Leviticus
Introduction 1-4 Do Not Do as Egypt or Canaan 5 Do This and You Shall Live 6-16 Incest 17-20 Other Illicit Sexuality 21 Prohibition to Offer Children 22 Prohibition of Homosexual Intercourse 23 Prohibition of Intercourse with an Animal 24-30 God Does Not Tolerate Abominations
Introduction

In this chapter we read a lot of what we also read in Leviticus 20. The distinction is that in this chapter God as the ‘LORD’ is in the foreground, while in Leviticus 20 the emphasis is on God’s holiness. There we find the punishments proposed for the sins that are necessarily given ample attention to here.


Do Not Do as Egypt or Canaan

1Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘I am the LORD your God. 3You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. 4You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the LORD your God.

God always places Himself before the attention of the people as the LORD, the God of the covenant with His people. By doing so, He wants them to take on His features and not those of the peoples around them. There is a special warning for the influence of Egypt and Canaan. After the laws with a view to their sacrificial service, the so-called ceremonial laws, God now gives some moral laws with a view to their sexual intercourse.

Egypt represents the world without God. In Egypt is great human wisdom (Acts 7:2222Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.). For the Christian, the danger of Egypt is discussed in the letter to the Colossians. It also warns against wisdom that takes people captive (Col 2:88See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.). The Colossians are in danger of mixing their faith with the wisdom of the world. Paul reminds them that in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:33in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.).

Canaan is the land of blessings that God has given His people. The great danger there is not so much wisdom, culture and science, but the great corruption that reigns there. The Christian is put in the heavenly places, of which Canaan is a picture. But that does not mean that there are no dangers. It is precisely in the letter to the Ephesians, where the blessings of the Christian are described, that strong warning is given for any form of corruption (Eph 4:17-1917So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,18being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;19and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.). Yielding to this corruption means that we will lose the blessings.

The Christian is a new creation, he is “created according to God” (Eph 4:2424and put on the new self [lit man], which in [the likeness of] God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.). He received Christ (Col 2:66Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk in Him,) and learned Christ (Eph 4:2020But you did not learn Christ in this way,). The danger is that we adapt to the world around us in its character of Egypt or in its character of Canaan. Then we no longer show the new, but the old man.

The great contrast we see here is the contrast between the statutes and judgments of the world in its various forms and the statutes and judgments of God. The following of the former means death, the observance of the latter means life.


Do This and You Shall Live

5So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the LORD.

Here we read the motivation for keeping the commandments: to receive and enjoy life. This verse is quoted four times in the Old Testament: three times in Ezekiel (Eze 20:11,13,2111I gave them My statutes and informed them of My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live.13But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness. They did not walk in My statutes and they rejected My ordinances, by which, if a man observes them, he will live; and My sabbaths they greatly profaned. Then I resolved to pour out My wrath on them in the wilderness, to annihilate them.21But the children rebelled against Me; they did not walk in My statutes, nor were they careful to observe My ordinances, by which, [if] a man observes them, he will live; they profaned My sabbaths. So I resolved to pour out My wrath on them, to accomplish My anger against them in the wilderness.) and once in Nehemiah (Neh 9:2929And admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law.
Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances,
By which if a man observes them he shall live.
And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen.
). It is quoted three times in the New Testament (Lk 10:2828And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.”, Rom 10:55For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness.; Gal 3:1212However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.”).

The last two texts (Rom 10:55For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness.; Gal 3:1212However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.”) show that no man has received the promised life. For there was no man who complied perfectly with the statutes and judgments of God. Only when one repents and receives new life from God on the basis of faith he can live to the glory of God and do from his heart. The law says: Do this and you will live. The gospel says: Live and you will do.


Incest

6‘None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the LORD. 7You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, that is, the nakedness of your mother. She is your mother; you are not to uncover her nakedness. 8You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness. 9The nakedness of your sister, [either] your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether born at home or born outside, their nakedness you shall not uncover. 10The nakedness of your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover; for their nakedness is yours. 11The nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, born to your father, she is your sister, you shall not uncover her nakedness. 12You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is your father’s blood relative. 13You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s blood relative. 14You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother; you shall not approach his wife, she is your aunt. 15You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness. 16You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness.

The things that follow up to verse 2323Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. are acts of incest. They run counter to God’s original intention with marriage and sexuality. This must be self-evident to God’s people. You assume them in the world and not in the people of God. That God addresses all these warnings to His people shows how necessary it is, because His people are also capable of these sins. God shows evil in its most horrible forms. He knows better than man himself to what he can degrade.

