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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Leviticus 17

 

 

Verses 1-16

GOD'S RIGHTS WHEN AN ANIMAL WAS KILLED (vv. 1-16)

This chapter is an appendix to chapter 16, though it does not deal with the sin offering. Rather, the Lord now strongly insists that any Israelite who would slaughter an ox or a lamb or a goat must bring it to the door of the tent of meeting to present it as an offering to the Lord. Verse 5 adds that these were to be offered as peace offerings to the Lord.

The offerer received most of the peace offering as food, but first the fat, the two kidneys and the lobe of the liver were to be burned on the altar to the Lord (Leviticus 7:3-5), while the breast was given to Aaron and his sons and the right thigh to the priest who offered the animal (Leviticus 7:31-33). Thus, God was to be first recognized in the killing of the animal, then typically Christ and the priestly family were to have their part, then the offerer was given all that remained.

The spiritual significance of this for us we must not ignore. For if anyone in Israel did not give God this first place of recognition, he was to be sentenced to death. The matter is no less serious for us, though God is not today requiring the sentence of death for an offender. Instead He has given us the instruction of 1 Timothy 4:4-5, “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” Even animals unclean for Israel by the law's standards are for us perfectly fit for eating, for they are sanctified by the word of God and by the prayer of thanksgiving on the part of the eater. If one does not thank God for his food, he has no proper right to eat at all. For every creature is the property of God, and in receiving it we ought to recognize His rights first of all.

The ungodly sacrificed to demons in their recognizing idols, and evidently Israel had blindly followed this evil example, but verse 7 tells them to desist from this adulterous association. In fact, not only the people of Israel, but also any Gentiles who dwelt among them, were required to bring their sacrifices to the door of the tabernacle to be offered to the Lord, or suffer the penalty of death (vv. 8-9).

Again the Lord insists that anyone of Israel or of strangers who dwelt among them who ate blood must be cut off, that is, put to death (v. 10). “For the life of the flesh is in the blood,” and “it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (v. 11). The blood shed is the sign of death. Since God is the Lifegiver, we must recognize His rights by refraining from eating blood. This was true before the law was given (Genesis 9:4), and it remains true today when believers are not under law but under grace (Acts 15:28-29).

If an animal died or was killed by other animals, it would not be properly bled, and if one should eat the dead animal he must both wash his clothes and bathe in water to be cleansed from defilement. If he did not, he would bear his guilt, which would mean death (vv. 15-16). All of this chapter therefore insists that God has rights that man must not ignore.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Leviticus 17:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/leviticus-17.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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