I have searched high and low and have yet to find any teachings, “Christian” or “Messianic”, on the deep and important object lesson that is…going to the bathroom. Yes, I am going there. Pamela wanted me to post my thoughts more often, so… between the tasty recipes and helpful hints this blog is widely known for, I am about to broach a topic never preached from any pulpit anywhere at anytime. Feel free to skip to the next post, or at least pre-read this before rushing to print it and read it at the Shabbat table. Here I go.
The other day, I was listening to a “kind-of-Christian” talk radio show, where this subject came up as part of a humorous (O.K. it was hysterical, and no, I won’t link to it) commentary. During the discussion, the hosts said that the Bible had nothing to say on the subject of how and where to go potty, because the “Bible was too classy of a book for that sort of talk”. Oh, how I beg to differ. There are plenty of extremely graphic examples of prophetic words (YHVH’s words expressed through various prophets) that are really shocking (Isaiah 36:12 !), and meant to be so…using terms that would be described as potty language at best. Seriously, from most of our frames of mind, if Mary heard Yeshua say these things, we’d picture her having to wash his mouth out with soap—yet we have to acknowledge that that not only did Mary and Yeshua have to go potty themselves, but that the very natural act was designed into our fleshly bodies…and that YHVH said that “it was good.”
Here is commandment from the Torah on the subject…
“You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it. Each of you must have a spade as part of your equipment. Whenever you relieve yourself, dig a hole with the spade and cover the excrement. The camp must be holy, for the LORD your God moves around in your camp to protect you and to defeat your enemies. He must not see any shameful thing among you, or he will turn away from you.” – Deuteronomy 23:12-14
Simple enough. The act of going potty is natural and good, but the byproduct is unholy, shameful, and unclean. It must be buried so the Father Himself doesn’t turn away in disgust. An argument can be made that conveniently bringing our toilets into our own homes, even with modern flushing technology, is not the same thing as walking outside, digging a hole, doing your business in rain or snow, not to mention broad daylight, and burring it yourself with a shovel. Just as humans have done all we can to insulate ourselves from dealing with or even seeing blood… a crucial element of life, we have similarly made this fundamental element of life so mundane that most of us (without various medical problems) don’t even think about it… let alone publicly blog about it.
This complicated biblical procedure seems to me to be an object lesson of the regular recognition and purging of our sins via repentance. Our sin’s are removed from us, and covered… not as a once-and-done thing, but as a part of a regular routine. As a child, in fact, we had to be trained to recognize this unique sensation, and quickly find a grown up to avoid disaster. Now that we are grown ups ourselves, we still feel that sensation–something must be done…sometimes soon, sometimes NOW. Sometimes still it’s too late, and we need to appeal to our Heavenly Father to clean us up, powder our butts, and send us back into the world. We all know some grown ups that are either “full of it”, or even “have a stinky” but do not have the skills or self-awareness to fix their issue. They live a life thinking that their own “stuff” doesn’t stink, and often nobody loves them enough to intervene and show them where the potty is. Or at least hand them a shovel as a hint.
Yeshua actually preached on this topic, but we often get distracted from His point because of the several other life lessons embedded in His language:
“And he called the people to him again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand: There is nothing outside a person that by going into him can defile him, but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.” And when he had entered the house and left the people, his disciples asked him about the parable. And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Mark 7:14-23
First we have to dismiss the idea that Yeshua’s point was that the dietary laws in The Torah are irrelevant. The line “thus he declared all foods clean” was actual an anonymous scribal notation in the margins of one version of this gospel, that eventually got embedded into the text by some other anonymous copyist. If you are new to this truth and think this is a conspiracy theory, read your own Bible’s notes about why that verse is either in parenthesis, italics, or both. That was far from Yeshua’s point, and far from mine. (Although it ironically shows that there is some man made excrement even in our Scriptures that must be processed and buried outside the camp.)
What started the Messiah’s commentary was the man-made tradition of washing hands before food was eaten. Yeshua was always mindful that His true disciples, then and now, would want to emulate His behavior, and was careful therefore not to endorse these traditions as being at the same level as the Torah commandments. He therefore did not wash his hands (an elaborate ritual) because apparently they were not physically dirty at the time. His parable then was saying that eating food with “ceremonially clean hands” would not stop the formerly tasty food from coming out stinky and nasty. The heart of man is like his stomach. Our hearts produce the nastiest, slinkiest, most detestable things. If we don’t take the time to relieve ourselves in private with The Father, it’s bound to build up and come out publicly–either from our mouths (“from the overflow of our hearts the mouth speaks” Luke 6:45) or from the stench that our very lives will eventually produce.
