Hello, new mama. Welcome to this glorious new role and privilege. I’m not sure I will ever find the depths of beauty and demand to this thing called motherhood. Thankfully, God gives us an impactful hidden treasure in the middle of Leviticus to help us in this transition into motherhood.
I have been journeying through Leviticus for a few weeks now. Today’s reading was long and tedious, I will admit. But with some extrabiblical help, along with prayer and an open heart, I have found great encouragement and strength for my job as a mom.
For this study through Leviticus, I am journaling through 3 prompts (in green) for each chapter. Here’s what God gave me today as I read Leviticus 12:
What thoughts or questions do I have about this chapter:
- Why did God prescribe different lengths of time for purification?
Does God value males more than females? The different lengths of time for purification might suggest that He does. However, the fact that the same type of sacrifice is required for either a boy or a girl suggests that He doesn’t. We see all over Scripture that God values gender differences and encourages appropriate attention to each specific role, but He does not value one gender over the other.
One explanation is a woman would need to be available to care for her son’s circumcision, and so the time for her purification after the birth of a male was shorter.
- Why was the woman required to offer sacrifices after giving birth?
The text tells us a woman must offer a burnt offering and a sin offering. We remember that a burnt offering symbolizes the woman giving her whole self to the worship and service of God (more on this below). The sin offering, we remember, was to atone, or pay for, any unknown sins. However, Leviticus 12:7 specifically says the sin offering was to become “clean from her flow of blood.”
Does this mean God disapproves of fertility and childbirth? The laws for purification in Leviticus 12 seem to imply He might.
My study Bible comments on this passage with this:
“Note the use of ‘clean’ rather than ‘forgiven,’ affirming that the issue prompting the sacrifice was not sinfulness.”
“Since life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:11), any loss of blood called for purification in honoring the sanctity of life.” (“Biblical Womanhood: Why is There a Difference in Purity Laws”, The Study Bible For Women, pg. 133)
We must remember the over-arching theme of Leviticus, to “be Holy as I am Holy.” God requires his people to be different, separate, and other-than the world around them. The calling for women’s rituals after childbirth is another example of a way the Israelites had an opportunity to be holy.
What does this tell me about God:
- God calls his people to a relationship with Him at every stage of life.
I love that God gives the woman a chance to offer her whole self in worship yet again. Through the two sacrifices, her sins were paid for and her whole self is symbolically given yet again to God in worship.
What a relief that God calls His people back to focus on Him, holistically bringing all aspects of our identities into the singular purpose of worshipping Him. I am a wife, teacher, daughter, and brand new mom, but first and foremost I am a child of the King of kings.
How can I live in light of this:
- I can worship my way through identity shifts and seasons of struggle.
During my pregnancy, and in the months to follow of caring for newborns, I struggled to stay focused on God. I have no problem acknowledging my hormonal instability during these seasons and how it affects my propensity to sin.
It’s my default mode. My thoughts, words, and actions gravitate to self-focus (even in the selfless act of caring for babies), instead of worship and God-focus. When my flesh is in turmoil, it is so easy to revert from being “holy as God is holy,” into the default mode of being rude, cynical, demanding, doubtful, and idolatrous (putting other things as more important than God).
I am so grateful that God provided for women in Leviticus 12, to commemorate the momentous occasion of becoming a mother. I can live accordingly with my new identity as a mother by daily re-entering into a right relationship with God, and worshipping Him fully in my new roles and responsibilities.
How have you maintained closeness in your relationship with God through identity shifts?