Holiness Of The People
Leviticus 19 serves as a directive from God that holiness is incumbent on the people at large. Perhaps the standard of holiness was not enforced to the extreme that holiness was enforced on the Priests. For instance, the non-Priests were permitted regular employment. But God did command holiness of all the people. The three most critical requirements of holiness as regards the people are found in Leviticus 19:1-4: 1) Revere your mother and your father; 2) Keep the Sabbath; and 3) Stay away from idols. What follows are instructions to the people regarding their role in the sacrifices; general rules of common courtesy, which includes Jesus’ proof-text for “Love your neighbor as yourself; and a general discourse on the principles of being a separated people.
Flanking Leviticus 19 on the before side and on the after side are commands regarding the absolute minimum standards of sexual purity (Leviticus 18), and the absolute minimum standards of keeping God as the center of a man’s worship (Leviticus 20). In chapters 18 and 20, I find an oasis where I can say I am obedient to God. Not only am I innocent in action, but I have spent zero time in my life fighting off temptations to disobey any command in Leviticus 18 and 20. I enjoy being told not to engage in the behavior Leviticus 18 and 20 forbids. And I humbly remember it is the restraining work of God alone who has shielded me from any circumstance that would provoke me to disobey – at least as long as I keep my Bible opened only to these two chapters.
But I find also grief. For Leviticus 18 and 20 also shows the contrast of the holiness of God to the heart of man who lives apart from Him. It shows an ugly picture of who I really am, and what God has rescued me from – even without my knowing. Leviticus 18 and 20 is a painful expose of life without Jesus Christ, a three-chapter block that exposes the minimum standard of conduct that a people living in hopeful expectation of His coming will obey without struggle.
Leviticus 18:22 has taken a prominent position in national news of late. It is inadequate to read the verse, close the Bible, and feel armed and ready to face the world. It is vital to examine the verse in context. Take a look at the company this verse keeps:
18:21 – Do not present your children as a burnt offering 18:22 – Do not lie man-to-man or woman-to-woman 18:23 – Do not lie with animals. Leviticus 18:21-23 is not prophecy in that it is not required that it be fulfilled. But it does appear to provide a roadmap to indicate where we – a separated body of Christ – stand on God’s timeline. The body of Christ has lost the battles of Leviticus 18:21 and Leviticus 18:22. The battle of Leviticus 18:23 against the constraints of bestiality will be fought in the next generation. And after that, nothing – the only thing we face is God giving up and removing us from the land (Leviticus 18:24-25). Unless we consider our ways, the moral battle regarding bestiality will be lost just as the battles against abortion (Leviticus 18:21, sacrificing young infants on the altars of the gods of convenience and free sex) and homosexual rights (Leviticus 18:22).
What a stupid and perverse strategy the church has used as it calls on the godhead of the United States Supreme Court to be the savior from the presence of abortion and homosexuality. What a stupid and perverse strategy the church is primed to employ when it pushes against bestiality rights – our god and savior John Roberts or his successors; as we trust in the glory of whatever political party champions the Bible in its platform come Election Day. The government has become an idol to us, to be worshipped as the solution to man’s sin. The true and living God has been removed from the solution. Haggai 1:5 shouts, and two verses later repeats, “Consider your ways!” And the way of trusting in a family-oriented political party absolutely must be reconsidered. When bestiality shows up on the table, we need to turn to God in humility, and plead with Him to forgive our self-will, and implore Him to fight on our behalf. The battle is not won when the Supreme Court decides in our favor; it is won when the hearts of the people see abortion, homosexual activity, and bestiality as the abominations that God calls them.
The rising number of people who prefer same sex relationships is a good and perfect gift from God to those who believe. The gift was given with the intent that the Church would see the futility of fighting the battle herself, and instead turn to God. Instead, we turned to man wearing a long black robe and wielding a gavel. The advancement of the movement is a good and perfect gift from God, who “gave them up to dishonorable passions.”
Some may counter, “Haven’t I overlooked a drive for pedophilia rights battle first?” And my response is, “Probably not.” “Consenting adults” has become the battle cry during the advancement of free sex. Even an infidel will take pause before allowing his eight-year old to be a target. I anticipate that when the movement gets started, there will be a critical mass who will reason that it’s ok if others do it. But “not with my kid, you can’t.”
Leviticus 20 deals with prohibitions of idolatrous worship practices. Just as in Leviticus 18, most people don’t spend a lot of time fighting the temptation to disobey. The inevitable consequences of violating many of the commands in Chapter 18 are laid out. Where the consequences are death, let God impose the death. Where the command instructs the people to kill the violator, pray to God for the mercy not to kill the offender personally. Many times, the Bible calls for the death of the offender. It is good to obey. But some people enjoy it too much.
Traces of Poetry in Leviticus 19:29-37
Leviticus 19 actually dabbles in poetry. Officially this is not really poetry, for Hebrew poetry has its own rules and characters of punctuation. God is very fluent in Hebrew poetry inasmuch as He uses poetry liberally – especially in the prophets. Leviticus 10:3 is full-scale poetry:
God said the same thing twice. Do not look for shaded differences. Should you discern one, you are missing the point. Hebrew poets delight in parallel statements.
There are several devices that do not rely on parallel meanings – for example, the Finale Line. Charles Wesley wrote a poem with a Finale Line:
Psalm 136:1-3 (The pattern continues 26 verses.)
Leviticus 19:29-37 have a poetic structure even though the verses are punctuated as prose. The passage has a Finale Line that is repeated, even enhanced toward a climax:
· No finale (v29)
· I am the LORD (vv 30, 32, 37)
· I am the LORD your God (vv 31, 34)
· I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt (v36)
“I am the LORD….” closes 15 of the 37 verses in Leviticus 19.
© 2012, On Beyond Sunday School, All Rights Reserved.