Monthly Archives: September 2013

Leviticus 18 – LAWS OF SEXUAL MORALITY

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Leviticus 18 – LAWS OF SEXUAL MORALITY

A. Commands against incest.

1. (Leviticus 18:1-5) Introduction to the commands regarding sexual conduct.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘I am the LORD your God. According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.’“

a. I am the LORD your God. According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do: Before God gave a single command in this area, He first established a foundation for the whole matter. He declared this principle: “You belong to Me, you shall not do as the world does.”

i. “The Persians, for example, encouraged marital unions with mothers, daughters and sisters, on the ground that such relationships had special merit in the eyes of the gods.” (Harrison)

ii. Sadly, the Christians today often take their standard of sexual conduct from the world, and not from God and His Word. Clearly, Christiansshould be different from the world in their sexual morality, and they should follow a Biblical standard of sexual morality. In the early church, one argument for the truth of Christianity offered by Christians was “You can know it’s true by looking at our lives.” Today, the Christian world says, “Don’t look at me, look at Jesus.”

b. If a man does, he shall live by them: Obedience to God’s standard of sexual conduct is essential for life, and never more is this true than in our day of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

i. In 1993, a Ventura man was convicted for assault for knowingly spreading AIDS through sex. His unnamed partner, who pressed charges against Crother, has AIDS herself. She said in an interview: “This is not an assault. It is murder. . . . All I wanted is someone to love me, and now I’m going to die for that. I don’t think I should have to die for that.” If he and she would have obeyed God’s word, he and she would not have had to die from AIDS.

ii. Though the rates of heterosexual transmission of AIDS in America are statistically small, other diseases are not. According to statistics in the 1990’s:

· The rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are highest among people between 15 and 25.

· Over 12 million people are infected with STDs every year.

· Teen-age girls have the highest rates for gonorrhea in the nation and teen-age boys are second.

· 10% of sexually active teen-age girls have had gonorrhea. One in four sexually active teens will become infected with an STD.

· If you have an STD, your chances of getting AIDS from an infected partner increases 100 times.

2. (Leviticus 18:6-9) Incest among immediate family prohibited.

None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness: I am the LORD. The nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover. Sheis your mother; you shall not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness. The nakedness of your sister, the daughter of your father, or the daughter of your mother, whether born at home or elsewhere, their nakedness you shall not uncover.

a. To uncover his nakedness: This phrase (used 17 times in this chapter) is an euphemism for sexual relations. It has less to do with nudity (especially casual nudity) than with sex. However, the term uncover nakedness is broad enough to include the idea of inappropriate activity short of actual sexual intercourse. It would also include molestation and inappropriate fondling.

b. The nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover: In these verses, sex between parents and children, parents and step-children, and between siblings (by birth or marriage) is condemned.

i. There was a time when such prohibitions seemed unnecessary, even gross. But in our rapidly degenerate society it becomes more and more necessary to simply say that sex between people in these relationships is wrong – and must be stopped immediately, and completely repented of by anyone guilty of such sin.

ii. Significantly, sex among people in these relationships is condemned even if they are adults. These are not merely commands against child-adult sexual relationships. For example, it is sin for a man to have sex with his step-mother, even if they are both adults; or it is wrong for a man to have sex with his adopted sister, even if they are consenting adults.

iii. There was both a moral and genetic reason for these commands. “Surveys in different parts of the world where inbreeding occurs have shown that it is accompanied by an increase in congenital malformations and perinatal mortality, for which recessive genes and environmental factors respectively would be responsible.” (Harrison)

iv. “In those instances where the parents are siblings, or where the relationship is one between parent and child, the resultant offspring incur approximately at 30% risk of retardation or some other serious defect.” (Harrison)

v. These commands would naturally prohibit the marriage between the parties mentioned, such as marriage between brother and sister or mother and son. Our legal system has the responsibility to continue to define marriage based on these commands – and if marriage will not be between an unrelated man and woman, who is to say that marriage could not be between a brother and sister?

vi. “Marriage as a social institution is regarded throughout Scripture as the cornerstone of all other structures, and hence its purity and integrity must be protected at all times.” (Harrison)

c. The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness: The idea is that a husband or wife’s nakedness belongs to their spouse, and to no one else. The legal spouse is the one with whom God intends them to be naked and unashamed, in the Genesis 2:25 sense of restoring some of what the curse has taken away.

3. (Leviticus 18:10-18) Other applications of the command against incest.

The nakedness of your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover; for theirs is your own nakedness. The nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, begotten by your father; she is your sister; you shall not uncover her nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is near of kin to your father. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is near of kin to your mother. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother. You shall not approach his wife; she is your aunt. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife; you shall not uncover her nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; itis your brother’s nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, nor shall you take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness. Theyare near of kin to her. It is wickedness. Nor shall you take a woman as a rival to her sister, to uncover her nakedness while the other is alive.

a. The nakedness of your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover: In these verses, God condemns sexual relations between many different family relationships:

· Grandparents and grandchildren (by blood or by marriage)

· Uncles, aunts, and nieces, nephews

· Parents and the spouses of their children

· Siblings and the spouses of their other siblings

· The children of a spouse

· The sibling of a spouse

b. It is your brother’s nakedness: The principle is related again. The nakedness of an individual belongs to their spouse and no one else, and it is a violation of God’s law togive that nakedness to anyone else, or for anyone else to take it.

B. Other laws regarding sexual morality.

1. (Leviticus 18:19) Prohibition of violating a woman’s time of customary impurity.

Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness as long as she is in hercustomary impurity.

a. In her customary impurity: This command is an echo of Leviticus 15:19, where the penalty for breaking this observance of ceremonial cleanliness was described (the penalty was to perform a ritual washing).

2. (Leviticus 18:20) Command against adultery.

Moreover you shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife, to defile yourself with her.

a. You shall not lie carnally with your neighbor’s wife: This is an echo of the seventh commandment (Exodus 20:14). We see the act itself is condemned and there is no justification allowed under the ways people often seek to justify adultery. To say, “My partner doesn’t understand me” or “we are in love” or “God led us to be with each other” justifies nothing.

i. Michael English, who lost his recording contract and marriage over adultery with another Christian music singer, says of his adultery and its aftermath: “Maybe God allowed this to happen to make me see I needed some freedom.” This is a wrong and harmful way to see the sin of adultery.

b. To defile yourself with her: Many people who are tempted to adultery do not consider how the sin will defile themselves. The might think about how their sin obviously affects their spouse, children, and other family members. But adultery also defiles the individual committing the sin, showing them to be an unfaithful anduncontrolled person.

i. Dalma Heyn, in her book, The Erotic Silence of the American Wife asserted that more women than ever were rejecting the role of the self-sacrificing “perfect wife” and are finding pleasure and escape through adultery. But most women who were unfaithful said that after the thrill was gone, their lives were left a shambles. Cathy, an Orange County woman who committed adultery with one of her husband’s business associates, said: “My advice to married women is: Don’t fool around. Having an affair and living two lives may be fun at first. But you will pay for it later. Too many people get hurt.” Another woman, Laura, who had an 11-year adulterous relationship searching for excitement and passion, said: “An affair does not enhance your marriage; it detracts from it. It was an escape. A way for me to avoid facing things in my relationship with my husband.”

ii. From a Los Angeles Times article headlined Parents’ Affairs Can Devastate Kids: “When parents go outside the marital vows, they are taking a shotgun and firing into a crowd. That shot will hurt a spouse, sure, but most likely, it will also take out some people who were never intended to get hit.” In the same article, a counselor says: “I find that with adolescents, the trauma of infidelity is overwhelming . . . during adolescence, when sexuality is super-charged, the parents’ inability to maintain sexual control can become very frightening.”

