Categories
Uncategorized

Leviticus 19:1-18

Idolatry Forbidden

19 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

“Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father, and you shall keep My sabbaths; I am the Lord your God. Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves molten gods; I am the Lord your God.

‘Now when you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, and the next day; but what remains until the third day shall be burned with fire. So if it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an offense; it will not be accepted. Everyone who eats it will bear his iniquity, for he has profaned the holy thing of the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from his people.

Sundry Laws

‘Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. 10 Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God.

11 ‘You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. 12 You shall not swear falsely by My name, so as to profane the name of your God; I am the Lord.

13 ‘You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning. 14 You shall not curse a deaf man, nor place a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall revere your God; I am the Lord.

15 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. 16 You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to [a]act against the [b]life of your neighbor; I am the Lord.

17 ‘You shall not hate your [c]fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.

Many of these are rules that we know in our heart, if only we would just admit them, but one that always stands out to me is in verse 9. God tells them not to pick up every last bit of grain, or to strip every last bunch of grapes. What for? Simply, to care for those who are not fortunate enough to have their own land to harvest. God gave them a very simple and practical way to care for the poor and destitute among them. Don’t strip the fields, don’t be greedy, just leave what has been missed, in case someone else needs it. So it should be with the Church today, we shouldn’t need the government to take care of our poor, if only those who have enough would leave a bit for those who have not.

Categories
Uncategorized

Leviticus 18

Laws on Immoral Relations

18 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘I am the Lord your God. You shall not do [a]what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do [b]what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, [c]to live in accord with them; I am the Lord your God. So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord.

‘None of you shall approach any blood relative [d]of his to uncover nakedness; I am the Lord. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, that is, the nakedness of your mother. She is your mother; you are not to uncover her nakedness. You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness. The nakedness of your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether born at home or born outside, their nakedness you shall not uncover. 10 The nakedness of your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover; for [e]their nakedness is yours.11 The nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, [f]born to your father, she is your sister, you shall not uncover her nakedness. 12 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is your father’s blood relative. 13 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s blood relative. 14 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother; you shall not approach his wife, she is your aunt. 15 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness.16 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness. 17 You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, nor shall you take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; they are blood relatives. It is [g]lewdness. 18 You shall not [h]marry a woman in addition to [i]her sister [j]as a rival while she is alive, to uncover her nakedness.

19 ‘Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness during her menstrual impurity. 20 You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her. 21 You shall not give any of your offspring to [k]offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the Lord. 22 You shall not lie with a male as [l]one lies with a female; it is an abomination. 23 Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to [m]mate with it; it is a perversion.

24 ‘Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 25 For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its [n]punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. 26 But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you 27 (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled); 28 so that the land will not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you. 29 For whoever does any of these abominations, [o]those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the Lord your God.’”

The time in which the Israelites lived was filled with sexual perversions. Sometimes, it might be tempting to think our time is unique, but God says that all these things were being practiced by the Egyptians (whose land they had just left), and the Canaanites (whose land they were destined to take). He goes so far as to say that THIS is why he is punishing the Canaanites. Not because he is mean and spiteful, but because they knew better (all of them being descended from Noah, many from Isaac’s half-brother Ishmael, and many more even from Jacob’s brother Esau), and they persisted in doing these abominable acts. It is likely the story of Sodom and Gomorrah was known to them also, yet they continued in the same perversion that turned Sodom into an ash heap.

However, all that said, there are some very practical things mixed in here. This wasn’t just God’s diatribe on sexual sin, it was a guide for living a good life. In the middle we see a prohibition on marrying your wife’s sister. There was no prohibition on having multiple wives, but marrying sisters would cause them to be rivals and harm the sisterly relationship that was too precious to jeopardize. We see that many times in stories where a man had multiple wives. There’s always a favorite, or one who gets shunned by the other wife/wives, and so God told them to protect sisters against any such rivalry. Similarly, many of the other rules here are to protect family, for family is precious to God. He designed it, and he is zealous to protect the family. We ought to strongly defend our own families from divisions and strive to keep the bonds tight.

