Leviticus 21-22: New Creation bodies

The last four chapters 16-20 spoke of the holy priesthood.  What of the priests?  What about their “lifestyle”?  What about what they eat?  Who can also eat?  What about what is offered by the people?  Leviticus 21-22 seeks to answer these questions, moving from the nation of priests to the true priests themselves and the pattern of our lifestyle.. in New Creation.

1.  Without Blemish: the renewed Bodies (Leviticus 21)

2.  Priestly food: the Tree of Life (Leviticus 22:1-16)

3.  Priestly sacrifices: the unblemished Lamb (Leviticus 22:17-33)

1.  Without Blemish: the renewed Bodies (Leviticus 21)

Matthew Henry points out the distinctions in Leviticus 21:

This chapter might borrow its title from Mal_2:1, “And now, O you priests, this commandment is for you.” It is a law obliging priests with the utmost care and jealousy to preserve the dignity of their priesthood.  I. The inferior priests are here charged both concerning their mourning and concerning their marriages and their children (Lev_21:1-9).  II. The high priest is restrained more than any of them (Lev_21:10-15).  III. Neither the one nor the other must have any blemish (Lev_21:16, etc.).

Note that while the priests themselves are ‘lower’ than the high priest, the priest witnesses to the high priest, just as the high priest witnesses directly to Christ.  However, note that there is no partiality in terms of blemish: both must be without blemish, whether high priest or not.  Let’s understand Jesus better by looking at the meanings of God’s establishment of holiness on these priests.

Lev 21:1-24  And the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: No one shall make himself unclean for the dead among his people,  (2)  except for his closest relatives, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his brother,  (3)  or his virgin sister (who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may make himself unclean).  (4)  He shall not make himself unclean as a husband among his people and so profane himself.

The meanings of these verses display the complete dedication of the priests to their duty, to the point where they have no ‘liberty’ to weep for peopl besides the immediate family.  This may sound harsh, but it reflects much about Christ’s work.  Christ indeed wept for people during his 30-year ministry on earth:

Joh 11:32-35  Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  (33)  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.  (34)  And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”  (35)  Jesus wept.

Who was this dead man? Lazarus: yet, did Jesus know him intimately?  No.  In fact, if we were to read Leviticus 21:1-4 correctly, it appears that the only people Christ would have wept for is Mary, Joseph, and James, depending on whether you see him as Christ’s blood brother or spiritual brother (I vouch the former, for not many other Christians in the New Testament were referred to specifically as the LORD’s brother).  However, Jesus’ weeping for Lazarus means something incredibly profound: that he would consider us so dear to him like the “closest relatives” (Leviticus 21:2), before Lazarus even rose from the dead!  That is the significance of Christ’s love for us, before we even loved Him; his faithfulness to us, before we even try to be faithful (Romans 3:4).

(5)  They shall not make bald patches on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts on their body.  (6)  They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they offer the LORD’s food offerings, the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy.  (7)  They shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled, neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband, for the priest is holy to his God.  (8 )  You shall sanctify him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I, the LORD, who sanctify you, am holy.  (9)  And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by whoring, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire.  (10)  “The priest who is chief among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose nor tear his clothes.  (11)  He shall not go in to any dead bodies nor make himself unclean, even for his father or for his mother.  (12)  He shall not go out of the sanctuary, lest he profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him: I am the LORD.  (13)  And he shall take a wife in her virginity.  (14)  A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he shall not marry. But he shall take as his wife a virgin of his own people,  (15)  that he may not profane his offspring among his people, for I am the LORD who sanctifies him.”

There is much to be said about v.5-15, but it would be entirely appropriate to classify these verses under the priest’s sexual purity.  v.5-6 speaks of holiness manifested through the priests’ obedience in not making marks on their bodies, most likely reflecting the pagan cultures surrounding them – and again, it is re-emphasised that they are not merely called to be clean – but to be holy (v.6).  Therefore, their purity is maintained by not marrying a prostitute, or a woman divorced from her husband – thus, a virgin (v.7-9, 13-15).  This is entirely significant, and follows on from the imagery of Adam and Eve in the Garden.  God created both in his image (Genesis 1:26-27), and both revered God as to embody the picture of Adam’s headship over Eve’s submission, which manifestly displays Christ’s love for the church which submits (Ephesians 5:22-33).  However, where is this picture shown when the priest, or High Priest, ‘goes into’ or ‘knows’ (both terms relating to sexual intercourse) or ‘marries’ a prostitute or a divorced person?  The reason simply given in Leviticus 21:7 is “for the priest is holy to his God“.  Holiness is readily defined time and time again throughout Leviticus, which ultimately speaks of God’s personality.  Leviticus is God’s biography – and he is manifestly telling us that Christ is not going to marry a corrupt, ungodly church.  That is the picture of adultery, when Israel has been constantly referred to as idolatrous and adulterous because of her unfaithfulness (c.f. books of Hosea and Ezekiel).  Thus, for a priest to marry a prostitute is akin to Christ marrying, for example, a Canaanite who still offers herself to other gods and idols. That is why in v.14 it says that he shall take a virgin from his own people – for Christ marries none other than his own.  What kind of gospel are we preaching when we, as Christians and as priests of God, date or marry a non-Christian?  It is a ‘gospel’ of universalism and open theism.  Let us not be false teachers people, and learn to devote ourselves to Christ in our relational life.

But why marginalise the ‘prostitues’, ‘divorced’ and ‘widowed’, over the ‘virgin’?  This is speaking about the purity of the person coming before the priest; the purity of the person coming before Christ.  The definition of ‘purity’ and ‘without blemish’ will come more into play in the later verses, but it is important to note that this seeming partiality towards the divorced and the prostitute is extremely important in our eschatological theology.  What the LORD is essentially telling us, is that in new Jerusalem, where we have our wedding feast with Christ – only there will we be officially married to Christ.  It is most important to remember however that before we can even stand before Christ in new creation, we must be in our wedding garbs of righteousness (Isaiah 61).  What this means is mani-fold, but just to pick out two: it means that we are completely righteous before Christ and the Father, as if we are Christ himself (since we are in Christ now).  Remember however that Christ is a virgin – that he never knew a person during his lifetime on earth.  This, along with other reasons why he remains celibate, completely contradicts the “Brownian effect” (a term I coin for Dan Brown’s ludicrous theology), and is just merely an expression of someone who simply did not understand Christ’s ministry on earth.

If we are in Christ, and we are presented to the Father as if we were Christ himself, that means we inherit his body, his resurrection, his ascension, his righteousness… and undoubtedly, his virginity.  Therefore, it is most important that the wife is a virgin – to emulate the virginity of Christ, as the church takes on Christ’s very being.

(16)  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (17)  “Speak to Aaron, saying, None of your offspring throughout their generations who has a blemish may approach to offer the bread of his God.  (18 )  For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long,  (19)  or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand,  (20)  or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.  (21)  No man of the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a blemish shall come near to offer the LORD’s food offerings; since he has a blemish, he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.  (22)  He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy and of the holy things,  (23)  but he shall not go through the veil or approach the altar, because he has a blemish, that he may not profane my sanctuaries, for I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”  (24)  So Moses spoke to Aaron and to his sons and to all the people of Israel.

People may read v.16-21 and say that it is harsh.  Remember however, that this priesthood was not ‘gained’ by Aaron and his sons, because of their faithfulness.  It has always been God’s pattern to gift us with ministries and salvation (Genesis chapters 12, 15; Romans 9:6).  If we continually look at the priests Christologically, we are learning something valuable about the comparison of the human priests to our God-King-Priest Yeshua/Joshua/Jesus.  Because, the human priest is after all weak, and will succumb to God’s sovereignty over their birth defect, or defect eventually gained in their life (v. 18 ).  But the fully divine AND human priest is sinless, and without blemish.  The LORD, through the expression of these verses, is solidifying his holiness over man’s incapability of remaining holy without the LORD’s permission or sovereignty over even his own birth.  One cannot help but read these verses and completely kneel and give oneself to the living God’s interaction with us, and ability to humble us so we do not misappropriate the true role of priesthood in our own hands, when we have been given this privilege through Christ alone, who is our only sinless High Priest without blemish (Hebrews 4:15).  Without a High Priest without blemish, he would not be capable of representing the assembly of Israel to take the blood of the sacrifice before the ark of the covenant within the Holy of Holies (v.21 and 23).

However, do not be discouraged because you are born with, or you now have, a physical defect.  That is not God’s intention nor his expression in these verses: he is actually giving us a message of hope and humility to stand before him without arrogance, and trusting only in Christ.  Because Christ took on human flesh, he rose again in a renewed body.  In the same way, our Christ whose body was without blemish, who was a virgin, who ascended to heaven and sat at the right hand of God – WE also, will appropriate these things because of him.  Leviticus 21 is a picture of hope for us only if we stand by the unblemished High Priest, so we look forward to our new creation bodies without blemish.

2.  Priestly food: the Tree of Life (Leviticus 22:1-16)

If the holiness and unblemished character of the priests reflect that of Christ’s unblemished nature, what of the priestly food?

Lev 22:1-33  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (2)  “Speak to Aaron and his sons so that they abstain from the holy things of the people of Israel, which they dedicate to me, so that they do not profane my holy name: I am the LORD.

The opening verses of chapter 22 follows on naturally from chapter 21 – firstly, if the priest is holy, so also the “things” are holy.

It is quite interesting as to why both priest and the offering are holy – for they speak of how Christ is both priest and sacrifice.  We play no role in creation nor redemption!  We are partakers, and taken up into that role of creation and redemption.  Here, we see a picture of God’s definition of redemption: that Christ the holy priest offers himself as holy offering.  Jurgen Moltmann in his “The Church in the Power of the Spirit: A Contribution of Messianic Ecclesiology”:

“It is not the church that has a mission of salvation to fulfill in the world, it is the mission of the Son and the Spirit through the Father which includes the church”

It is therefore through Christ that we can even partake in God’s work.  God continually reminds the Aaronic priests that it is not them actually remitting the sins of Israel, for they are actually sinful!  This is explained in v.2 – that the Aaronic priests should abstain from the holy things while he has uncleanness as explained in v.3 onwards:

(3)  Say to them, ‘If any one of all your offspring throughout your generations approaches the holy things that the people of Israel dedicate to the LORD, while he has an uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD.  (4)  None of the offspring of Aaron who has a leprous disease or a discharge may eat of the holy things until he is clean. Whoever touches anything that is unclean through contact with the dead or a man who has had an emission of semen,  (5)  and whoever touches a swarming thing by which he may be made unclean or a person from whom he may take uncleanness, whatever his uncleanness may be–  (6)  the person who touches such a thing shall be unclean until the evening and shall not eat of the holy things unless he has bathed his body in water.

This is actually a great verse, in exposing the truth of Genesis 3:22.  Here is the verse:

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever…

Now, some people think there is a defect in the translation – and I think there is.  But it is better interpreted as such in the context of Genesis 3.  Remember that man has eaten from the tree of good and evil, celebrating the seeming autonomy of man pitted against God.  Satan has effectively influenced man through the tree of the law – and man attempted to do the works of the law and fulfill the law in itself.  However, man can at any time take from the tree of life, having already sinned against God.  Can man just live forever and God will look away at man’s great offence against Him?  No – and that is why God bars the way to the tree of life.  We simply do not deserve it: and our sin must be dealt with.  To live forever as self-proclaimed and self-righteous and self-justifying “God-men” (in terms of judging what is good and evil for ourself) is simply heresy.