3. (Leviticus 18:21) Command against Molech worship.

And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

a. You shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech: The pagan god (or, demon, more accurately) Molech was worshipped by heating a metal statue representing the god until it was red hot, then by placing a living infant on the outstretched hands of the statue, while beating drums drowned out the screams of the child until it burned to death.

b. Nor shall you profane the name of your God: It is obvious God would condemn such an abomination. But this command is here in this context of sexual sins because often, Molech worship was a method of infanticide to eliminate illegitimate children, eliminating the fruit of the immoral sexual conduct God has commanded against.

i. Molech worship can be seen as an ancient version of birth control by infanticide, as even today many people practice birth control by abortion.

4. (Leviticus 18:22) Command against homosexual sex.

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.

a. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman: Simply put, God calls homosexual sex an abomination, even as He does in Romans 1:24-32. Additionally, homosexuality was part of the idolatrous perversions which were allowed in Israel at its times of backsliding (1 Kings 14:24; 1Ki_15:12, and 1 Kings 22:46).

i. Homosexual practice truly is an abomination in our present culture. 43% of homosexuals say that they have had 500 or more sexual partners in their lifetime. Only 1% of homosexuals say they have had four or less sexual partners in their lifetime.

ii. Homosexuals seem to specialize in anonymous sex with no emotional commitment. At one time, London AIDS clinics defined a woman as promiscuous if she’d had more than six partners in her lifetime. They gave up trying to apply a workable definition to male homosexuals when it became clear that they saw almost no homosexual men who had less than six sexual partners a year.

b. It is an abomination: This command is commonly objected to on the grounds that one was born – or created – with homosexual desires. “I was born this way; God made me a homosexual. It is my nature to be homosexual; it would be against my nature to be heterosexual.”

i. The problem is that the Bible says we are all sinners by nature; not a single person is born without an attraction to sin in some way or another. We should not say that God made the homosexual; we could say that Adam did, when he passed on the effects of his rebellion to the entire human race.

ii. Our inborn attraction to sin justifies nothing. The one who practices homosexuality can no more justify himself by saying “I was born this way” than can the person who hates homosexuals justify their ungodly hatred by saying “I was born this way.”

iii. Many justify homosexual practice on the basis of love. They might say, “How can it be wrong to love someone of my own sex? How can love be wrong?” Yet if someone loves their children, it does not justify sexual conduct with them. The issue isn’t love; the issue is of sexual conduct. Of course, the Bible in no way condemns love between people of the same sex, but it does say that sexual conduct between those people is sin.

5. (Leviticus 18:23) Command against bestiality – sexual relations with animals.

Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion.

a. Nor shall you mate with any animal: This passage prohibits what may seem obviously perverted. Yet we can say that apart from the Bible, there is no moral difference between bestiality and homosexuality, or no moral difference between bestiality and pedophilia.

i. “In contrast, the gods of Ugarit, by their example, led their devotees in this sin.” (Harris)

b. It is perversion: Yet perversions of all kinds are more and more accepted today. In the 1990s on a college campus, a group mocked the campus sponsored GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Awareness Days) week by promoting their own cause: BAD (Bestiality Awareness Days). Though in bad taste, they made a valid point: On what basis do we say that one is wrong and unnatural and another is not? If there is no God, then everything is permissible; it is all a matter of opinion and preference and nothing else. But the truth is that God does have standards we will be held accountable to.

6. (Leviticus 18:24-30) Summation: The urgency to obey God’s command for sexual morality.

Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, whowere before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am the LORD your God.

a. Do not defile yourselves: Our modern culture often refuses to see any aspect of sexual conduct as defiling. The only measure is immediate pleasure, not right or wrong. But sexual sin does defile us and it does harm us. God’s laws are given for our best, not in an attempt to merely test us or boss us around.

i. Statistically speaking, married couples live longer, get more enjoyment out of sex, have more sex, and are happier than those who are not married – obviously, trends that show God’s way is the best way!

b. For the land is defiled: One of the reasons God brought Israel to defeat and displace the Canaanites was as judgment against their sexual perversions. In nations that sanction and promote similar sins today, we should expect that the judgment of God would eventually come and the land will vomit out its inhabitants.

c. The persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people: God commanded that in Israel, there should be a strong sense of social disapproval – amounting to exile – towards those who broke these laws of sexual morality.

i. It isn’t that these things were never done in Israel; it is simply that it was clear that society said those things were wrong and should never be allowed. More and more, modern culture refuses to call almost any kind of sexual conduct sin.

 

 

 

 


 

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Leviticus 17 – THE SANCTITY OF BLOOD

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Leviticus 17 – THE SANCTITY OF BLOOD

A. Prohibition of sacrifice outside the tabernacle.

1. (Leviticus 17:1-4) Sacrifice must be at the tabernacle and by the appointed priests.

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron, to his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘This isthe thing which the LORD has commanded, saying: “Whatever man of the house of Israel who kills an ox or lamb or goat in the camp, or who kills it outside the camp, and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting to offer an offering to the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD, the guilt of bloodshed shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people,”‘“

a. Bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting: In the pagan world at that time, it was customary to offer sacrifice wherever one pleased. Altars were customarily be built on high hills, in forested areas, or at other special places.

b. The guilt of bloodshed shall be imputed to that man: This looser attitude towards the place of sacrifice may have been fine for the time of the patriarchs. Yet now with a centralized place of worship, the Israelites were not allowed to offer sacrifice any way they pleased – they had to come to the tabernacle and have their sacrifice administered by the priests. If they disobeyed, they would be cut off from among the people – exiled from their community.

i. This command runs completely contrary to the way most people come to God in our culture. The modern world is characterized by an entirely individualistic way of coming to God, where each person makes up their own rules about dealing with God as they see Him.

ii. In the book Habits of the Heart, Robert Bellah and his colleagues interviewed a young nurse named Sheila Larson, whom they describe as representing many Americans’ experience and views on religion. Speaking about her own faith and how it operates in her life, she said: “I believe in God. I’m not a religious fanatic. I can’t remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way. It is ‘Sheilaism.’ Just my own little voice.” This instinct for an individualistic, set-your-own-rules religion is given free reign in our modern world.

