Leviticus 18-19

Sunday Evening Bible Study

September 28, 1997


God is trying to teach His people what holiness is all about.

God is holy, and He wants those who come to Him to learn to be a little more like Him.

As weíre going to see, holiness affects even our most private places in life.

Leviticus 18

:3 neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.

The things God is going to forbid in this chapter are things that the people had been exposed to, either in Egypt, or upcoming in Canaan.

I remember having debates in my high school English class about whether or not morality was relative or not.

Then the big argument was whether a couple thinking of getting married should live together first. Everybody else was doing it, so wasn't it okay? Today, it's not even if you're thinking of getting married, but will you have sex on a first date!

Has morality really changed that much?

Not God's standards of morality.

We in the church are constantly facing the challenge to keep our standards the same as God's standards.

The temptation is to just be about twenty years behind the world.

But in twenty years, when the world has slipped down even further, will you be then where the world is now?

The world's standards are on a downhill slide.

If we're just following them, but twenty years behind, it's still a downhill slide!

This chapter will deal with God's unchangeable standards in relation to sexual conduct.

:5 my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them:

(Lev 18:5 NLT) If you obey my laws and regulations, you will find life through them. I am the LORD.

The purpose of Godís law is not to "take our fun away".

The purpose is to help us live.

The purpose is to give us life, not ways of dying quicker.

:6 None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin

Here is the general principle, a prohibition against sex or marriage with a relative.

Some of the specifics are going to be spelled out in the following verses.

This is the basis of what we call incest, intercourse with a blood relative.

We might think that this is a pretty strange thing to spend so much time on with God's "righteous" people.

The truth is that incest can be found in any kind of home, whether the family is a "church-going" family, or whether they spend their Sundays at the Colorado river.

It's one of the best kept secrets in the church, a terrible secret.

I remember having been in a church where we found out later that one of the leading men in the church had been committing this sin with his own precious little girls.

I don't know how a person can rationalize themselves into this sin, but it's affects are devastating.

I've counseled with people who have been molested by their parents or relatives, and it always creates a mess in that person's life.

Sometimes it was so traumatic that the person has tried to hide it or ignore it.

But it always comes out somehow, whether in how they treat persons of the opposite sex, authority figures, or even how they feel about God.

But there is good news for those who have been victimized.

His name is Jesus.

He can cleanse you from the feelings of shame and guilt that you've never understood.

He can take away the nightmares.

He can show you what a real Father, a heavenly Father is like, and how wonderful, pure, and holy a Father's love should be.

:6 to uncover their nakedness:

This is a Hebrew euphemism for having sexual relations.

:8-18 The nakedness of thy father's wife

You may be thinking, "Didnít he just say that back in verse 7?"

Verse 7 referred to a personís mother. Not necessarily your fatherís wife.

I find it interesting that it is human nature to try and find ways of getting around God's laws.

So, rather than just say, don't have intercourse with a close relative, God has to give us specific examples.

And so we have a whole list of examples through 18

:18 Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her

(Lev 18:18 NLT) "Do not marry a woman and her sister because they will be rivals. But if your wife dies, then it is all right to marry her sister.

Marrying two sisters at once? Sound familiar?

Jacob and Leah and Rachel

Did he have problems at home? You bet!

Read Genesis 29-30 for homework if you donít remember!

Summary of New Testament sexual practice

(1 Th 4:3-5 NLT) God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of all sexual sin. {4} Then each of you will control your body and live in holiness and honor-- {5} not in lustful passion as the pagans do, in their ignorance of God and his ways.

Itís Godís will that we learn to avoid porneia, any kind of sin outside marriage.

:19 as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness

In other words, during her menstrual period. See Lev. 15.

:21 thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech

Molech was one of the gods of the Canaanites.

He was usually made of bronze, with his arms stretched outward.

He would be heated up in a furnace, then at the appropriate time during their worship, He would be place on display, and live babies would be placed in his red-hot open arms.