Categories
Uncategorized

Leviticus 17

Blood for Atonement

17 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘This is what the Lord has commanded, saying, “Any man from the house of Israel who slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or who slaughters it outside the camp, and has not brought it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord before the [a]tabernacle of the Lord, bloodguiltiness is to be reckoned to that man. He has shed blood and that man shall be cut off from among his people. [b]The reason is so that the sons of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they were sacrificing in the open field, that they may bring them in to the Lord, at the doorway of the tent of meeting to the priest, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to the Lord. The priest shall sprinkle the blood on the altar of the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and offer up the fat in smoke as a soothing aroma to the Lord.They shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the [c]goat demons with which they play the harlot. This shall be a permanent statute to them throughout their generations.”’

“Then you shall say to them, ‘Any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, and does not bring it to the doorway of the tent of meeting to [d]offer it to the Lord, that man also shall be cut off from his people.

10 ‘And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the [e]life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the [f]life that makes atonement.’ 12 Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘No person among you may eat blood, nor may any alien who sojourns among you eat blood.’ 13 So when any man from the sons of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, [g]in hunting catches a beast or a bird which may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth.

14 “For as for the [h]life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its [i]life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, ‘You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the [j]life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.’ 15 When any person eats an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or an alien, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and remain unclean until evening; then he will become clean. 16 But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his [k]guilt.”

Throughout this chapter, there is the obvious practical concern God had for his people, which was that drinking the blood of an animal could make you very sick, even to death. But there are a couple other things at play here. First, is that the sacrifices were likely a significant portion of the provision for the Priests and Levites. They were set apart to serve God, and a portion of most sacrifices belonged to the priest. By offering sacrifice elsewhere, it robbed the priest of his portion. Secondly, there is a note about idol worship. The only good reason to make a sacrifice elsewhere was because you were making it to an idol and not to God. This was in direct violation of His commands, and you cannot serve two masters. As it says elsewhere, you will end up loving one and hating the other. And if you hate your idol worship, then what are you doing it for? More likely, you can’t quite break your old habits, and are afraid of what God will say. He wants you to come to him, so leave your baggage behind, and come running!

Categories
Uncategorized

Leviticus 16

Law of Atonement

16 Now the Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they had approached the presence of the Lord and died. The Lord said to Moses:

“Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the [a]mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the [b]mercy seat. Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a [c]bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and the linen undergarments shall be next to his [d]body, and he shall be girded with the linen sash and attired with the linen turban (these are holy garments). Then he shall bathe his [e]body in water and put them on. He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household. He shall take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the [f]scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell, and make it a sin offering. 10 But the goat on which the lot for the [g]scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the [h]scapegoat.

11 “Then Aaron shall offer the bull of the sin offering which is for himself and make atonement for himself and for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself. 12 He shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the Lord and [i]two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil. 13 He shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the [j]mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, otherwise he will die. 14 Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the [k]mercy seat on the east side; also in front of the [l]mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

15 “Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the [m]mercy seat and in front of the [n]mercy seat. 16 He shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities.17 When he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel. 18 Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat and put it on the horns of the altar on all sides.19 With his finger he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times and cleanse it, and from the impurities of the sons of Israel consecrate it.

20 “When he finishes atoning for the holy place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. 21 Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel and all their transgressions [o]in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. 22 The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.

23 “Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there.24 He shall bathe his [p]body with water in a holy place and put on his clothes, and come forth and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people. 25 Then he shall offer up in smoke the fat of the sin offering on the altar. 26 The one who released the goat as the [q]scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his [r]body with water; then afterward he shall come into the camp. 27 But the bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall be taken outside the camp, and they shall burn their hides, their flesh, and their refuse in the fire. 28 Then the one who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water, then afterward he shall come into the camp.

An Annual Atonement

29 This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you; 30 for it is on this day that [s]atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the Lord. 31 It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute. 32 So the priest who is anointed and [t]ordained to serve as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement: he shall thus put on the linen garments, the holy garments, 33 and make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar. He shall also make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 Now you shall have this as a permanent statute, to make atonement for the sons of Israel for all their sins once every year.” And just as the Lord had commanded Moses, so he did.