2. (Leviticus 17:5-9) The right way to bring sacrifice – to the tabernacle, through the priest.

“‘To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they offer in the open field, that they may bring them to the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to the priest, and offer them as peace offerings to the LORD. And the priest shall sprinkle the blood on the altar of the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and burn the fat for a sweet aroma to the LORD. They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.’“ Also you shall say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to the LORD, that man shall be cut off from among his people.’“

a. They shall no more offer sacrifices to demons: There was a spiritual reality behind the pagan gods, but the reality was really demonic. In sacrificing to Baal, Ashtoreth, and others, they really worshipped demons.

i. Paul says essentially the same thing in 1 Corinthians 10:20-21 : Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. There is a sense in which all worship that is not directed to God is directed to the devil and his demons.

b. That man shall be cut off from among his people: The demonic background to sacrifice justified this severe punishment of open idolatry.

B. Prohibition against eating blood.

1. (Leviticus 17:10-12) The prohibition stated.

‘And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’ Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood.’

a. I will set My face against that person who eats blood: This was a strict command, but the reason was simple: For the life of the flesh is in the blood. The idea was that all life belonged to God, and since blood is an emblem of life, it specially belonged to God.

b. And I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: Additionally, blood was the means by which atonement was made – therefore, to eat blood was to profane it.

i. Of course, many pagan rituals celebrated the drinking of blood, and God also wanted a separation from these pagan practices.

ii. Thus, as a matter of practice, all animals that were butchered in Israel were drained of blood as much as possible. Not all nations did this. “It appears from history that those nations who lived most on it [blood] were very fierce, savage, and barbarous, such as the Scythians, Tartars, Arabs of the desert, theScandinavians, [and so forth], some of whom drank the blood of their enemies, making cups of their sculls!” (Clarke)

2. (Leviticus 17:13-16) How to respect God’s command regarding blood.

“Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; for it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.’ And every person who eats what died naturally or what was torn by beasts, whether he is a native of your own country or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Then he shall be clean. But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his guilt.”

a. He shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust: If an animal was killed in a hunt and could not be properly bled as in a regular butchering, then the blood was to be poured out on the ground and covered with dust.

i. We may erroneously think this would profane the blood – allowing it to drip on the ground and covering it with dirt. When we think like that, we make the same mistake Uzzah made in 2 Samuel 6:6 – thinking that somehow, the ground is less profane than we are.

ii. Instead, pouring out the blood on the ground like this honored the blood of the animal, and was also hygienic. “The life had thus returned to the ground from which it had come, and the hunters and others who chanced to be in the vicinity were protected from the possibility of communicable disease or infection.” (Harrison)

iii. This respect for blood of animals should make us consider how we regard the blood of Jesus. If, under the Old Covenant, the blood of animals was to be respected, what of the precious blood of Jesus which makes a New Covenant?Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?(Hebrews 10:29)

b. Every person who eats what died naturally or what was torn by beasts: If one came upon an animal that had died naturally (or was something like modern road kill), one could eat it, because good meat shouldn’t go to waste. But the person who ate was regarded as ceremonially unclean, needing washing.

 

 

 

 


 

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Leviticus 16 – THE DAY OF ATONEMENT

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Leviticus 16 – THE DAY OF ATONEMENT

A. Preparation for sacrifice on the Day of Atonement.

1. (Leviticus 16:1-2) How Aaron should not come into the Holy Place.

Now the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before the LORD, and died; and the LORD said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.”

a. The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron: Nadab and Abihu were struck down by the LORD because they came into the Holy Place and offered profane fire before the LORD (Leviticus 10:1-20).

b. Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil: Therefore, Aaron could not come into the Holy Place any time he pleased, but only at God’s invitation and at the appointed time and place.

i. The same is true today: We can only come into God’s Holy Place at His invitation. Blessedly, the access has been opened wide because of Jesus’ work on the cross for us.Romans 5:1-2 specifically says that because of Jesus’ work on our behalf, we have standing access to God.

2. (Leviticus 16:3-5) What Aaron needs to bring with him when he goes into the Holy Place.

“Thus Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with the blood of a young bull as a sin offering, and of a ram as a burnt offering. He shall put the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers on his body; he shall be girded with a linen sash, and with the linen turban he shall be attired. These are holy garments. Therefore he shall wash his body in water, and put them on. And he shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering.”

a. With the blood of a young bull as a sin offering: Aaron must come with sacrificial blood to cleanse his own sin and the sin of the nation.

b. He shall put the holy linen tunic and the linen trousers on his body: Aaron must come clothed with garments of humility. Over his ornate garments for glory and for beauty (Exodus 28:2), he wore a holy linen tunic and the linen trousers. He was clothed in simple, humble white.

c. He shall wash his body in water: Aaron must come washed. Traditionally, this washing was done by immersion.

d. He shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats: Aaron must come with two goats and one ram to complete the offering of atonement.

i. This was extensive preparation for an important day. To the ancient Jews the Day of Atonement was called “the great day” or sometimes even just “the day.” It was and remains the only day of commanded fasting on the Jewish calendar. Modern Jews still regard Yom Kippur an important day of fasting, soul searching, and righting wrongs – yet they offer no sacrifice for sin.

B. What the High Priest does on the Day of Atonement.

1. (Leviticus 16:6-10) Casting lots to choose between the two goats.

“Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.”

a. Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself: After the sacrificing the bull as a sin offering for himself (detailed in Leviticus 16:11-14), the high priest cast lots to choose between the two goats.

i. The Talmud stipulated that the two goats be as alike as possible – in size, color, and value.

b. Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat: One goat was for the LORD and would be sacrificed as a sin offering and one goat would be the scapegoat and would be released to the wilderness. Each goat had an important role on the Day of Atonement.

i. The scapegoat was literally the “escape goat.” It escaped death and went into the wilderness. Scapegoat translates the Hebrew word azazel. “The meaning of this word is far from certain . . . The word may perhaps signify ‘removal’ or ‘dismissal’ . . . Probably the best explanation is that the word was a rare technical term describing ‘complete removal.’“ (Harrison)

ii. There were elaborate Jewish traditions about Azazel, saying he was a demonic being that the Messiah would defeat. More likely, azazel simply refered to this goat’s function of symbolically removing sin from Israel.

2. (Leviticus 16:11-14) The bull for the sin offering.

