First Read Leviticus 18:1-30.
Part of Leviticus is about God’s people doing things differently. 7 times in this chapter the Israelites are told not to live like those who lived in the land before them. 6 times, “I am the LORD your God” is mentioned. The point is clear. Following God means not living like everyone else. In this chapter God begins to show what that means by starting mostly with sexual impurity.
18:3 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. Their past and future must not define them. Being in the position of slavery, nor the position of blessing ought to change them. They simply are to live for God.
18:6 None of you shall approach any blood relative of his to uncover nakedness; I am the LORD. The point is essentially that in verses 6-18 a man shall not marry any of his close relatives, or a woman who has become a close relative.
18:20 You shall not have intercourse with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her. Adultery is forbidden.
18:21 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. What is in view here is child sacrifice. Molech was often represented by a bronze statute with outstretched hands. The hands could be heated and children would either be set upon his burning hands, or “passed through the fire.” God clearly doesn’t want his people to practice child sacrifice.
18:22 You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. Homsexuality is forbidden.
18:23 Also you shall not have intercourse with any animal to be defiled with it, not shall any woman stand before and animal to mate with it; it is a perversion. Beastiality is forbidden. Although foreign to us in the west today, this was another practice that some ancient near easter religions practiced.
18:24-25 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. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants. God just gave them how the other nations brought defilement upon themselves: Intermarrying, adultery, homosexuality, beastility, because of these it says, “The land has spewed out its inhabitants. For what is to be a land of blessing, God wants His people to live there and enjoy it. Not be kicked out because they polluted it. He doesn’t want history to repeat itself (verse 28).
18:29 For whoever does any of these abominations, those persons who do so shall be cut off from among their people. This gives the consequence of those who do partake in it. Better that one person be cut off, then the entire nation become polluted.
This has a lot to say to the church today. Even Jesus get’s more to the heart/attitude behind the action when He says not just the act of adultery is wrong, but even the stricter, “looking at a woman lustfully” already commits adultery in one’s heart. In a time God tells His people to have higher standards and to live for Him, He also says, “don’t be like those around you.” While looking at these laws then, one might wonder if these are still applicable since the sacrifices that took up the beginning of Leviticus are no longer enforced. To which Wenham notes:
For most Christians it is self-evident that the moral rules enunciated in this chapter still apply today. The NT writers assume that the laws on incest (vv.6-18; cf.1 Cor 5:1ff), adultery (v.20, e.g., Rom. 13:9), idolatry (v.21; cf 1 Cor. 10:7ff.; Rev. 2:14), and homosexuality (v.22; Rom. 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:9) still bind the Christian conscience.
God always takes sexual impurity among His people seriously to the point where it impacts all He has for them. For those who follow Him then, we should take it seriously within the church as well.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR US:
- God takes sexual impurity very seriously. Most of this chapter dealt with sexual sins of some sort. Again we must note it is not sex in itself that is the issue, but sexual impurity. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Matthew 5:28. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. – Romans 1:24-25
- God wants us to enjoy the blessings He has in store for us. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17.
- Our lives should not change whether times are tough, or we are in times of blessing. We must always live the same, which is for God. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. – Philippians 1:21