I’ve read this before and kind of thought the “scapegoat” was getting off a bit easy. The other goat gets killed, but the scapegoat, the one who is to carry all the sins of the people on his back, is to live out his days in the wilderness.

But then, I wondered what prevented the scapegoat from coming back? Animals seem to have an uncanny ability to find their way home, and what would prevent that happening? Well, two things I suspect, possibly three:

First, the scapegoat was driven out of the camp, rather than lead out of the camp. How do you drive an animal? Likely with a whip or rod to the back, which is not a nice experience for the goat. Possibly one he’s had before, but this goes into the second. They weren’t just driving the goat outside the camp a little ways. They were to drive the goat to the wilderness, and given the idea that an animal might try to find its way back, they had to go a sufficient way into the wilderness that it would never come back. All the while, being whipped or beaten with a rod. Third, by the time they had gone far enough, the animal would be weary, and beaten, and remember it is domesticated. Well, as domesticated as a goat can be… The goat will be left in the wilderness, fair game for any wild animals (which we know they had at least lions and wolves), with all these things against its survival. This was not a kind act, rather the scapegoat was being sacrificed to a life of danger, neglect, and abuse, likely ending in a savage death.

As I was thinking these things, it reminds me all the more of Jesus’ sacrifice. Whipped, beaten, driven out of the city, carrying his own cross, ending in the most savage death the Romans could dream up, and abandoned/shunned by his Father. In both cases, so that the sins of God’s children could be forgiven. With the scapegoat, it was an annual ritual, good only for the sins of the past, while Jesus’ sacrifice was once for all past and future sins of those who call him Lord. What a mighty price was paid for our “rebellion and wickedness”, a price worth remembering, a price to never take for granted. A price none of us could bear, even if we dared to. All for the sake of restoring our relationship with a God who is more than a creator, more than just some spirit in the sky, but one who has made Himself known to us, and wants to know us just like He knew Adam before sin entered the world.

Categories
Uncategorized

Leviticus 15

Cleansing Unhealthiness

15 The Lord also spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, ‘When any man has a discharge from his [a]body, [b]his discharge is unclean. This, moreover, shall be his uncleanness in his discharge: it is his uncleanness whether his body allows its discharge to flow or whether his body obstructs its discharge. Every bed on which the person with the discharge lies becomes unclean, and everything on which he sits becomes unclean.Anyone, moreover, who touches his bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening; and whoever sits on the thing on which the man with the discharge has been sitting, shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. Also whoever touches the [c]person with the discharge shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. Or if the man with the discharge spits on one who is clean, he too shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. Every saddle on which the person with the discharge rides becomes unclean. 10 Whoever then touches any of the things which were under him shall be unclean until evening, and he who carries them shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening.11 Likewise, whomever the one with the discharge touches without having rinsed his hands in water shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. 12 However, an earthenware vessel which the person with the discharge touches shall be broken, and every wooden vessel shall be rinsed in water.

13 ‘Now when the man with the discharge becomes cleansed from his discharge, then he shall count off for himself seven days for his cleansing; he shall then wash his clothes and bathe his body in [d]running water and will become clean. 14 Then on the eighth day he shall take for himself two turtledoves or two young pigeons, and come before the Lord to the doorway of the tent of meeting and give them to the priest; 15 and the priest shall offer them, one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf before the Lordbecause of his discharge.

16 ‘Now if a [e]man has a seminal emission, he shall bathe all his body in water and be unclean until evening. 17 As for any garment or any leather on which there is seminal emission, it shall be washed with water and be unclean until evening. 18 If a man lies with a woman so that there is a seminal emission, they shall both bathe in water and be unclean until evening.

19 ‘When a woman has a discharge, if her discharge in her body is blood, she shall continue in her menstrual impurity for seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. 20 Everything also on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean, and everything on which she sits shall be unclean.21 Anyone who touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. 22 Whoever touches any thing on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. 23 Whether it be on the bed or on the thing on which she is sitting, when he touches it, he shall be unclean until evening. 24 If a man actually lies with her so that her menstrual impurity is on him, he shall be unclean seven days, and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.