Satan is known as “The Lord of the Flies”. What are flies attracted too? Yep, spiritual poo poo. Pamela and I took a course in “theophostics” years ago, which is a powerful method of getting to the deep source of the trouble in believer’s lives. Theophostics is a fancy way of saying “The light of God”. The idea is to NOT immediately cast out demons when encountered, but to briefly engage them (as Yeshua did) first to find out where the pile of stinky stuff is hidden that is attracting them in the first place. Demons don’t buzz around people who are filled with light, only those with poop hidden in the shadows. Hence Yeshua’s parable…“This is when an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, “I will return to the house I left.” When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. (Luke 11:24-26) Casting out demons, even cleaning out the obvious poop, will not itself cause the flies to stay away for good. Eventually that house must be filled with truth (Torah) so that more poop will not accumulate.
The entire sacrificial system and tabernacle that YHVH gave to Moses at Mt. Sinai was sort of a spiritual port-a-potty. Now I know I crossed a line with many of you. Seriously though, The Creator of our bodies, souls and spirits knows that we will need to get this spiritual excrement out of our lives. One could argue that this system was temporary and meant simply as a dramatic object lesson. Eventually all of this “covering” of our forefather’s sins, just created a giant, hidden pile of sin that needed to be “buried outside the camp.” Something more permanent was desperately needed as the “Levitical temps” hired to deal with this human need were not authorized to handle that level of collective clean up.
I personally lived out this object lesson last season during Sukkot. I had just purchased a Coleman camping potty, designed for a person or two… complete with a water reservoir for flushing, and a containment tank to eventually dump. We put this into a small private tent in a common area, and let a few select folks know that we had it, as our sites were pretty far from the public bathrooms. We’ll– wouldn’t you know it, but those public bathrooms tanks filled up that week. A crew had to come in and excavate, leaving the facilities closed. For a time, my little set up was suddenly busy with activity. Before I knew it, the tank was full, and it was up to little old me to clean it out. For the record, I identify with Ephraim not Levi, but I guess in the end we are all called to be priests. This tank was HEAVY, and sloshy, and even though I was trying to be discrete, everybody I ran into on my mission to dump this thing suddenly wanted to strike up a conversation. Eventually the talk would lead to asking, “Hey, what are you holding there?” which generally speaking wrapped up the chit chat pretty quickly.
Anyway, collecting and dumping my own stuff is one thing; collecting and dumping my own tribe’s stuff is doable; dumping the whole CAMP’S stuff is really, really, really, gross. I am tempted to describe it all in detail, with my point being to actually make you gag. Believe me, I think I could do it with just a few choice words. But, I’ll leave that to your own imagination. My mind, while in the confined bathroom stall dumping out this mess, went to our Messiah, as the thought of Him bearing all of mankind’s spiritual excrement. It is amazing how living out these object lessons brings us closer to the mind and heart of Messiah. At that moment, I could identify with Him in a way I never had before. Of course, He took it further–He didn’t just bear our sins… He became our sins! He Himself, suddenly stinky with our wretched refuse, was then cut off from The Father. And then, as the Torah commands, He was buried outside the camp. And yes, the Father did what the Levites could never do… He cleaned off His Son, and allowed Him to come out white as snow and smelling like a rose.
So, next time you go into your private place to do your private thing, remember that indeed the Scriptures do have much to say on this subject. Take the Messiah’s advice, “Everything that is secret will be brought out into the open. Everything that is hidden will be uncovered.” (Luke 12:2) Remember, that we are called to “be Holy like He is Holy”, and that when we walk out of our private place, we too smell like a rose in the nose of our Heavenly Father.
Also, next time you hear someone say “Holy ****”, you now have an excuse to repeat this sermonette.
Trivia: The Rabbinic notion of “A Sabbath day’s journey” was originally the estimated distance from the door of the Tabernacle to the nearest area “outside the camp”. Thus, the shortest allowable distance one could walk on Shabbat, specifically to relieve themselves, without doing “unnecessary work.” This concept is fully Jewish tradition and has no actual scriptural basis.