Original Monotheism: Levitical Miscellany

This post will serve as my last post in Don Richardson’s book, Eternity in Their Hearts. After this, I will deal with Wilhelm Schmidt and others, but I wanted to cover a few people who had laws similar to that of Leviticus.

The nature of this post won’t be the same as my post on the Karen, Incas, or Santal. This post will be more concerned with dealing with specific aspects of theology, that which looks like Levitical theology. Again, this is not to prove anything except that ancient people groups have, as aspects of their theology, remarkable connection to the theology of the Christian Bible.

First, the Kachin people were neighbors of the Burmese people. They worshipped the Creator God Karai Kasang, a being whose form and shape surpassed the understanding of any who wished to understand him. He was also known as Hpan Wa Ningsan, The Glorious One Who Creates, or Che Wa Ning-chang, the One Who Knows. Karai Kasang gave the Kachin people a law, but they had lost it. They repented and cried out, hoping for some relief. In fact, they started to practice sacrifices based on their memory of the law!

Their neighbors, the Lahu, waited for God’s law to return to them. They believed that they were given the law on rice cakes, and kept those sacred. Maybe knowing the aspect of the law in respect to eating, that eating the animal joins you to them, they ate the copies of the law they had been given! They said that this law would be then ingrained on their heart. (Sound familiar? We need the law written on our hearts, but can’t know it otherwise!)

The Hawaiian islands had an interesting story related to the cities of refuge. Two men, Sunahan and Kahalek, were out tending to their crops when they were shot at by incoming refugees. The raiders were more than thieves running from their last conquest, but they were cannibals looking for food as they ran! Kahalek was struck by enough arrows that he went down. Sunahan had not been shot, and reached a low stone wall in the middle of a field. The raiders stopped when he reached the wall, and even left behind Kahalek’s body as it finally died. The raiders stopped because this wall as a Osuwa, or a place of refuge. Probably coming from Numbers, they knew that nobody could be killed in a place of refuge. Anybody could killed someone in a Osuwa would be killed by their own people when they returned to the city village. The Hawaiians had a similar theology, called the Pu’uhonua-o-honaunau.

Finally, the Dyaks of Borneo were similar in their need for the law. They had a ritual that came remarkably close to the theology of the Day of Atonement. They brought out lanterns to light the way of boats that would carry their sins away. They also gathered two chickens: one was killed and had its blood shed on the shore and the other would float away in the boat. They placed their “dosaku”, or sin, on the boat and let the chicken take control of it, who was then flown away with the boat.

The exile caused God’s law to expand far into the world at large. For a lot of people, they were left under despair from the law or their lack thereof. They awaited a Savior who would bring them into a new freedom…

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