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The variety of subjects in this chapter shows the versatility of life. We see here that all aspects of human life are under the authority of God’s law.
Holiness of God Is the Starting Point
Leviticus 18 is mainly negative; this chapter also contains positive elements. Separation is not only to distance oneself from certain forms of evil, as Leviticus 18 emphasizes, but also means sanctification to a certain goal or a person. This is about sanctification to God, about positive dedication to Him.
What comes to the fore in this chapter concerns the whole people of God and not only Aaron and his sons. It is not so much the priestly service, but the daily life of the members of God’s people. All members of God’s people are needed for the implementation of these precepts. Nowhere else in Leviticus is the whole people approached in the way that is done here. God wants to see His holiness reflected in all members of His people. It is as with the new man created according to God (Ephesians 4:24). To show this new man all believers are needed.
In Leviticus 18 the emphasis is on the LORD, which means on Him as the One Who stands in a covenant relationship with His people. In this chapter the emphasis is on the holiness of the LORD. We must realize that the holy God of the Old Testament is also the holy God of the New Testament (1 Peter 1:15-Nehemiah :). That we are no longer under the law, but under grace, does not change anything about God’s holiness. Behind all the commandments of God stands His holiness.
Relationship to Parents, Sabbath and Idols
Both commandments mentioned in Leviticus 19:3 summarize the whole law. It is about the recognition of the authority granted by God and the authority of God Himself.
Reverence for God, Whom we do not see, is shown in the first place by reverence for father and mother whom we can see (cf. Malachi 1:6). Father and mother are God’s first authority on earth that a human being has to deal with as soon as he is born. The honoring of father and mother applies as long as they live and not only when we live with them in the house. The mother is first mentioned. Even when the father has died, the commandment remains to honor her.
This commandment to reverence the first authority with which a person on earth is confronted is linked to the sabbatical commandment. By observing God’s sabbaths, the Israelite shows his recognition of God. A certain usefulness can be assumed in all commands. This is not directly seen in the sabbath commandment. A person can rather see it as a day with a loss of productivity. He who keeps this commandment does it, because God has said it.
In the spiritual application, the sabbath commandment lays the foundation for all relationships. If we rest in the rest of God, that is in the work of Christ, there will also be rest in the family relationships in the acknowledgment of the obligations God has given in them.
Father and mother (family) and sabbath (rest after work) were instituted by God before the fall into sin. These institutions are the pillars of a peaceful world order and civil prosperity. All who belong to God’s people may restore these pillars in a spiritual sense.
The commandment of honoring the father and mother also applies to the church (Ephesians 6:2). The sabbath commandment cannot be kept literally, because God’s rest with regard to creation is disturbed by sin (John 5:16-Esther :). For creation this rest is still future (Hebrews 4:9). In a spiritual sense God rests in the work of His Son and we too may rest in it.
The child who is taught to reverence father and mother will also reverence God and keep away from idols. Also the connection with one’s neighbor can only be good if the upwards connection, with God, is good. If God no longer stands before our attention, because other things have become more important – idols in any form –, the relationship with our immediate neighbors, our family members, will chill.
Provisions for the Peace Offering
All forms of fellowship with our brothers and sisters, only have meaning through the peace offering. That seems to be the reason for reiterating the conditions relating to the peace offering. The peace offering, the fellowship offering, must be renewed each time (cf. Leviticus 7:15-Job :).
We must always remember that our fellowship with each other and with God is based on the work of the Lord Jesus. If our fellowship, which we first experienced as a result of the work of the Lord Jesus, has descended to the level of the world, then that fellowship is an abomination for God. For Him there is only one fellowship: the fellowship characterized by His Son Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9).
Remnants of the Harvest
The care and protection of one’s neighbor follow the tribute to God in the peace offering. To sacrifices of praise and thanks are inextricably linked the sacrifices of mercy (Hebrews 13:15-Nehemiah :). The harvest time is a time of joy, in which we also want others to share. What others get from us is not loss or waste, but will bring us blessing (Ruth 2:19).
It is our task to ensure that our poor neighbor gets food anyway. It is not God’s will that there should be poor Israelites. If they are, it can be their own fault. But God does not want the wealthier to withdraw from the poor. That is also the case spiritually. If believers have been lazy in getting to know their richness, then the Lord wants us to share something with them so that they can enjoy the richness we have come to know.
Do Not Steal, nor Deal Falsely, nor Lie
God’s people need these exhortations. They are also in the letter to the Ephesians, to whom the highest blessings have been revealed. In that letter not only something is forbidden, but also the positive side is pointed out. Then, instead of lying, we speak the truth: “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one [of you] with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25). And instead of stealing, there is giving away: “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have [something] to share with one who has need” (Ephesians 4:28; Colossians 3:9).
Swear Falsely, Oppress, Rob and Wages
It is a great sin if we withhold from others what we owe them. This applies both literally (James 5:4) and spiritually (Matthew 18:32-Micah :). What we do to our neighbor, we do to ourselves. In the body of Christ we are united as members. What one member does, affects the other. If one member suffers, all members suffer. The fact that this is not always experienced in this way does not take away anything from the truth.
Caring for the Deaf and the Blind
Someone can be deaf because of a physical defect; he can be deaf because he is outside the hearing of the curser; he can also deafen for a curser (Psalms 38:14). A deaf person does not hear the curse, but God hears it and blames heavily the man who curses. Insulting people who are unable or unwilling to defend themselves is perceived by God.
Placing a stumbling block before the blind is also shabby. If we are spiritually allowed to see a certain truth, we can put a stumbling block in the way of others who may be blind to that certain truth (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:8-1 Samuel :; Romans 14:13).
