Thoughts for the season during Lent
Understanding the Bible at times can be daunting and a definite challenge. There are a few sign posts that are available to aid us. The first symbolic sign post would be water.
We have the Red Sea, the water from the rock in the desert (Numbers 20:1-13) and the fountain which the temple itself becomes (Ezekiel 47:1-12; Rev 22:1-2). There is the momentous crossing through the Jordan River (Joshua 3). There is the water that John the Baptist builds into his baptismal initiation rite (Mark 1:5), the water that flows from the side of Christ (John 19:34), the living water that Jesus says He is (John 7:38) and the living water that he offers the Samaritan woman at the well. (John 4:1-42)
For the Christians, water becomes the objective Trinitarian flow of God’s life in us, through us, with us and often in spite of us. So when one sees water in the Scripture or the image thereof, consider it an invitation to go deeper.
The second flag or symbolic image is blood. The necessary piece of newness is always death to oldness. Blood invariably symbolizes the transformation experience.
"Flowing blood" is an experience that is repugnant to all of us and we want to run from it, but it has to happen. It images the death of the false self, the death of illusions that we are all addicted to.
The Hebrew Scriptures are filled wfth images of blood sacrifice. There are the frequent burnt offerings, the paschal lamb that has to be killed and the many temple sacrifices. On the great feast days, tens of thousands of goats, bullocks and heifers were killed in the temple (1 Kings 8:63).
Our anesthetized Bible history books never fully exposed this fact because it was to unbelievable. A demanding or distant God, so we thought, always needs to be placated with blood.
When Jesus comes into the temple and throws out all those tables he, in effect, is undercutting the whole system of sacrificial religion.
Jesus is saying blood sacrifice is over; now it becomes our false self, our ego, our illusions, the death for us, especially if we have lived with these false props for many years — and who hasn’t?
In the history of mankind on every continent, people felt God could not possibly love us unless we gave God our best and brightest, or our eldest son or virgin daughters. Unless we know this, we will not see how Jesus turned around the entire history of religion. The symbol is God spilling his blood to get to us, after millennia of humanity spilling its blood to get to God.
Jesus reversed the whole scary process for those willing to read the symbols. Jesus needed to reverse for us the perceived idea and scary history of our misunderstandings of God.
Why? Because we will never fall in love with a God who is perceived to be a terrorist — needy and insecure. As long as we subscribe to the thinking of history toward God, that thinks he wants physical blood, rather than a "circumcised heart" (Dent. 10:16), which blood really symbolizes, we will probably not see the flag as a clarification symbol.
The third flag or symbol to watch for is bread. Food, bread in particular, seems to be used to symbolize fullness and satisfaction in God.
It’s God feeding us, rather than us being food for God. It is life-giving strength and intimacy that He is so eager to give to us. God is always offering us abundance rather than fear-based, subsistence religion, which much of religion appears to be. See (Matt. 14:13-21FF) (Luke 24:13 FF) (John 21:9 FF).