“And Aaron shall bring the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house, and shall kill the bull as the sin offering which is for himself. Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil. And he shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die. He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.”

a. The bull of the sin offering, which is for himself: This sin offering was for himself and for his house. Before the high priest could make atonement for the nation, he had to make atonement for himself.

i. When Jesus offered a perfect atonement for sin, He did not need to make a sin offering for Himself: For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. (Hebrews 7:26-28)

b. He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat: The blood of this sin offering had to be sprinkled on the mercy seat, which was the lid to the ark of the covenant, which sat in the Holy Place. When he came into the Holy Place, he had to come with a smoking censer that gave off a cloud of incense.

i. According to Jewish tradition, it was on the Day of Atonement that the high priest – and only the high priest – could pronounce the name of God, the sacred Tetragrammaton YHWH. When he entered the Holy Place with the blood of the goat set apart to the LORD, he would utter the name. He was the only one, and that was the only time, when the name could be uttered, and the high priest was to pass on the exact pronunciation of the name of God to his successor with his dying breath.

c. Before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood: The idea was that God was above the mercy seat (I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seatLeviticus 16:2), and as He looked down upon the ark of the covenant, He saw the sin of man. Man’s sin was represented by the items in the ark of the covenant: Manna Israel complained about, tablets of law Israel broke, and a budding almond rod given as a response to Israel’s rebellion. Then, the high priest sprinkled atoning blood seven times on the mercy seat – covering over the emblems of Israel’s sin. God saw the blood cover over the sin, and atonement was made.

i. This captures the thought behind the Hebrew word for atonement: Kipper, which means, “to cover.” Sin was not removed, but covered over by sacrificial blood. The New Testament idea of atonement is that our sin is not merely covered, but removed – taken away, so there is no barrier between God and man any longer.

3. (Leviticus 16:15-19) The goat selected for sacrifice is offered to make atonement for the tabernacle.

“Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. There shall be no man in the tabernacle of meeting when he goes in to make atonement in the Holy Place, until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself, for his household, and for all the assembly of Israel. And he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD, and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around. Then he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, cleanse it, and consecrate it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel.”

a. Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering: The goat that was sacrificed was also like Jesus, in that the goat was spotless, was from the people of Israel (Leviticus 16:5), was chosen by God (Leviticus 16:8), and the goat’s blood was taken to the Holy Place to provide atonement.

b. So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel: This blood was applied to the mercy seat, but also the tabernacle and altar itself. This blood cleansed the house of God itself, which was made ceremonially unclean by man’s constant touch.

4. (Leviticus 16:20-22) The release of the scapegoat.

“And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place, the tabernacle of meeting, and the altar, he shall bring the live goat. Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man. The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.”

a. When he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place: After the high priest’s sin was dealt with and after the tabernacle itself was cleansed, Aaron then dealt with the sin of the people through the transference of sin and release of the scapegoat.

b. He shall release the goat in the wilderness: This was a perfect demonstration of atonement under the Old Covenant, before the completed work of Jesus on the cross. Sin could be put away, but never really eliminated. The sin-bearing goat, bearing the sin of Israel, was alive somewhere but put away.

i. One ancient Rabbi says the goat was taken ten miles out of Jerusalem, and there were refreshment stations each mile along the way for the man who escorted the goat out of the city. He finally went the ten miles and then watched the goat wander off until he could see the goat no more. Then the sin was gone and the Day of Atonement was considered complete.

ii. Sin was put away – but not completely. How could one know for certain that God had accepted the sacrifice on the Day of Atonement? What if someone accidentally encountered the scapegoat in the wilderness? What if the scapegoat wandered back among the people of Israel? Through their traditions, the Jews began to deal with these concerns. “On the head of the scape-goat a piece of scarlet cloth was tied, and the tradition of the Jews states that if God accepted the sacrifice the scarlet cloth turned white while the goat was led to the desert; but if God had not accepted this expiation, the redness continued, and the rest of the year was spent in mourning.” (Clarke) Through this, they thought to have a certainty about the work of atonement.

iii. It seems that later the Jewish people altered the ceremony so the goat would be killed and have no chance of contacting Israel again. “The Jews write, that this goat was carried to the mountain called Azazel, whence the goat is so called; and that there he was cast headlong; and that the red string by which he was led turned white when God was pleased with the Israelites, otherwise it remained red; and they mourned all that year.” (Poole)

iv. “And the ancient Hebrews write, that forty years before the destruction of the temple, which was about the time of Christ’s death, this red string turned no more white.” (Poole) When Jesus’ blood red body rose from the dead, clothed with white garments, it was proof forever that the red had changed to white – and atonement at the cross was perfect and complete.

5. (Leviticus 16:23-28) Completion of the sacrifices.

“Then Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of meeting, shall take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the Holy Place, and shall leave them there. And he shall wash his body with water in a holy place, put on his garments, come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people, and make atonement for himself and for the people. The fat of the sin offering he shall burn on the altar. And he who released the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. The bull forthe sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. And they shall burn in the fire their skins, their flesh, and their offal. Then he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp.”

a. He shall wash his body with water in a holy place: After releasing the scapegoat, the high priest and the one who released the scapegoat washed and the sin offering and burnt offering would be completed.

b. Take off the linen garments . . . put on his garments: When atonement was finished, the priest emerged from the tabernacle in glory – with the humble garments taken off and in his normal clothes for glory and beauty.

i. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest was humble (Leviticus 16:4), he was spotless (Leviticus 16:11), and he was alone (Leviticus 16:11-14), and he emerged victorious – just like Jesus was in accomplishing our work of atonement.

6. (Leviticus 16:29-31) What the people did on the Day of Atonement.

This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you,that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever.”

a. You shall afflict your souls: In contrast to other national days of gathering, the Day of Atonement was a day to afflict your souls. That is, it was a day of fasting and rest -a sabbath of solemn rest.

i. Modern Jews who do observe the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) typically fast for that day. Yet they have no sacrifice for sins.

· Some Jews consider their own sacrifice to be a suitable substitute; today some sacrifice a rooster for every male in the family, and a hen for every female, on the day of atonement – a vague shadow of obedience to Leviticus 16:1-34.

· Some Jews consider charity a suitable substitute for sacrifice; the word “charity” in modern Hebrew is the same as the word for “righteousness.”

· Some Jews consider sufferings a suitable substitute for sacrifice; among the Jews of Eastern Europe there used to be custom to inflict 39 lashes upon themselves on the Day of Atonement.

· Some Jews consider good works or the study of the law as suitable substitutes for sacrifice.

b. That you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD: God wanted them to afflict themselves so they could identify with the sacrifice for sin. Afflicting the soul brought the Israelite into sympathy with the afflicted sacrificial victim, even as the believer identifies with Jesus Christ on the cross.

c. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you: This sabbath of solemn rest demanded a cessation of works, even as the believer is justified and finds atonement apart from his own works, being justified by the work of another. This means that all the charity, all the sufferings, all the study of the law in the world cannot atone for sin – we must rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

i. Yom Kippur ends with the blowing of the Shofar, the trumpet that heralds the coming of the Messiah. An ancient prayer in a Jewish Day of Atonement liturgy reads:

Our righteous Messiah has departed from us,

We are horror-stricken, and have none to justify us.

