Book of Leviticus Chapter
Twenty-Two Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Help The Helpless
Verses 1-2: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 'Tell Aaron and his sons to be careful with the holy gifts of the sons of Israel, which they dedicate to Me, so as not to profane My holy name; I am the Lord.'" If you are called by the Lord to do His work in one form or another, you'll be blessed. There is no greater gift than to be allowed to speak or act for Him. Yet it is a serious decision and we should all note His words to Aaron the high priest and all the other priests of Israel: "Be careful with the holy gifts." Be faithful to the Lord and don't respond to His call in your own strength, for it isn't just about you. We are to help the helpless, through the "holy gifts" given to ordinary people like you and me.
We are to live clean lives. You may feel you're missing something, but it's not true. When we are with the Lord, we will see that pleasing Him is what's important in life. What we "missed" is nothing by comparison. The Lord said through Moses to those in ministry in Verses 3-6: "Say to them, 'If any man among all your descendants throughout your generations approaches the holy gifts which the sons of Israel dedicate to the Lord, while he has an uncleanness, that person shall be cut off from before Me; I am the Lord. 4 No man of the descendants of Aaron, who is a leper or who has a discharge, may eat of the holy gifts until he is clean. And if one touches anything made unclean by a corpse or if a man has a seminal emission, 5 or if a man touches any teeming things by which he is made unclean, or any man by whom he is made unclean, whatever his uncleanness; 6 a person who touches any such shall be unclean until evening, and shall not eat of the holy gifts unless he has bathed his body in water.'" These were real people and the outward rules for them were real as well, but there is more. We in the future from that time are being given physical examples that are really spiritual. As His faithful ones, we are to avoid that which is unclean in our lives. We are rendered alive, not dead; we are healthy, not unwell, and we have been bathed spiritually by our Lord, making us clean in the sight of God.
We are sinners, but God is full of grace, as in Verse 8: "But when the sun sets, he will be clean, and afterward he shall eat of the holy gifts, for it is his food. 1 John 1:8-9 states, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." God makes the rules and He is the one who can make us clean "when the sun sets" or as He chooses, when we "confess our sins." God is just and there is a legal ground for our forgiveness, reaching forward and backward in time, and it is Christ on the cross. He died in our place. He paid the price, setting the faithful free from sin and death.
God provided for the priests of Israel, just as He is providing for you. They did not need to delightedly cook and eat an animal that suddenly died because His provision for them was more than sufficient. Verse 8: "He shall not eat an animal which dies or is torn by beasts, becoming unclean by it; I am the Lord." Faith is to hear from the Lord and follow Him even when intervening circumstances tug you toward a different direction. Verse 9: "They shall therefore keep My charge, so that they will not bear sin because of it and die thereby because they profane it; I am the Lord who sanctifies them." Sin is when you receive God's clear direction and you do something else. Faith listens and responds to the Lord.
Verses 10-13: "No layman, however, is to eat the holy gift; a sojourner with the priest or a hired man shall not eat of the holy gift. 11 But if a priest buys a slave as his property with his money, that one may eat of it, and those who are born in his house may eat of his food. 12 If a priest’s daughter is married to a layman, she shall not eat of the offering of the gifts. 13 But if a priest’s daughter becomes a widow or divorced, and has no child and returns to her father’s house as in her youth, she shall eat of her father’s food; but no layman shall eat of it." There is an expression: "When God guides, God provides." The "holy gift" of these verses was God's provision for the priests of Israel and their families. His direction for them was to look to Him and He would provide. Others in Israel were to work the land, tend the crops, raise the flocks and in general, work for what they would eat. The priests were to minister to the people as God led, finding that HE would provide for them.