As the people chanted, beat their drums, etc., they would drown out the cries of the babies being burnt alive.

This was one way the Canaanites dealt with unwanted pregnancies, which often resulted from their promiscuous sex practices.

Today we offer babies to Molech in a more sophisticated way, through quiet little abortion clinics down the street.

:22 with mankind, as with womankind

Is homosexuality called a sin in the Bible? Yes.

Is it any worse of a sin than any other kind of sexual immorality? No. But itís still a sin.

:25 the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants

These kinds of sin not only pollute the people who practice them, but somehow pollute the very land the people live on.

God said He was going to judge the people of the land because they practice these things.

How was He going to judge them? He would have the Israelites wipe them out.

Abraham's prophecy...

GEN 15:13-16 And {God} said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 "But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 "And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. 16 "Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete."

:28 That the land spue not you out also,

This kind of makes me wonder about America.

Weíre not that far ahead of the Canaanites.

Some of these things would have been unheard of fifty years ago.

But now itís almost getting illegal to say that theyíre even wrong.

Leviticus 19

:2 Ye shall be holy

Here's the basis for the whole book.

What we are to be - holy

"Holy" (Heb. - "Kadosh") means to be separate. Separated for a specific use, mainly for God's use.

Hang a sign around your neck: "For Godís Use Only"

Just how holiness affects our actual lives is what the chapter is all about. What does it mean to be holy.

:3 Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father,

Honor and respect towards parents.

This should come as a result of knowing Jesus.

As adults, it doesn't always mean that parents control your life, but that you honor and respect their advice.

Give great weight to their opinions.

:6 It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it,

The peace offerings of the Old Testament - having fellowship with God, eating dinner with God.

You were allowed to eat the leftovers, but only for two days, on the third day, the leftovers were to be destroyed.


Don't live off of the old times with the Lord.

"I remember twenty years ago when I was close to God..."

God wants a fresh, current relationship with you.

If you live off of what you get on Sundays only, in a few days it will go bad, just like food spoiling.

We need to learn to live day to day with Jesus, seeking Him, reading His word, praying, worshipping...

:10 thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger:

This was what the Israelites had instead of welfare.

If you were poor and unable to support yourself, you could go out to the fields and "glean", look for the bits of grain or fruit missed by the harvesters.

It was work, but it your needs were met.


Donít neglect the poor.

Pr 19:17 He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.

Ps 41:1 Blessed [is] he that considereth the poor: the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble.

Don't get so caught up in yourself and amassing your fortune that you neglect the poor.

:13 the wages of him that is hired

Christian businesses should not be taking advantage of their employees.

In those days, people were paid daily.

The principle is that you keep your word and don't take advantage of your employees by holding on to their wages for your own benefit.

:14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf

I guess some people find it great fun to tease a handicapped person, but it should not be so among Godís people.

Don't take advantage of people's handicaps.

:15 in righteousness shalt thou judge

Notice that partiality can take place two ways: We can be easy on the poor out of sympathy on them, and easy on the rich hoping for reward. Both are partiality.

:16 talebearer

talebearer Ė rakiyl Ė slander, slanderer, tale bearer, informer

The idea is spreading bad rumors about people.

Pr 20:19 He that goeth about [as] a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.

The way that gossip often comes across is someone trying to get you to like them, and they may start with flattering you, but putting other people down.

If they put others down in front of you, what might they be saying to others about you?

Simply donít put up with gossip. If something is being said that wouldnít be said in front of the person youíre talking about, then donít talk about it.

:17 Ö thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.

(Lev 19:17 NLT) "Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives. "Confront your neighbors directly so you will not be held guilty for their crimes.

Sometimes weíre afraid to confront people about something thatís not right.

And so we go on hating them in our heart.

God wants us to learn to speak the truth in love.

Pr 27:6 Faithful [are] the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [are] deceitful

:18 thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself

Sound familiar?

Mr 12:31 And the second [is] like, [namely] this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Some people think that there is a difference between the Old and New Testaments.