Our iniquities and the yoke of our transgressions

He carries who is wounded because of our transgressions

He bears on His shoulder the burden of our sins.

To find pardon for all our iniquities.

By His stripes we shall be healed –

O Eternal One, it is time that thou should create Him anew!

7. (Leviticus 16:32-34) What the high priest does on the Day of Atonement.

“And the priest, who is anointed and consecrated to minister as priest in his father’s place, shall make atonement, and put on the linen clothes, the holy garments; then he shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tabernacle of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year.” And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.”

a. He shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary: This meant the priest and only the priest. Only once a year could any man – and then, only one man – enter into the Holy Place and come near the presence of God.

b. For all their sins, once a year: To this summary of what was previously described in the chapter is the reminder that this is to be done once a year.

i. Every year, year after year, this atonement had to be made, showing it was never completed. In contrast, Jesus provided a finished work: For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another; He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:24-28)

 

 

 

 


 

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Leviticus 15 – LAWS CONCERNING BODILY DISCHARGES

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Leviticus 15 – LAWS CONCERNING BODILY DISCHARGES

A. Bodily discharges from a man.

1. (Leviticus 15:1-15) An abnormal bodily discharge.

And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean. And this shall be his uncleanness in regard to his discharge; whether his body runs with his discharge, or his body is stopped up by his discharge, it is his uncleanness. Every bed is unclean on which he who has the discharge lies, and everything on which he sits shall be unclean. And whoever touches his bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. He who sits on anything on which he who has the discharge sat shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And he who touches the body of him who has the discharge shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. If he who has the discharge spits on him who is clean, then he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Any saddle on which he who has the discharge rides shall be unclean. Whoever touches anything that was under him shall be unclean until evening. He who carries any of those things shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And whomever the one who has the discharge touches, and has not rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. The vessel of earth that he who has the discharge touches shall be broken, and every vessel of wood shall be rinsed in water. And when he who has a discharge is cleansed of his discharge, then he shall count for himself seven days for his cleansing, wash his clothes, and bathe his body in running water; then he shall be clean. ‘On the eighth day he shall take for himself two turtledoves or two young pigeons, and come before the LORD, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and give them to the priest. Then the priest shall offer them, the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD because of his discharge.’“

a. When any man has a discharge from his body, his discharge is unclean: The idea is of some obviously abnormal genital discharge, indicating some type of disease. When this occurs, the man was to be somewhat isolated in order not to pass on the infection to anyone else.

b. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD because of his discharge: After the discharge had stopped, a sacrifice had to be made.

2. (Leviticus 15:16-18) Normal bodily discharge.

‘If any man has an emission of semen, then he shall wash all his body in water, and be unclean until evening. And any garment and any leather on which there is semen, it shall be washed with water, and be unclean until evening. Also, when a woman lies with a man, and there is an emission of semen, they shall bathe in water, and be unclean until evening.’

a. If any man has an emission of semen: When a man discharged semen (either accidentally or in sex), he had to cleanse himself and respect a brief time of ceremonial impurity.

b. They shall bathe in water, and be unclean until evening: In the case of an emission of semen, both the man and his wife needed to ceremonially cleanse themselves and respect a brief time of ceremonial impurity.

B. Bodily discharges from a woman.

1. (Leviticus 15:19-24) Impurity during menstruation.

‘If a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be set apart seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything that she lies on during her impurity shall be unclean; also everything that she sits on shall be unclean. Whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. And whoever touches anything that she sat on shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. If anything is on her bed or on anything on which she sits, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until evening. And if any man lies with her at all, so that her impurity is on him, he shall be unclean seven days; and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.’

2. (Leviticus 15:25-30) Unusual or abnormal bodily discharge.

‘If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, other than at the time of her customaryimpurity, or if it runs beyond her usual time of impurity, all the days of her unclean discharge shall be as the days of her customary impurity. She shall be unclean. Every bed on which she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her as the bed of her impurity; and whatever she sits on shall be unclean, as the uncleanness of her impurity. Whoever touches those things shall be unclean; he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. But if she is cleansed of her discharge, then she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. And on the eighth day she shall take for herself two turtledoves or two young pigeons, and bring them to the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the priest shall offer the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, and the priest shall make atonement for her before the LORD for the discharge of her uncleanness.’

3. (Leviticus 15:31-33) Summation of the laws of bodily discharge.

“‘Thus you shall separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness when they defile My tabernacle that is among them. This is the law for one who has a discharge, and for him who emits semen and is unclean thereby, and for her who is indisposed because of her customary impurity, and for one who has a discharge, either man or woman, and for him who lies with her who is unclean.’“

a. When they defile my tabernacle: None of these discharges made a man or a womansinful, only ceremonially unclean. This did promote hygiene in ancient Israel, yet discharges of semen and menstruation were so regarded, not because there was anything inherently wrong with them, but because the two are connected with symbols of life and redemption, blood and seed.

b. My tabernacle that is among them: This made an obvious separation between sex and the worship of God. To the modern world this seems normal, but in the ancient world it was common to worship the gods by having sex with temple prostitutes. God did not want this association in His worship.

i. It is important for us to regard these laws of cleanliness in a New Testament perspective. In Mark 7:1-9 Jesus criticized the Pharisees for their over-emphasis on ceremonial cleanliness and their lack of regard for internal cleanliness. These laws were meant to have both hygienic reasons and spiritual applications; they were never intended as the way to be right with God.

ii. In Acts 15:1-41, the early Christian community properly discerned the work and will of God in the New Covenant: that under the New Covenant, the believer was not bound to these laws of ritual purity. One could be a follower of Jesus without the ritual conformity to the Mosaic Law.

iii. Yet we need to remember that spiritual cleanliness in worship is important today. We also remember that Jesus is the One who makes us clean and fit for fellowship: You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you (John 15:3). As we receive from the Word of God, we are being cleansed.

iv. Our cleanliness is complete as we abide in Jesus: 1 John 1:7-9 – But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

 

 

 


 

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Leviticus 14 – RITUALS ON THE CLEANSING OF A LEPER

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Leviticus 14 – RITUALS ON THE CLEANSING OF A LEPER

A. The sacrifice for a cleansed leper.

1. (Leviticus 14:1-9) The first seven days of the ritual.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest. And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper, then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field. He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent seven days. But on the seventh day he shall shave all the hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows; all his hair he shall shave off. He shall wash his clothes and wash his body in water, and he shall be clean.”

