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the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 20

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-6


Many of the sins mentioned here are also in Leviticus 18. There they are forbidden so that they are not committed. But here the sanctions are given if the sins mentioned have actually been committed. The determination of a penalty is necessary if there is to be a law. Without a sanction there is no law. The death penalty must be applied to all the sins mentioned here, with the exception of those mentioned in Leviticus 20:19-Ecclesiastes :. The death penalty must act as a deterrent and prevent such sin from being followed.

This chapter also describes sins, not of the world, but of the people of God. In Israel the death penalty means to the church: “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves” (1 Corinthians 5:13). The wicked man, that is, he who lives in sin, is thus excluded from the fellowship life of the people of God.

Giving to Molech and Turning to Spiritism

The sins in these verses are sins against God. Leviticus 20:1-Deuteronomy : are about sacrificing children to the idol Molech and Leviticus 20:6 is about engaging with demons, spiritism. Saul is someone who engages in spiritism. He goes to a medium in Endor to ask by her the spirit of a dead one (1 Samuel 28:8). It is the apostasy of the LORD, an open breach of covenant, for which the only punishment is eradication from the people.

Stoning with stones is the usual death penalty. It is a punishment in which the whole people are active to get rid of the evil from among them. Every member is involved in the execution of the verdict, because every member throws a stone. In carrying out this sentence the whole people carry out the will of the LORD.

Every sin of the people defiles God’s sanctuary and His holy Name. This does not mean that these sins are committed in the sanctuary. But because the sanctuary is in the midst of the people, every sin is connected to it. We too do not sin apart from the sanctuary, which is now the church where God dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16; Matthew 18:20). Sin must be removed from the local church, either by the person judging himself by repentance of sin, or by the removal of the evil from the midst of the church (1 Corinthians 5:13). If sin is not removed, God must leave there.

The people become joint guilty of sin and of the judgment God gives them if they do not care about sin. Such an attitude proves indifference against evil. It can indicate a secret or even public consent of evil.

It is the greatest folly to ask the devil, the liar and father of lies, for information and to ask the ancient enemy of God for advice. At the same time, this action gives the devil the honor only due to God. Contact with demons is referred to here as “playing the harlot”. The people are connected with God. By dealing with demons they break covenant, that is adultery. We show this adulterous behavior when we make friends with the world (James 4:4).

Verses 7-8

Commission to Be Holy

Leviticus 20:7 looks at the principle that we sanctify ourselves and purify ourselves from all that does not belong to God so that we can be with Him (1 Peter 1:15-Nehemiah :). It is the mind to be as He is. Leviticus 20:8 refers to our behavior, our actions. This must show obedience to His commandments. If we first sanctify ourselves, the tree will be known by its fruits.

God is holy, so the people must behave as He is. He doesn’t want to see behavior in them like that of the nations, but a behavior in which He can recognize himself. He wants His people to proclaim His virtues (1 Peter 2:9-2 Samuel :). This is manifested when the people keep His statutes and do them.

Verses 9-21

Sexual Sins

The sins in these verses are sins to one’s neighbor, but also to oneself. By committing these sins, God’s order of creation is trampled underfoot. They are cases of incest and unnatural sexual intercourse and sexual perversity.

The list of the most terrible sins is preceded by that of cursing the father or mother (Leviticus 20:9). That is not for nothing. It’s not about once cursing parents, how bad that already is, but wishing them evil. It is an attitude of revolt, which does not want to acknowledge God’s authority in the parents. This paves the way for every conceivable atrocity. Atrocities are the result of the unrestrained following of one’s own will with the rejection of all authority. It is not only the lack of respect, but the conscious cursing of the parents. That reveals a corrupt will. Anyone who does so takes blood guilt on himself and must be killed.

The cases that follow in Leviticus 20:10-Job : and to which the death penalty should be applied are:
1. Adultery.
2. Sexual intercourse with his father’s wife.
3. Sexual intercourse with the daughter-in-law.
4. Homosexual intercourse.
5. Sexual intercourse with a woman and her mother (the death penalty is carried out here by burning or it is to be understood that after the death penalty the bodies were burned by fire).
6. Sexual intercourse of a man or a woman with an animal.
7. Sexual intercourse of a man with his half-sister (penalty: public execution).
8. Sexual intercourse with a woman who has menstruation.

Sexual intercourse with his father’s wife is the sin of Reuben (Genesis 35:22). At that time this law was not yet there and it does not cost him his life. He does lose his birthright through it (Genesis 49:3-Numbers :). The adulterer in the church in Corinth also committed this sin (1 Corinthians 5:1). The spiritual death penalty – excommunication – is applied to him (1 Corinthians 5:13).

There follows the case of sexual intercourse with an aunt and a sister-in-law (Leviticus 20:19-Ecclesiastes :). The death penalty is not pronounced, but it is declared that they will bear their iniquity. The guilt will continue to rest on them, without any possibility of cleansing by offering. The punishment is childlessness, with which God Himself takes up the judgment of this sin (Hosea 4:10).

Verses 22-26

Set Apart for God

Preservation for the sins of the nations lies only in observing all God’s statutes and all God’s ordinances. If they do not, but act as the people God has driven out before them, He will also drive them out of the land. The danger for us is the same, that we take over the habits of the world around us.

God has set His people apart from those around them, that they may belong to Him. They must maintain that separation. They must distinguish between clean and unclean food, a distinction that God has made. To acknowledge this distinction and to act accordingly, that is to say to eat only the clean and not to eat the unclean, will be their blessing.

That distinction, or that separation, must also be made by us. Spiritually applied we will be preserved from all the mentioned forms of evil if we feed ourselves with spiritually clean food. Then our thoughts will be pure, and our actions will be to the glory of God. However, if we feed ourselves with the food of the world, we will think like the world and we will behave like the world.

This chapter focuses on the prohibition of “anything that creeps on the ground” (Leviticus 20:25). This means that God addresses His people at their lowest instincts, so that they will not be given room to assert themselves.

Verse 27

Death Penalty for a Medium

A demon is always busy to try to abolish the distinction set by God and tempts people to enter into a forbidden spiritual realm. Those who are tempted to do so make a covenant with the devil and thereby with death and hell, which will be their part. To maintain such a man in God’s people exposes them to the great danger of visiting him or her (Leviticus 20:6), which means a clear rejection of God.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Leviticus 20". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/leviticus-20.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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