God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

February 19 - Leviticus 19-21: God Calls His Chosen People to Holiness

Today’s Reading: Leviticus 19-21

The Message

English Standard Version

There are several repeats of laws previously mentioned. However, this is not a section to skip. If you wish to understand the Old Testament and how the Old Testament informs the New Testament this is one day that you should read completely. I would love to comment on everything but I will focus on general principles instead. Give your thoughts on specific laws in the comments below. I'd love to know what your thoughts are.

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God is giving "light unto the nation" laws. These were laws intended to separate Israel from the people who came before them and polluted the land.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

God's people were to be holy because their God was holy.
God repeated several laws. He expanded on some and summarized others. They were to leave parts of fields for the poor and foreign. They were to judge based on rightness instead of wealth, protect their neighbor, stay away from divination or sorcery, respect the elderly, and treat the foreigner equally as a native. They were to be holy.
Anyone who performed child sacrifice was reject by God and must be executed. Both partners were to be executed for sexual sin.
Priests had specific laws beyond the other tribes.

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

These laws are given to the Israelites to be a holy people, a light unto the nations.

This is a very difficult post to write. The reason is simple—of all sections of scripture these chapters (including yesterday's reading) are the go-to area to discredit the Bible. No one sells "Leviticus 17-21" merchandise or tattoos it on their body. Some of the laws are unpopular and do not make sense taken out of context.
However, as I mentioned yesterday, these laws do not come from a vacuum. They are specific laws designed to make the people different from the people who polluted the land before them (repeated in 20:22-23) and holy, meaning they are an example to the nations around them of how God sets things right on the earth. These laws were not universal laws forced upon the world. They exhibit how God sets things right in the world through His Chosen People. This is why I believe they are important for God's Chosen People today to know, even if we are not under the same law per se.

God protects the poor and the foreigner.

I want to reiterate this point (and will every time God mentions it). God's people help the poor and treat the foreigner as an equal. They were to leave their fields with grain to provide food for those who had no fields of their own. They were not to oppress the poor—or judge unjustly in their favor. They were to give the foreigner (most likely a refugee) the same treatment as a native. God sets things right on the earth by having his people help the poor and refugee.

Laws against mixing two things (mating animals, woven materials) are to symbolize their (w)holiness to God.

These laws are often shown to be ludicrous. However, understanding that the Law of Moses is meant to separate the people from bad influences changes how these laws are meant to help the people. They provide visual symbols of their wholeness to God alone. They are to have no other god and their lifestyle mirrors that wholeness. There could be no mixing of gods that they served and there was to be no mixing of crops, animals, and clothing fibers in their life.

The laws about priests were to show the purity of God from all things not set right.

These laws speak of holy living but also staying away from the effects of the curse. This is why those who were deformed could not present an offering. God would not be reminded of the curse placed on the world because of man's sin.

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