Book of Leviticus Chapter
Twenty-Four Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Those who have the gift of light should praise God every day. We can walk through darkness in a familiar place such as our home, but eventually, in that darkness, we are likely to trip over something and fall. Light changes everything, enabling us to evade items by simply observing them and walking past in safety. The gift of God's Holy Spirit is like that. More than sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste, is the Person of the Holy Spirit, who moves right into the center of the being of those who trust in the Lord. He enlightens us in surprising ways. The Spirit changes people for the good and turns on the light—"Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous" (Psalm 112:4).
Leviticus 24:1-4: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 'Command the sons of Israel that they bring to you clear oil from beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually. 3 Outside the veil of testimony in the tent of meeting, Aaron shall keep it in order from evening to morning before the Lord continually; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations. 4 He shall keep the lamps in order on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord continually." The "lamp" is the menorah, with its seven lamps on seven lampstands. The Risen Christ said of them to the Apostle John in Revelation 1:20, "the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches," the Lord's faithful ones. The olive oil represents the Holy Spirit, as glimpsed in Zechariah 4:2-6. Jesus is the light and He set the example for us by His ministry, which was utterly led by God's Holy Spirit. He said in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." We are to trust in the Lord, the light, and be empowered, enlightened by His Spirit. About the faithful He said, "You are the light of the world," in Matthew 5:14, encouraging us to receive God's Spirit and embark on the light-filled adventure He has in store for our lives.
Verses 5-7: "Then you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it; two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. 6 You shall set them in two rows, six to a row, on the pure gold table before the Lord. 7 You shall put pure frankincense on each row that it may be a memorial portion for the bread, even an offering by fire to the Lord." You can't know what the Lord wants of you, unless you "hear" Him in your heart. And you can't do the task properly unless you can "see" in the Spirit what you are doing. Here were specific instructions heard by the priests and then carried out by them because they could hear the words of the Lord and see by the light of the menorah. The bread represents Jesus and the frankincense was a gift to Him as a child, a present for a King. We hear God's Word and see through His Holy Spirit. Whatever He leads you to create, maintain and utilize in life, do it with a faithful, receptive heart.
Notice in Verses 8-9, that not only did God have a specific plan for Israel, but also provision for the Aaronic priesthood: "Every sabbath day he shall set it in order before the Lord continually; it is an everlasting covenant for the sons of Israel. 9 It shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the Lord’s offerings by fire, his portion forever." Such plans are in effect for each one of us, though we are for the most part, blind to the intentions of God for our lives. But when we do get a glimpse of His will, note that it is not only about us. Others are to see something of God through both His Word and through us—that God guides and God provides. We are in a holy place when God is in us.
Verses 10-12 illuminate humanity's tendency to ignore and break the revealed will of God: "Now the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the sons of Israel; and the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel struggled with each other in the camp. 11 The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name and cursed. So they brought him to Moses. (Now his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.) 12 They put him in custody so that the command of the Lord might be made clear to them." Exodus 20:7 was clear: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain." God has not changed His mind and all should note that a careless "OMG" as part of an electronic transmission is a bad idea. And we are to see that the many names of God are not for profane use. He is holy, He is God, our King, Master, Creator and Lord. His names are to be a continuing cause for worship, and never to be expressed in a profane manner.
Remember that the Spirit through Scripture turns on the light of our understanding. We discover what pleases God and what offends Him. Here are Verses 13-15: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 14 'Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him. 15 You shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If anyone curses his God, then he will bear his sin." How many times have you spoken of God? In what way do you speak of Him? The Lord God is infinitely more than any human being, though He loves us with infinite love. He gave us life and He is the One who can take it away forever, in what is called the "second death" (Revelation 21:8). Verse 16 of this chapter should enlighten us that God is not pleased with irreverant ones who speak casually of Him: "Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death." The penalty for profanity is death, reminding us of the reality and hope of Romans 6:23—"The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
As you read the remaining verses of this chapter, remember that God has come into the "room" of your understanding and turned on the light switch. You are being shown what is important to Him. Verse 17: "If a man takes the life of any human being, he shall surely be put to death." Remember "there is neither male nor female" to God (Galatians 3:28), and when He says "a man" in Scriptures such as this, the reference is to a human being of either sex.
God, the Creator of all that is, values the life of every creature of any size or shape on the planet. The lives of all are important to Him, as in Verse 18: "The one who takes the life of an animal shall make it good, life for life." Every creature has a purpose and this verse is not merely about "property." He loves the sheep, eagle, dog, cat and all creatures, expecting us to honor and protect those who live with us on this earth.
Have you heard the phrase, "The punishment should fit the crime?" That's what Verses 19-20 are all about: "If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; just as he has injured a man, so it shall be inflicted on him." Appropriate civil and criminal penalties enlighten us that certain behaviors are just not acceptable, and the reason is that God says so! His will is—everywhere, in all times and places. Verse 21 continues, "Thus the one who kills an animal shall make it good, but the one who kills a man shall be put to death." If you kill your neighbor's animal, you owe him, and if you murder your neighbor, you must be stopped because you have demonstrated that you are likely to kill again.
One of the problems with rules made by humans is that they too often are created and enforced unfairly. Verse 22 reveals that God is just and fair to all: "There shall be one standard for you; it shall be for the stranger as well as the native, for I am the Lord your God." Our journey may differ, but our destination is the Lord Himself. Our bodies and lives are not the same, but we are each in a perfect place, designed for us to discover the wonder of faith in the Lord—one standard for all.
That God means what He says is shown in Verse 23: "Then Moses spoke to the sons of Israel, and they brought the one who had cursed outside the camp and stoned him with stones. Thus the sons of Israel did, just as the Lord had commanded Moses." There is an old saying: "Dead men tell no tales," but this deceased young man, Shelomith's son, seen in Verses 10-12, enlightens us in a message to history future: Place your faith in the Lord, receive His Holy Spirit, and follow Him into a life of holiness. The alternative is death.
Lord, You are my light and my salvation. I place my trust in You. Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Help me to listen, hear and respond to your will. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.