Verses 14-16: "But if a man eats a holy gift unintentionally, then he shall add to it a fifth of it and shall give the holy gift to the priest. 15 They shall not profane the holy gifts of the sons of Israel which they offer to the Lord, 16 and so cause them to bear punishment for guilt by eating their holy gifts; for I am the Lord who sanctifies them." In 1 Samuel 21:1-6, David obtained holy bread from Ahimelech the priest, did not return it, with or without interest, and was not condemned or punished for what he had done. In Matthew 12:1-8, Jesus' disciples were criticized for plucking grain on the Sabbath because they were hungry. In response, Jesus cited David's act for himself and his men with the words, "I desire mercy..." In your regret, your guilt, look to the Lord who intends mercy for "sinners," defined as all who have ever lived.
Verses 17-20: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 18 'Speak to Aaron and to his sons and to all the sons of Israel and say to them, 'Any man of the house of Israel or of the aliens in Israel who presents his offering, whether it is any of their votive or any of their freewill offerings, which they present to the Lord for a burnt offering— 19 for you to be accepted—it must be a male without defect from the cattle, the sheep, or the goats. 20 Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer, for it will not be accepted for you." There is an attitude among many people, including a lot of believers, that if you dedicate or give to the Lord, whether it is your time, money or whatever, He somehow owes you something in return. Actually, He has given us all that we have and are, and WE in turn, owe HIM—everything. He reasonably expects that we will be willing to give Him anything He asks. Even our bodies are His, and He is very likely to ask for our very best because He has purposes in what we as a people corporately give. His intentions in giving are far greater than our understanding.
Verses 21-25: "When a man offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord to fulfill a special vow or for a freewill offering, of the herd or of the flock, it must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it. 22 Those that are blind or fractured or maimed or having a running sore or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the Lord, nor make of them an offering by fire on the altar to the Lord. 23 In respect to an ox or a lamb which has an overgrown or stunted member, you may present it for a freewill offering, but for a vow it will not be accepted. 24 Also anything with its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut, you shall not offer to the Lord, or sacrifice in your land, 25 nor shall you accept any such from the hand of a foreigner for offering as the food of your God; for their corruption is in them, they have a defect, they shall not be accepted for you." In the preceding chapter, we saw God's requirement of perfection for those who minister in the Name of the Lord. The office of high priest was created as a parable, a prophesy of the Messiah who was to come—Himself God and yet Son of Man, perfect in all His ways. The priests of Israel were intended to portray the Lord's perfection. Here we find offerings to the Lord, peace offerings, and they were to be perfect also. Do WE bring and give our very best in service to the Lord? And the answer must be—Yes. It's an expression of faith in the Lord to willingly give back to Him what He has shared with us.
Verses 26-28: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 27 'When an ox or a sheep or a goat is born, it shall remain seven days with its mother, and from the eighth day on it shall be accepted as a sacrifice of an offering by fire to the Lord. 28 But, whether it is an ox or a sheep, you shall not kill both it and its young in one day.'" There is no doubt that the Lord has a special love for little ones, the weak and helpless of this world. He created the relationship of mother and child, within humanity and across the animal kingdom. We are to help the helpless. He loves it when we do. Exodus 23:19 includes the words, "You shall not boil a kid in its mother's milk." These Scriptures are not merely about animals, though He loves them as well, but instead it's about people. It's our affirmative duty to protect everyone we meet, especially those who are most vulnerable.
Verses 29-33: "When you sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord, you shall sacrifice it so that you may be accepted. 30 It shall be eaten on the same day, you shall leave none of it until morning; I am the Lord. 31 So you shall keep My commandments, and do them; I am the Lord. 32 You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be sanctified among the sons of Israel; I am the Lord who sanctifies you, 33 who brought you out from the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the Lord." These are words addressed to the nation Israel, reaching through time and space to everyone who is willing to read or hear them. God is calling you to a specific work performed by Him through you. You are to listen and respond to the One who said, "I am the Lord who sanctifies you." He brings us out of the slavery of sin and He is our Lord. Let us listen, hear, trust and obey.
Lord, I was lost in the slavery of sin. Thank You for rescuing me. Enable me to listen, hear, trust and obey. I surrender to Your will. I am Yours. Lead me and teach me to care and to help the helpless. In Jesus Name. Amen.