Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you. — Leviticus 18:26
In the middle of the nineteenth century, London was stricken with a devastating epidemic of cholera. As the disease rampaged through the city, it left thousands of people dead in its wake. No one knew the cause of the disease, and panic was widespread.
Dr. John Snow, a surgeon and pioneer of the science of epidemiology, suspected that the disease was spread by contaminated water — an idea that neither the authorities nor the rest of the medical profession accepted. In researching the deaths of 89 people in one week in a certain district of the city, Dr. Snow discovered that all but two of the dead had drunk from the Broad Street well.
At an emergency meeting of concerned leaders, Snow suggested that the handle of the Broad Street pump should be removed. Though they were reluctant to believe him, they agreed to remove the pump handle as an experiment. Within a few weeks, the outbreak in the area was all but over.
Sin contaminates. If not dealt with, it can quickly reach epidemic proportions. You may face situations where you will be scoffed at for establishing and maintaining standards of purity and holiness, but it is vital that you continue to do so. Ask the Lord to help you stand firm in upholding the instructions of God’s Word in every aspect of your life, and not to be swayed by the opinions of others.
In our devotional text for today, we read some of the measures God instituted to safeguard the holiness and separation of the Children of Israel from the evil nations around them. God wanted Israel to keep His Commandments, and they were to make sure the strangers dwelling in their land obeyed them too. If they did not, the strangers would suffer the same consequences that the Children of Israel did for their disobedience.
History tells us that the Israelites disobeyed God’s statutes, and ultimately were thrust into captivity as a result of their failure to obey. God means what He says!
Let us continually be on guard against the infiltration of the “filth” of this world into our lives, so that we might avoid God’s penalty for it!
These two chapters of Leviticus are included in what is commonly known as the “Holiness Code,” which encompasses chapters 17 — 20. This block of text constitutes a legal code for the people of Israel, touching on many aspects of their personal and public lives, and emphasizing that holiness is a practical thing.
Leviticus 17 deals with the sanctity of the blood, which is life. Life belongs to God and is considered sacred in God’s eyes. According to Leviticus 17:14, life is in the blood. Consequently, blood was not to be consumed in any way as food. Even during sacrifices, the blood was to be returned to God by sprinkling it on the altar or some other place in the sanctuary.
There were four conditions that governed Israel’s relationship to blood, as explained in chapter 17:
Verses 1-7: Any animal killed for food was to be brought to the sanctuary and offered as a peace offering or fellowship offering. This discouraged secretly killing an animal and eating it. It also dignified ordinary meals and made them into a sacred experience. In addition, it provided for the priests’ maintenance.
Verses 8-9: No one could offer a sacrifice any place other than the sanctuary. This was different than in the past when the head of a household could make an offering to the Lord anywhere.
Verses 10-13: No one was allowed to drink any type of blood. The purpose of blood was for atonement, and it was not to be treated as a common product.
Verses 14-16: A person who ate an animal that had died by itself or had been killed by another animal had to wash the clothes they were wearing, bathe their bodies, and keep themselves separated from all the people until the evening. It was an unpleasant thing to be declared unclean, so the practice of eating animals that had died in this manner was discouraged.
Through these regulations, Israel learned to recognize the sanctity of blood and the fact that God considered blood sacred because it was the very essence of life. These strict requirements pointed ahead to the precious Blood of Jesus, which would one day be shed for the redemption, sanctification, and healing of mankind.
Leviticus 18 deals with the sanctity of sexual relationships. To be holy in God’s eyes, the people had to avoid sexual activities that had been practiced by the Egyptians and the Canaanites (18:1-3). Israel was instructed to obey God’s standards, not those of the people around them. They were to preserve the sanctity of marriage by not having sexual relations outside of marriage, or with anyone other than their spouse. To “uncover their nakedness” means “to have sexual relations.” God reminded Israel that adultery was strictly forbidden and stated His opposition to sexual abuse, bestiality, and homosexuality. These were common practices in Egypt and Canaan, and God let Israel know that they were an abomination to Him.
God told Israel He was destroying the inhabitants of Canaan because of their sinful sexual practices, and He warned Israel not to commit these abominations or the land would spew them out like the nations before them.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The way of fellowship with God
A. By separation unto holiness
1. The holiness of the people
a. Reverence for blood (17:1-16)
(1) Concerning the slaying of animals (17:1-9)
(2) Concerning the eating of blood (17:10-16)
b. Moral purity (18:1-30)
(1) Holiness demanded (18:1-5)
(2) Unholiness delineated (18:6-23)
(3) Judgment described (18:24-30)
God still requires that His people be holy. We cannot violate God’s moral law and escape the consequences, but oh, the benefits of obedience!