However, we can eat from this holy tree, if we are clean.  Adam and Eve solidified their uncleanness by eating of the tree of good and evil, thus God barred the way to the tree of life signified by the cherubim and the burning sword, manifested in the veil with the cherubim pattern.  The only way we can enjoy the food, the feast, is if there is blood to cleanse us so we have renewed bodies.  Only with a renewed body can we take food from the tree of life – any other attempt is futile and we will only be caught up in the veil-flame between the Holy of Holies and the Holy Place.  Revelation 2:7 and 22:14:

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

and

Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

And who can overcome?  Who can do his commandments?  Christ.  And in Christ, God looks at us as if we are Christ himself – and we stand as the righteous and blessed man, through His Son’s blood and water.

(7)  When the sun goes down he shall be clean, and afterward he may eat of the holy things, because they are his food.  (8 )  He shall not eat what dies of itself or is torn by beasts, and so make himself unclean by it: I am the LORD.’  (9)  They shall therefore keep my charge, lest they bear sin for it and die thereby when they profane it: I am the LORD who sanctifies them.  (10)  “A lay person shall not eat of a holy thing; no foreign guest of the priest or hired servant shall eat of a holy thing,  (11)  but if a priest buys a slave as his property for money, the slave may eat of it, and anyone born in his house may eat of his food.  (12)  If a priest’s daughter marries a layman, she shall not eat of the contribution of the holy things.  (13)  But if a priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced and has no child and returns to her father’s house, as in her youth, she may eat of her father’s food; yet no lay person shall eat of it.  (14)  And if anyone eats of a holy thing unintentionally, he shall add the fifth of its value to it and give the holy thing to the priest.  (15)  They shall not profane the holy things of the people of Israel, which they contribute to the LORD,  (16)  and so cause them to bear iniquity and guilt, by eating their holy things: for I am the LORD who sanctifies them.”

v.16 – “For I am the LORD who sanctifies them”.  What of this seeming intolerance of “lay persons”?  Let’s go through verse by verse.  v.7-8 is a re-iteration of the law on eating, and the refrain again: “I am the LORD who sanctifies them” (v.9).  Then, v. 10: a lay person shall not eat a holy thing.  Therefore, the contrast is established: a holy unblemished priest can eat of holy things: but a lay person, who is merely clean cannot eat of holy things.  v.11 explains: a slave bought as the priests property for a price, can eat of it.

Let’s stop here for a bit: a doulos (greek for slave) who is bought at a price for his life?  1 Corinthians 7:22:

For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ.

However, given the potential exegetical fallacy in comparing the NT greek for ‘doulos’ with the OT ‘ebed (עבד Hebrew for bond-servant), there is a high possibility that they convey subtle different meanings.  Indeed there is – the word doulos is in fact such a limited semantic choice the translators picked for the ESV.  Consider the LXX on v.11:  psyche (ψυχή), which actually means breath or spirit.  Thus, matching the LXX against the Hebrew, it can be re-translated as “but if a priest buys any soul as his property for money“.  The semantic range for “soul” (psyche in Greek, nephesh in Hebrew, נפשׁ ) is vast:  it can simply mean a breathing creature, a creature which has life or simply Spirit (though I think a living creature is more appropriate, since the Spirit is often referred to as wind, or ruah in Hebrew).

The Trinity in relation to those who take part in the House of the Priest

Let’s look at the first semantic choice: if a slave can now eat of the holy food as if he was actually born in the house of the priest (aka, becoming one of the priestly line), then he is adopted into the Holy family!  What a wonderful picture of the Holy Trinity!  Matthew 11 is my proof text for comparison:

Mat 11:25-27  At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;  (26)  yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  (27)  All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

These verses from Matthew reveals just how closely intertwined one’s salvation is to one’s knowledge of the Trinity: one simply cannot be saved without acknowledgment of the Trinity.  When we are adopted into the Holy Family of God, we are now seen as sons of God (meaning the Father: c.f. Romans 8:14, so we are not sons of Christ), like Christ, because we are joined to, and in Christ! We NOW partake in Christ’s sonship and directly capable of speaking to the Father by the power of the Spirit making all of this possible.  Without the Trinity, salvation simply does NOT make sense.  The implications of this are vast – or should I say explicit nature, rather than implicit nature.  If we follow after Abraham’s faith in Romans 4, and Hebrews 11 states very clearly that these Old Testament saints had the same faith which we now follow, then how is it possible that the Old Testament saints can even be saved without any saving knowledge of the Trinity?  Leviticus 21-22 is a lesson plan, teaching them about the Trinity in the context of New Creation!  For the people alive during Moses time who not only had the passages of Genesis and Exodus to read concerning the Angel of the LORD, the Burning Bush, the Pillar of Cloud and Fire, the Passover Lamb, the Three Tabernacle Furniture described BEFORE the Tabernacle itself, the Father who descended on Mt. Sinai on the Third Day – these are all profound and explicit pictures of not the multi, but tri-Personal nature of the Trinity.  Otherwise, there is profound difficulty in Jesus being the sacrifice to himself – when he is clearly bringing his blood to the Father, and not to himself!  What we may end up with is a modalistic nature of God who ‘acts’ as sacrifice, Son, Father, Spirit when he wishes, which is clearly impossible given the separate actions of each to fulfil the fulsome picture of a Holy Family who are separate in number and persons, but not separate in entity.

That, however, is merely the limited semantic concerning the English translation ‘slave’ or ‘bondservant’.  What of the specific usage of psyche and nephesh – the spirited creature?  I have investigated the claim concerning fish which are the only creatures without breath, without a soul (Genesis 1:30 implies that only the birds in heavens, beast of earth and everything that creeps on the ground has the breath of God sustaining them).  This in fact is a picture of salvation, coloured by the salvation of spirited beasts in Jonah (Jonah 3: 8 ) – which points again towards New Creation (Isaiah 11:6-10) where only the creatures with the Spirit sustaining them will co-exist with us there peacefully.  Thus, v.11 isn’t exclusive of the beasts who, throughout Scripture, are mentioned to be saved unto God to new Creation – and the semantic range of v.11 simply refers to the salvation of every creature (including man and beast) to New Creation, by adoption through Christ, the true priest!

A layman is simply ‘clean’ – and even God says that is not enough.  That is the explanation of the Ascension: if we are left with death and resurrection, then as Christians, we are left with a blank slate whenever we return to Christ.  He is like an eraser, who erases our sins.  But that is merely a burnt and a sin offering for cleansing.  What about our priestly ordination?  What about our ability to eat of the holy fruit: we must become holy; we must be sanctified.  This is why the ascension is CRUCIAL to the work of the cross: without it, we will not be sanctified and go with Christ through to the Holy of Holies.  We would forever remain as clean laypeople but barred from even going through the veil of fire.  What good would that be?  What kind of God ‘saves’ us, but leaves us stranded on the proverbial limbo?  Not the Jesus of the Bible: for he desires not only to cleanse us, but to impute to us HIS holiness, so WE as a body of Christians can commune with the Triune God manifested through food, as symbolised by the great wedding feast which is the first thing that awaits us in New Creation!  He is, as He repeatedly says, the LORD who sanctifies us – through Jesus Christ alone.

3.  Priestly sacrifices: the unblemished Lamb (Leviticus 22:17-33)

(17)  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (18)  “Speak to Aaron and his sons and all the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of the house of Israel or of the sojourners in Israel presents a burnt offering as his offering, for any of their vows or freewill offerings that they offer to the LORD,  (19)  if it is to be accepted for you it shall be a male without blemish, of the bulls or the sheep or the goats.  (20)  You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you.  (21)  And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the LORD to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it.  (22)  Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs you shall not offer to the LORD or give them to the LORD as a food offering on the altar.  (23)  You may present a bull or a lamb that has a part too long or too short for a freewill offering, but for a vow offering it cannot be accepted.  (24)  Any animal that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut you shall not offer to the LORD; you shall not do it within your land,  (25)  neither shall you offer as the bread of your God any such animals gotten from a foreigner. Since there is a blemish in them, because of their mutilation, they will not be accepted for you.”

Now, we turn to priestly sacrifices which are also seen as without blemish (v.20-21).  If our priests are without blemish, and that the food they (and the other priests, including slaves of priests and those who return to the house of the priest as wholly devoted, like the woman who has returned to singlehood and no longer bound to another, so she can devote herself fully to Jesus in spiritual marriage to Him) eat gives them life as classified as a holy thing, then HOW can we receive these things?  Through sacrifices without blemish.

You may wonder: what does this have to do with v.24-25 – the sacrifice’s ‘testicles’?  This is because this is where the seed comes from: the seed that gives life.  I have investigated the truths behind ‘semen’, behind ‘seed’ theology (Genesis 1:11), behind circumcision (Genesis 17) – and that they find their definitive meaning of renewed eternal life in the Seed of Genesis 3:15.  Therefore, to provide an animal with crushed testicles, then that is to preach that the animal is incapable of giving new life – that the animal is not an appropriate sacrifice which preaches Jesus’ ability to give new life, as symbolised by the renaming of Eve as the mother of all living, and through Mary the literal mother of the Son of True living.

(26)  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (27)  “When an ox or sheep or goat is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother, and from the eighth day on it shall be acceptable as a food offering to the LORD.  (28 )  But you shall not kill an ox or a sheep and her young in one day.  (29)  And when you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the LORD, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted.  (30)  It shall be eaten on the same day; you shall leave none of it until morning: I am the LORD.  (31)  “So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the LORD.  (32)  And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the LORD who sanctifies you,  (33)  who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD.”

Again, let’s not smoothe over the details of the birth of the ox or sheep, which awaits the 8th day of Christ’s resurrection after Sabbath to be seen as acceptable as food offering to the LORD.  It is a forward looking sacrifice to new creation of the 8th day.  The cutting of the flesh through which seed is borne in the male genitalia (Genesis 17) is directly analogised to the cutting of the flesh of the beast – and both are suitable examples of Christ’s work on the cross – he is the God, the man, and the Lamb.

v28 is interesting and is a humane presentation of God’s view to sacrifices – he is not bloodthirsty: but the sacrifices are still necessary.  Here is Matthew Henry’s take on the verse:

That the dam and her young should not both be killed in one day, whether in sacrifice or for common use, Lev_22:28. There is such a law as this concerning birds, Deu_22:6. This was forbidden, not as evil in itself, but because it looked barbarous and cruel to the brute creatures; like the tyranny of the king of Babylon, that slew Zedekiah’s sons before his eyes, and then put out his eyes. It looked ill-natured towards the species to kill two generations at once, as if one designed the ruin of the kind.

And v.29-30 is again a re-establishment of the laws already taught in Leviticus 7:15; 19:6-7.

No Foreigners

v.10 and v.25 of chapter 22 speaks quite clearly against foreigners: this immediately symbolised the purity of Israel which we have already looked at.  It is a witness towards spiritual purity – and that the only acceptable person to eat of the Holy food, off the Tree of Life, is a Christian – not a ‘foreigner’ who confesses not Christ.  Secondly, the animal sacrifice shall be provided by a local, and not a foreigner – again to display the salvation of Christ through the Jews, explaining his incarnation as a Jew – to be part of their ethnic and spiritual identity.

