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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Leviticus 20

Verses 1-27

The Limitations of the Dwarf

Leviticus 20:21

Under the old Hebrew priesthood the dwarf, while permitted to partake of the holy bread, was restrained from offering it to others. He was not to blame for being a dwarf, but only men without blemish, and who had the full measure of manly power, were permitted to exercise the functions of that holy office.

I. It is the bitterest sorrow of weakness that a man cannot render aid to the helpless. And in the higher realm the sorest pang that a man can know is that he is so dwarfed in his spiritual nature that he cannot offer the bread of his God to his fellows. The physical dwarf is very often, and indeed usually, without personal blame. It is his misfortune, which may have come to him by inheritance, or by accident. But the spiritual dwarf, while the conduct of others may have contributed to his lamentable condition, is in the last analysis personally responsible, for the power to emerge from such a condition is always within his reach.

II. The Hebrew priest that was born a dwarf, or who had been dwarfed by accident or by cruel treatment in childhood, could never become anything else. No penitence, no care, no culture could ever give him the broad shoulders, the splendid presence, and the noble personality of the full-grown and mature manhood necessary for his office. But God is more gracious in spiritual things, or rather the spirit is not subject to the limitations of the flesh, and the man who has been dwarfed by poverty, or affliction, or harsh treatment, into narrowness of vision and experience, may through devotion and self-surrender to God emerge out of the dwarfed manhood he now knows into the large and splendid personality which shall give him the privilege of offering the bread of God to humanity.

III. We do not need to be weak and powerless. We need not go along the way of life spiritual dwarfs. God is no respecter of persons. He is seeking for men and women to offer the bread of life to hungry souls. All that is needed is that we should surrender ourselves to Him for the highest and holiest service. What folly that for a few paltry dollars, or for a few years of sensual pleasure, or for a few shouts of applause from unthinking crowds, we should miss the building up of soul and character into those splendid proportions that shall fit us for Divine usefulness.

L. A. Banks, Sermons which have Won Souls, p. 211.

References. XX. 26. J. Vaughan, Sermons (9th Series), p. 117. XXI.-XXII. H. Bonar, Short Sermons for Family Reading, p. 358. XXII. 21. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No. 1897. XXIII. 42. Bishop Woodford, Sermons on Subjects from the Old Testament, p. 1. XXIII.-XXVII. J. Monro Gibson, The Mosaic Era, p. 223. XXIV. 5-9. J. H. Holford, Memorial Sermons, p. 127. XXV. 9, 10. J. Flemming, The Gospel of Leviticus, pp. 91, 123. XXV. 10. J. A. Aston, Early Witness to Gospel Truth, pp. 23, 36.

The Message of the Book of Leviticus

Leviticus 20:26

The book of Leviticus is one which we all feel to be specially difficult. Yet there is no book that more amply repays study. At every point it proves itself to be the Word of God, and as such profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for inspiration in righteousness. While, by the advent of the Lord Jesus, many of the forms enjoined in Leviticus were abolished, the principles which found expression in these forms have been reasserted with greater force than ever. The book has a message for us today, and it is this message which we must now strive to discover. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is its insistence on the holiness of the body. Leviticus recognizes what is expressly asserted at a later period in revelation, that the body is meant to be a temple of the Holy Ghost, and as such must be kept holy unto God.

I. It set before the Israelite his duty to God. In its religious aspect this code is the exposition of the first and great commandment. It bade the Israelite recognize Jehovah as the one object of worship. It bade him recognize Jehovah as the ultimate ground of all morality, it bade him see in what was good and right the expression of the will of God. It bade him recognize Jehovah as the Lord of Life and the Lord of Time, the giver of every good and perfect gift. Moreover it bade the Israelite recognize that Jehovah was a God terrible in His moral government.

II. Then this law of holiness set before the Israelite his duty to his fellow-men. It endeavoured to explain also the second great commandment of the law, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. In the precepts that it lays down there is a wisdom and an enlightenment from which present-day legislators would do well to learn. To begin with, it puts social relations in their right place. But having defined the relation between our duty to God and our duty to man, it goes on to demand for our brother men justice, honesty, forbearance, kindness, purity, tenderness, and love.

III. And then this law of holiness set before the Israelite his personal duty as a member of the holy nation. This it did in an indirect manner by the regulations it enjoined for maintaining the purity of the priests. All Israelites were not priests and did not actually minister at the altar. But Israel was not allowed to forget that she was a priestly nation. With such care manifested that the priest who ministered to the law should be holy, pure, and without blemish, the law of necessity taught the Israelite how holy his God was, and at the same time taught him that he also must be holy if be would stand accepted in God's presence. Then having dealt with the holy life in its Godward, manward, and selfward aspects, the section of Leviticus closes by announcing the rewards which God has promised to the obedient, and the punishment threatened to those who wilfully disobey. This code completes the short appendix, and the matter of vows brings the whole book to a close.

G. H. C. Macgregor, Messages of the Old Testament, p. 31.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Leviticus 20". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/leviticus-20.html. 1910.