Lent Devotion for February 16
"The right ear, right thumb, right big toe.”
Reader: “The Lord said to Moses…”
Response: “these are the regulations…”
SCRIPTURE: Leviticus 14:12-19
12 “Then the priest is to take one of the male lambs and offer it as a guilt offering, along with the log of oil; he shall wave them before the Lord as a wave offering. 13 He is to slaughter the lamb in the sanctuary area where the sin offering and the burnt offering are slaughtered. Like the sin offering, the guilt offering belongs to the priest; it is most holy. 14 The priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot. 15 The priest shall then take some of the log of oil, pour it in the palm of his own left hand, 16 dip his right forefinger into the oil in his palm, and with his finger sprinkle some of it before the Lord seven times. 17 The priest is to put some of the oil remaining in his palm on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, on the thumb of their right hand and on the big toe of their right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering.18 The rest of the oil in his palm the priest shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed and make atonement for them before the Lord. 19 “Then the priest is to sacrifice the sin offering and make atonement for the one to be cleansed from their uncleanness. After that, the priest shall slaughter the burnt offering 20 and offer it on the altar, together with the grain offering, and make atonement for them, and they will be clean.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
The book of Leviticus is a book of instruction for the priests in how to perform their duties and how to handle the various situations. (The book of Hebrews in the New Testament is a kind of priestly fulfillment of Leviticus.) The above passage provides direction in treating someone with an infectious skin disease. Priests also functioned as a kind of physician among the people. You can guess with more than a million people traveling as a group, in the desert, with no facilities, an outbreak of any sort could be disastrous. So, great precaution was taken in treating various infections. So what does putting blood on the earlobe, thumb, and big toe symbolize? What’s going on? The action described above was also part of the consecration of priests (kohen in Hebrew.) As God was calling Israel to be a nation of priests; the consecration of priests served as a model to the ordinary Jew. The symbolism of these acts can certainly apply to the priesthood of believers today.
Philo, ancient commentator first century Egypt, wrote on the significance of blood on the right earlobe, thumb, and toe. In his words, “to be fully consecrated and cleansed the words must be pure, they are judged by hearing, the hand is the symbol of action, and the foot of the pilgrimage of life.” Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra (12th century) interprets each of these acts slightly differently. He argues the ear “symbolizes that one must attend to what has been commanded” and the thumb “is the origin of all activity.”  Put simply, what we hear and those who hear our words be honorable; what we do with our hands; and the places we travel both literally and throughout life bring honor and glory to God. The sacrificial blood on the ear, thumb, and toe are ever a reminder that a life was given to make these acts acceptable and significant. Pay attention this day to what you hear, what you say, what your hands do, and where your feet lead you. The blood of the atonement has made you clean. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin.” Hebrews 9:22
 Rabbi Bradley Artson, “Ears Thumbs and Toes,” Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, American Jewish University.
“Agnus Dei,” by Samuel Barber (Watch on YouTube)
My dear Lord, I can but tell thee that Thou knowest I long for nothing but thyself, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with thy will. Thou hast given me these desires, and thou alone canst give me the things desired. My soul longs for communion with thee, for mortification of indwelling corruption, especially spiritual pride. How precious it is to have a tender sense and clear apprehension of the mystery of godliness, of true holiness! Lord, give me more of thy likeness; enlarge my soul to contain the fullness of holiness; engage me to live more for thee. Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences, and when I feel at ease after sweet communings, teach me it is far too little I know and do. Wrap my life in divine love, and keep me ever desiring thee, always humble and resigned to thy will, more fixed on thyself that I may be more fitted for doing and suffering
- from Valley of Vision, p.127