Conclusion

The last two verses of chapter 22 summarise many of the truths spoken of since Exodus 20 to Leviticus 22: “I am the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD”.  Since Exodus 20, every statement has been a pattern of things to come – that even the 10 commandments are filled with “You shall” statement.  Statements of promise that we will do these things without blemish.  Similarly, v. 31 repeats it: “you SHALL keep my commandments” – not you must.  Remember this is no works-salvation: the Israelites are learning these commandments on the basis of having been already saved – the constant phrase of “I am the LORD who saved you out of the land of Egypt“.  A God who saves will not then require them to prove themselves as save-worthy – that would be akin to asking the Israelites to do as Nadab and Abihu did, and provide strange, additional hostile offering.  Rather, this is a God making promises: Here is a Father, and the Son, and the Spirit, authoritatively and confidently establishing what we will and we shall do eventually – in new creation.  Are you confident in your own ability to be the priest who provides an unblemished sacrifice of your own, whether in the form of your devotion in religion, the number of times you pray, or the number of pilgrimages and fasts you have committed yourself to?  Or are you confident in Christ’s ability to be the priest who provides himself (Genesis 22) as the unblemished sacrifice?

Let us inherit the hope of New Creation – looking forward to our own sanctification so we can finally eat of the Tree of Life which God had always intended for us to enjoy with us by His side.

Leviticus 21-22: New Creation bodies

Leviticus 17-20: You shall be a holy priesthood

Now we have come to what I deem the ‘second half’ of the book of Leviticus – not in the numbers of chapters, but in the manner of these commandments coming post-Day of Atonement.  We’ve looked at the importance of the Day, and thus every teaching now speaks not merely of cleanness, but something more about God’s holiness and our relation to His holiness.  We’ve looked at sacrifices, we’ve looked at priestly ordinations – but now, we turn to the holiness of every single aspect of our lives which Leviticus 17-27 offers to teach by the power of the Holy Spirit.

1.  It is in the blood (Leviticus 17)

2.  You are salt and light: sexual morality (Leviticus 18 )

3.  The holy intra-trinitarian community: Sermon on the Mt. Pt.2 (Leviticus 19)

4.  Punishments (Leviticus 20)

1.  It is in the blood (Leviticus 17)

Running directly from Leviticus 16, and from the previous 15 chapters on sacrifices and the priestly management of sacrifices, the picture of blood is vivid in the Israelites’ mind.  Through looking at the scapegoat and the sacrificial goat, we see how utterly painful it is for true remission of sins.  Without blood, there is no remission of sins.  It does not matter how hard we work; it does not matter how devout we are; it does not matter how much faith we have; it does not matter how many other types of sacrifices we give.  If we do not stand in the cleft of the Rock from Whom the waters of the Spirit flows, Whose blood is shed for the remission of all our sins so that all may come to repentance (2 Peter 3), then anything we do is empty.  It is, as the Teacher in Ecclesiastes called it, vain – in the Hebrew הבל, “hebel”, meaning transitory – like vapour.

So the lesson continues through to Leviticus 17 – it is therefore important not to read Leviticus in bits, but to read it continuously from chapter 1 down to 17 to see the importance of the lesson of blood.  The last few verses pulls out the central meaning of the chapter:

Lev 17:14-16  For the life of every creature is its blood: its blood is its life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off.  (15)  And every person who eats what dies of itself or what is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a sojourner, shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening; then he shall be clean.  (16)  But if he does not wash them or bathe his flesh, he shall bear his iniquity.

Everything preceding it is teaching how the life of anything is in the blood.  The chapter begins with people bringing all the ox, lamb or goat they had intended to kill to the door of the tabernacle as an offering to the LORD.  The repercussions are serious if anyone fails to do that (including the sojourners – v.8 ), “bloodguilt shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people” (v.4).  Not only is he ostracised from the Israelite community, but he shall bear the bloodguilt of the animal.

If you had doubts that the LORD did not care for the animals – this chapter could not be more revealing of the LORD’s heart.  He absolutely detests the taking of life; yet, for our sake, our Creator God bears the dual role of also being our Redeemer God.  He is responsible, and not deistic, leaving us to our own devices.  And through Leviticus 17, he is teaching that because he detests the taking of life to save another, we should also learn to respect the work of the Son similarly.  The Father did not take joy in punishing the Son on the cross; like the Son, the Father was equally pained.  Yet, that is the mark of his love for the Bride of Christ.  This is no cosmic child abuse – to say that is to completely misunderstand the character of the 1st Person of the Trinity.

V.7-9 is also quite revealing of the mindset of those early Israelites – God had foreseen that they would be tempted to sacrifice to other idols, to other Gods, despite seeing these wonders.  Yet, are we so different?  The LORD teaches that even such heresy will result in them being cut from the church of Israel.  Let us heed Christ, and give to him wholeheartedly, for he detests idolaters and calls them whores (Hosea 3:3).  In the Mosaic time, it may have been a goat idol (which may cast some thought on the meaning of ‘Azazel’ in chapter 16).

Eating

There is something quite important that needs to be said about the blood.  If the life is in the blood, as established not only in Leviticus 17:11, but back in Genesis 9:4-6, and even implied strongly in Genesis 3 when an animal was slaughtered before Adam and Eve’s eyes just so they can have the righteous robes of the animal skin, the prototypical progression in displaying the righteous robes of Isaiah 61.  It is emphasised again in Acts 15:28-29; yet, listen to Christ’s word: we must eat his flesh and drink his blood.  Heresy? (John 6:53-57).

Rather, if life is in the blood, and the LORD is teaching us not to take the blood of other flesh, He is fundamentally teaching us not to eat and to receive life from an animal which is not given to God.  Jesus is teaching us that no other blood is suitable for us – only HIS blood.  To take the blood of other animals is to consume the life of something other than Christ!  Are we eating of the Lamb of the Passover, or are we eating of an animal we sacrifice elsewhere for ourselves?  This is the reason why we pray before we eat: to remember that life has been sacrificed for us, as we consume the flesh and live.  Every flesh we eat of is a pale comparison to the true flesh and Christ’s blood which we partake.  To pray before we eat is to ask for God’s blessing over the meal, and for God to remain faithful and remind us of the true flesh and blood which gives us life.  To merely give thanks for food is insufficient; it is as if we merely give thanks to Christ offhandedly, like Simon the Pharisee; but to think wholeheartedly about the blood of Christ even at the meal-table is to become akin to the woman with the alabaster flask (Luke 7) – to know the true meaning of the cleansing of sin by Christ’s blood alone (Revelation 12:11).

Yet so often we regress to our Adamic behaviour – for the first thing he ate is the forbidden fruit.  But the LORD asks us to eat from the tree of life.  Eating is an important theology to consider, and the greatest meaning found through the significance of the blood.  Let us not forsake our Christian theology at the dinner table, for there we are found most starved; yet, in moments of pitiful degrees of starvation, it is then that we realise how much we need Christ Whose shadow is only shown when we consume our meals.

2.  You are salt and light: sexual morality (Leviticus 18 )

There is much comparison between Leviticus 18-20 and Exodus 21-23.  Both symbolically occur after the “Day of Atonement”.  In Exodus 19-20, the Father and the Son were on Mt. Sinai on the third day, and rules of kingdom living were given shortly afterwards.  In Leviticus 16, the Christ was crucified and his work on the cross was completed – on the third day (although the word ‘third day’ is not used in Leviticus 16, we understand that the giving of the second Decalogue was symbolic of the work of the Son on the Day of Atonement, and the connection is easy to make between Leviticus 16 and Exodus 19-20).  Because of this, the following chapters of Leviticus refer to righteous kingdom living, and what a community with the Trinity would be like in heaven.

Unsurprisingly Exodus 20 ends with this verse (v.26):

And you shall not go up by steps to my altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it.

It is the very first exposition after the 10 commandments: that one should not expose one’s nakedness to the altar!  Then again, this connection is made between Leviticus 16-18.  We were taught about the Day of Atonement and the significance of blood and life (between chapters 16-17) – a message preached also when the Father descended to Mt. Sinai on the third day between Exodus 19-20.  And in both circumstances, the immediate message preached is – do not expose your nakedness in an ungodly manner!  Thus begins the message on sexual morality.

In a post-Ted Haggard climate where both Evangelicals and Catholics, just to name two of the biggest Christian denominations, are facing charges of abuse in leadership and hypocrisy over homosexuality, Leviticus 18 comes as a wake-up call.  The amount of detail which the LORD provides is fear-inducing.  Just how depraved can man be?  To read this and to simply deny the truth of it, is to laugh in the face of God’s anthropological assessment in comparison to what he intended us to be like.  Here is a quick break-down of the things listed in this chapter:

  1. Next of kin (18:6)
  2. Mother/step-mother (18:7-8 )
  3. Sister/stepsister (18:9)
  4. Grand-daughter (18:10)
  5. Daughter of step-mother (i.e. step-sister) (18:11)
  6. Aunt, by father or mother (18:12-13)
  7. Uncle’s wife (18:14)
  8. Daughter-in-law (18:15)
  9. Sister-in-law (18:16)
  10. A woman and her daughter; son’s daughter, or daughter’s daughter (18:17)
  11. Two sisters at the same time (18:18 )
  12. During Menstrual uncleanness (18:19)
  13. Neighbour’s wife (18:20)
  14. Offering of child to Molech (18:21)
  15. Lie with male as with woman (18:22)
  16. Lie with animal (whether man with animal or woman with animal) (18:23)

Yet, what is the significance of sexual purity and sexual morality?  The significance of sexual purity is found primarily in Genesis, when God made man on day six.  In Genesis 2:18, after man had witnessed that each beast had its own companion of the opposite gender, only he was alone.  God however doesn’t create a host of female companions for him – God created one, that was cut from Adam’s side.

The meaning of our sexuality, found in Genesis 1:26-27

The implications of this are vast, and I have covered it in my earlier posts on Genesis.  Primarily, the meaning of the rib taken from Adam’s side finds its meaning in both of them being in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).  The true of image of God is Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:15-17), thus, for Adam to be asleep whilst the rib was taken from him is to imply that a new creation was made in the symbolic ‘death and resurrection’ of Adam.  The concept of sleep, as we know, is Christologically symbolic of death – and to be awake, in the morning, is to theologically rise again on the Resurrection Day.  Richard Baxter has this to say on the daily lifestyle of a Christian:

Therefore, when we read the 16 listed commandments concerning sexual relations, we may wonder: why those relationships?  Why don’t we succumb to the Muslim teaching of polygamy?  Or secular teaching of tolerance of bisexuality or homosexuality?  Indeed, my response would be – if Christ was preached in those sexual relationships, then yes, they are indeed pleasing to God.  My response however, would not simply be – those relationships are morally repulsive; or will cause genetic, scientific defects and diseases (though, this is partially a consequence of many sinful types of sexual relationships; this may explain why the earlier humans, with the Spirit striving in them (Genesis 6:3), may have had less problems with genetic defects given the impossibility of having sexual relations with anyone who isn’t a next of kin).  The primary response nonetheless is – can their sexual relationships preach the gospel?  Can it show the relationship in Ephesians 5, that Christ would love the church, his bride?  In the Hebrew, this is stronger: would the male heavens unite with the female terra as a proclamation of new creation when heaven and earth are renewed and conjoined as in the time of the Garden?  The usage of the gender in Hebrew often relates to the role of the female in relation to the male to display some Spiritual truth, so we should not under-estimate the role of Hebrew gender in preaching the gospel either.

To reach that conclusion however, we must dissect some things.

To begin with, in Colossians 1:15-17, we see that Jesus is the visible God of the unseen God.  The divine nature shown is his relationship within the Triune God of Father Son and Holy Spirit.  To understand therefore what God meant when he preached the gospel of creation is to understand that his Trinitarian nature is imprinted in creation (Psalm 19, Romans 1) – especially in man, where we are the image of him as I formerly mentioned (Genesis 1:27).  Only in this “image” can the Trinitarian divinity become visible – but only in Christ do we find the true meaning of this visible image.