a. Then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds: In this cleansing ceremony, one bird was killed in an earthen vessel over running water, and its blood was applied to a living bird, to some cedar wood, to some scarlet fabric, and to some hyssop. Then, using these things, the blood was sprinkled on the one who was cleansed from leprosy. Then, the living bird was let go.

i. This seems to be a picture of Jesus’ death and its spiritual application; a “heavenly” being (as a bird is “of the heavens”) dies in an earthen vessel, while remaining clean (because of the running water). The death of the bird is associated with blood and water; the blood is connected with life (applied to the living bird), and then applied to the one cleansed.

ii. Cedar wood: Cedar is extremely resistant to disease and rot, and these qualities may be the reason for including it here – as well as a symbolic reference to the wood of the cross. Some even think the cross Jesus was crucified on was made of cedar.

iii. The connection with hyssop is also important. Jesus was offered drink from a hyssop branch on the cross (Matthew 27:48), and when David said purge me with hyssop in Psalms 51:7, he was admitted that he was as bad as a leper.

b. He shall shave all the hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows: After the sacrificial ceremony with the birds, the cleansed leper had to wash their clothes and shave off all of their hair. They started all over again, as if they were a brand new baby.

i. Again, this seems to be an illustration of being “born again” – a completely new start.

2. (Leviticus 14:10-20) On the eighth day.

“And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, and one log of oil. Then the priest who makes him clean shall present the man who is to be made clean, and those things, before the LORD, at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. And the priest shall take one male lamb and offer it as a trespass offering, and the log of oil, and wave them as a wave offering before the LORD. Then he shall kill the lamb in the place where he kills the sin offering and the burnt offering, in a holy place; for as the sin offering is the priest’s, so isthe trespass offering. It is most holy. The priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, and the priest shall put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, and pour it into the palm of his own left hand. Then the priest shall dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand, and shall sprinkle some of the oil with his finger seven times before the LORD. And of the rest of the oil in his hand, the priest shall put some on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the blood of the trespass offering. The rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. So the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD. Then the priest shall offer the sin offering, and make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. Afterward he shall kill the burnt offering. And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. So the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.”

a. On the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish: In completing the sacrifices for the cleansed leper, offerings were made on the eighth day and sacrificial blood was applied to the right ear, the right thumb, and the right big toe, to sanctify and consecrate the cleansed leper. This was the same way that the priest was consecrated.

b. And of the rest of the oil in his hand, the priest shall put some on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed: On the eighth day, oil was also applied to the cleansed leper. It was both sprinkled on his body in general and then applied to the ear, thumb, and toe just as the blood was. Each of these places on the body was meant to be anointed with oil.

i. Therefore, a cleansed leper had a special calling and a special anointing. One could not go through such a ritual as this and not be changed.

ii. Since leprosy is a picture of sin, we see how this ritual has spiritual application to ever sinner set free by Jesus.

iii. Since leprosy had no natural cure, it was certain that this ritual was rarely performed – and when it was performed at the command of Jesus (Luke 5:12-14), it must have been a great testimony to the priests at the temple.

3. (Leviticus 14:21-32) Provisions for the poor to fulfill the ritual for a cleansed leper.

“But if he is poor and cannot afford it, then he shall take one male lamb as a trespass offering to be waved, to make atonement for him, one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, a log of oil, and two turtledoves or two young pigeons, such as he is able to afford: one shall be a sin offering and the other a burnt offering. He shall bring them to the priest on the eighth day for his cleansing, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, before the LORD. And the priest shall take the lamb of the trespass offering and the log of oil, and the priest shall wave them as a wave offering before the LORD. Then he shall kill the lamb of the trespass offering, and the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering and put it on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot. And the priest shall pour some of the oil into the palm of his own left hand. Then the priest shall sprinkle with his right finger some of the oil that is in his left hand seven times before the LORD. And the priest shall put some of the oil that is in his hand on the tip of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed, on the thumb of the right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the place of the blood of the trespass offering. The rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed, to make atonement for him before the LORD. And he shall offer one of the turtledoves or young pigeons, such as he can afford; such as he is able to afford, the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, with the grain offering. So the priest shall make atonement for him who is to be cleansed before the LORD. This is the law for one who had a leprous sore, who cannot afford the usual cleansing.”

B. Leprosy in a house.

1. (Leviticus 14:33-42) Diagnosis of leprosy in a house.

And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: “When you have come into the land of Canaan, which I give you as a possession, and I put the leprous plague in a house in the land of your possession, and he who owns the house comes and tells the priest, saying, ‘It seems to me that there is some plague in the house,’ then the priest shall command that they empty the house, before the priest goes into it to examine the plague, that all that is in the house may not be made unclean; and afterward the priest shall go in to examine the house. And he shall examine the plague; and indeed if the plague is on the walls of the house with ingrained streaks, greenish or reddish, which appear to be deep in the wall, then the priest shall go out of the house, to the door of the house, and shut up the house seven days. And the priest shall come again on the seventh day and look; and indeed if the plague has spread on the walls of the house, then the priest shall command that they take away the stones in which is the plague, and they shall cast them into an unclean place outside the city. And he shall cause the house to be scraped inside, all around, and the dust that they scrape off they shall pour out in an unclean place outside the city. Then they shall take other stones and put them in the place of those stones, and he shall take other mortar and plaster the house.”

a. It seems to me that there is some plague in the house: Just as with the instructions regarding leprosy in garments in Leviticus 13:1-59, this uses a broad defining of leprosy that can include fungus and mold infestations. These instructions helped promote hygienic dwellings in Israel.

2. (Leviticus 14:43-53) Cleansing the house infested with leprosy.

“Now if the plague comes back and breaks out in the house, after he has taken away the stones, after he has scraped the house, and after it is plastered, then the priest shall come and look; and indeed if the plague has spread in the house, it is an active leprosy in the house. It is unclean. And he shall break down the house, its stones, its timber, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall carry them outside the city to an unclean place. Moreover he who goes into the house at all while it is shut up shall be unclean until evening. And he who lies down in the house shall wash his clothes, and he who eats in the house shall wash his clothes. But if the priest comes in and examines it, and indeed the plague has not spread in the house after the house was plastered, then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, because the plague is healed. And he shall take, to cleanse the house, two birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. Then he shall kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water; and he shall take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times. And he shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird and the running water and the living bird, with the cedar wood, the hyssop, and the scarlet. Then he shall let the living bird loose outside the city in the open field, and make atonement for the house, and it shall be clean.”

3. (Leviticus 14:54-57) Summation of the laws of leprosy.

“This is the law for any leprous sore and scale, for the leprosy of a garment and of a house, for a swelling and a scab and a bright spot, to teach when it is unclean and when it is clean. This isthe law of leprosy.”

 

 

 

 


 

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Leviticus 13 – THE DIAGNOSIS OF LEPROSY

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Leviticus 13 – THE DIAGNOSIS OF LEPROSY

A. Instructions to the priests for diagnosing leprosy.

1. (Leviticus 13:1-8) The method of examination for leprosy.

