Leviticus 20 is pretty straightforward. The first couple commands regarding punishments are about Molech worship and they who would consult mediums and spiritists. Anyone who would curse his father or mother shall be put to death. Then, the next 11 verses are about sexual purity. The majority of the sexually impure are to be put to death, but a few are said that they will remain childless. Then, the chapter ends with a call to abhor the things that God abhors, and to obey all the commands of the Lord. We must make a distinction between the clean and unclean, be holy as He is holy. Then, the last verse speaks of putting mediums and spiritists to death.
Before I begin, I want to say something. I won’t address the homosexuality question. At all. The problem is that when you combine a political question to theology, I don’t know how to reply. What is asked as a purely theological question gets turned quickly into a political question, and I’m not willing to get tied up in that. I would rather stick to honest questions about the Bible, and not political issues, of which I have little to no care. At most, my care is that those who are deceived would come to the light, and realizing their error, repent and be healed (or, if necessary, saved).
One of my initial thoughts is that verses 3, 7, and 22-26 stand out. Here we find that God’s emphasis is upon being holy, for He is holy, and upon separating the precious from the vile (His words are clean and unclean). In verse three, we find that God is concerned that the people will defile His sanctuary, and profane His name. Remember, His sanctuary is “among the people” – indeed even in their midst. For the people to be defiled, it actually brings defamations upon the very God whose name they bear. To enter into these sins is to bring the Lord directly into the midst of it with you.
Andrew Bonar had commented that this chapter is specifically about not performing and committing the sins of those who were in the land before the Israelites inhabited. Considering verse 22, especially because it is a repeat of 18:25, I think that he is correct. This idea makes me think of later sin of Israel, which is to repeat the sins of the fathers. You see, there is a progression recorded in Scripture that happens enough that it is a pattern. The Israelites did indeed commit the same sins as the Canaanites. By the time that they were repeating these sins, the people had pretty well forgotten the Lord their God. They were repeating the same sins as their fathers, because the sins had been perpetuated for so long that no one even realized that they were sins. This is just the way that we’ve always done it.
I think we have a similar problem in our days.
There are many of our traditions that have been set up and promoted, simply because they are the way that we’ve always done. Did you know, for example, that when Karl Barth was alive (about 70 years ago) the term “systematic theology” was only first being introduced? This term hasn’t even been around for 100 years, and yet we think it is the only way to do theology. In fact, Barth was mocking it in the preface to his dogmatics in outline, claiming that he would never be caught titling a book of his by “systematic theology” – he much more preferred the more traditional term “dogmatic”.
How much of the way that we do the Sunday morning service is from the Bible, and how much is a perpetuation of what the Catholics did? Where in the New Testament (or Old) can you show me a pastoral staff? Can you point me to the gathering services that had everyone facing the front listening to one man? Can you show me where they gathered and sang songs, and then listened to a sermon, and then had the benediction as they all left and went home for the week? Can you show me anywhere in the Bible that it talks about paying a man for his pastoral duties, those duties being many of the things that the Body as a whole is called to do (such as tending to each others needs, building each other up in Christ, speaking words of wisdom, knowledge, or reproof to one another, church discipline, etc)?
Where precisely do you see the explanation of church buildings in the Bible? What passages can you show me that would speak of a separation between the Old and New Testament? Can you show me where the Bible even implies that the Charismatic gifts have ceased? If there is no verse to say they have ceased, and in fact even the Old Testament seems to employ such gifts of the Spirit, then why should we assume they no longer exist? Where in the New Testament does it show that we are supposed to tithe?
Many of our traditions come straight from the Catholics, which came straight from the Romans. This isn’t biblical Christianity. This isn’t what God had told us to be and do. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica, had even tried to marry Greek philosophy with Christian doctrine – a continuation of the work of Augustine and Jerome. We’ve taken up the very mindsets, patterns, and yes, even sins, of the inhabitants of the land, and we have enforced them in our buildings and congregations as though they are biblically sound. There are entire theology courses based upon Christian ethics and church practice, validating the very systems that we use to push God away.