And this Trinitarian nature gives much meaning to say, for example, 1 Corinthians 11:1-16.  The concept of headship finds its only meaning in Fatherhood and Sonship – and nothing else.  To assume a merely cultural understanding of 1 Cor 11:1-16 is to fail to understand that the Trinity is not only cultural in a divine way – it is eternal.

Paul’s Argument in Romans 1:18-32

Which brings us back to Romans 1.  Paul’s argument of our fallen nature starts with ‘sexual immorality’ and the human body.  This begs the question: why?  Why did he not start with pride, as it seemed to be one of the first sins of Satan (Ezekiel 28 )?  Why focus on man’s nature, his image in God?  In fact, the corruption of this image is the very reason why Paul starts his argument of sin in this way.  He states in Romans 1:28 – God gave them up to debased minds.  We’ve looked at just how sinful man can be, and Leviticus chapters 1-16 could not have spoken a truer picture.  The ESV in Romans 1:21 is strong – it says we have “futile” thinking, outside of Christ.

In essence, what this means is that the male and female image of God no longer proclaims the truth that God had intended through Christ.  No longer is the message of the gospel, of the Trinity, preached in the inter-sexual relationships, because we now preach all types of sexuality – from gender ‘neutrality’, to the war of the sexes, to homosexuality, to celibacy (not for godly purposes) and so on.  Thus, to look upon sexual immorality (which includes homosexuality, and this sexual immorality does not include a specific type of sexuality), which is clearly spelt out in verses 26-28:

Rom 1:26-28  For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;  (27)  and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.  (28 )  And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

v.28 explains it well: they did not see fit to acknowledge God.  BECAUSE they did not want to preach God, they expressed their idolatry THROUGH these debased relationships.  It is important therefore to understand what it means when I say it isn’t about gender neutrality: what I mean is that there is indeed a significant division in terms of role for each gender.  Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2:14, 1 Corinthians 11, just to name a few, are not patriarchal teachings in terms of chauvinism.  In fact, many of the teachings were difficult for the irresponsible males in the Greek society.  It had nothing to do with chauvinism – but everything to do with leadership, responsibility, and perfect love.  For, in response, the woman in a submissive state is to not only ‘submit’ – but the Greek hupotasso ὑποτάσσω, is actually saying “under obedience”.  But without the husband’s unconditional love, then the obedience will become one of fear – and only in God’s perfect love (1 John 4:18 ), will our fear of him be a godly fear, and not one of fear of punishment.

Therefore, not only homosexuality – but every type of sexual intimacy OUTSIDE of heterosexual marriage is a rejection of the doctrine of God!  It is a rejection of Christ’s marriage proposal, sealed with the engagement of the Holy Spirit as our ‘wedding band’ (Esther 8 ), that he awaits until New Creation to enjoy true intimacy with us, his female bride on the female terra (earth), whilst he resides in the male heavens!  Similarly, that the woman, cut from Adam, preaching the message of Genesis 1:1 that the heavens and the earth are cut-down from Christ!

This means that every homosexual relationship preaches the message of Christ marrying himself or something identical – this is a periphery of self-idolatry.  Or perhaps a relationship subsumed of headship, preaches the message of the church, teaching Jesus what to do!  How ridiculous does that sound?  Or a heterosexual relationship outside of marriage, teaches that one can have the same intimacy outside or within marriage.  But that is not true either, for we, in engagement to Christ, await Christ’s second advent because of the very reason of such small glimpses of the true intimacy we have on this side of creation!

Back to Leviticus 18 – the message preached therefore is one of gospel.  Natural relations is a way that humanity was created as male and female, and what is ‘natural’ is found in the image of God, in Jesus’ sonship to the Father’s fatherhood.  To define ‘natural’ as anything else is to be merely anthropological – and not biblical nor Christological.

Romans 1:28 says that to be even further etched into the world’s definition of ‘nature’ and ‘sexuality’ is to be in further alienation from God.  This is why God gave them over to a depraved mind – expressed strongly through their sexuality.

Therefore, matching this truth with the 16 commandments of sexuality, we must understand how Christ would not propose himself to sexual intimacy with beasts or other creatures, for he died for man alone (Hebrews 2:16).  Christ would not marry someone who belongs to someone else, because that is adultery.  What this means is that he requires us to wholeheartedly follow HIM and HIM alone, leaving our adulterous life (Hosea 3).  Nor does he want there to be a rivalry in relationships, which is why he requires a personal relationship with one figure, because he is marrying only one Church that proclaims his name! (Psalm 148 ) – Thus, the message of marriage is preached the best when you witness a leading husband, sanctifying and loving his submissive wife – and there, you see the picture of Christ loving the church.  Sexuality should have no other meaning – even sexual intimacy finds its only meaning in Christ’s intimacy with the church!

Two anomalies?  Abortion of Children and Menstrual Uncleanness

Under my numerical labelling, commandment 12 and 14 stand out like sore thumbs.  However, they are in fact tied very much to sexual relationships – what kind of sexual relationships only concern the husband and the wife, and not of the children?  What kind of sexual relationships concern only the husband or only the wife?  Commandment 12 states that to have intimacy during menstrual uncleanness is a sin – because menstrual uncleanness is a period of groaning and pain, akin to the groaning and pain of creation.  To enter the woman in that period is to preach that Christ’s return and the filling of his seed in the woman causes pain and blood!  Rather, the filling of Christ’s seed and his intimacy with his church is a time of rejoicing and NOT a time of creation’s groaning.

Secondly, commandment 14 seems also to be quite irrelevant, but this is akin to the modern practice of abortion.  Molech (meaning “king”) is a pagan God, some saying that he is synonymous with Baal.  The reason why this commandment is sandwiched within the commandments of abomination is because every children we bear is dedicated to the LORD, not to some pagan-king, most likely finding its symbolism and derivation from Satan who wants to be the LORD himself (Ezekiel 28 ).  Deuteronomy 6:7 teaches that every commandment of the law is taught to the children diligently.  Not only that – Malachi 2:15 teaches that the church is to bear godly offspring.  Are we going to dedicate our children to secular education and secular teachings, and leave him or her to their own devices in knowing God?  Are we going to raise up a child in God’s holy commandments, or kill him for our own glory and our own plans and convenience?  Or are we going to practise the role of loving parents, and imprint in their hearts God’s commandments so they learn to turn from God’s law to the gospel?  As children, they must be taught the law, so they can spiritually remove their childhood under the devilish rulers of the elements by the power of the Spirit and become mature in the gospel (Galatians 4:3).

Word of Warning

It is very important not to judge homosexuals or bisexuals over extra-marital heterosexual relationships.  Paul Blackham states it quite nicely, and I paraphrase – to discern and rebuke a man who is living with another man, is to be biased and to be self-righteous if we fail to equally discern and rebuke a man who is living with a woman.  The greatest message of discernment and rebuking comes in our relationships.  Are WE preaching the gospel with our sexuality?  Are WE preaching the gospel with our sexual purity?  If not, then what right do we have to force others to follow these sexual codes and morals?  Leviticus 18 is a chapter of hate and love amongst Christians and politicians.  Let us not preach it, unless we bring also the message of the gospel alongside it.  Without the gospel, we are only creating better heterosexual Pharisees who appear righteous – but in their heart, their relationships speak nothing of Jesus Christ.  It is most important to remember Christ’s attitude in handling these situations: he hates the sin and the sinner, but he is careful not to be biased (c.f. John 8:1-11) and is just.

Additionally, these teachings are hard to bear – but so is every other commandment that challenges our world-view to the core.  This is because we were saved from death to life, from depraved, futile non-gospel thinking to a new world of gospel and Christ-focused glory.  Let us bring our sorrows and sins to Jesus Christ, and remember that even he is looking forward to the great intimate moment on the Resurrection Day:

Rev 21:4  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

3.  The holy intra-trinitarian community: Sermon on the “Mount” Pt.2 (Leviticus 19)

As aforementioned, Leviticus 17-20 are chapters which expose the truths of the Ten Commandments, like Exodus 21-23.  Both Exodus and Leviticus start with ‘nakedness’, for we began in the Garden naked, and left with the necessity to hide our nakedness with animal skin; and so we hide under the skin of Christ to be presentable to our Father in heaven.  Leviticus 19:2 sets the tone:

You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.

Then the commandments move from ‘nakedness’ to other areas of kingdom living.  There are several commandments in chapter 19 and Adam Clarke is helpful in listing as he usually is:

Exhortations to holiness, and a repetition of various laws, Lev_19:1, Lev_19:2

Duty to parents, and observance of the Sabbath, Lev_19:3.

Against idolatry, Lev_19:4.

Concerning peace-offerings, Lev_19:5-8.

The gleanings of the harvest and vintage to be left for the poor, Lev_19:9, Lev_19:10.

Against stealing and lying, Lev_19:11; false swearing, Lev_19:12; defrauding the hireling, Lev_19:13.

Laws in behalf of the deaf and the blind, Lev_19:14.

Against respect of persons in judgment, Lev_19:15; tale-bearing, Lev_19:16; hatred and uncharitableness, Lev_19:17; revenge, Lev_19:18; unlawful mixtures in cattle, seed, and garments, Lev_19:19.

Laws relative to the bondmaid that is betrothed, Lev_19:20-22.

The fruit of the trees of the land not to be eaten for the first three years, Lev_19:23; but this is lawful in the fourth and fifth years, Lev_19:24, Lev_19:25.

Against eating of blood, and using incantations, Lev_19:26; superstitious cutting of the hair, Lev_19:27; and cutting of the flesh in the times of mourning, Lev_19:28; prostitution, Lev_19:29. Sabbaths to be reverenced, Lev_19:30.

Against consulting those who are wizards, and have familiar spirits, Lev_19:31.

Respect must be shown to the aged, Lev_19:32.

The stranger shall not be oppressed, Lev_19:33, Lev_19:34.

They shall keep just measures, weights, and balances, Lev_19:35, Lev_19:36.

Conclusion, Lev_19:37.

While there is merit in divulging the truth of every single law, two things must be stated: the Spirit behind the law, and the expositional nature of these commandments in relation to the law.

Scripture witnesses within itself

Firstly, the expositional nature of these commandments.  The 10 commandments did not leave itself to be interpreted widely and openly to the anthropological desires of these depraved men and women; rather, the LORD interprets it for them.  This is most important and is not the first time this has occurred.  What this indicates is that Scriptural interpretation comes from the power of the Spirit, and not from our personal experiences and cultures!  Above all, it is even above what theologians have to say who twist Scripture to their personal opinions of God.  In other words – let the written Word witness to the eternal Word.  When we find ourselves reading Scripture, and the 10 commandments, we often (if we are Catholic) leave it to the Magisterium or the Pope; or if we are Protestant, we leave it to Don Carson or John Piper.  This is what Luther has to say when he was exposing Genesis 1-3:

“If then we do not understand the nature of the days or have no insight into why God wanted to make use of these intervals of time, let us confess our lack of understanding rather than distort the words, contrary to their context, into a foreign meaning… If we do not comprehend the reason for this, let us remain pupils and leave the job of teacher to the Holy Spirit”.

Indeed, what we witnessed in Exodus 21-23, and now in Leviticus 17-20 is the work of the Spirit in interpreting the meaning of the third day, and/or the Day of Atonement – followed by explicit teachings on kingdom living framed by the 10 commandments. Here is an example:

Lev 19:9-10  “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.  (10)  And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.