We are capable of such despicable things. Even David shows a deep aversion to the lame and the blind (2 Samuel 5:8). But God is not like that. And we should show Him. After all, we were created according to Him.
An honest judgment, without regard to the person, is acting according to the example of God. Josaphat acts according to this rule when he appoints judges. He says: “Now then let the fear of the LORD be upon you; be very careful what you do, for the LORD our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe” (2 Chronicles 19:7). James warns of making this distinction and speaks of “evil motives” (James 2:1-Numbers :).
We will not destroy our neighbor’s life, which happens when we make life impossible for him by slandering him. He who goes around like a slanderer rains death and destruction among God’s people. In Ezekiel 22, slander and murder are also connected (Ezekiel 22:9). Whoever seeks the good for his brother or sister is doing his utmost to let the other enjoy life in its richest form in the midst of the company of God’s children. The Lord Jesus is life.
The Duty to Reprove
To reprove someone is also a form of love and care for one’s neighbor (Psalms 141:5; Proverbs 27:5-Joshua :). To endure sin in him and not to say anything about it means to hate him. If the neighbor continues to live in his sin, he lacks fellowship with God and his fellow believers. Reproving must be done in love. Love covers sin for others, but not for the sinner himself. The attitude of “am I my brother’s keeper? (Genesis 4:9) is the attitude of Cain and stands against what God says here.
Love One’s Neighbor
Like Leviticus 19:17, this verse shows that it is not only about outward actions, but about the inner motives that lead to the outward actions as well. It’s about the mind from which we act.
A higher standard applies to us: to love one another as God and Christ have loved us. In the law I am the norm, in Christendom Christ is the norm. If I am the norm, I will not disadvantage another person. If Christ is the norm, I will give myself for the other (1 John 3:16). This is possible through the new life I have, for that life is Christ Himself and that acts in me no differently than in Him.
A second series of commandments begins with the instruction “You are to keep My statutes”. Here God forbids three forms of mixing: of animals, of seeds and of garment materials. Probably when mixing animals, we should not think of ‘mating’ in the first place, but of going under an unequal yoke together (Deuteronomy 22:9-1 Kings :). Just as we should not separate what God has merged in His order of creation, we should not merge what God has separated in His order of creation. He has created everything according to its kind (Genesis 1:25). In both cases, what God has given is corrupted.
The spiritual lesson is that it is forbidden to mix things that don’t belong together. We see that in Christianity where law and grace or the flesh and the Spirit are mixed together. This evil is denounced in the letter to the Galatians. We also see it in the mixture of faith in the Lord Jesus with pagan philosophies, which is the subject of the letter to the Colossians. In 2 Corinthians 6 there are other forms of mixing that are forbidden (2 Corinthians 6:14-Job :).
Sexual Intercourse With a Female Slave
Slaves must also be recognized as human beings having their rights. A female slave may not be reduced to a business property. In a spiritual sense we see here another example of a wrong mixture: a man who has fellowship with a slave. That too is to apply to making oneself one with legal principles, to allow them in life. Anyone who does something like that is to blame.
Eating the Fruit of the Land
When the people have come into the land, the fruit of trees they plant in the land is first unclean. That fruit is still, as it were, fed by soil cultivated by the Canaanites. For three years, eating it was forbidden to God’s people, because it was still too closely linked to the stain that adjoined the country.
The fruit in the fourth year may be eaten, but must be offered to God. He also asserts his right to the first fruits with regard to the fruits of the trees, as also with animals and children. The recognition of this birthright will lead to a greater yield for the people.
Application: everything that comes out of the world is impure. What does not come from God Himself is unclean. Therefore, we must bring the earthly things into connection with God’s Word and prayer. In this way we sanctify the things of the world we use (1 Timothy 4:4-Deuteronomy :). Then also it gets a richer meaning, a greater yield, it is more to the glory of God.
Given the connection between the commandment not to eat anything that still contains blood here, eating anything with blood seems to be a pagan custom. The other prohibitions are also connected to the distinction that God wants to see maintained between pagan customs and what is appropriate for a people with whom He is connected as the God of the covenant.
Nor does He allow us any trip into the realm of darkness, for example reading a horoscope. Christians who think that reading a horoscope, even if it is ‘for fun’, does nothing to them, are wrong. Every entry into the realm of darkness is spiritual fornication and unacceptable to a jealous God.
This prohibition is also proof of His love for His people who will destroy themselves with these things. The country will become full of shame and will become a disgust towards the surrounding peoples. Saul did not comply with the prohibition of Leviticus 19:31 and died (1 Chronicles 10:13).
Respect, Love and Do Justice
Honoring an elder means honoring God. Old people living with God can count on God’s recognition (Proverbs 16:31; Proverbs 20:29). It is a testimony of wisdom if we follow Him therein. We can learn from their experiences (Job 32:6-Judges :). Today, old people are no longer considered significant. Euthanasia is a socially accepted means of solving the problem of the elderly. A country that deals with its old people in this way will degenerate into disorder (Isaiah 3:5).
God’s people must not only love their neighbor, who is their fellow countryman. Their love must also go out to the stranger who is in their land. God’s people represent a God Who is also love. They experienced this for themselves when they were strangers in Egypt and He took care of them and took them out of slavery. For us, loving and giving love is also easier if we think about how much love has been proven to us. “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
To judge and measure with an honest measure shows respect for the LORD, for His salvation and for the neighbor who also is connected to Him on the basis of the same work of salvation. To do wrong under the appearance of justice is deceit and hypocrisy. Using a large size when buying goods and using a small size when selling goods does bring a lot of profit, but it is unlawful and is at the expense of the property of the neighbor. This evil is often denounced (Proverbs 20:10; Amos 8:5; Proverbs 20:23; Micah 6:10).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Leviticus 19". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter