Continuing a plan to get through the entire Bible in a year, follow as I journal through the reading. I have chosen a straightforward approach that begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. This will not be an in-depth study or a comprehensive commentary. There are plenty of sources for such material. This is stage one Bible reading, taking the text at face value and sharing impressions.
Today’s reading comes from the book of Leviticus, chapters 16 through 18, where God speaks at length on the topic of sex. Some impressions from the text:
- Imagine being Aaron. You’ve just endured the loss of two sons, who were consumed by the fire of God for violating his prescribed procedures for ritual. Recognizing his right to do so, you’re now poised to serve him as high priest once more. The first thing He tells you is that you’ll also die unless you enter the Holy Place in the tabernacle in a particular manner. What was that like? Even if you knew for sure that every detail of ritual was performed correctly, there would have to be some apprehension when stepping into the Holy Place.
- It’s interesting that part of the ritual surrounding the Day of Atonement involved the casting of lots. Was God leaving anything to chance? No. It was the means by which He selected which goat would be used for which purpose, and suggests that chance (as we perceive it) serves as part of God’s sovereign providence.
- It’s alarming that God had to designate an official place of sacrifice. “So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they whore.” The people apparently could not be trusted to worship the one true God. Any sacrifice not brought to the tabernacle was presumed to be idolatry.
- Born to a Jehovah’s Witness home, I recall how the text in Leviticus 17:10-16 was used to justify their doctrine prohibiting blood transfusion. That doctrine has literally killed people, including children, and proves blatantly unbiblical. First of all, why pluck out one commandment among the many God issues to the nation of Israel and apply it to our life today? If you’re going to take the blood-eating prohibition seriously, why not also follow all the other commandments issued around it? Why not sacrifice goats to make atonement for sin? Secondly, and more to the point, a blood transfusion is not the eating of blood. So the Witnesses aren’t even following the commandment as written, even if it were something which applied today.
- Another alarming proclamation from God comes in the form of his prohibitions against various forms of incest. As we read it, we realize that these things were going on within the camp. It’s like the modern day warning label, written because someone somewhere did the deed. It’s also noteworthy that God prefaces his prohibitions with the preamble “You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you.” In other words, these practices were the norm in surrounding nations. There was apparently no sexual standard in the world at that time, a condition we find ourselves reverting to in the modern day.
- “You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.” This should be taken as a timeless condemnation of abortion, our modern day sacrifice to the demonic Molech.
- “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Pretty clear cut.
- “Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.” The Old Testament God is often criticized by skeptics and atheists for genocidal decrees against the people whom Israel displaced in the Promised Land. We should note two things. First, God is God, and may rightly end any life He desires. He gave it. It belongs to him. He may do with it as he wills. Second, these weren’t saintly innocents God condemned to destruction. They were people who threw their own children into fires as a sacrifice to demons. They were the ancient equivalent of Nazis, and deserved to die.
Return soon as we continue our year-long journey through the text of the Bible.
Catch up on the previous entries:
Laws for sacrificial offerings, and their relevance today. – Leviticus 1-4
Feeling sorry for sin does not absolve you of it. – Leviticus 5-7
God will not be trifled with. – Leviticus 8-10
God’s holy medicine. – Leviticus 11-13
God continues to emphasize cleanliness. – Leviticus 14 and 15