PASSAGE: But if, despite this, you disobey me, and continue hostile to me, I will continue hostile to you in fury; I in turn will punish you myself sevenfold for your sins. You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.
QUESTION: Although I am not new to fundamental biblical interpretation, I AM new to metaphysical biblical interpretation. This is one of those passages I need to understand as part of my transformation in knowing the loving, nonjudgmental God, rather than the God of anger, jealousy, and vengeance. Also, I am serious about studying and understanding the Bible from a metaphysical perspective, and look forward to also teaching it from this perspective someday, so any advice/guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
COMMENT: Leviticus, in general, and Chapter 26 in particular, is indeed a challenge to a metaphysical understanding of Scripture. The images are downright gruesome, and duality is piled upon duality to create the image of a jealous and judgmental God who will reward obedience, but will not hesitate to severely punish the Hebrew people if they insist on disregarding his commandments.
The first step in approaching this passage, I think, is to recognize that it comes at a time when the consciousness of the Hebrew people could only understand a God of rewards and punishments. It is true throughout the Bible—and throughout our lives as well—that the Power of God expresses according to our ability to receive and accept it. A vague and distant power becomes more defined and knowable. God as a Judge of anger and vengeance becomes God as a Bridegroom, eager to enter into a union with humanity. We understand the Bible to be a description of our collective spiritual path and process; this passage from Leviticus describes a consciousness that sees obedience to divine law as a deeply fear-based necessity, rather than as a love-based guide to our highest good.
Jesus is our way shower in this understanding, as in so much else. Throughout his ministry he was frequently challenged by Pharisees and Sadducees demanding that he obey the tiniest letter of the law, particularly from Leviticus. His response was always, basically, “that was then, this is now.” “You have heard it said ... but I say to you.” And in each case he is replacing fear-based obedience with a new, loving relationship with the divine. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’ (Lev. 19:18) but I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:43). We continue to appreciate Leviticus because there are times in our own unfolding consciousness, collectively and individually, when in human confusion we revert back to fear of God and fear of consequences; but we can now recognize, from the Christ dimension that Jesus calls us to express, that there is a higher purpose and priority—and that is to choose to follow divine guidance out of an awareness of the infinite love that is always guiding us to our highest good, beyond any gruesome dramas we may create for ourselves along the way.
As to your interest in teaching Bible metaphysics, I would recommend a discussion with your nearest Unity minister, and continued attention to the possibilities offered through the www.unity.org website. It’s not, in my experience at least, something to be mastered, like long division. It’s a lifelong dialogue with your own Christ energy. Meanings may change as we grow in awareness; what makes the Bible so powerful is that it serves as a mirror in which we can truly see ourselves: our challenges, our fears, and the infinite love in which challenges and fears are dissolved and a new dimension of creative possibility opens before us.