25 ‘Now if a woman has a discharge of her blood many days, not at the period of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond [f]that period, all the days of her impure discharge she shall continue as though [g]in her menstrual impurity; she is unclean. 26 Any bed on which she lies all the days of her discharge shall be to her like [h]her bed at menstruation; and every thing on which she sits shall be unclean, like [i]her uncleanness at that time. 27 Likewise, whoever touches them shall be unclean and shall wash his clothes and bathe in water and be unclean until evening. 28 When she becomes clean from her discharge, she shall count off for herself seven days; and afterward she will be clean. 29 Then on the eighth day she shall take for herself two turtledoves or two young pigeons and bring them in to the priest, to the doorway of the tent of meeting. 30 The priest shall offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. So the priest shall make atonement on her behalf before the Lord because of her impure discharge.’

31 “Thus you shall keep the sons of Israel separated from their uncleanness, so that they will not die in their uncleanness by their defiling My [j]tabernacle that is among them.” 32 This is the law for the one with a discharge, and for the man [k]who has a seminal emission so that he is unclean by it, 33 and for the woman who is ill because of menstrual impurity, and for the one who has a discharge, whether a male or a female, or a man who lies with an unclean woman.

We see here some more terribly practical guidelines for dealing with cleanliness, which was to help keep infections from spreading. But mixed in here are some protections to avoid obvious disease of some sort (I’m not a Doctor, so I can’t speculate on what they might be called in our day).

At any rate, the latter, with the flow of blood for a woman lasting longer than her normal menstrual period, stands out in light of something that happened to Jesus. There is a mention that “if any of you touch these things, you will be ceremonially unclean.” So when we have the story of the woman with the flow of blood who touches the hem of Jesus garment, it is no wonder that he cries out, “who touched me?!” She, rightly so, was afraid of what would follow, for she ought not to have touched anyone, and certainly not to have been in a crowd of people like that.

But Jesus takes a different route than the culture might have expected. When she finally confesses to what she had done, he is reaction is not “how dare you?” For she had just made him (or at least his robe) unclean. Instead, he responds with tenderness, and even calls her “Daughter” as he says “your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.”

There are a couple takeaways, the most obvious to be caring and compassionate, and be slow to judge and condemn (we are not to judge those in the world ever, and be very careful in our correction of our brothers & sisters). The law gave Jesus every right to condemn many, but He came to give life, and life to the full.

Categories
Uncategorized

Leviticus 14:33-57

Cleansing a Leprous House

33 The Lord further spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying:

34 “When you enter the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a mark of leprosy on a house in the land of your possession, 35 then the one who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, ‘Something like a mark of leprosy has become visible to me in the house.’ 36 The priest shall then command that they empty the house before the priest goes in to look at the mark, so that everything in the house need not become unclean; and afterward the priest shall go in to look at the house. 37 So he shall look at the mark, and if the mark on the walls of the house has greenish or reddish depressions and appears deeper than the [t]surface, 38 then the priest shall come out of the house, to the [u]doorway, and [v]quarantine the house for seven days. 39 The priest shall return on the seventh day and [w]make an inspection. If the mark has indeed spread in the walls of the house,40 then the priest shall order them to tear out the stones with the mark in them and throw them away [x]at an unclean place outside the city. 41 He shall have the house scraped all around [y]inside, and they shall dump the plaster that they scrape off at an unclean place outside the city. 42 Then they shall take other stones and replace those stones, and he shall take other plaster and replaster the house.

43 “If, however, the mark breaks out again in the house after he has torn out the stones and scraped the house, and after it has been replastered, 44 then the priest shall come in and [z]make an inspection. If he sees that the mark has indeed spread in the house, it is a malignant mark in the house; it is unclean. 45 He shall therefore tear down the house, its stones, and its timbers, and all the plaster of the house, and he shall take them outside the city to an unclean place. 46 Moreover, whoever goes into the house during the time that he has [aa]quarantined it, becomes unclean until evening. 47 Likewise, whoever lies down in the house shall wash his clothes, and whoever eats in the house shall wash his clothes.

