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