Through the Bible in a Year: Leviticus 17 Through 21

Reading Schedule and Intro

Today’s Bible Reading is Leviticus 17-21
Friday, Feb. 9: Leviticus 22-27

Next week we will go back to the apostles’ writings, to the Gospel of Mark. The overall year’s plan is here.

My commentaries are sometimes long. The Bible is the priority. Read it first, and my commentaries are carefully sectioned so you can find the passage you may want help on. Please use the comment section of my blog if I missed something or you have something to add!

Today’s Introduction

If you have a commentary on Thursday morning, it will be a miracle of God. I’m starting on this on Wednesday evening.

I woke up this morning completely lacking in energy, and basically, between doctor’s rounds and the taking of my vital signs, slept until noon.

After that, friends came. There is something about spiritual fellowship that empowers the body. When disciples come together to rejoice in their mutual fellowship with God, it doesn’t matter whether they open the Bible, say spiritual things, or just talk about the weather. There is just something healing about spiritual fellowship.

So I spent all afternoon with some spiritual friends, and for the moment, I am energized. I can’t eat any better than I could this morning, but I’m really looking forward to doing this Bible reading with you.

Leviticus 17:1-7: Only One Place to Sacrifice

In this passage especially you can see the relationship between eating animals and sacrificing. Sacrificing was not just a cruel way to put an animal to death, it was a sacred way to eat an animal.

God wanted all sacrifices done at the tent of meeting, so that the priests could be supplied for their work. The majority of the animal, however, was for the person doing the offering to eat.

Of course, the Law is specifically speaking about peace offerings here. Burnt offerings and sin offerings were not eaten by the offerers, but by the priests.

Leviticus 17:8-16: Rule of Sacrifice Not To Be Violated

God makes it clear that this is an important law. You can be cut off from the people of God for violating it, and it applies to the foreigner living among them as well as to the Israelite.

God also emphasized that the reason for not eating blood is that the life of the animal is in the blood.

This rule is repeated throughout Scripture, and thus we have to be aware of its importance.

Our life is in the blood of Christ. Because he died, we live. The church is the body of Christ. Thus the life we live is lived by the life of Christ, for it is Christ’s blood that energizes Christ’s body.

We are not to live by our own life, but by his life (Gal. 2:20).

Leviticus 18:1-30: Lewd Behavior (Mature)

It is not my commentary here that is rated R, but Moses’ Law itself!

These things speak for themselves.

We may be horrified by what we are reading, but if so, then let us give thanks to God for good parents and good upbringing. The nations were practicing such things, and it was a danger and a temptation to the Israelites as well.

Do not think modern times have gotten better. Lewdness in on the increase, as far as I can tell, not on the decrease, and it is not a good thing. God is the Creator of everything, and the very land itself was ejecting the nations that would be driven out by the Israelites because of such behavior.

We must pray for one another, and we must not be afraid to talk about subjects like these because not all Christians have had such good upbringings as you might have. Sexual temptation can be some of the strongest temptation there is, and the behavior of adults, even adults who are trying to be Christians, can be shocking. Let us watch over one another, and let us pray for one another.

Leviticus 18:22: Homosexuality (Mature)

Some Christians have made homosexuality such a prime sin that they have elevated it above and separated it from all other sins.

I think it must be obvious to all of us that this is not the right approach. Homosexuality is a sin, and Scripture calls it that over and over. So is heterosexuality if it is practiced outside of marriage. Do we treat an adulterer, a male-female couple who is living together, and a same-sex couple living together the same way? Do we in each case look to the Holy Spirit inside of us for how best to help them, to let the Holy Spirit convict them of their sin, but to love them like God loves them? Do we in each case make it clear that you cannot be counted among the people of God while you practice any of those lifestyles, but also walk in the Spirit of God in such a way that sinners are drawn to us as they were drawn to Jesus?

Being a truly spiritual Christian is complicated, and all of us are growing, but we cannot separate homosexuality from other sins, to make it greater or separate.

Leviticus 19:1-8: Reminders

There is nothing new in this passage. God is reminding the people to take the laws of God seriously.

Leviticus 19:13: Paying a Laborer

It is easy to put off payment to someone, then never pay them, even though we meant well. God wanted a hired person paid the same day, not kept waiting overnight.