48 “If, on the other hand, the priest comes in and [ab]makes an inspection and the mark has not indeed spread in the house after the house has been replastered, then the priest shall pronounce the house clean because the mark has [ac]not reappeared. 49 To cleanse the house then, he shall take two birds and cedar wood and a [ad]scarlet string and hyssop, 50 and he shall slaughter the one bird in an earthenware vessel over [ae]running water. 51 Then he shall take the cedar wood and the hyssop and the [af]scarlet string, with the live bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird as well as in the [ag]running water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52 He shall thus cleanse the house with the blood of the bird and with the [ah]running water, along with the live bird and with the cedar wood and with the hyssop and with the [ai]scarlet string. 53 However, he shall let the live bird go free outside the city into the open field. So he shall make atonement for the house, and it will be clean.”

54 This is the law for any mark of leprosy—even for a scale, 55 and for the leprous garment or house, 56 and for a swelling, and for a scab, and for a bright spot— 57 to teach [aj]when they are unclean and [ak]when they are clean. This is the law of leprosy.

This is (what appears to be) the end of instructions on dealing with leprosy. The instructions for a house are quite similar to those for a person or object that is infected, but what strikes me most is the first couple verses. The reason there might be disease in a house, at least initially, was because they were moving into enemy territory, and God was preparing the way for His people to take the land He had promised them. Many times, we see God miraculously intervening in their battles, but here He was, already weakening the enemy forces through disease before the Jews would ever get there.

And so, for their protection, God warns them to check out the houses that they take over, to be sure they don’t also get sick. It’s not a very nice thing to think about God killing off the inhabitants of Canaan, whether by disease, or outright warfare. I don’t pretend to know the mind of God in all matters, but we do know that these people were not strangers to God. Many of them were descendants of Abraham, through Esau, and all of them were descended from Adam and Noah. The former saw God face to face, the latter was preserved from a cataclysmic flood by sailing in a huge boat God told him to build. These people had no excuse for not serving God, but even worse was that they served blocks of wood and stone instead, and would even go so far as to sacrifice their own children to a god of their own imagining.

It’s a sobering thought to think that the people who saw God do such incredible things could have children that would turn to such selfish and debased wickedness. It is a warning to us, to train up our children, in the way that they should go (2 Timothy, if I remember right). For that reason, God also warned the Jews to pass on His commands and teaching, and to tell their children about the miracles. That’s a story for another day, but be sure that any children you have influence over know that you love God, and do your best to share Him in spite of the selfishness of our world.

Categories
Uncategorized

Leviticus 14:1-32

Law of Cleansing a Leper

14 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest, and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the [a]infection of leprosy has been healed in the leper, then the priest shall give orders to take two live clean birds and cedar wood and a [b]scarlet string and hyssop for the one who is to be cleansed. The priest shall also give orders to slay the one bird in an earthenware vessel over [c]running water. As for the live bird, he shall take it together with the cedar wood and the [d]scarlet string and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was slain over the [e]running water. He shall then sprinkle seven times the one who is to be cleansed from the leprosy and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the live bird go free over the open field. The one to be cleansed shall then wash his clothes and shave off all his hair and bathe in water and be clean. Now afterward, he may enter the camp, but he shall stay outside his tent for seven days. It will be on the seventh day that he shall shave off all his hair: he shall shave his head and his beard and his eyebrows, even all his hair. He shall then wash his clothes and bathe his [f]body in water and be clean.

10 “Now on the eighth day he is to take two male lambs without defect, and a yearling ewe lamb without defect, and three-tenths of an [g]ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and one [h]log of oil; 11 and the priest who pronounces him clean shall present the man to be cleansed and the [i]aforesaid before the Lordat the doorway of the tent of meeting. 12 Then the priest shall take the one male lamb and bring it for a guilt offering, with the [j]log of oil, and present them as a wave offering before the Lord. 13 Next he shall slaughter the male lamb in the place where they slaughter the sin offering and the burnt offering, at the place of the sanctuary—for the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy. 14 The priest shall then take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. 15 The priest shall also take some of the [k]log of oil, and pour it into his left palm; 16 the priest shall then dip his right-hand finger into the oil that is in his left palm, and with his finger sprinkle some of the oil seven times before the Lord. 17 Of the remaining oil which is in his palm, the priest shall put some on the right ear lobe of the one to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe of his right foot, on the blood of the guilt offering; 18 while the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s palm, he shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf before the Lord. 19 The priest shall next offer the sin offering and make atonement for the one to be cleansed from his uncleanness. Then afterward, he shall slaughter the burnt offering. 20 The priest shall offer up the burnt offering and the grain offering on the altar. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him, and he will be clean.