If I found myself reaping the harvest of the land, I may have forgotten what it means to love my neighbour and to provide for the sojourners – and God is teaching in v.10 about compassion to our neighbours.  I think we should not exclude v.9-10 from v.11, which I believe reads on from v.10.  “You shall not steal” and “You shall not deal falsely”.  If the actions in v.9-10 teaches that we are ‘stealing’ and ‘dealing falsely’ simply by being overly economically rigorous, it means that we are not completely possessed by true Christian kingdom living.

Leviticus 19:31 is also explained in some manner too: that one would be defiled if they communicate with dead spirits.  Why?  Because, it is akin to touching the dead – it defiles us (Leviticus 21:11-12).  This is followed closely by v.32 about respect for the elderly, which is explained in the form of the colour of the hair.  Grey hair is a mark of the elderly, and within Scripture it witnesses to this truth (Proverbs 16:31; 20:29 and Daniel 7:9 where the Father is shown to have white hair).  To disregard the elderly is to indirectly disregard the living God.  These, again are merely examples of how the Scriptures testify within itself to provide its sufficient meaning in relation to the living Trinity.

Spirit behind the law

Secondly, is the dichotomy between gospel and law.  As stated, the law in Exodus 20 is related somewhat to the land of Canaan, making it partially abolished and partially fulfilled when Christ came (I am careful not to divide the law into the three-fold Aquinian definitions c.f. Galatians 5:3).  What this also means however is that we should dissect between the law which relates to the land, Canaan, which is merely temporary; and the law which relates to the future kingdom, new Jerusalem.  For example:

Lev 19:23-25  “When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten.  (24)  And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD.  (25)  But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the LORD your God.

v.23-25 clearly relates not to new Jerusalem, but it is saying something about new Jerusalem.  Three years it is forbidden to eat of the tree for food, and only afterwards will its fruit be given firstly as offering to the LORD as holy fruit; and THEN it will increase its yield.  Considering the significance of the number three, in terms of the crucifixion and resurrection, and as well as creation – where day 1 – 3 is one of formation, and day 4 – 6 is one of filling, day 4 also represents the first day of filling the formations of God’s creation.  Thus, the fourth year is one which speaks of offering to Christ; and fifth year speaks of the increase in its yield for us.  These numbers of years speak entirely of Jesus’ death for us, eventually leading to true holy offering of his blood to the Holy of Holies, while we reap the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5).

What this also implies is that wherever they go, INCLUDING Canaan, they are facing all types of pagan worship.  Canaan was never the destination – it is a temporary location to signify the grand macrocosmic scheme of the world’s Christians making our way to the spiritual Canaan – the true New Jerusalem.  That is why the Old Testament saints lived in tents (Hebrews 11).  Canaan, like any other land, as v.23-25 implies, bears forbidden fruit.  Where else is forbidden fruit mentioned?  In Genesis 3, where the tree was rooted in the Garden with the tree of wisdom.  This shows the Garden for what it is:  it is merely a pale image of the true New Kingdom, thus explaining the existence of the tree of knowledge and wisdom in the Garden (and its removal in the new heavens and earth), just as Adam was a pale image of the true image of God, Christ.   Thus, to plant a tree in any land is to remember that the fruit which first came out was forbidden, for Adam first ate of forbidden fruit.  Leviticus 19:19 adds colour to these verses:

You shall keep my statutes. You shall not let your cattle breed with a different kind. You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor shall you wear a garment of cloth made of two kinds of material.

There is much purity to be implied in these commandments, and the theology of the Seed is mentioned here – whether it is the true Seed of Christ that bears Spiritual fruit?  Or the seed of Satan?  Whether we wear linen, or linen mixed with wool?  Whether we eat the blood of other flesh, as if feeding NOT on Christ’s blood alone?  Whether we are spiritual Israelites, or spiritually allegiant to both Israel and Canaan/Ammon/Hong Kong/London/world?  But the Second Adam, after the third day, offered his holy fruit to the Father, and afterwards presented himself to be eaten so we partake in his pure holiness and bear fruit in return and present the true spiritual meaning behind the law entirely as displayed by the lifestyle of the Christian when they understand the true meaning of the law (c.f. David eating the shewbread “against” the law:  Matthew 12).

It is therefore easy to see that there is no such thing as ‘new’ commandments per se when Christ’s work fulfilled and abolished the law.  Rather, the true meaning of the law is exposed – and Moses and others understood that.  Even the Spirit interpreted that in the final few verses of chapter 19:

Lev 19:33-34  “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.  (34)  You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

The teaching of “loving thy neighbour as thyself” was etched in the Israelite mind at such an early stage.  Thus, what Christ taught in the NT is not “new” – it is merely a fulfillment of what the law taught.  The fulfillment of true kingdom living, not on this earth, but in new Jerusalem! How great it would be if Israel DID commit to these teachings: but they clearly did not.  Was it a failure on God’s part to introduce these teachings?  Again: NO.  It was God’s intention to show what true new Jerusalem living is all about, and how far away these Israelites are from such righteous living.

Let thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

The problem we therefore reach is: how did the Israelites interpret these commandments?  Did they know that it related BOTH to the bondage of the law and the gospel of Christ?

It is the same question we ask ourselves when we read the Old Testament.  My conviction, by the Spirit, is that anyone filled with the Spirit in the Old Testament would not have come to any conclusion of works-salvation.  Neither would they have come to the conclusion of not seeing Christ, such as just worshipping a ‘generic’ God shown through the kingdom living.  Nor even a matter of waiting for the NT ‘revelation’, so they can read the NT back onto the OT and “re-interpret” Christ in the OT.  The matter is, whether Christ is inherently spoken of in the OT, and already revealed.  Jesus seems to have said so in John 5:39, BEFORE he was crucified.

Instead, the most Spirit-filled Israelite would see the Trinity, working within itself, interpreting the 10 Commandments within the Triune body; the Spirit teaching us the truth of God, after the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ (an implication of the giving of the Spirit after the ascension of Christ).  The Father being revered by both Son and Spirit.  Leviticus 16-20 therefore speak very strongly of the work of the Trinity and the community and none else.

It is however a shame when people twist the law and attempt to fuse these teachings into politics.  1 Corinthians 5:12-13 is exactly what the Spirit is behind the law: it is used to judge those within the church, NOT outside.  What matter does the law have outside the context of Christ?  What matter is there to infuse it into the national law?  What they fail to realise is that Christ’s coming abolished any land-based teachings: and fulfilled the true meaning of the Mosaic law which was only introduced temporarily.  Many times, “let thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, is misinterpreted as establishing a “Christian Kingdom” on earth.  Rather, we are not establishing Christian “factions” or “states”.  We are establishing a church family, looking forward to the true Christian Kingdom after the Second Advent of Christ!  Only there can we commit to true Spirit-led kingdom living without compromise!  That is exactly why kingdom living is preached AFTER the ASCENSION of Christ.  That is why the Day of Atonement is on the same day as the Second giving of the Decalogue.  Because in both cases, we look forward to new creation!  And there, we will not find a community of spirit and law-less beings.  There, our lives will be led by these laws but we will commit to them perfectly in the true Christian Kingdom with the Lamb as the Light!

4.  Punishments (Leviticus 20)

And the inclusion of Leviticus 20 grounds us back onto the fact that we are not now establishing a holy Christian Kingdom par excellence and without blemish.  Why?  Because of the existence of punishment: only in a world of sin is there any punishment.  The outline of Leviticus 20 goes like this (with Paul Blackham’s additions of the punishment in italics):

Of giving seed to Molech, and the punishment of this crime, Lev_20:1-5. death by stoning

Of consulting wizards, etc., Lev_20:6-8. exile from the people

Of disrespect to parents, Lev_20:9. death

Of adultery, Lev_20:10. death

Of sexual intercourse with step-mother or daughter-in-law, Lev_20:11, Lev_20:12. death

Homosexual intercourse Lev 20:13. death

Marrying a mother and a daughter Lev 20:14. death by burning

Bestiality, Lev_20:15. death for human and animal

Incest Lev_20:17 shame and exile

Sexual intercourse during menstrual flow Lev 20:18 exile

Sexual intercourse with aunt/uncle Lev 20:19-20 infertility

Marriage to brother’s wife Lev 20:21 infertility

Exhortations and promises, Lev_20:22-24.

The difference between clean and unclean animals to be carefully observed, Lev_20:25.

The Israelites are separated from other nations, that they may be holy, Lev_20:26.

A repetition of the law against wizards and them that have familiar spirits, Lev_20:27. death by stoning

As the beginning of Leviticus 19 spoke of God’s holiness and Israel’s response to God’s holiness, so Leviticus 20 ends with the same holiness of the Israelites from other nations.  Chapter 20 therefore, like 19, focuses on the purity of Christian living.  The repetition of wizards, spirits and sorcery throughout Leviticus 20 is not out of place either – for the desire to be a sorcerer is a manifestation of the desire to be like God, in control of the spirits (Acts 8:9-25).

We must continually remember that throughout the Mosaic law, not one has it taught anything about works-salvation.  Everything has been following a pattern of heaven from Exodus 20 onwards (Hebrews 8:5) – not only the tabernacle, which is still at the centre of attention while these laws were taught when the Angel spoke from the tabernacle.  It is entirely symbolic that the Angel in the tabernacle is teaching the Israelites while they were either standing or sitting outside – for they also are taken up to the heavenly patterns and understand what true Christian, holistic living is when it is uncompromised.  The standards are extremely strict – to maintain true spiritual purity.  The refrain “death“, “exile” and “infertility” all stem from the same source of corruption and lack of sanctification.  Without true anger against both sin and sinner, the LORD is not proven righteous, but proven a biased God.  Such ‘extreme’ hatred against sin is entirely justified, for only God the Son himself could bear this burden to carry these repulsions on his shoulders.

Therefore, let Leviticus 20 speak the final word to us: that without Christ, there is no room for us to be self-righteous.  If you thought Leviticus 16 bombarded the message of dependence on Christ’s work, the Angel hammered the point again and again through the commandments of holistic living from chapters 17-20.  And if Leviticus 17-19 did not speak enough of true uncompromised holistic living in New Jerusalem, Leviticus 20 reminds us that there will be people who are punished for their sins. And their punishment is death, infertility, and exile.  Their punishment is simply exclusion from the community of God. Leviticus 20:3 says it best:

I will set my face against that person and will cut him off from among his people.

Do you want to be excluded for your own decision to rebel against the Holy God who knows true Justice?  Or do you want to know the meaning of true Christian freedom, and partake in the Holy Community of the Holy Trinity now, taken up in Christ, so that we can experience it physically as well as spiritually in Zion?

Leviticus 17-20: You shall be a holy priesthood

Leviticus 11-15: Holy, Clean and Unclean

We have dealt so slightly with the understanding of what it means to be ‘holy’, ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’.  I had initially made the mistake of thinking that ‘holy’ and ‘clean’ were synonymous – but that isn’t the case.  It is almost as if that assumption is true of our sinful fallen minds, which is why God provides through Leviticus 11-15 an extremely detailed and clear explanation of true holiness being more than just ‘clean’.

1.  Food (Leviticus 11)

2.  Birth of a child and menstruation (Leviticus 12)

3.  Leprosy: a spiritual truth (Leviticus 13-14)

4.  Bodily discharges (Leviticus 15)

Intro:  What is Holy, Clean and Unclean?