In all of this, we have defiled His sanctuary – and I don’t mean the buildings. We have profaned His name, because we would rather hold onto the traditions of men than to actually believe that we’re required to live in holiness unto the Lord. We would rather believe that God understands our fallenness and our humanity – our depravity – than to believe that God can actually free us from sin. We continue to teach and promote the world system, and the world mentality, and carnality in general – it doesn’t have to be sin; did not Paul even deride the Corinthians and call them carnal for their denominationalism? – instead of starting over from scratch and expecting that God is altogether other and different than the world systems.
Because we have so neglected the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we have been quick to embrace Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates. We’ve been quick to use the terms and words and phrases of the ancient Hebrews, and force them to explain concepts that the ancient Hebrews would have never even considered. We’ve taken a look at the words of Peter or Paul, and sometimes even Jesus, and we’ve seen the similarity of what they say in comparison to some of the Greek philosophers, and instead of assuming that they are saying something different (because they are actually enlightened by God instead of intelligence), we assume that they are repeating the exact same sentiment.
This is continuing in the sins of the forefathers. Ultimately, the sins of the forefathers are the sins of the ex-inhabitants of the land. What is Greece today? Where is the glory that was Rome? If God would devastate Jerusalem, then why would He not also turn against Pompeii? Maybe I should word it like Jeremiah the prophet: “See, I am beginning to bring disaster on the city that bears my Name, and will you indeed go unpunished?” If God will bring calamity upon His own people for their ignorance and iniquity, which I believe has already come and is continuing to come to His people today, then what makes us think that the rest of the world will not also be judged?
What will be our precious Greek philosophers in the Day of Judgment? What will be of our culture in the day that God comes in lightning and hailstones? Will we stand with what we’ve clung to all these decades and centuries, or will we be willing to part from it like the Levites and go into the camp with our swords drawn slaying every mother, father, brother, sister, friend, and neighbor (Exodus 32:26-29). It was not until the Levites separated themselves and performed such a task as that that the word of the Lord came, “This day you have been consecrated…”
Leviticus 20 is about punishment upon the sins of Israel – or individual Israelites – who would disobey the laws that God has prescribed. What kind of arrogance and hostility to God must we have to be set free as the Day of Atonement has proclaimed us, only to then disobey God in the most basic of commands? Is it really that difficult to not have sex with your sister? Is it truly that oppressive to not eat blood? Can you actually claim that not sacrificing your children to Molech is a burden? Yet, this is the mindset of many – not just atheists, but even Christians. The Law is oppressive. The Law is bondage. Little do we realize that the Law is freedom when it is observed without the bondage of man’s tradition! Honestly, how can we say that God’s Law, which He gives to let us know how He has wired humanity to live, is bondage?
Yet, this is what it means to follow in the ways of sin. This is what it means to follow the patterns and sins of those who have possessed the land before us, and the sins of our forefathers who were tempted and succumbed to that temptation. It is the way of Cain, and not of righteousness. Anything that doesn’t question everything is sin, because it is not in faith that we live, but in naiveté. When we are willing to just take what people say as fact without going back to the Bible and asking God whether His opinion aligns with this, we are not “taking it by faith”. Faith demands change. Faith produces righteousness, for Abraham believed God and it was accredited to him as righteousness. It does not then speak about Abraham’s unrighteousness, but rather all throughout Scripture he is the very image of righteousness! He is the father of our faith, and in that, is esteemed and promoted to such high position in the Kingdom of God that we should covet to even express slightly the same faith that he had.
The punishment for many of our disobediences is death. And, because much of it is not the way of God, it does in fact lead to death. It is death upon death to use a building to manipulate and oppress the children of God. It is the stench of death that comes from the believer who subscribes to John Calvin over and above Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter where he was correct or not. Calvin was not inspired; Jesus and the apostles were. Judgment must begin at the house of God, and when that judgment comes, shall not all the world marvel? When the church is sifted with Israel because of our lack of pursuit after the one and only God, will not the world use God’s Name as a mock and curse? But, if God will destroy Jerusalem – if He will bring judgment upon His own children – will He not also cast down Babylon? If, then, we gain our wisdom and system of operation from Babylon instead of the heavenly Jerusalem, we will have to hear that call, “Come out from her!” If we don’t come out when that cry goes forth, we shall be judged and damned with her. Behold the goodness and severity of God: severity to those who fell, but goodness to your, provided that you continue in His goodness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.