Friday, December 01, 2023

2023.12.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 18

Read Leviticus 18

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom does YHWH speak in Leviticus 18:1? To whom is Moses to speak (Leviticus 18:2a)? How does YHWH introduce these laws (verse 2b)? What two standards does He set belonging to Him over against (Leviticus 18:3)? What are they to observe (Leviticus 18:4)? What are they to keep (Leviticus 18:5)? In what are they to walk? Why? What mustn’t they do, generally (Leviticus 18:6)? Why? Of/to whom else, specifically (What are they to keep (Leviticus 18:7)? And whom else (What are they to keep (Leviticus 18:8)? Whose nakedness is she? And whose else’s, specifically (Leviticus 18:9)? Whose else’s (Leviticus 18:10)? Whose nakedness would theirs be? Whose else’s in Leviticus 18:11? Whose else’s in Leviticus 18:12a? Why (verse 12b)? Whose in Leviticus 18:13a? Why (verse 13b)? Whose in Leviticus 18:14? Whose in Leviticus 18:15? Whom in Leviticus 18:16? Whose is she? Whose in Leviticus 18:17? Whose in Leviticus 18:18? When in Leviticus 18:19? What sort of lying down does Leviticus 18:20 prohibit? What would this do to a man? What else is forbidden in Leviticus 18:21? Whose Name would this profane? Why mustn’t they? What abomination does Leviticus 18:22 forbid? What perversion does Leviticus 18:23 forbid? Who were actually doing these things (Leviticus 18:24)? What did this do to them? What did it do to the land (Leviticus 18:25)? What did the Lord do to it? What did the land do to whom? Whose statutes and judgments should they keep instead (Leviticus 18:26)? In order not to do what? Who must not do it? Who had done it (Leviticus 18:27a)? With what result (verse 27b)? What would the land do to Israel, if they repeated the sin (Leviticus 18:28a)? Like what with whom (verse 28b)? What must be done to anyone who does this (Leviticus 18:29)? What, therefore, must they do (Leviticus 18:30)? In order not to do what? Which would do what to them? Why mustn’t they?

What is the first distinction between the people of the Lord and the people of the world? Leviticus 18 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these thirty verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that one great difference between the people of the Lord and the people of the world is that the Lord’s people are committed to purity in nakedness and marriage.

The Lord Who makes the difference. Six times, the Lord announces “I am YHWH.” At the beginning and end of the chapter, framing and defining the whole, He adds “your God.” There are many reasons for them not to do any of these wicked things. But here is the greatest: they are the covenant people of the living God, and their conduct should show the difference that He makes in His people. After all, it is their God Who made man in His image, male and female (cf. Genesis 1:27), especially for marriage (cf. Genesis 2:23–25). As a people whom He has especially consecrated to Himself, it was necessary that they be holy unto Him and apart from the world.

The shame of nakedness. The sin repeatedly prohibited in this chapter is the “uncovering of nakedness.” It is evident that this refers to other actions as well, but that is where it begins, and that is the name by which God calls it. We learn from Him not to speak the shameful things that wicked men do (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1, Ephesians 5:12). We also learn that the purity that God requires takes into account the current sinfulness of man. Man was created naked and unashamed (cf. Genesis 2:25). But when he became a sinner, he immediately knew the danger and shame of nakedness in his new state. 

This is helpful in thinking about modest dress. Out of due regard to belonging to the Lord, and due regard to the difference that our sinfulness makes, it is important to keep one’s own nakedness covered. That is not to say that one would cover whether he is a man or she is a woman. But those parts that convey the manliness of the man or the womanliness of the woman should be covered—not just kept from being exposed, but kept from being outlined in such a way that one’s own unique womanliness or manliness would be revealed. This takes wisdom to apply well. But it is an important application that can be drawn from even the language that the Lord uses to describe the sin in this chapter.

Nationality, idolatry, and the need for purity. Obviously, marriage across some of these lines was unavoidable as humanity descended from just one man and one woman. We can study the biology of why corruption in our genetics makes the doubling of those genetics more harmful. But that is not the reason that the Lord gives in this chapter. Rather, the great prohibition is from doing as Egypt did or doing as Canaan did. Israel is to follow YHWH’s statutes and judgments (Leviticus 18:5Leviticus 18:26Leviticus 18:30) to stop from doing the wickedness of the nations. 

The implication is that the nations were doing according to someone, or something, other than YHWH. This is most clear in the one wickedness in the chapter that corresponds more to the sixth commandment than the seventh (Leviticus 18:21). There, refusing to murder offspring by fire is tied to the first commandment, which prohibits the worship of Molech, and the second commandment, which prohibits worship in the Molech way (cf. Jeremiah 7:31, Jeremiah 19:5, Jeremiah 32:35). The nations of the land were not in covenant with God in the way that Israel had now come to be, yet the Lord held them accountable for their idolatry and impurity, and made the land to vomit them out (Leviticus 18:25Leviticus 18:28). 

Let nations learn that the true and living God condemns their idolatry and impurity. And let the people of the Lord note that there is a special danger in the idolatry and impurity of the nation around them, a special offense to God, and a special judgment for committing it (Leviticus 18:3Leviticus 18:24-30). The word “abomination” (Leviticus 18:22Leviticus 18:26Leviticus 18:27Leviticus 18:29Leviticus 18:30) comes from a root meaning to hate or abhor and shows God’s emphatic opposition of Himself to such things. The word “perversion” (Leviticus 18:23) comes from a root meaning mixing or confusing and highlights how such sin confuses or corrupts the created order.

What is the biggest reason for you to be pure with regard to nakedness and marriage? To Whom do you belong? What does this mean for your clothing? What does this mean for your heart?

Sample prayer:  Lord, have mercy upon us and forgive us and cleanse us from all our unrighteousness. Our sin has made our hearts into factories of idolatry and impurity. And this has even overflowed into our lives. But You are the God Who takes a people for Yourself and forgives and cleanses them. Make that difference in our life, we ask, through Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH24B “The Earth and Its Riches”

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