Paul Blackham created a helpful table in his Book-by-Book series.  Here is just a quick rendition:

Holy

Clean

Unclean

LORD God, heaven, new creation, Garden of Eden, Tabernacle, Tabernacle furniture, anointed priests, sacrificed animals

Israel (the congregation), the camp, ordinary equipment/utensils, a clean Israelite, clean animals

Outside of Israel, outside of the camp, defiled & decaying buildings, defiled equipment, unclean animals, unclean Israelites, Gentiles (who have not joined Israel), hell, disease, death, devil

Some have used a different diagram to help understand the distinctions of holy, clean, unclean.  Here is my rendition of what was used in the New Bible Commentary’s Leviticus commentary (with Gordon Wenham as a guide):

1.  Food (Leviticus 11)

Concerning Holy and Clean and Unclean categories, you have the sacrificial animals, the clean animals, and unclean animals; and then you move onto the separate categories within the three – creatures on earth, water and sky (the distinctions made in Genesis 1:20-30).  Finally, everything we know about these animals relate not only to animals – they also relate to men.  Exodus 3:2, and v.12-13 strongly imply this:

Exo 13:2  “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” …

… 12 you shall set apart to the LORD all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the LORD’s. 13  Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.

So we begin, again, with the Angel, Son of God, speaking to them starting at v.2 concerning the:

(a)  Edible Animals on Earth (v.2-8 )

v.3 – whatever parts the hoof, and cloven-footed, chews the cud:  but, among those which chew the cud/part the hoof – you cannot eat: CAMEL – because it chews the cud but does not part the hoof (v.4);

ROCK BADGER (v.5) and HARE (v.6) for the same reasons; PIG (v.7) because it parts the hoof but doesn’t chew the cud.

So camel, rock badger, hare and pig are the exceptional animals.  Thus, v.2 & 8 act as the bookends for the edible animals on earth.  Not only can they not eat from them, but they are unclean and their carcasses should not be touched (v.8 ).

(b)  Edible creatures in the waters (v.9-12)

Edible: v.9 – Everything that has fins and scales, whether in the seas or rivers, you may eat! By contrast, everything without fins and scales, of the swarming and living creatures in the waters is detestable to us (v.10-11) – again, none of their flesh should be eaten, and their carcasses detested.  v. 12 AGAIN re-iterates this point (in a space of 4 verses this is stated three times!).

(c)  Edible creatures of the heavens/skies (v.13-25)

Detestable (i.e. inedible)  and edible birds (v.13-19)

Lev 11:13  “And these you shall detest among the birds; they shall not be eaten; they are detestable: the eagle, the bearded vulture, the black vulture,
Lev 11:14  the kite, the falcon of any kind,
Lev 11:15  every raven of any kind,
Lev 11:16  the ostrich, the nighthawk, the sea gull, the hawk of any kind,
Lev 11:17  the little owl, the cormorant, the short-eared owl,
Lev 11:18  the barn owl, the tawny owl, the carrion vulture,
Lev 11:19  the stork, the heron of any kind, the hoopoe, and the bat.

Detestable and edible insects (v.20-25)

v.20 – All winged insects on all fours are detestable, v.21 – among these, you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground; of them, you may eat (v.22) the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind (all of which have jointed legs above their feet).

But v.23 reiterates v.20 – all winged insects on all fours are detestable.  Again, v.24 states what has been stated with the other creatures: whoever touches their carcass shall be unclean until the evening, and v.25 – whoever carries any part of their carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.

(d) Flesh on Skeleton of v.1-25, and the contagious nature of the unclean creatures (v.26-47)

v.26 doesn’t exactly start on a new note, but we are given flesh to the skeleton of the previous 25 verses.

Again, v.27 now states that for all that walk on their paws, anything on all fours is unclean to man.

Then for the swarming things:

Lev 11:29  “And these are unclean to you among the swarming things that swarm on the ground: the mole rat, the mouse, the great lizard of any kind,
Lev 11:30  the gecko, the monitor lizard, the lizard, the sand lizard, and the chameleon.

After these further explanations, Adam Clarke’s commentary provides a good summary of the contagious nature of the unclean creatures from v.31-44:

All that touch them shall be unclean, Lev_11:31; and the things touched by their dead carcasses are unclean also, Lev_11:32-35. Large fountains, or pits of water, are not defiled by their carcasses, provided a part of the water be drawn out, Lev_11:36. Nor do they defile seed by accidentally touching it, provided the water which has touched their flesh do not touch or moisten the seed, Lev_11:37, Lev_11:38. A beast that dieth of itself is unclean, and may not be touched or eaten, Lev_11:39, Lev_11:40. All creeping things are abominable, Lev_11:41-44.

There is much necessity in understanding the creeping things of Lev 11:41-44. v.41-42 acts as if they are summary verses for everything spoken of in Leviticus 11:

Lev 11:41  “Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it shall not be eaten.
Lev 11:42  Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are detestable.

And then Leviticus 11:45 is the famous verse explaining the purpose of the law.  “For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” This verse is interesting.  The word representing God changes firstly between LORD (“Jehovah”), and then says “to be your God” which in Hebrew is Elohim.  It is the LORD, Jesus, who brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt to be our GOD, Elohim, the GOD who created the heavens and the earth.  I have gone through the implications of the word “Elohim” for it is a plural word indicating two implications: one of the Trinity, and one of magnificence.  I think both are applicable, it would be arrogant to restrict the semantic range to the meaning of ‘magnificence’ because it may lead to mono-theistic implications when the Trinity has been so clearly shown up to this point.

Christological expressions of food, ‘creeping things’, ‘unclean until evening’, and Leviticus 11:45

The problem with Leviticus 11 is that people primarily see it as a set of commandments concerning hygiene.  I believe that argument holds little water – there is no explanation why certain creatures are seen as unclean; furthermore there is no explanation why being cloven footed is a requirement for land animals.  However, that is the implication of Leviticus 11 – that there are certain creatures, good for food, which are completely clean under any circumstance!  This brings me to verses like Romans 1:23, in the ESV which says that we exchanged the glory of the immortal God for “mortal man, and birds and animals and creeping things”.  Yet, I like the KJV’s faithfulness to the Greek here: “uncorruptible (aphthartos meaning immortal and non-decaying) God into an image made like to corruptible man (phthartos meaning decaying), and to birds, and fourfooted beasts (tetrapous meaning quadruped), and creeping things.”  These two details are crucial in understanding what Paul is writing.  The juxtaposition of exchanging a undying, eternal God for a decaying man, birds, fourfooted beasts and creeping things seem to relate directly to Leviticus 11.

Exodus 3:2 and 3:12-13 already self-explanatory in the sense that man and beast are treated alike, in the symbolism of the latter.  Thus, the birds of v.13-19 make much sense.  These are all birds of prey, which eat carrion and insects and flesh from which blood is not properly drained.

Contrarily, the clean land animals were those that chew the cud, meaning that they are vegetarian.  These clean land animals should ALSO be cloven-footed, and not only chew the cud, rather than having claws/talons.  Finally, the clean water creatures are those with fins and scales.  I stumbled across an interesting comment on a dietary website commenting on the Jewish laws:

Interestingly kosher dietary laws prohibit the eating of fish without both scales and fins. That eliminates a number of delicious sea foods, including shellfish, shrimp, catfish, lobster, mussels, eels, sharks, sturgeons, and swordfish, just to name a few.

Clearly their law-giver knew something that has taken scientists years to discover. Now we know that fish with scales AND fins are equipped with a digestive system that prevents the absorption of poisons and toxins into their flesh from the waters they call home. Flounder, cod, haddock, and salmon are a few examples of fish with scales and fins.

Catfish have fins, but do not have scales. These scavengers are primarily bottom feeders and have digestive systems designed to absorb toxins from the water. Clams, lobster, shrimp, crabs, mussels and squid do not have scales or fins and are believed to be highly toxic. They naturally absorb all the toxins in the water they live in. Interestingly, lobster and crabs are crustaceans and are a part of the arthropod family, which include caterpillars, cockroaches, and spiders!

For the comment in the second paragraph, the logic is undoubtedly inverted (the assumption being that the ‘scientists’ know better).  Other than that, I find the rest of the writer’s observations very interesting, and no doubt this supports much truth behind the cleanness of the animals thus far.  God doesn’t want us to eat of birds of prey which eat flesh without the blood drained properly; and similarly, he doesn’t want us to eat fish without scales and fins, lest we consume fish without a proper digestive system and eat of all types of carcasses underwater.  Finally, only certain vegetarian insects are clean, and anything four-footed (on all fours) is unclean except those which have jointed legs and hop (thus not remaining on the ground).

There is much to be said about these three categories which tie them together – the model of Genesis 1:27.  Only green plants were given as food for all animals.  Furthermore, in the Garden, there was no death, no predatory behaviour, no bloodshed, no disease, no dead bodies (v.24-25 and Numbers 5:2 indicates that any touching of dead carcasses renders the toucher unclean) above all, and no decay.  This isn’t the only model of unfallen creation – but also of new creation (Isaiah 11).  However, Leviticus 11 deals exactly with all these themes, all of which symbolise the parallelling truth to men.

An animal which is cloven-footed and chews the cud is an example of the Edenic animal – both vegetarian and without capacity to harm (unlike the ones with claws or talons).  Not only that, they are not on all fours, which is a mock-representation of the snake, the animal epitomising the Fallen Angel who crawls not only on all fours but entirely swarming and slithering on the ground cursed by God (Genesis 3).  This emphasises the importance of animals not being on all fours, but being joint-legged so they can hop or at least not remain on the ground entirely.  This explains Paul’s reason for writing Romans 1, who most likely refers to corruptible man; corruptible birds (i.e. birds of prey), and corruptible quadruped beasts.  He was referring to the uncleanness represented by each animal.  Romans 1:23 thus no longer is making the normal comparison between God and the common and clean.  He is saying that our fallen minds naturally turn away from the most holy, and turn to the most DEBASED.  Any Catholic thought of not having an entire corruption of natural powers is immediately revoked: Paul is essentially saying that without the Spirit, we are entirely useless and Godless.

This finally brings me to v.45.  The significance of the usage of the term is important: Jesus is defining himself in two offices.  One – that of Jehovah, of LORD, who brought the Israelites out of Egypt; and then becoming the God, the Elohim, the one who partook with the Creator Father and the Powerful Spirit.  This is akin to Philippians 2:9-11:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father

Yet, Christ has already been at the right hand of the Father, and has been slain before the foundations of the world, as explained by the seemingly mysterious verse in Revelation 13:8.  This therefore intrigues me to the most, that God’s identity has been eternal and true, but revealed to us in his becoming.  That we must be portrayed a process of death, decay and resurrection before we fully understand the truth of Jesus Christ on the cross.  This presentation has already been portrayed in Genesis 1 in the days of creation, and fleshed out in different ways in their dispensations but they refer very much to the same covenant established in Genesis 3:15, which was true even prior to Genesis 3:15.  Thus, as the events in OT play out to the NT, we learn how God’s usage of Israel as a priesthood, a holy nation (Exodus 19:6) never meant for the Gentiles to be seen as ‘unclean’ either – hence the implications of Acts 10:

Act 10:9  The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray.
Act 10:10  And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance
Act 10:11  and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.
Act 10:12  In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air.
Act 10:13  And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
Act 10:14  But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.”
Act 10:15  And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.

