Now, for many people, this was probably no big deal. Even once the Israelites settled in the Promised Land, and many families didn't own livestock of their own, they could afford to acquire the necessary lamb. But for other families, this would have presented a real hardship. There were families who not only didn't have a lamb lying around the house, but for whom going to market and purchasing one would have been financially out of their reach. (Especially when you remember that the quality of the required lamb—"without defect" [Leviticus 1:10]—would have made it even more expensive.) And I love God's heart, here! Because, He didn't simply say, "If you're poor, that's just too bad...I guess you can't take part in worship and community life." No. Instead, he made a special allowance. Leviticus 12:8 says that if the woman couldn't afford a lamb, she could simply bring 2 doves or 2 pigeons instead...a sacrifice that would have been FAR cheaper than the lamb! Furthermore, in this case, the sacrifice of the birds would make her clean in exactly the same way the lamb would have; no additional waiting period or shame was involved.
God's provision for His people—even people who had lesser means—demonstrates His love and care and the fact that His chief desire was that His people be restored to fellowship with Him and with the rest of the community. There is even a specific account recorded thousands of years later of someone in this very circumstance. The mother's name was Mary, and the baby was Jesus Christ Himself! As recorded in Luke 2:22-24, when Joseph and Mary went to the temple to present Jesus and to carry out Mary's purification rite, the sacrifice they brought was "in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: 'a pair of doves or two young pigeons'" This is so indicative of the humble beginning that Jesus Christ had. The Son of God had entered the world, and the family to whom He'd been born could only afford the sacrifice associated with poverty. But here we see not only God's Old Testament provision for less privileged people being carried out in a very real way, but also His choosing of these humble, yet godly people to carry out His grand plan of the Advent. What a beautiful picture of God's heart for the "least of these"!
- Pastor Paul