And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying: “When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling, a scab, or a bright spot, and it becomes on the skin of his body like a leprous sore, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. The priest shall examine the sore on the skin of the body; and if the hair on the sore has turned white, and the sore appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous sore. Then the priest shall examine him, and pronounce him unclean. But if the bright spot is white on the skin of his body, and does not appear to be deeper than the skin, and its hair has not turned white, then the priest shall isolate the one who has the sore seven days. And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day; and indeed if the sore appears to be as it was, and the sore has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall isolate him another seven days. Then the priest shall examine him again on the seventh day; and indeed if the sore has faded, and the sore has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only a scab, and he shall wash his clothes and be clean. But if the scab should at all spread over the skin, after he has been seen by the priest for his cleansing, he shall be seen by the priest again. And if the priest sees that the scab has indeed spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is leprosy.”

a. The priest shall examine the sore on the skin of the body: In this sense, the priests served as public health officers and diagnosed the disease from this carefully defined criteria, not from intuition or guessing.

b. If the hair on the sore has turned white, and the sore appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous sore: The methodology in this passage erred on the side of safety. If a person could not be pronounced “clean” with certainty, they were then isolated until they could be pronounced clean.

i. These judgments were based on sound medical diagnosis and concern. They were made more with the idea of protecting the community from the outbreak of disease than with the idea of the rights of the individual.

ii. “The Hebrew priest-physicians appear to have been the first in the ancient world to isolate persons suspected of infectious or contagious diseases.” (Harrison)

iii. Illnesses such as smallpox, measles, and scarlet fever might start out with a skin condition considered to be leprosy – and the person would be isolated for the necessary time until the condition cleared up. This quarantine helped prevent the spread of these diseases among the people of Israel.

2. (Leviticus 13:9-44) More on the diagnosis of leprosy.

“When the leprous sore is on a person, then he shall be brought to the priest. And the priest shall examine him; and indeed if the swelling on the skin is white, and it has turned the hair white, andthere is a spot of raw flesh in the swelling, it is an old leprosy on the skin of his body. The priest shall pronounce him unclean, and shall not isolate him, for he is unclean. And if leprosy breaks out all over the skin, and the leprosy covers all the skin of the one who has the sore, from his head to his foot, wherever the priest looks, then the priest shall consider; and indeed if the leprosy has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean who has the sore. It has all turned white. He is clean. But when raw flesh appears on him, he shall be unclean. And the priest shall examine the raw flesh and pronounce him to be unclean; for the raw flesh is unclean. It isleprosy. Or if the raw flesh changes and turns white again, he shall come to the priest. And the priest shall examine him; and indeed if the sore has turned white, then the priest shall pronouncehim clean who has the sore. He is clean. If the body develops a boil in the skin, and it is healed, and in the place of the boil there comes a white swelling or a bright spot, reddish-white, then it shall be shown to the priest; and if, when the priest sees it, it indeed appears deeper than the skin, and its hair has turned white, the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore which has broken out of the boil. But if the priest examines it, and indeed there are no white hairs in it, and it is not deeper than the skin, but has faded, then the priest shall isolate him seven days; and if it should at all spread over the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. Itis a leprous sore. But if the bright spot stays in one place, and has not spread, it is the scar of the boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean. Or if the body receives a burn on its skin by fire, and the raw flesh of the burn becomes a bright spot, reddish-white or white, then the priest shall examine it; and indeed if the hair of the bright spot has turned white, and it appears deeper than the skin, it is leprosy broken out in the burn. Therefore the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore. But if the priest examines it, and indeed there are no white hairs in the bright spot, and it is not deeper than the skin, but has faded, then the priest shall isolate him seven days. And the priest shall examine him on the seventh day. If it has at all spread over the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It is a leprous sore. But if the bright spot stays in one place, and has not spread on the skin, but has faded, it is a swelling from the burn. The priest shall pronounce him clean, for it is the scar from the burn. If a man or woman has a sore on the head or the beard, then the priest shall examine the sore; and indeed if it appears deeper than the skin, and there is in it thin yellow hair, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean. It isa scaly leprosy of the head or beard. But if the priest examines the scaly sore, and indeed it does not appear deeper than the skin, and there is no black hair in it, then the priest shall isolatethe one who has the scale seven days. And on the seventh day the priest shall examine the sore; and indeed if the scale has not spread, and there is no yellow hair in it, and the scale does not appear deeper than the skin, he shall shave himself, but the scale he shall not shave. And the priest shall isolate the one who has the scale another seven days. On the seventh day the priest shall examine the scale; and indeed if the scale has not spread over the skin, and does not appear deeper than the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean. He shall wash his clothes and be clean. But if the scale should at all spread over the skin after his cleansing, then the priest shall examine him; and indeed if the scale has spread over the skin, the priest need not seek for yellow hair. He is unclean. But if the scale appears to be at a standstill, and there is black hair grown up in it, the scale has healed. He is clean, and the priest shall pronounce him clean. If a man or a woman has bright spots on the skin of the body, specifically white bright spots, then the priest shall look; and indeed if the bright spots on the skin of the body are dull white, it is a white spot that grows on the skin. He is clean. As for the man whose hair has fallen from his head, he is bald, but he is clean. He whose hair has fallen from his forehead, he is bald on the forehead, but he is clean. And if there is on the bald head or bald forehead a reddish-white sore, it is leprosy breaking out on his bald head or his bald forehead. Then the priest shall examine it; and indeed if the swelling of the sore is reddish-white on his bald head or on his bald forehead, as the appearance of leprosy on the skin of the body, he is a leprous man. He isunclean. The priest shall surely pronounce him unclean; his sore is on his head.

a. And the priest shall examine him: This section clearly shows the very specific rules for making a specific diagnosis of leprosy. The specific details given in so many different situations emphasize that God did not want this to be guesswork but the result of careful examination. Such a serious diagnosis should not be guessed.

b. It is leprosy: Leprosy was dealt with so seriously because it was such a horrible disease, and it was also a dramatic picture of sin and its spiritual operation in human beings.

i. When leprosy first appears on your skin, it begins as small, red spots. Before too long they get bigger, and start to turn white, with a shiny or scaly appearance. Pretty soon the spots spread over the entire body and the hair begins to fall out – first from the head, then even from the eyebrows. As things get worse, the finger nails and toenails become loose; they start to rot and eventually fall off. Then the joints of fingers and toes begin to rot and start to fall off piece by piece. The gums start shrinking and can’t hold teeth anymore, so each of them is lost. Leprosy keeps eating away at the face until the nose is literally lost, and the palate and even eyes rot – and the victim wastes away until death.

ii. Leprosy is like sin in many ways. There are some good reasons why many ancient rabbis considered a leper as someone already dead. Leprosy is like sin in that:

· It begins as nothing.

