I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God
so that you may know that you have eternal life. [1 John 5:13]

Saturday, May 16, 2009

More Than Many Sparrows

Writers who read this post will understand how one small thing my husband and I observed during our lunch out this afternoon has produced this post - rather longer than I had anticipated!

My husband and I rarely eat out. In fact we almost never eat out. It has become a luxury we can't really justify most of the time. Today, though, we just felt we had earned a treat and set off for a leisurely lunch at a local Mexican grill.

We sat at a table by a back window of the restaurant and in the parking lot near us was a good sized puddle of water hosting five or six sparrows enjoying the sauna-like temperature of the water. As we watched them, one sparrow hopped out and stood on the curb, bill wide open. We assumed he was squawking at another sparrow.

Sure enough another sparrow only slightly larger than the squawker landed right beside it, bill full of bread, and deposited some of the bread into the open bill of the squawking bird! My husband instantly made the comment, "even the sparrows" in reference to the scripture at the end of this post.

We watched the squacker and the other bird interact 5 or 6 more times. My husband joked that perhaps the other bird kept feeding him to make him stop squawking. He seemed to be too similar in size to the others to actually be a baby. We spent about 5 minutes watching the bathing birds and the squawker and his companion.

I know God watches over us with infinite love and care. Sometimes, when we become a bit weary He even intercedes to send us encouragement; a sign that He is control and we need not worry about our lives or the future. Our chosen lunch spot provided us the opportunity to receive God's loving reminder.

Several hours later as I prepared to make this post about "even the sparrows" I thought I should probably make a quick explanation of what the scripture refers to. So, of course, my research ended up being rather extensive and the explanation rather long. In any case, it's worth sharing and there may be readers who did not know about the significance of sparrows in biblical times.

Besides being used for healing of those with leprosy, by the time of Jesus birds were considered a "poor man's sacrifice." Those who could not afford to offer livestock or other expensive animals bought doves or sparrows outside the temple to offer the priest for a sin sacrifice. (These merchants were among the moneychangers against whom Jesus ranted!)

"The LORD said to Moses, "These are the regulations for the diseased person at the time of his ceremonial cleansing, when he is brought to the priest: The priest is to go outside the camp and examine him. If the person has been healed of his infectious skin disease, the priest shall order that two live clean birds and some cedar wood, scarlet yarn and hyssop be brought for the one to be cleansed.

"Then the priest shall order that one of the birds be killed over fresh water in a clay pot. He is then to take the live bird and dip it, together with the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, into the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the infectious disease and pronounce him clean. Then he is to release the live bird in the open fields"" (Leviticus 14:1-7 NIV).

The sparrow is among the most plentiful of all birds and where a blood sacrifice was needed for the cleansing of the leper, two sparrows were taken by the priest for that purpose. One was killed and its blood collected in an earthen vessel. Then the live sparrow along with cedar, scarlet and hyssop were dipped in the blood and the bird then set free. This is a beautiful picture of the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

Hyssop represents humility in a religious context. It also was used to sprinkle blood on the doorposts and lintels of the Israelites at the Passover in Egypt. Cedar wood was burned as incense in temples; the smoke may have been used as a disinfectant and the resin was used as a preservative. Scarlet in this context probably refers to a band of scarlet wood used to tie the hyssop and cedar together to form a sort of brush that was convenient for sprinkling the blood.

This is the context of these statements from Psalms, Matthew and Luke:

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies ? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God" (Luke 12:6 NIV).

"Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God" Psalm 84:3 NIV).

"So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31 NIV)

We are indeed worth more than many sparrows. Jesus tells us that if God provides for and cares for the tiny sparrow - one of the most numerous among all birds - how much more will he care for us - each made in His image and likeness - designed for a unique purpose on the earth.

We are God's beloved. I thank Him today for the message He sent us through the sparrows.


Andrea said...

What a beautiful post. God truly blessed your lunch with Jim today.

Stop by Arise 2 Write for a surprise for ALL of your blogs...U deserve it. You are a true friend and encourager!

Love and prayers, andrea

Alleluiabelle said...

Hi Mary,

Thank you for such a beautiful and in-depth post about what more than many sparrows mean in the scriptures.

This sunk in deeply tonight:

"We are indeed worth more than many sparrows. Jesus tells us that if God provides for and cares for the tiny sparrow - one of the most numerous among all birds - how much more will he care for us - each made in His image and likeness - designed for a unique purpose on the earth."

I thank Him for you and your encouragment, inspiration and love for Him. I also thank you for the many comments that you have left on my site. You are truly Rich in His Word.

Thank you my friend,