The book of Law often seems remote and outdated even to Christians, but God says that all Scripture is inspired, that it is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, training in righteousness. When I started looking at Leviticus from that perspective, I found so much that in pertinent to and valuable for us today.
The first lesson is one I hadn’t planned on including, but I learned this afternoon that Kim Davis, Kentucky’s Rowan County Clerk, who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, has been arrested for violating a federal judge’s ruling. So here’s what Leviticus teaches me that’s related to this matter.
Through Moses God handed down a number of laws about all kinds of things, recorded for us in the book of Leviticus. In Chapter 18 He told Israel,
You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes.(v 3)
He then proceeds to forbid incest, homosexuality, and bestiality. He concluded by saying,
Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled); so that the land will not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you. (vv 24-28)
While some might argue that God was addressing Israel and that has nothing to do with us today, I would point out that He specifically said the nations who occupied the land previously were “spewed out” because they defiled the land by doing the things God told Israel not to do. Clearly this was not an Israel-only law. These standards reflect the holiness of God.
I can only think that, should the US continue in the direction we’re headed, we can expect that, when our sin has ripened, “our land will also spew us out.” I don’t know what that will look like, but it is clearly the judgment of God. Will we suffer the severe effects of global warming as the environmentalists predict? We we have earthquakes and hurricanes and tornadoes? Will we experience war, even nuclear war, as Iran obtains the capacity to deliver such a bomb to our shores?
Whatever spin others might put on it, such catastrophes are linked to the sin we are tolerating that defiles our land.
On a happier note, lesson two demonstrates God’s grace. In chapter 21 He issues laws that govern the conduct of the High Priest. One such pronouncement says,
He shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow or a divorced woman, or one who is profaned by harlotry, these he may not take; but rather he is to marry a virgin of his people, so that he will not profane his offspring among his people; for I am the LORD who sanctifies him. (13-15)
The writer to the Hebrews refers to Jesus as the Great High Priest, and yet in His ancestral line is a prostitute, an incestuous couple, an adulterous couple, and a widow. Two of these were even foreigners. As in, not Jews. And yet, Jesus, the offspring of all this lawbreaking, was not profaned.
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (Heb. 4:15)
Lesson three brings God’s grace to the front and center. Part of the rules for the high priest were that no one with a physical deformity could serve in that capacity:
‘No man of your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect shall approach to offer the food of his God. 18 For no one who has a defect shall approach: a blind man, or a lame man, or he who has a disfigured face, or any deformed limb, or a man who has a broken foot or broken hand, 20 or a hunchback or a dwarf, or one who has a defect in his eye or eczema or scabs or crushed testicles.
Contrast this with what Jesus did when He was on earth: He healed the man with the withered hand, made the blind to see, raised the lame so they could walk, cleansed the lepers. In other words, when those disqualified by the Levitic law to serve in the temple came to Jesus, He, in his perfection, elevated them, as He elevates us, so that we can approach the throne of grace instead of the altar of sacrifice.