21 “But if he is poor and his [l]means are insufficient, then he is to take one male lamb for a guilt offering as a wave offering to make atonement for him, and one-tenth of an [m]ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and a [n]log of oil,22 and two turtledoves or two young pigeons which [o]are within his means, the one shall be a sin offering and the other a burnt offering. 23 Then the eighth day he shall bring them for his cleansing to the priest, at the doorway of the tent of meeting, before the Lord. 24 The priest shall take the lamb of the guilt offering and the [p]log of oil, and the priest shall offer them for a wave offering before the Lord. 25 Next he shall slaughter the lamb of the guilt offering; and the priest is to take some of the blood of the guilt offering and put it on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.26 The priest shall also pour some of the oil into his left palm; 27 and with his right-hand finger the priest shall sprinkle some of the oil that is in his left palm seven times before the Lord. 28 The priest shall then put some of the oil that is in his palm on the lobe of the right ear of the one to be cleansed, and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on the place of the blood of the guilt offering. 29 Moreover, the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s palm he shall put on the head of the one to be cleansed, to make atonement on his behalf before the Lord. 30 He shall then offer one of the turtledoves or young pigeons, [q]which are within his means. 31 He shall offer what [r]he can afford, the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, together with the grain offering. So the priest shall make atonement before the Lord on behalf of the one to be cleansed. 32 This is the law for him in whom there is an infection of leprosy, whose [s]means are limited for his cleansing.”

Given the seriousness of a diagnosis for “skin disease” (or leprosy), it’s no surprise that there was a bit “to do” over someone who was cured. I don’t know that there’s anything practical about the ceremony itself, but I think it was likely a time of celebration for anyone involved. The fact that they brought three lambs, six quarts of flour, and olive oil seems more than most other sacrifices, as it should be for such a huge ordeal. Likewise, we ought to celebrate anytime someone repents of their sin and turns to Jesus, for the Bible says the angels practically throw a party every time someone finds God.

Categories
Uncategorized

Leviticus 13:47-59

47 “When a garment has a [af]mark of leprosy in it, whether it is a wool garment or a linen garment, 48 whether in [ag]warp or woof, of linen or of wool, whether in leather or in any article made of leather, 49 if the mark is greenish or reddish in the garment or in the leather, or in the [ah]warp or in the woof, or in any article of leather, it is a leprous mark and shall be shown to the priest. 50 Then the priest shall look at the mark and shall [ai]quarantine the article with the mark for seven days. 51 He shall then look at the mark on the seventh day; if the mark has spread in the garment, whether in the warp or in the woof, or in the leather, whatever the purpose for which the leather is used, the mark is a [aj]leprous malignancy, it is unclean. 52 So he shall burn the garment, whether the warp or the woof, in wool or in linen, or any article of leather in which the mark occurs, for it is a [ak]leprous malignancy; it shall be burned in the fire.

53 “But if the priest shall look, and indeed the mark has not spread in the garment, either in the warp or in the woof, or in any article of leather, 54 then the priest shall order them to wash the thing in which the mark occurs and he shall [al]quarantine it for seven more days. 55 After the article with the mark has been washed, the priest shall again look, and if the mark has not changed its appearance, even though the mark has not spread, it is unclean; you shall burn it in the fire, whether an eating away has produced bareness on the top or on the front of it.

56 “Then if the priest looks, and if the mark has faded after it has been washed, then he shall tear it out of the garment or out of the leather, whether from the warp or from the woof; 57 and if it appears again in the garment, whether in the warp or in the woof, or in any article of leather, it is an outbreak; the article with the mark shall be burned in the fire. 58 The garment, whether the warp or the woof, or any article of leather from which the mark has departed when you washed it, it shall then be washed a second time and will be clean.”