After the ascension of Christ, when the Spirit was given to the world, Christ’s identity was cemented a la Philippians 2.  But was the Spirit not given in the OT?  He was! but restricted to the physical land of Israel.  Was Christ not given in the OT to the OT saints?  He was!  But again, the LORD appeared to the saints of Israel.  But remember that the land of Israel is merely a physical restriction of Exodus 20, a covenant on Sinai, represented by Hagar (Galatians 4) – but the true covenant was not made at Sinai, but to Abraham (Genesis 12).  Because Genesis 12 precedes Exodus 20, the physical boundaries between Israel and the world were always going to be destroyed.  Yet, Jonah 3 displays that unless the sign of Jonah is complete (i.e. the success of Jonah’s evangelism is symbolically shown after he was in the “pit” of the whale for 3 days, only to ‘resurrect’ and rise again on the third day), the division would still be there – until the giving of the Spirit, there is no physical manifestation of the Gentiles being included.  Thus, Peter’s conversation with God is important:   “What God has made clean (i.e. what was ‘unclean food’ prior to the cross and the Pentecost), do not call common (in the Greek, ‘common’ is koinos which can mean defiled and polluted, whereas the Hebrew word “tahor” which is translated to ‘common’ in the English actually means pure and clean).  What God really means is that the division between the Gentiles and the Israelites is now destroyed – to fulfill the true meaning of Genesis 12, that the law and the gospel is no longer restricted to the physical land of Israel!  In the NT, both Jews and Gentiles, wherever they are, stand before God as clean men.  The symbolism of Gentiles as unclean in the OT is due to the awaiting of the fulfillment of the covenental law of Exodus 20, completed on the cross.

There is much to be said about God’s being in becoming, yet that is the implication of Leviticus 11:45, which in turn is the true implication of the food.  What you eat is really what you are – and what we are is clean, and what we need to be is more than just clean.  We need to be holy, and sanctified like the priests in the preceding chapters (Leviticus 8-10) – and only the blood of CHRIST, not any other blood can do that.  This is why touching the carcasses and eating flesh which consumed other flesh without drained blood has such huge implications.  Are we to becomes creatures of uncleanness by nailing our God to the cross and causing him to bleed?  Indeed, that is who we were.  But we are to be in Him, so we no longer crucify Him but to partake in His holy glory.

2.  Birth of a child and menstruation (Leviticus 12)

Son:  Lev 12:1; after the birth of a son, who is to be circumcised the eighth day, (Lev 12:2, Lev 12:3) the mother is seen as unclean for forty days, Lev 12:4.

Daughter:  After the birth of a daughter, eighty days, Lev 12:5.

Menstruation:  this isn’t strictly related to children, but it also concerns the flow of the woman’s blood – and this is also seen as unclean (Lev 12:2).

When the days of her purifying were ended, she must bring a lamb for a burnt-offering, and a young pigeon or a turtle-dove for a sin-offering, Lev 12:6-7. If she is too poor to bring a lamb, she must bring either two turtle-doves or two pigeons v.8.

What is implied in v.7 is that she is unclean from the flow of her blood whether she bears a male or a female child, or is in the time of menstruation.

Christological expressions of the flow of the blood and birth of children

The importance of blood is again emphasised in Leviticus 12.  Genesis 3:15-19 states that one of the curses of woman is that child-bearing is now painful, and in this pain will the Promised Seed come.  In these very verses, the coming of the Son of God is already implicated to be one where he will suffer by incarnating into this world – the Second Adam suffering by the sin contributed by First Adam.

Again, like the way we look at food, even the way we look at childbirth affects man, beast AND creation.  Romans 8:19-22 reminds us that this curse is not restricted to man, for man’s sin has wrought such a turbulent effect on whole of creation.  It is worth quoting the section from Romans 8 here:

Rom 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Rom 8:19  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.
Rom 8:20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
Rom 8:21  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Rom 8:22  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Rom 8:23  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
Rom 8:24  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?

Thus, the pain of childbirth, represented most well by the flow of the blood, is an example of this groaning.  Romans 8:23 expresses it best: us, with the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit, also groan inwardly awaiting eagerly for adoption as sons and redemption of our bodies.  We are now physically adopted and redeemed?  Not yet.  Yet, every law laid down in Leviticus 11 and 12 pertaining to blood is to point to that groaning, point to that pain since Genesis 3 thus pointing towards a renewal and a re-creation by the Seed born from pain and blood, but conquered death with His blood.

There are two smaller details we should not overlook – the fact that only the male are circumcised; and secondly, the difference of being unclean for 40 days (for male) and 80 days (for female).  The latter has an implication of the woman not needed for work for 40 days and 80 days respectively (thus resting and awaiting to be established as ‘clean’ once again), making it especially fortunate if she bore a female.  Yet, if the distinctions of men and women remain clear – that men represent Christ the Head, and women represent the church.  That men represent the heavens from which Christ was sent, and women represent the terra which receives the Seed.  That Jesus Christ, the Seed, is sent by the power of the Spirit into Virgin Mary, who received the Seed.  So, the bearing of the male in one set of forty days represents the suffering and the temptation of Christ for forty days, a theme explored when it rained for forty days and forty nights in the story of Noah and the flood.  Yet, 80 days – twice of forty, is to look further on.  Bearing the male represents Second Adam; bearing the FEMALE represents Second Eve – the second mother of all living.  And this will leave the mother 80 days unclean – thus the time of TESTING is longer than the awaiting of Christ fulfilling his work on the cross.  40 days represent the first advent of Christ; and 80 days represent the second advent of Christ when creation will no longer groan and will bear NEW creation, represented by the “second female ‘terra'”, born of the “first female ‘terra'”.

The former I have already explained: menstruation of the woman preaches the message of creation, of the groaning female terra (c.f. my commentary on Genesis 1 – the creation of heavens and earth).  It is the female terra that has been groaning from Day 8, and will continue to groan until our Resurrection Day.  If the menstruation of women preaches that message (and indeed, that sign of the curse remains on them in both Old and New Testament, meaning the message preached by menstruation is NOT yet fulfilled until creation ceases its groaning), then the circumcision of men preaches a message already fulfilled (hence the lack of necessity to circumcise; and instead, to baptise infants today after the cross and the giving of the Spirit).  It is important not to view sacraments as more important than they are – menstruation can be seen also as a sacrament from God, a sign of his curse, just as the rainbow (or more biblically, the “bow”) is a warrior bow preaching the truth of God’s judgment on everyone not in the ark of Jesus.  The monthly menstrual cycle which makes a woman unclean for 7 days also preaches the truth of the first creation, which lasted 6 days plus 1 day of Sabbath.  But she is clean after the 7 days.  So we look forward to new creation born of the groaning creation (Romans 8 ), that meanwhile we look forward to the eighth day of cleanness, and we’ve passed through the 40 days leading to the first advent, and we await the new city after the symbolic second advent after 80 days of testing.  The significance of the birth of the boy leading to a 7 day uncleanness, and awaiting further purification for 33 days, versus 14 days of uncleanness, and further purification for 66 days should not be overlooked either.

We are now in the symbolic second week of creation.  The first seven days saw the heavens and earth as we know it now.  The second seven days, since the first 8th day, involves the LORD working towards new creation (John 5:17) in this new week.  But in this second week, while the LORD is working towards new creation, the world is still groaning.  We now look forward to the symbolic second 8th day of the second new week, working from the 1st advent to the 2nd advent of Jesus.

3.  Leprosy: a spiritual truth (Leviticus 13-14)

When one approaches chapters 13 and 14 of Leviticus, it is quite easy to be discouraged on two levels: the detail given for the handling of leprosy and the seeming lack of mercy for those who are unclean and leprous (the two are not synonymous as you will later find).  This is unsurprisingly, given the spiritual significance of leprosy overweighing the ‘hygienic’ and purely physical and material significances.  This is especially shown in v.12-13, where the most common form of infectious skin diseases would not have been classified as unclean!

Leprosy, some have said, is an example of sin spreading in our hearts to the neighbouring factions – and indeed, that is the overarching principle of this skin disease (and leprosy does not refer to one type, but many types of skin diseases).  The example of decay is manifested in not only the diseases on the body, but diseases spread to the clothes and the buildings causing their decay.  This is where the English translation is especially unhelpful: in the Hebrew tsaah’rath, while it refers to the decaying flesh for the skin, it is actually translated as ‘mildew’ if found on clothing and buildings.  Thus, “leprosy” is inappropriately limited in the English translation of the Hebrew word.

The two chapters are relatively long, so it is important to summarise each segment.

Chapter 13:1-59 – speaks of the different types of skin diseases on both humans and clothing

14:1-32 – the cleansing of the skin diseases

14:33-57 – Disease in buildings

There are also several refrains in these two chapters:

“Symptoms are displayed on the surface” (13:3, 49; 14:37)

“but more than skin deep” (13:3, 14:37)

“in a specific area” (13:9-13; 14:37, 42, 55)

“but spreading further” (13:7, 51; 14:44)

On that note, let’s start with chapter 13.

Leviticus 13:  Different Skin Diseases on both Humans and Clothing

Clarke is unsurprisingly helpful here and I’ve edited it for better reading:

13:1-2 It is to be known by a rising in the flesh, a scab, or a bright spot

13:3  When the priest sees these signs he shall pronounce the man unclean, infected with the leprosy, and unfit for society

13:4-8  Dubious or equivocal signs of this disorder, and how the person is to be treated in whom they appear

The interesting thing about v. 2-8 is the way of dealing with the potential leprous disease:  the treatment and waiting is always in sets of weeks, in sets of 7 days.  And on the 7th day, the priest checks whether the disease is leprous or temporary.  If the disease is ‘checked’ and not spread in the skin, then the man/woman is locked up for seven days again.  v. 6 explains it quite clearly – if the diseased area has faded and disease has not spread in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him as clean.  Contrarily, if this ‘eruption’ does not subside, but spreads in the skin, he is now seen as unclean with a leprous disease.

Firstly – it is the priest who announces one as unclean, and NOT the person himself.  This shows something of the truth of Christ – HE is the one who announces whether we are righteous or not.  Leprosy is not something we can control.  The sets of 7-day waiting is a good example of exactly what we can do nothing about.  Rather, these 7-day waiting periods are again to show the progression between the initial creation in the first 7 day week, awaiting new creation with a new week starting on the 8th day.  Something similar is of course preached here: the priest is awaiting a new week before making a new discernment of leprosy.  Ideally, the leprosy will be gone by the end of the second week; and also, for us, our leprosy will be gone by the end of the second week when we look forward to the second advent of Christ.

13:9-13  In what state of this disorder the priest may pronounce a man clean or unclean

13:14-15  Of the raw flesh, the sign of the unclean leprosy

13:16-17  Of the white flesh, the sign of the leprosy called clean

I find the parallel between ‘raw flesh’ and ‘white flesh’ quite interesting.  Raw flesh is a sign of flesh uncooked – for the Israelites never sacrifice any flesh without fire; it must be burnt!  Similarly, food must be cooked with its blood properly drained.  The message here clearly relates to blood.  If it is raw flesh, then there is blood and there is sign of life being drained.  It is thus unclean – for in God’s future kingdom, there is no life being drained.  Which is why, if the leprosy spreads to the whole body then it is no longer seen as ‘unclean’.  Which is why, when the raw flesh recovers and turns white again (v.16), it is pronounced clean once more.  The ‘white flesh’ and ‘raw flesh’ are thus the points of comparison.

13:18-20  Of the leprosy which succeeds a boil

13:21-22  Equivocal marks relative to this kind of leprosy

13:23  Of the burning boil

13:24-25  Of the leprosy arising out of the burning boil

13:26-28  Equivocal marks relative to this kind of leprosy

With boils, the comparison is now different: either the boil leads to a spreading of the disease, or whether there is white hair and it appears deeper than the skin, and this will lead to the priest announcing his uncleanness.  On the contrary, everything else is seen as clean.

