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Leviticus 18

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Book of Leviticus Chapter Eighteen
Commentary by Pastor Ron Beckham

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Don't Do It!

Verses 1-3: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘I am the Lord your God. 3 You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes." The Lord "spoke to Moses." Isn't that amazing? Do you feel disbelief that the Lord God would do such a thing? Are you envious of his relationship with the Lord? Here's the interesting part—just as surely as the Lord spoke to Moses, He is speaking to you right now. A child born deaf or blind does not immediately understand that something, some connection in life is not being made—and then it becomes obvious that the large persons nearby are communicating in some manner that is unavailable to the child. Most people have sight, hearing, taste, touch and an ability to detect smells, but others lack one or more of those senses. You and I are like that—we are born "deaf" and "blind" to the things of God. So was Moses, but with developing faith in the Lord, he learned to "hear."

Blessedly, there are more than just human "senses" available to us. God's Holy Spirit comes into the hearts and lives of those who say "Yes" to the Lord in faith. In the centuries surrounding Moses, a few in a generation could hear the Holy Spirit, but after Jesus returned to the Father, His faithful followers were "ALL filled with the Holy Spirit..." (Acts 2). The special relationship offered to Moses by the Lord is available to ordinary people like you and me. We are enabled to see, hear, write and speak what we otherwise could not know.

God has a plan for your life. It's not just about you—those around you, those you will meet are affected by your decision to serve or not serve the Lord. And yet, amazingly, you are allowed to ignore His will, as sadly so many have done. Verses 4-5: "You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the Lord your God. 5 So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord." Israel had just emerged from ancient Egypt, a place of questionable choices in ethical behavior and religious practices. And now Israel would enter Canaan, a land of base morals. God is addressing certain practices common in Canaan, and He warns the people: Don't do it! Your lives will be ruined if you do!

Most have discovered the raw power of sex. This activity, created by God, is able to bring life into the world, but misused, it can also ruin families and destroy lives. The lessons in the verses that follow may seem obvious, but they weren't obvious to a people recently rescued from 430 years of slavery within an immoral culture. Verses 6-8: "None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the Lord. 7 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, that is, the nakedness of your mother. She is your mother; you are not to uncover her nakedness. 8 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness." We should all read this chapter carefully, as we live in a time of degenerating morality when the world insists on "tolerance" toward those who believe something other than God's will.

God's intention is that the family will be a place of safety within this dangerous world, and these commands are meant to protect the innocent and vulnerable. His intention of a protective, loving environment continues in Verses 9-10: "The nakedness of your sister, either your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether born at home or born outside, their nakedness you shall not uncover. 10 The nakedness of your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, their nakedness you shall not uncover; for their nakedness is yours." If your life has been unsafe, keep these verses in mind, noting that God is not to blame. The attacks that do occur in families, churches or wherever, were perpetrated by those who should have known better and it was their fault, not yours and not God's.

Those close to you are His gifts, and He has entrusted you to each other. All are meant to be able to enter homes in complete safety, without fear of harm. These are God's commands to all of us, as continued in Verses 11-13: "The nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, born to your father, she is your sister, you shall not uncover her nakedness. 12 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is your father’s blood relative. 13 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s blood relative." If you accept the Bible literally, and you should because it is God's Word, you will understand that every person in humanity is your close relative. There are no races—there is only the human race—and these verses apply to everyone we meet. But we are sinners and so God has established these family relationships as places of safety within the waywardness of us all.

Your relatives are safe with you, and you are safe with them, at least that is the way it's supposed to be. God not only has told you to be such a person, but if you are willing to trust in the Lord, He intends to protect you. Notice that God is speaking to not only Israel, but to human beings of all time in these verses. He continually addresses us, but the problem is—we don't listen, and these verses continue in Verses 14-16: "You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother; you shall not approach his wife, she is your aunt. 15 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, you shall not uncover her nakedness. 16 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness." Are you curious? One sad side effect of the Fall of mankind is an intense curiosity that gets us into all sorts of trouble—someone does not belong to you and you think, what would THEY be like? Instead of doing something everyone will regret, take your curiosity to God. Confess it. He will save you and that person from yourselves.

So much in our "modern" world that God says "No" to, has become permissable in the world. And when you do it, people will be hurt, including you. People everywhere do what should be left undone. Don't do it. Verses 17-18 instruct us: "You shall not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, nor shall you take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, to uncover her nakedness; they are blood relatives. It is lewdness. 18 You shall not marry a woman in addition to her sister as a rival while she is alive, to uncover her nakedness." Take note of His words: "It is lewdness." Others are injured by what you do, and you will eventually come to regret your actions, if not here, then certainly in the eternity you may or may not yet believe in. The idea continues in Verses 19-20: "Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness during her menstrual impurity. 20 You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her." When God said "love your neighbor as yourself," in places like Leviticus 19:18, He was telling you to respect the rights and privacy of others. Even if they tempt you to do what you should not do, listen to God and don't do it.

Can you imagine killing one of your children in an attempt to make life better for you and other family members? That's what Verse 21 is all about: "You shall not give any of your offspring to offer them to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God; I am the Lord." This "Molech" ("king") was a false "god," an idol made in the form of a hollow statue, heated and used for sacrificing innocent little ones. You and I have an affirmative duty to protect the lives of our children, even when it seems inconvenient to have a new family member at that point in time.

The subjects of the "thou shalt nots" in this chapter were actually common practices in the land soon to be occupied by the nation Israel. God intends to spare us heartache, and if you disagree with Him about these practices, honestly tell Him so. He spoke to Israel and He will speak to you. Verse 22 clearly states: "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination." And Verse 23 continues, "Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it; it is a perversion." God's purpose in sex is more than a physical release. He intends to bring humanity into being and lead people in each generation to the Lord. He has no patience with barren practices that lead nowhere, for you or anybody else.

Why was Israel given a place, a land that already belonged to somebody else? And why were those people not expelled sooner? The answer to the first question is here in Verses 24-25: "Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. 25 For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants." God really is aware of our behavior, and if it is bad behavior, a price will be paid for what we have done. The answer to the second question (Why not do it sooner?), is found in God's statement to Abraham in Genesis 15:16—"The iniquity of the Amorites (the inhabitants of Canaan) is not yet complete." That was then, this was now, and the time had come to expel the inhabitants of that land.

The Lord's words continue in Verses 26-30: "But as for you, you are to keep My statutes and My judgments and shall not do any of these abominations, neither the native, nor the alien who sojourns among you 27 (for the men of the land who have been before you have done all these abominations, and the land has become defiled); 28 so that the land will not spew you out, should you defile it, as it has spewed out the nation which has been before you. 29 For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. 30 Thus you are to keep My charge, that you do not practice any of the abominable customs which have been practiced before you, so as not to defile yourselves with them; I am the Lord your God." The Lord our God has spoken to us all. Israel, for the most part, would not heed these words. Instead of faith, they responded with pride, when they were supposed to humbly bring others in the world to the Lord. Their role was not to be accomplished in their own strength, by the way, but in the Lord's, appropriated by faith and operative through the grace of God. In unbelief, Israel would be expelled from the land on multiple occasions. Let us keep the Lord's judgments and statutes by trusting in Him that He can do in and through us what we might think is impossible. Let's place our faith in the Lord.

Heavenly Father, I trust in You. I would like to live a good life, but I haven't. I want to have faith in You, but I am weak. Lord, You can do in me what I cannot. Take my little faith and grow me up into a person of God. I am Yours, Lord. I am Yours. Thank You for receiving even me. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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