59 This is the law for the mark of leprosy in a garment of wool or linen, whether in the warp or in the woof, or in any article of leather, for pronouncing it clean or unclean.

Here we have more practical guidance on dealing with contagions like leprosy. God cared very much about their health and safety, and didn’t want anything “unknown” to harm them. So he gave them instructions on taking care of diseased garments. They didn’t have washing machines, so I suspect nasty bugs/bacteria very much liked to hang out in clothes that hadn’t been taken care of well. We can be thankful that we know much more about disease, and indeed, about general sanitation, and have the convenience of washing machines, however tedious it might be to do the laundry. So thank God for washing machines (and a thousand other modern conveniences).

Categories
Uncategorized

Leviticus 13:1-46

The Test for Leprosy

13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “When a man has on the skin of his [a]body a swelling or a scab or a bright spot, and it becomes [b]an infection of leprosy on the skin of his [c]body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. The priest shall look at the mark on the skin of the [d]body, and if the hair in the infection has turned white and the infection appears to be deeper than the skin of his [e]body, it is an infection of leprosy; when the priest has looked at him, he shall pronounce him unclean. But if the bright spot is white on the skin of his [f]body, and [g]it does not appear to be deeper than the skin, and the hair on it has not turned white, then the priest shall [h]isolate him who has the infection for seven days. The priest shall look at him on the seventh day, and if in his eyes the infection [i]has not changed and the infection has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall [j]isolate him for seven more days. The priest shall look at him again on the seventh day, and if the infection has faded and the mark has not spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only a scab. And he shall wash his clothes and be clean.

“But if the scab spreads farther on the skin after he has shown himself to the priest for his cleansing, he shall appear again to the priest. The priest shall look, and if the scab has spread on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is leprosy.

“When the infection of leprosy is on a man, then he shall be brought to the priest.10 The priest shall then look, and if there is a white swelling in the skin, and it has turned the hair white, and there is quick raw flesh in the swelling, 11 it is [k]a chronic leprosy on the skin of his [l]body, and the priest shall pronounce him unclean; he shall not [m]isolate him, for he is unclean. 12 If the leprosy breaks out farther on the skin, and the leprosy covers all the skin of him who has the infection from his head even to his feet, [n]as far as the priest can see, 13 then the priest shall look, and behold, if the leprosy has covered all his [o]body, he shall pronounce clean him who has the infection; it has all turned white and he is clean. 14 But whenever raw flesh appears on him, he shall be unclean. 15 The priest shall look at the raw flesh, and he shall pronounce him unclean; the raw flesh is unclean, it is leprosy. 16 Or if the raw flesh turns again and is changed to white, then he shall come to the priest,17 and the priest shall look at him, and behold, if the infection has turned to white, then the priest shall pronounce clean him who has the infection; he is clean.

18 “When the [p]body has a boil on its skin and it is healed, 19 and in the place of the boil there is a white swelling or a reddish-white, bright spot, then it shall be shown to the priest; 20 and the priest shall look, and behold, if [q]it appears to be lower than the skin, and the hair on it has turned white, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is the infection of leprosy, it has broken out in the boil. 21 But if the priest looks at it, and behold, there are no white hairs in it and it is not lower than the skin and is faded, then the priest shall [r]isolate him for seven days; 22 and if it spreads farther on the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is an infection.23 But if the bright spot remains in its place and does not spread, it is only the scar of the boil; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.

24 “Or if the [s]body sustains in its skin a burn by fire, and the raw flesh of the burn becomes a bright spot, reddish-white, or white, 25 then the priest shall look at it. And if the hair in the bright spot has turned white and it appears to be deeper than the skin, it is leprosy; it has broken out in the burn. Therefore, the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is an infection of leprosy. 26 But if the priest looks at it, and indeed, there is no white hair in the bright spot and it is no [t]deeper than the skin, but is dim, then the priest shall [u]isolate him for seven days; 27 and the priest shall look at him on the seventh day. If it spreads farther in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is an infection of leprosy. 28 But if the bright spot remains in its place and has not spread in the skin, but is dim, it is the swelling from the burn; and the priest shall pronounce him clean, for it is only the scar of the burn.