There is quite a bit to be said here.  Why the ‘white hair’ and the ‘deeper than the skin’ and the ‘spreading of the disease’?  Because all relate to the same truth – death, and the progression towards it.  White hair is a sign of aging and otherwise caused by skin diseases; if the sign of ‘sin’ and ‘death’ is deeper than the skin and it is spreading, it is undoubtedly seen as unclean.  Everything else points to new life, new creation and regeneration, which is why they are pronounced as clean.  In the healing of the boil, we see Jesus’ rejoicing in the regneration of the skin – which points to the regeneration of our soul and our flesh.

13:29  Of the plague on the head or in the beard

13:30-37  Of the itch, and how it is to be treated

The same truth is preached here – the 7-day periods of waiting, and the regeneration of the black hair as opposed to thin yellow hair.  If the itch is healed, unchanged and not more than skin-deep, it is seen as clean.  The ESV translation says “itch”, but the KJV says “scall or scurff” which is the original Hebrew.

13:38-39  Of the plague of the bright white spots

13:40-41  Of the bald head

13:42-44  Of the white reddish sore in the bald head

If the spots on the skin of the body are of a dull white, it is leukoderma that has broken out.  He is clean.  This again, is not seen by the LORD as unclean – what the LORD considers unclean is very specific: again, listen to the refrain.  “More than skin-deep”, “spreading disease”, “reddish-white”, “raw flesh”, “white hair”, “yellow hair”.  In comparison, a breaking out of white-spots is not seen as unclean.

13:45  The leper shall rend his clothes, put a patch on his upper lip, and cry unclean

13:46  He shall be obliged to avoid society, and live by himself without the camp

Verses 45-46 serves as a summary for everyone classified in the last 44 verses to be ‘unclean’.  They live alone, they wear torn clothes, hair is hung loose, covered upper lip, crying out “Unclean, unclean“, and he shall dwell outside of the camp.

Can you imagine the pain and the suffering of being obliged to avoid society?  Yet – that is the truth of skin-disease; it points to what sin does to you and what God will not tolerate.  In New Jerusalem, we will be dwelling outside of the camp of Zion if we continue to bear these skin diseases.  If our Jesus Christ, our Priest, does not pronounce his righteousness upon us, so that we gain a spiritual regeneration and sanctification and renewed bodies, then we will remain outside the camp.  Yet, in Christ, we recover new bodies which will not decay, nor degenerate, and is better than ‘clean’ flesh.  The passages in v.1-46 clearly preach that even clean flesh can have outbreak of white-spots and other deformities; but only the sanctified flesh and spirit can withstand the holiness of the LORD and partake in the intimacy of the Trinity without mourning outside the camp which is forever proclaimed as unclean.

13:47-52  Of the garments infected by the leprosy, and the signs of this infection

13:53-58  Equivocal marks relative to this infection, and how the garment is to be treated, by washing or by burning

13:59  Conclusion relative to the foregoing particulars

There is of course much distinction between ‘garments’ and ‘men’ with leprous diseases.  The 7-day lock-up period still persists, even with garments, ever so proving that this theme is possibly the most concurrent theme throughout Leviticus – the theme of first creation, then new creation.  The specific different of garments is that if the disease has not faded from the garment, it shall be burnt up (v.52-57).  Only if the diseased area has faded after being washed, and then washed a second time will it be seen as clean (v.58 ).

This is quite interesting – the first and second waiting periods.  This has occurred throughout the other parts of Leviticus 13.  I believe this undoubtedly refers to the first advent and second advent of Christ again; the first advent, which leads to some renewal and giving of the Spirit to the world; and the second advent where true cleansing and restoration occurs.  We are in the period of the firstfruit of the Spirit; but some people may lapse and return to the dog faeces from which they came.  Some may continue to look to Christ and persist in the fight of faith to see the second advent and to be washed anew with new bodies.

Leviticus 14:1-32  The Cleansing

When a leprous person is healed, after being outside the camp however long it takes for the healing to occur, then the priest will command the person to be cleansed with two live clean birds and cedarwood and scarlet yarn and hyssop.

Scarlet yarn is one of the materials used in the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1, v.31), and the purging by the hyssop is symbolic of cleansing (Psalm 51:7).  Cedarwood is seen as a material for kings: read 1 Kings and you realise how much ‘cedar’ is the centre of the story, then Ezekiel 17:23, 31:3, and the house of Solomon in Songs of Solomon is made of cedar (Songs of Sol 1:17; 8:9).

The command is then to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water; and take live bird with the cedarwood and scarlet yan and hyssop, dipping the bird in blood of the bird killed over fresh water. (v.1-6)

Fresh water is symbolically of new creation water which is not salty.  The waters of punishment were salty (the waters above the heavens) – but the waters in new Jerusalem will be fresh (Ezekiel 47:9); earthenware vessels, besides the focus on the ‘earth‘ (i.e. naturally made), is a vessel for good preservation (Jeremiah 32:14).  Whatever is in the vessel will last for a long time.  The implications of v.1-6 of Leviticus 14 is therefore one of the gospel re-displayed.  The death of the bird, representing an Angel of God, in an earthenware vessel over fresh water, meaning the preservation of such a sacrifice over new creation waters – in exchange for the life of the other bird with the material of kings, the tabernacle and of purification.  The living bird is then escaped to the open field, granted new life by the blood of the first bird, now free from decay.  This is a picture of Christ’s preserved and persisting death for us so we can live in new waters, partake in purification and to be imputed the blood and righteousness of the King.

This is sprinkled seven times on him who is cleansed of leprous disease – he is then pronounced as CLEAN and the living bird goes to the open field. (v.7)

The cleansed person shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair and bathe himself in water (v.8 ).  He will stand outside his tent seven days; he must then shave all the hair off his head/beard/eyebrows, and wash again in water.  The SHAVING is important: so that nothing growing from the time of decay would be brought forth to new creation of the eighth day, and from the eighth day forward everything that stems from our flesh will be new and clean.

The following procedure is akin to the anointing of the priest prior to priestly work.

Lev 14:10  “And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish, and a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil.
Lev 14:11  And the priest who cleanses him shall set the man who is to be cleansed and these things before the LORD, at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
Lev 14:12  And the priest shall take one of the male lambs and offer it for a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the LORD.
Lev 14:13  And he shall kill the lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary. For the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy.
Lev 14:14  The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.
Lev 14:15  Then the priest shall take some of the log of oil and pour it into the palm of his own left hand
Lev 14:16  and dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand and sprinkle some oil with his finger seven times before the LORD.
Lev 14:17  And some of the oil that remains in his hand the priest shall put on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering.
Lev 14:18  And 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. Then the priest shall make atonement for him before the LORD.
Lev 14:19  The priest shall offer the sin offering, to make atonement for him who is to be cleansed from his uncleanness. And afterward he shall kill the burnt offering.
Lev 14:20  And the priest shall offer the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he shall be clean.

Notice again the focus on the 8th day, and the focus on the right-hand-side.  Leviticus 14 thus shows the sanctification of the clean man – he isn’t merely cleansed.  He is made like a priest!  And that is the picture of Exodus 19:6.  We are not to leave some as priests, and some as ‘clean’.  No – the symbolism of sin spreading in our lives, will be healed not by merely waiting.  On the symbolic 8th day of new creation, we too will become exactly like Christ – the High Priest of all ages.

v.21-32 covers the same procedure, but with two pigeons/turtledoves and one male lamb.  The male lamb seems to be the concurrent sacrificial animal whether you are poor or rich – same as Christ is to us, whether we are either poor or rich.

Leviticus 14:33-57 Disease in Buildings

This part of Leviticus is actually one of the most intriguing aspects of the book.  v.53 says it all: “So he shall make atonement for the house”.  One can make atonement for a house?

The procedures in v.33-57 actually resembles the cleansing of the leprous person in v.1-33.  The LORD is actually teaching us that one cannot over-spiritualise the truth of Leviticus 14; whatever happens to man will spread to creation, whether birds, animals, swarming things or even to apparently ‘dead’ things like buildings.  This supports the truth of new creation being physical.  We are not entering a merely spiritual heaven; but we are entering a heaven of new buildings, of new roads, of a new river of fresh water, of new trees which do not die, of new animals who will sleep alongside men.  If these are the truths preached in Revelation, then undoubtedly, the disease on tents and buildings represents the renewal necessary of ALL things within God’s kingdom.

Isaiah 6:3-5 displays it clearly – God’s presence with his people is dependent on uncleanness being excluded from Israel:

Isa 6:3  And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Isa 6:4  And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
Isa 6:5  And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

4.  Bodily discharges (Leviticus 15)

Leviticus 15:31-33 summarises this chapter.  Ultimately, the LORD’s dwelling-place must be clean.  Any truth of God joining us in the community of holiness must start with the renewal of everything – the buildings, the city, the animals, the people (Revelation 21).  Paul Blackham gives the structure for this chapter:

Male bodily discharges (15:2-18 )

Female bodily discharges (15:19-30)

Long term discharge (15:2-12)

Menstrual cycle (15:19-23)

Cleansing by sacrifice (15:13-15)

Sexual intercourse (15:24)

Temporary discharge (15:16-17)

Long term (15:25-27)

Sexual intercourse (15:18 )

Cleansing by sacrifice (15:29-30)

What is clear from this chapter is the uncleanness is transferred to people, even beds and even chairs.  We have already established that this is no personal matter – sin spreads everything and everything.

Natural bodily discharges makes a person unclean, but the passage of time will remove the uncleanness, therefore no sacrifices are needed for such discharges.  Our bodies which leak fluids of semen and blood is an example of life falling from our flesh.  Our bodies should be given immortality and corruption (1 Corinthians 15), and our bodies now preach anything but.

Which brings me to ‘sexual intercourse’ which is seen as unclean.  Why?  Firstly, because of the curse of Genesis 3, which shows that we have disordered sexual desires (c.f. Romans 1 and Paul’s argument which starts with sexual immorality).  Secondly is the loss of bodily fluids when having sexual intercourse, and Genesis 9:4 and Leviticus 17:11 show that there is life in blood and semen.  The life comes as a Seed, and in Christ, the Seed of all seeds, can we have true eternal life.  Most importantly it is a temporary period of washing, and the period of impurity is short, for this is the body which we inherit from Adam’s sin which we committed in his loins (Hebrews 7:9-10).

What say you about the distinction between sacrifices made for leprous flesh, but none needed for the uncleanness of our leaking bodies?

Conclusion

Throughout this chapter, we see that human sin has huge implications for both mankind and creation (Genesis 3:17-18, Deuteronomy 28:25, Amos 4:7, Romans 8:20); the Israelites had recognised in the OT that healing from such diseases should be coupld with the same offerings made to sinners.  The connection therefore between the man with skin disease and the man with sin becomes synonymous, for both need the same sacrifice – Christ.  Even before this Levitical law was given, skin diseases may already have been prevalent; and no doubt, this would have already stirred much thinking concerning the truth behind skin diseases.  What the Mosaic law does is display our transgressions with a beamlight, yet at the same time pointing out with much clarity the cure for such scrutinised transgressions.  It is important to remember time and time again that diseases is not necessarily a cause of our sins (John 9:1-3) – many times, it is simply a result of our fallen flesh and nature.  Praise be to God for these ordinances which point out our utter fallenness, and his magnificent holiness and grace in dealing with our corruption and decay, wrought by the first Deceiver Satan, and first man Adam.  It is by his Son, who was also thrown outside the camp (Hebrews 13:12-13) that he can sympathise and die for us sinners for he became the representation of the one cursed on the tree (Deut 21:22-23), thrown outside the city, made unclean for oursake so we can be the bird who escapes from decay.

Leviticus 11-15: Holy, Clean and Unclean