Leviticus 19:14: Preying on the Weak

God doesn’t like it when the weak are preyed upon. Often those who bully act like they were just joking, but God doesn’t see it that way:

Like a madman who throws
Firebrands, arrows and death,
So is the man who deceives his neighbor,
And says, "Was I not joking?" (Prov. 26:19, NASB)

Leviticus 19:18: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

This verse is cited by Jesus as the second greatest commandment in the Law (Matt. 22:39). Deut. 6:5 is the greatest. (Matt. 22:36-38). Jesus says that all of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands (Matt. 22:40).

Leviticus 19:19: Mixed Seed and Mixed Cloth

Why would God care whether you mixed seed in your field or cloth in your clothing?

He doesn’t. But he does care that our faith is not a mixed faith. Our faith is to be pure and come from Christ alone. Mixture is one route to compromise, so thousands of years in advance, God is teaching us to have a pure faith.

Leviticus 19:20-22: Female Slaves

I can only say here that I am as horrified as you at the thought that human culture was once like this. It is Jesus Christ who infused the idea into the world that all humans are created equal and who stood up for the downtrodden. Let us spread that Gospel, and pray that everywhere a culture of slavery is continued that we might be part of putting slavery to an end.

Leviticus 19:28: Tattoos (Advanced)

Does this verse mean that tattoos are forbidden even under the new covenant? I think so, but applying old covenant laws must be done spiritually and by the church together.

A problem we have today is that most “churches” are just organizations holding meetings on Sunday and maybe a couple other days and doing charity. The church, in the Bible, is the saints in a town or city, the family of God, sharing their lives together. To them, God will reveal everything they need to know to keep them in his will (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Jn. 2:27).

I don’t know how to restore that, but I do know that even in organizations, if it is Christians who are joined together, devoted to God, then they can bring issues like this (tattoos) before the Lord and find answers from him.

A problem we run into in modern times, is that “Christian” means so many things that it can include people who are defiant when the church believes that God is spoken. So churches rarely seek the word of the Lord together.

The New Testament knows of no such Christian.

I can only give you my opinion on tattoos, or my church’s opinion, for we are not afraid to seek God for answers. But just because I or we have an opinion on a matter like this does not mean that it applies to you in some other city or town.

So, let me give you this. If you are a Christian, in fellowship, and you’re addressing an issue like tattoos, get your closest brothers and sisters together, and seek God on the issue. But you have to be humble enough to say, "God has spoken through my friends in Christ, and even if they turn out to be wrong, it is worth it to me to obey."

Leviticus 19:32: Revere the Aged

How many of you love this command with me? A society that respects is elderly is a great society. A society that has forgotten such respect is a danger to itself.

Leviticus 19:33-34: Love the Foreigner

Even when the nation in question is God’s chosen earthly nation, they are to respect and love the foreigner in their midst.

Leviticus 20:2: "Offspring to Molech"

Molech was an Ammonite God worshiped throughout much of the Middle East, and burning children as a sacrifice to him was part of his worship.

Doing this would get you the death penalty under the Law.

Leviticus 20:1-27: Punishments for Lewdness

The misbehavior mentioned in this chapter is virtually the same as chapter 18. Here, the punishments for doing those things is listed.

Leviticus 20:22-26: Holiness

The Israelites, and God’s people throughout history, are not just to obey God’s Laws. They are associated with God. They represent him. Their actions are not just their own, but God’s as well.

Thus God expects them to distinguish between clean and unclean, and to learn his ways so that they can be "holy." Holy is not just doing what is right, it is living in such a way that you are associated with God and his ways.

Leviticus 21:1-24: Purity for Priests

It is clear that God is setting a higher standard for the priests and especially for the high priest than he is for other Israelites.

The only part of this passage that may shock us as modern Christians is the prohibition form performing the duties of a priest if the a son of Aaron is not perfect physically. This is definitely not Equal Opportunity Employment!

We must remember, however, that the old covenant is an earthly, fleshly picture of the spiritual covenant that is to come. God wants us to appear before his throne "without spot or blemish" spiritually (Eph. 5:27; Jude 24). Leaders, too, in the church, are to be blameless spiritually, though not physically (1 Tim. 3:2,10).

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