Introductory Note: Leviticus 16 is studied in Lesson 16. I’m unsure why we are skipping it here but am sure once we get there it will be clear.
Summary of passage: Leviticus 17: The Lord tells Moses that anyone who sacrifices an animal away from the Tent of Meeting is to be cut off from his people because these are pagan sacrifices. The Lord says no one is to eat blood of a creature for life is in the blood which is what makes atonement for one’s sins. Any animal hunted for food must be drained of blood before eating. Anyone eating a dead animal will be considered unclean and must be cleansed.
Leviticus 18: The Lord says to not follow the Egyptians or the people in the land of Canaan. To follow His laws only. God says no one is to have sexual relations with any close relative: mother, father, sisters, brothers, in-laws, aunts, uncles, etc. Do not offer your children as sacrifices to other gods. Do not have sexual relations with animals or with the same sex. Do not defile yourselves as other nations have. If you do, you will be cut off from their people. Even the land was defiled and punished.
Leviticus 19: A list of laws, many of which have been repeated such as honor the Sabbath, keep God’s name holy, honor your father and mother, etc. Other notable laws: leave gleanings in the field for the poor, love your neighbor as yourself, and treat others fairly.
Leviticus 20: God lays out the punishments for sins and for disobeying his decrees, most of which is death. He orders not to offer child sacrifices to other gods, not to sleep with close relatives (much of which is said in Leviticus 18), and not to see mediums or spiritists. God wants His people to be separate from other nations and to be holy because He is holy.
10) Because the life of the creature is in the blood and it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life and sins.
11a) That it is defiling, dishonoring, and detestable and requires being cut off from your people if done.
b) Part personal question: Because this is how the nations that God is going to drive out before His people became defiled and God wants His people to be separate and good. My response is God’s laws and reasonings are good. We all know having babies with close relatives results often in inherited diseases and deformations and having sex with close relatives causes strife among families plus having indiscriminate sex promotes the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and an impure heart and mind. Everything God does is for our good.
12a) Personal Question. My answer: Love your neighbor as yourself. I have a hard time with this one cause I’m so inherently selfish.
b) Personal Question. My answer: If you sin, you pay the consequences. Nowadays, it most likely won’t be a physical death, but it could be a spiritual death. If you keep God’s laws, you will live–both physically and spiritually. You will blossom and lead productive lives. If you choose to live in sin always and not change your ways, you will perish. We are to lead lives different from those around us because we are His and we are holy.
Conclusions: I like how all of God’s laws cover every facet of life. Nothing is separate. Nothing is sacred. God is in charge of every aspect of our lives and He makes that clear. Hence, we cannot hide anything from Him or justify any sin by saying “But God doesn’t say anything about this.” God is concerned about it all–politics, life, economics, diet, family, friends. He wants us to be like Jesus in all ways and here in the Old Testament He is preparing His people for just such a thing.
End Notes: Laid out in the Old Testament are just over 600 laws for the entire nation to live by. That’s it! Think of the millions of laws the US has and try to figure all that out! The laws are brief and simple (as opposed to say ObamaCare). Life should be simple. Right and wrong are simple. God wanted compassionate, consistent, fair-minded, and loving people. If His people possessed such characteristics, everything else would fall into place.
Leviticus 17: Pagan cultures and even the early patriarchs built altars and offered sacrifices to their gods or our God wherever they pleased. Here God is saying “No longer”. He wants all the sacrifices brought to Him. Again, setting the Israelites apart from their neighbors.
Besides the life being in the blood, many pagan cultures drank blood. Again, setting His people apart.
Leviticus 18: We are God’s, and thus we must follow His laws. Old translations of “sexual relations”, which is mentioned 17 times in this chapter read “uncover nakedness”, which scholars say is broad enough to cover anything inappropriate from sex to inappropriate fondling. Thus, it doesn’t necessarily have to be consummation.
These laws emphasize the importance of protecting the sanctity of marriage of which sex is only to occur within those covenant boundaries.
God’s laws here are simple and clear: homosexuality is wrong. Adultery is wrong. Sex with animals is wrong. Incest is wrong. It is a defilement against yourself as well as the other party.
We must remember one of the reasons God chose Canaan to give to the Israelites was as a punishment against the people who were living there who were engaging in sin among which was sexual sin. God does judge and execute punishments for sin.
God made it clear sexual sin was immoral and one paid a big price in the eyes of society if engaged in. So different from today’s world of “do what feels good” instead of “do what God commands.”
Leviticus 19: Read “separate” when you read “holy” and you’ll see what God is driving at. Just like God is separate from God, He wants His people separate from others since we are called to be like God and be with Him.
The word for idol means “nothing”. Israel will continue to struggle with idols for the next 800 years until they are punished and sent to exile in Babylon. There, their idols switch from a physical representation to a lifestyle one–riches, power, control, etc.
The best example of gleaning the fields in the Bible was Ruth.
A slanderer is a gossiper as well. Just gossip is a nicer word these days.
A lot of these regulations was specifically against pagan cultures and their worship as verse 19 demonstrates. God wanted to make sure His people did nothing the other peoples did.
Letting trees become mature before picking the fruit allowed them to bear more fruit in the future.
“I am the Lord” appears 15 times in this chapter. If you think on medieval times, the lord of the castle was obligated to care for his people who farmed his fields. In return the people worked for him and cared for him. So it goes both ways as it does today with God. He cares for us. We care for Him.
Leviticus 20: We tend to skip over the worship of Molech but this was a HUGE problem for the Israelites and continued to be up to their Babylonian exile. King Solomon built a temple to Molech (1 Kings 11:7) and King Ahaz sacrificed his own son to Molech (2 Kings 16:3). To think that God Himself has been warning about Molech for centuries and His people keep forgetting and sinning. What a merciful God we have!
Most of these penalties had to be carried out by the court of law. Once accused you had to be tried and convicted just like today before put to death for any sin. Still, rarely were people executed in ancient Israel. But unlike today the ancient culture condemned the act.
God is judging the peoples of Canaan for their sins by driving them out. Unfortunately, He judges His own people as well and drives them out too.
God gave all of these laws in an effort to keep His people separate, holy, and out of sin. So very, very sad that we as humans still disappoint and fall into the same old habits–even when explicitly outlawed.