God forbids the sexual relations between blood relatives here. The Hebrew words for ‘nakedness’ and ‘uncover’ are euphemism for sexual intercourse. Here it concerns illicit sexual intercourse or fornication (Eze 16:3636Thus says the Lord GOD, “Because your lewdness was poured out and your nakedness uncovered through your harlotries with your lovers and with all your detestable idols, and because of the blood of your sons which you gave to idols,; 23:1818She uncovered her harlotries and uncovered her nakedness; then I became disgusted with her, as I had become disgusted with her sister.). Such relations are unnatural.

The prohibition starts with the general ban on sexual intercourse with a blood relative. Sexual intercourse is forbidden here with:
1. mother;
2. stepmother;
3. half-sister (same father or mother);
4. grandchild;
5. half-sister (from the father’s second marriage);
6. aunt, the sister of father or mother;
7. aunt, the wife of the father’s brother;
8. daughter-in-law;
9. sister-in-law.


Other Illicit Sexuality

17You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, nor shall you take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; they are blood relatives. It is lewdness. 18You shall not marry a woman in addition to her sister as a rival while she is alive, to uncover her nakedness. 19‘Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness during her menstrual impurity. 20You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her.

Forbidden is also the sexual intercourse with:
1. a woman and her daughter and a woman and her granddaughter;
2. a woman and her sister
3. a woman who has her period;
4. a woman married to another person.


Prohibition to Offer Children

21You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the LORD.

The Molech is the national god of the Ammonites. In the context of the text, this does not seem to be primarily a fire offering, but an ordination of children to temple prostitution. It is a spiritual fornication that underlies carnal fornication.


Prohibition of Homosexual Intercourse

22You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.

Homosexual intercourse is the sin of Sodom (Gen 19:55and they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them.”), from which also the Israelites do not keep themselves free (Jdg 19:2222While they were celebrating, behold, the men of the city, certain worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have relations with him.”). God gives people over to these degrading passions, when they honor the creature above the Creator (Rom 1:24-2724Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.).


Prohibition of Intercourse with an Animal

23Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion.

The prohibition of intercourse with an animal is more often given (Lev 20:15-1615If [there is] a man who lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death; you shall also kill the animal.16If [there is] a woman who approaches any animal to mate with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.; Exo 22:1919“Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death.; Deu 27:2121‘Cursed is he who lies with any animal.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’). The fact that this prohibition is also presented to the people of God shows that this horrible sin is also possible among God’s people.

From a spiritual point of view, an animal is a symbol for people who ignore the existence of God in an absolute way or reject Him absolutely. We see this attitude in the two beasts described in the book of Revelation (Rev 13:1-181And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns [were] ten diadems, and on his heads [were] blasphemous names.2And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like [those] of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.3[I saw] one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed [and followed] after the beast;4they worshiped the dragon because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?”5There was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.6And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme His name and His tabernacle, [that is,] those who dwell in heaven.7It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him.8All who dwell on the earth will worship him, [everyone] whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.9If anyone has an ear, let him hear.10If anyone [is destined] for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints.11Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon.12He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.13He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.14And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life.15And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.16And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,17and [he provides] that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, [either] the name of the beast or the number of his name.18Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.). Where there is no longer any connection whatsoever with the living God, man sinks into the deepest corruption. To that the greatest conceivable shame is connected, of which he is not conscious through his total closing off for any of God’s revelation.


God Does Not Tolerate Abominations

24‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 25For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. 26But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, [neither] the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you 27(for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled); 28so that the land will not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you. 29For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do [so] shall be cut off from among their people. 30Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the LORD your God.’”

If Israel takes over the actions of the peoples around them, they will be spewed out like those peoples. Persons who surrender to such horrible acts as described above must be exterminated from the people. God has given them His statutes and His judgments to keep them from doing these abominations.

When God gives a certain revelation, He wants this revelation to work fully through into man’s life, that man takes it into account in his practice. The purity of marriage is of the utmost importance. God begins His warnings therewith. Paul writes about this in the letter to the Colossians and the letter to the Ephesians.

The antidote to all the evils mentioned in this chapter is given in verse 3030Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the LORD your God.’”. By ‘taking in’ that, we are preserved for the abominations found in the world, which connect with our flesh. This antidote is: remain in the Word of God.

The chapter concludes with the same statement about God as that with which it begins.


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