· It is painless in its first stages.

· It grows slowly.

· It often remits for a while and then returns.

· It numbs the senses – one cannot feel in the afflicted area.

· It causes decay and deformity.

· It gives a person a repulsive appearance.

iii. “These precautions were taken not merely for sanitary reasons, or to guard against contagion, for it is not certain that leprosy was contagious, but in order that the people might be taught through the parable of leprosy, what a fearful and loathsome thing sin is in the sight of God.” (Taylor)

iv. “Leprosy was indeed nothing short of a living death, a poisoning of the springs, a corrupting of all the humours of life; a dissolution little by little of the whole body, so that one limb after another actually decayed and fell away.” (Trench)

3. (Leviticus 13:45-46) The result of leprosy.

“Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.”

a. His clothes shall be torn and his head bare: Once the diagnosis of leprosy was confirmed, everything changed for the leper. They lived in a perpetual state of mourning and in a perpetual state of public disgrace (he shall . . . cry “Unclean! Unclean!”). Furthermore, they lived in a perpetual state of isolation (he shall dwell alone).

b. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone: As stringent as all this was, eventually they Jews went further. In the days of Jesus many Jews thought two things about a leper: You are the walking dead and you deserve this because this is the punishment of God against you.

i. Jewish custom said that you should not even greet a leper, and you had to stay six feet away from a leper. One Rabbi bragged that he would not even buy an egg on a street where he saw a leper, and another boasted that he threw rocks at lepers to keep them far from him. Rabbis didn’t even allow a leper to wash his face.

ii. But Jesus was different. He loved lepers; He touched them and healed them when they had no hope at all (Matthew 8:1-4 and Luke 17:11-19).

iii. Because of modern drugs and treatments, leprosy is almost unknown in the western world – the United States’ only two leper colonies have been shut down. But worldwide there are some 15 million lepers, almost all of them in third-world nations.

4. (Leviticus 13:47-59) Leprosy in a garment.

“Also, if a garment has a leprous plague in it, whether it is a woolen garment or a linen garment, whether it is in the warp or woof of linen or wool, whether in leather or in anything made of leather, and if the plague is greenish or reddish in the garment or in the leather, whether in the warp or in the woof, or in anything made of leather, it is a leprous plague and shall be shown to the priest. The priest shall examine the plague and isolate that which has the plague seven days. And he shall examine the plague on the seventh day. If the plague has spread in the garment, either in the warp or in the woof, in the leather or in anything made of leather, the plague is an active leprosy. It is unclean. He shall therefore burn that garment in which is the plague, whether warp or woof, in wool or in linen, or anything of leather, for it is an active leprosy; the garment shall be burned in the fire. But if the priest examines it, and indeed the plague has not spread in the garment, either in the warp or in the woof, or in anything made of leather, then the priest shall command that they wash the thing in which is the plague; and he shall isolate it another seven days. Then the priest shall examine the plague after it has been washed; and indeed if the plague has not changed its color, though the plague has not spread, it is unclean, and you shall burn it in the fire; it continues eating away, whether the damage is outside or inside. If the priest examinesit, and indeed the plague has faded after washing it, then he shall tear it out of the garment, whether out of the warp or out of the woof, or out of the leather. But if it appears again in the garment, either in the warp or in the woof, or in anything made of leather, it is a spreading plague;you shall burn with fire that in which is the plague. And if you wash the garment, either warp or woof, or whatever is made of leather, if the plague has disappeared from it, then it shall be washed a second time, and shall be clean. This is the law of the leprous plague in a garment of wool or linen, either in the warp or woof, or in anything made of leather, to pronounce it clean or to pronounce it unclean.”

a. If a garment has a leprous plague in it: In Old Testament times, the term leprosyhad a broad definition and could include some forms of mold or fungi.

b. The priest shall examine the plague: The priests had to make careful determination to see if a garment might pass on a contagious disease or if it could still be used.

 

 

 

 

 

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Leviticus 12 – CLEANSING AFTER CHILDBIRTH

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Leviticus 12 – CLEANSING AFTER CHILDBIRTH

A. Ceremonial impurity after giving birth.

1. (Leviticus 12:1-4) When a male child is born.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days. She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled.’“

a. If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days: The child was then circumcised on the eighth day, with the ceremonial uncleanness lasting an additional 33 days, for a total of 40 days of ceremonial impurity after giving birth to a male child.

b. She shall not touch any hallowed thing: The commanded time of ceremonial impurity should not be regarded as a negative attitude towards birth or child-bearing on God’s part. God commands child bearing, in that man is commanded to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28), children are regarded as a gift from God (Psalms 127:3), and a woman with many kids is considered blessed (Psalms 128:3).

i. The key to understanding this ceremony is to understand the idea of original sin. As wonderful as a new baby is, God wanted it to be remembered that with every birth another sinner was brought into the world, and the woman was here symbolically responsible for bringing a new sinner into the world.

ii. Perhaps just as importantly, the time of ceremonial impurity gave the new mother a time of rest and seclusion that would she no doubt welcomed.

2. (Leviticus 12:5) When a female child is born.

But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her customary impurity, and she shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days.

a. If she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks: The time period for each phase was double of that when giving birth to a son. For a the birth of a daughter, a woman was unclean for 14 days followed by 66 days.

b. She shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days: The longer period of ceremonial uncleanness for the birth of a daughter should not be understood as a penalty. Instead, it is linked to the idea stated in the previous verses – that the time of impurity is for the symbolic responsibility of bringing other sinners into the world. When giving birth to a female, a mother brings a sinner into the world who will bring still other sinners into the world.

i. Some also suggest the longer period of time in connection with the birth of a girl was because girls are usually smaller at birth, and this would allow more time for the mother’s focused care and attention on the child. As well, since sons were more prized, the longer time at home for a mother with a new born girl would force the family to bond more deeply, over a more extended period of time with the new born girl.

B. The purification rite for cleansing after childbirth.

1. (Leviticus 12:6-7) The sacrifice required.

When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then he shall offer it before the LORD, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female.

a. Then he shall offer it before the LORD, and make atonement for her: This was a fairly standard sacrifice for atonement, holding the woman symbolically responsible for bringing another sinner into this world. The required sacrifice was the same for her who has borne a male or a female.

2. (Leviticus 12:8) Allowances for the poor.

And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons; one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.

a. If she is not able to bring a lamb: God knew that not every family in Israel could afford to bring a lamb for sacrifice at the birth of a child. Therefore, He also allowed the lesser sacrifices of two turtledoves or two young pigeons.

i. Jesus’ family offered only a pair of turtledoves (Luke 2:22-24) at birth. This shows that Jesus did not come from a wealthy family.

 

 

 

 


 

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