I envy the intimacy of Eden.

Now the path is empty, and the garden is a wilderness.

Priests, rituals, feasts, and sacrifice are no substitute

For the warmth of your touch or the

Lyricism of your voice as you whisper my name.

The law heaps guilt upon guilt, exposing imperfection.

Still, I set my face towards the promised land,

And reach for the grace sprinkled with the blood of sacrifice.

The aroma of your presence purifies my heart.

Wash my sin.

Remove the barrier that keeps me from you.

Lay your hands on my head and call me “Beloved.”

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(The above is part of a collaboration between Mindi Oaten and Elaine Knudtson in God’s Garden of Grace. It is a creative response to the scriptures. https://www.mindioaten.com/blogs/mindi-oaten-art-blog)

Exodus

(The following is part of a collaboration between Mindi Oaten and Elaine Knudtson in God’s Garden of Grace. It is a creative response to the scriptures. https://www.mindioaten.com/blogs/mindi-oaten-art-blog)

By Elaine Knudtson

Painting “The Anointed Deliverer” by Mindi Oaten

Exodus is a record of seminal events in Israel’s history leading to the deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt and the establishment of God’s covenant on Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments.  With Moses as the central figure, God demonstrates his faithfulness to the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as he prepares them to enter the promised land.  His saving power on behalf of the people of Israel is revealed in the plagues of Egypt and the destruction of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea.  Redemption is evident in the Passover narrative as God saves the firstborn Israelites through the sprinkling of the blood of an unblemished lamb on the door frames. Standing between the rebelliousness of the Israelites and the holiness of God, Moses mitigates God’s wrath by appealing to His mercy.  The glory of the Lord fills the tabernacle, built to worship and honor his presence in the fire and cloud, as he leads his people.

“Our Deliverer”

By Elaine Knudtson

Fostered in Pharaoh’s household, Moses emerges;

drawn out of water, tested in the wilderness, called by fire.

His people groan under Egypt’s yoke, awaiting salvation.

The staff of the Lord prevails, executing judgment through pestilence and plagues.

Redemption secured through the blood of the Passover lamb,

the children of Israel flee captivity through the baptismal waters of the Red Sea.

Protected by a pillar of fire, guided by a cloud, Moses encounters the glory of the Lord on Mount Sinai. 

Transfigured into lawgiver, judge, intercessor, and deliverer,

He descends, entrusted with the law and commandments.  

Enraged by idols conjured in his absence,

Moses smashes tablets and sentences apostates.

Chastened and forewarned, the faithful renew their commitment

to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, erecting a tabernacle,

anointed with the oil of obedience and wrapped in fine linen.

From eternity, behind the veil, our deliverer waits:

Jesus the Lamb of God.

Genesis | “The Promised Seed”

By Elaine Knudtson

(The following is part of a collaboration between Mindi Oaten and Elaine Knudtson in God’s Garden of Grace. It is a creative response to the scriptures.)

“The Promised Seed” by Mindi Oaten

https://www.mindioaten.com/blogs/mindi-oaten-art-blog

Genesis is the first book of the Pentateuch, traditionally ascribed to Moses.  The first three chapters of Genesis and the last three chapters of Revelation form a parenthesis around the story of God’s relationship with humanity.  Created in perfection, sin and death entered the world through disobedience.  From the beginning, God seeks to return us to the garden, even though it leads through the valley of the shadow of death to the cross.  We are imprinted with the image of God and a longing for the divine that haunts humanity from Adam and Eve through Noah and the patriarchs all the way to the final apocalypse.

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“The Choice” By Elaine Knudtson

The choice has been made. 

Like gods, we know good and evil. 

Banished from paradise,  darkness hides his face.

We labor in brokenness, calling to Death, “Who’s to blame?”

The Seed confronts evil with love.

Choose to dance in the symphony of creation.

Paint a rainbow after the monsoons of destruction.

Weave a tapestry of promise with Sarah, Rachel and Rebecca.

Sacrifice ambition on the altar built by  Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Retell the story of exile in Egypt.

Ferment hope into the fine wine of  joy.

Dare to rise from the dead.

Transform our fallenness in the chrysalis of redemption,

as we await the bloom of the new creation.

Where humanity  failed, Christ  triumphs.

(New Revised Standard Version)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (1:1)

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”. . . When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (3:2-7)

[The Lord said to the serpent] “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (3:15)

The Lord God banished [Adam and Eve] from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” (3:23-24)

The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.  The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. . . But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (6:5-6, 8)

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord. . . The Lord said: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (8:22)

[The LORD said to Jacob]: “I am the LORD, the God your father Abraham and the God of Isaac.  I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.  Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth. . . All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.  I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go and I will bring you back to this land.  I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (28:13-15)

Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid.  Am I in the place of God?  You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. . . God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land [Egypt] to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (50:20, 24)