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Scripture reading – Leviticus 18-19

Our study in Leviticus moves on from clean and unclean meats (Leviticus 17), to the nation’s morality and the sanctity of the institution of marriage (Leviticus 18).

Leviticus 18

A Call to Be Holy (18:1-5)

The LORD commanded Moses, “speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the Lord your God. 3After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances” (18:2-3).

Reminding the nation, “I am the LORD your God” (18:2, 4), He commanded Israel not to follow after the ways of the heathen, for He had chosen and called them out of Egypt. If the people would keep His commandments and walk in His precepts (18:4-5), He promised He would bless them.

Leviticus 18:6-18 leaves no doubt that the ways of the heathen were not to be the ways of Israel. While the Egyptians and the Canaanites practiced immorality and ungodliness (18:3), the LORD would accept nothing less than the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24; Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 18:20). (Understanding the sad state of morality in both the world and the church, we dare not take the explicit nature of this passage lightly.)

The Abominable Sin of Incest (18:6-18)

The phrase “uncover their nakedness” (18:6) references the sexual act reserved for marriage and is found throughout this passage. The LORD had no tolerance for incest, and its practice was a capital offense, and its subjects would be stoned.

The following sexual relationships were forbidden and deemed incestuous. Sex with one’s parent (18:7), stepmother (18:8), sister or half-sister (18:9), grand-daughter (18:10), daughter of a stepmother (18:11), an aunt, both fraternal and maternal (18:12-14), daughter-in-law (18:15), sister-in-law (18:16), sex with a mother and her daughter (18:17), or sisters, unless the first had died (18:18) were forbidden.

Child Sacrifice, Homosexuality, and Bestiality (18:21-23)

Child sacrifice, practiced among the heathen, was an abomination to the God of Israel (18:21). The LORD declared homosexuality an abomination (18:22), and God’s judgment fell on Sodom and Gomorrah because of that sin (Genesis 19). Bestiality, the sin of a man or woman lying with a beast, was described as “confusion” (18:23) and, therefore, a perversion of God’s natural law and order.

The Wickedness of Man Calls for God’s Judgment (18:24-30)

The LORD warned Israel that He had no tolerance should His people adopt the ways of the heathen. Man’s sins not only defile himself, but also infect the land (18:24). God warned that should His people practice the evil ways of the wicked, the land would vomit out its inhabitants (18:25-28). Any who refused to “do [His] judgments, and keep [His] ordinances” (18:4), the LORD warned those souls would be excommunicated, “cut off from among their people” (18:29).

Leviticus 19 

A Brief Review of the Commandments and the Law

Leviticus 19 repeated the LORD’s call for Israel to be holy as their God (19:1). His commandments served as guiding precepts for godly living, and the people were given practical applications of God’s Law for daily life. For example, charity to the poor (19:9-10), paying an honest, fair wage (19:13), showing sympathy to those less fortunate (19:14), and loving one’s neighbor in word and deed are stressed (19:15-22) as the will of God.

Principles for horticulture were given, and the people were instructed to put off harvesting the fruit of newly planted trees for three years, dedicating the fruit of the fourth year to the LORD as first fruits, and “in the fifth year [the people were permitted to] eat of the fruit” (19:23-25).

Unlike their neighbors, Hebrew men were not to “round the corners of [their] heads, neither…mar the corners of [their] beard” (19:27). There was also the prohibition of “cuttings” and “marks” (tattoos) upon the flesh, as the people were reminded this was the commandment of “the LORD” (19:28).

Honor Your Elder (19:32)

The practice of standing when in the presence of those older than yourself is found here. The people were instructed to honor their elders, saying, “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord” (19:32).

Honesty and Integrity in Business (19:35-36)

The command to “love thy neighbor as thyself” (19:18) was also to be expressed in business. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of good business, and God’s people were commanded to be “just” in measuring items by weight and volume (19:36).

Closing thoughts and applications:

There is a crisis of integrity and morality in the 21st century, and not even the congregations of believers are free of moral failure. There was a time when the lives of God’s people were defined by His Word, Law, and Commandments, and our lives and homes set the moral high ground for a nation. Sadly, many believers have an appetite for “Egypt” (the world) and look to society, social media, politicians, judges, and liberal media for their moral judgments and practices.

Warning: Our homes, churches, schools, and nation will not be blessed until our consciences are disciplined by God’s Word, Laws, and Commandments (18:30).

Questions to consider:

1) In the Bible, Egypt was a type or symbol of the world. What did the LORD say about the “doings” of Egypt and Canaan? (Leviticus 18:12-3)

2) Immorality defiles not only one’s life and family, but also the land and nation. What is the response of the “land” to gross immorality? (Leviticus 18:24-25)

3) Who is the believer’s standard of holiness? (Leviticus 19:2)

4) How do believers honor their elders? (Leviticus 19:32)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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