29 “Now if a man or woman has an infection on the head or on the beard, 30 then the priest shall look at the infection, and if it appears to be deeper than the skin and there is thin yellowish hair in it, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is a scale, it is leprosy of the head or of the beard. 31 But if the priest looks at the infection of the scale, and indeed, it appears to be no deeper than the skin and there is no black hair in it, then the priest shall [v]isolate the person with the scaly infection for seven days. 32 On the seventh day the priest shall look at the infection, and if the scale has not spread and no yellowish hair has [w]grown in it, and the appearance of the scale is no deeper than the skin, 33 then he shall shave himself, but he shall not shave the scale; and the priest shall [x]isolate the person with the scale seven more days. 34 Then on the seventh day the priest shall look at the scale, and if the scale has not spread in the skin and it appears to be no deeper than the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean; and he shall wash his clothes and be clean. 35 But if the scale spreads farther in the skin after his cleansing,36 then the priest shall look at him, and if the scale has spread in the skin, the priest need not seek for the yellowish hair; he is unclean. 37 If in his sight the scale has remained, however, and black hair has grown in it, the scale has healed, he is clean; and the priest shall pronounce him clean.

38 “When a man or a woman has bright spots on the skin of the [y]body, even white bright spots, 39 then the priest shall look, and if the bright spots on the skin of their [z]bodies are a faint white, it is [aa]eczema that has broken out on the skin; he is clean.

40 “Now if a [ab]man loses the hair of his head, he is bald; he is clean. 41 If his head becomes bald at the [ac]front and sides, he is bald on the forehead; he is clean.42 But if on the bald head or the bald forehead, there occurs a reddish-white infection, it is leprosy breaking out on his bald head or on his bald forehead.43 Then the priest shall look at him; and if the swelling of the infection is reddish-white on his bald head or on his bald forehead, like the appearance of leprosy in the skin of the [ad]body, 44 he is a leprous man, he is unclean. The priest shall surely pronounce him unclean; his infection is on his head.

45 “As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be [ae]uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ 46 He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.

While this is a long passage, there’s some repetition, and it’s all pretty well connected. This passage concerns “serious skin diseases” or what was commonly known as leprosy. This was contagious, and deadly. This sort of disease could cause loss of feeling, and even loss of limbs. As the NLT states, it was typically chronic, thus someone confined to dwelling alone outside the camp was usually there for life, however long that might be. The price to protect their friends and loved ones was a life of solitude.

It is then a wonder (to the Jews) that Jesus was unafraid of leprosy. On more than one occasion, he healed lepers, which would have been a big deal. There was no known cure, and as we said, it was usually terminal, accompanied by a lifetime of loneliness. A leper who had heard of Jesus would have been desperate to be healed by him, and any “chance” encounter would have been fortunate indeed. Would that we were so desperate for Jesus, as we have a more serious condition of the heart; the sickness called self(ishness). It is at the core of our being, what drives us to commit sin, and He alone is the cure.

Categories
Uncategorized

Leviticus 12

Laws of Motherhood

12 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying:

‘When a woman [a]gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of [b]her menstruation she shall be unclean. On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her [c]menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of herpurification for sixty-six days.

‘When the days of her purification are completed, for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the doorway of the tent of meeting a one year old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. Then he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her, and she shall be cleansed from the [d]flow of her blood. This is the law for her who bears a child, whether a male or a female. But if [e]she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two young pigeons, the one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”

We have here another very practical purification process. The way this is worded, one would think it was for the protection of those around the woman who had given birth. But it is more likely that it was actually for her protection. A woman, having given birth, is more vulnerable to disease, and by making her “unclean”, no one else could touch her without also being unclean. So it kept her safe(r) from any contagions they might be harboring. Additionally, it is likely that while the woman was unclean, that she would be prohibited from doing too much around the house. Given the communal living style, the grandmother, sisters, or other daughters, would likely pick up the slack, giving the woman time to rest and recover from the intensive labor of pregnancy. God knew what was best for her, and following His law was to be a protection and a comfort.