Saturday, September 8, 2012

LIV - Leviticus Chapters 18-27 - Holiness and Righteousness

Leviticus Chapters 18-27

You might find this brief outline serving as an overview will help in studying this last part of Leviticus.  If you like outlines as a helpful tool, please let me know as I can use them more often.

1)   Laws Concerning Human Relations (18:1 - 20:27)
      A)  Laws concerning Sex Offences (18:1-30)
      B)  Laws Reflectin God's Holiness and All Areas of Life (19:1-37)
      C)  Laws Requiring the Death Penalty (20:127)

2)   Laws Concerning Details of Israel's Worship (21:1 - 24:23)
      A)  Acceptable Priestly Service (212:1 - 22:33)
      B)  The Holy Convocations
      C)  The Oil and Bread for the Tabernacle (24:1-9)
      D)  Clarifications in Response to Blasphamy (24:10-23)

3)  Laws Concerning Economic and Financial Responsiblities (25:1 - 27:34)
      A)  Two Special Years (25:1-22)
      B)  The Rights of the Poor (25:23-55)
      C)  Economic Consequences of Observing the Law (26:1-46)
      D)  Vows (27:1-25)
      E)  Firstlings (27:26-27)
      F)  Devoted Things (27:28-29)
      G)  Tithes (27:30-34)

God's demand for holiness and righteousness is pervasive throughout the study of His laws.  Many of the laws merely take it into further details so the people would know how to be holy and how to be righteous.  Again, these people were slaves under Egyptian rule.  The only "righteousness" they could possibly know is that which was learned from the Egyptians and each other, niether of which had any Godly guidelines to draw from.  I'll highlight just a few passages and verses.

In the 18th chapter, God places forth His commandments concerning sexual activity, pretexted in verse 3 by referencing the Egyptians and Canaanites as examples of what NOT to do.  Look over this list of "don'ts" in chapter 18.  You will notice that God is particularly forbidding concerning a few things by the words He uses when listing them.  As an example, to have sex with a woman and her daughter is "wickedness".  A man having sex with another man is "detestable".  A man or a woman having sex with an animal is a "perversion".  And (we'll get to more of this later) sacrificing your children to the god Molek was particularly displeasing to God.  Molek was a Canaanite god who would be satisfied only by child sacrifice.

In chapter 19, vss 9 and 10, God deals with our attitudes toward the poor.  God forbids that the Israelites harvest the corners of their fields and also forbids the gleaning of the fields.  "Gleaning" is going back over the feilds during the harvest to get what you missed the first time.  God wants this left for the poor, so they will have something to eat if they have no land from which to get food.  An example of this law put into action is the story of Ruth and Boaz.  {This part of the Law always reminds me of what Jesus said when His desciples said that the oil used to anoint His head could have
been sold and the money used to buy food for the poor.  Jesus said that the poor would always exist, but Jesus is with them but for a short time.  In a world created by God, and especially in the Promised Land, one must wonder why there would always be the poor.  In a land flowing with milk and honey, why would one assume there were going to be any poor people at all.  I could spend pages upon pages on this subject, but for now, I'll suffice to say that throughout the History of civiliztion there
have always been poor people, and based upon the Scripture, there always will be.}  But regardless of the reasons for the poor, or how many poor there might be, we must have the right attitude toward those in need and/or less priviledged than we are.  But we also must realize that God provided for the poor in a way that was not demeaning.  They had to work for their provender.  Before I get off of chapter 19, I must mention God's laws concering doing "business" with each other.  Three types of dishonesty were prohibited:  1) to take something that belongs to someone else.  2) to lie in order to take unfair advantage.  and 3) to cheat in business such as using false weights to measure out the proper portion of material sold (vss 35,36).  He goes on to mention also that a laborer is to be paid every day, as many workers needed to buy food and/or provender everyday because their wages were so low.  To hold one's wages may have forced him to borrow money to provide for his family which would cost him interest.  This practice could possibly swallow a good man up into slavery.

Chapter 20 begins with God's warning abut sacrificing children to the god Molek.  Chapter 20 goes on to tell the punishments which will be administered for particular sins.

Chapter 21 and 22 deal with the priests and the requirements placed on them and all the priests that follow.  There was so much for these priests to learn and monitor.  Being a priest and performing his job functions properly would have to have been exhausting, especially at first when all the people must be taught.

Chapter 23 is somewhat interesting reading, as it tells of each of the holy days to be observed:

The Sabboth
The Passover
The Feast of Unleaved Bread
The Offering of Firstfruits
The Festival of Weeks
The Day of Atonement
The Festival of Tabernacles

Beginning at chapter 24:10, the Scripture tells about the punishment of a blasphemer.  To blaspheme is to verbally disrespect God.  One thing of interest is that all the people were to participate in the stoning death of the blasphemer because the blasphemer hurts the whole tribe or region and can possibly poison minds against God.

Chapter 25 speaks of something not spoken of often any more:  The Year of Jubilee.  This is an amazing requirement set forth by God.  We'll get into this more as we study the Old Testiment.  As for the fields, six days we are to work, and the seventh day we are to do no work.  For six years we are to plant and harvest the fields, and on the seventh year we are to allow the fields rest.  After this series of seven years is accomplished seven times (49 years), then comes the fiftieth year, designated the "Year of Jubilee".  God promised that He would make each sixth year double in land yield and He would make the forty eighth year triple in yield.  But the Year of Jubilee was more than that.  Not only would the Year of Jubilee be the second straight year of ret for the land, also during the year of Jubilee, all land and property was given back to its origial owners.  All slaves are freed (if they chose to be).  All land is at rest and all things economic begins anew.  Isn't that something?!  This chapter 27 is worth reading closely.

Chapter 26 tells in detail the rewards for obedience and the punishments for disobedience.

Chapter 27 deals with vows and dedicating things.  Verse 30 is noteworthy as it speaks of tithing, making certain that there is no mistaking God's attitude toward the BEST being dedicated to Him.  The last verse in the Book of Leviticus says that this concludes the laws given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Next post:  The Book of Numbers

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