Nevertheless, you may slaughter your animals in any of your towns and eat as much of the meat as you want, as if it were gazelle or deer, according to the blessing the Lord your God gives you. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat it. But you must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water. You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and olive oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts. Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of the Lord your God at the place the Lord your God will choose—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites from your towns—and you are to rejoice before the Lord your God in everything you put your hand to. Be careful not to neglect the Levites as long as you live in your land. When the Lord your God has enlarged your territory as he promised you, and you crave meat and say, “I would like some meat,” then you may eat as much of it as you want. If the place where the Lord your God chooses to put his Name is too far away from you, you may slaughter animals from the herds and flocks the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and in your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want. Eat them as you would gazelle or deer. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat. But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat. You must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water. Do not eat it, so that it may go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord. – Deuteronomy 12:15-25
What can we take away from this passage? This is one of those passages that I am struggling to find deeper meaning within, however, the distinction made between flesh (meat) and blood may hold some interesting hidden gems. Maybe there is a concept embedded there about maintaining your body and spirit in different ways. Body maintenance is relatively straightforward… a burger and fries will do in a pinch (or a PBJ if you are a Calvin and Hobbes fan). Maintaining our spirits, our true life blood, and is much more complicated and difficult.
God is telling the Israelites about what it is OK to eat on their way to the Promised Land. God says it is OK to eat everything but the blood of animals, and any part you have already committed to God (like a tithe). The blood is to be discarded “like water on the ground”. The usage of the words blood and water is interesting and somewhat puzzling. This passage has equated blood with life, what keeps a living being alive. Water is the vehicle for life sustaining nutrients and minerals.
Maybe it would be instructive to think about what happens to water when it is poured on the ground since God has asked the Israelites to discard the blood this way. Water discarded on the ground: 1) seeps into the soil or rock to eventually join the groundwater; 2) may be used by plants to sustain their lives; 3) may evaporate right back into the atmosphere; and 4) may pool up or join a stream to provide life for other creatures.
In this passage the blood is to be treated like water. If our bodies are like flesh and our souls are like blood perhaps the things that happen to water when it is poured on the ground can happen to our spirits or souls: 1) Our souls can mingle with others like groundwater in the ground, this mingling can sometimes make us lose sight of who we are and who God needs us to be — we can get lost in someone else’s soul; 2) our souls and spirits can sometimes feel used up by those around us, like plants use water. This can be because of dysfunctional relationships, poor communication, or because others are so needy that they take “sips” from our soul to maintain their own; 3) Our soul can be so “free” that we float like a leaf on the wind ready to join some omnipresent vapor, which is not God but rather some replacement we have fashioned to take His place; and 4) we can join movements and causes (streams and ponds), many of which may be very good, which keep us from being fully joined to God’s spirit to accomplish his movement in people’s hearts and minds.
Phew….that was hard. I may have stretched that verse too far, but there are some interesting things the “chew on”.
Prayer: God help us to guard our souls, the life blood of our relationship with you.