The Old Testament is all about laws, being mean, afraid...

The New Testament is all love and kisses.

God has never changed. God is Love.

1 John 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

:19 Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind

NAS - LEV 19:19 'You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.

This sounds kind of weird!

I don't know of any good reason for these commands from nature.

The whole point of this chapter was holiness - to be separate.

I'm not so sure that the point is to keep the kinds of cattle apart as much as it is to teach them to separate things that shouldn't be mixed.

:20 with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed

There are three issues involved here, the fact that the girl was a slave, that she was intended for another man, and that this offending man had intercourse with her.

The point in our passage is that even if the girl was a slave, it doesn't make her "free for the taking".

There was a price involved.

Why all these laws about sex?

Not because God is against sex, He created it, and He called it "Very Good" (Gen.1:28,31)

Because God designed sex to be in one environment, and one environment only, between a man and a woman who were bound together in marriage.

A relationship of commitment, love, trust.

:25 And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof,

This law says that when they enter the land and plant fruit trees, they were not to eat the fruit for the first three years, offer to God the fruit of the fourth year, and only after the fifth year were they allowed to eat the fruit of the trees.

When a fruit tree is planted, it isn't expected to bear much fruit for the first three years.

Then on the fourth year, instead of eating the fruit yourself, you gave it to God.

Until you gave the first fruits to God, the fruit was considered forbidden, literally, "uncircumcised".


Give God your best, give God your first.

If you are receiving the benefits of something, whether a paycheck, an investment, a relationship, until you give back to the One who provided for you, it's just a heathen, pagan investment.

Also, you may want to wait until the investment matures, then give God His portion, give God your best.

Why give God the firstfruits? It's a way of you demonstrating that you recognize who the benefactor is in your life, Jesus!

:26 blood

We dealt with this last week, see chapter 17.

:26 enchantment

nachash Ė to practice divination, divine, observe signs, practice fortunetelling, take as an omen.

Many ancient pagan peoples looked for signs, an eagle flying in the sky, a red sunset, etc., to try and discern direction from God. (Eze. 21:21-22)

It's not just in ancient times either. I remember talking to a brother who was completely caught up in finding symbolic meanings in absolutely everything, though it didn't start out that way. Example: One day he saw a billboard for "Bugle Boy" = Be + Ugly, God thought he was ugly.

Don't mess with this stuff.

:26 observe times

`anan Ė to observe times, practice soothsaying, spiritism, nagic, augury, witchcraft

I can't help but think of these astrologers and fortune-tellers who like to put their predictions in the tabloids. God doesn't want any of His people messing with this stuff.

I heard some statistics from David T. Moore about this stuff. Studies have been made of the leading psychics in the tabloids, and theyíre only correct 2% of the time!

This stuff can be pretty addicting. A little thing that comes true every once in a while keeps you hanging on, until these predictions are running your life. And guess who's the person pulling all the strings behind the scenes? Satan. You're listening to Satan.

:28 cuttings in your flesh Ö

This along with the previous verse refer to ancient practices of the pagans to honor their gods.

Some of the pagans honored their god (Arabian god Orotal) with the cutting of their hair.


Be careful that you don't let your appearance make people think that you worship anybody other than Jesus Christ.

1Th 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

I wonder about how this could apply to us...

Listening to secular heavy metal music?

Having old drug-paraphernalia laying around your house, for "art's sake".

:31 familiar spirits Ö wizards

NAS - LEV 19:31 'Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the \Lord\ your God.

Resist calling those "psychic hotlines".

:32 hoary head

NAS - LEV 19:32 'You shall rise up before the grayheaded, and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the \Lord.\

Today many people think of older people as "throw-aways".

We need to honor them.

Try just sitting down and talking, you'll find out that they have tons of wisdom!

Convalescent ministry.

:34 thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers

I canít help but thinking how this can even apply to visitors at church, especially the young, new believers.

You were once there yourself.

Perhaps think about helping out in the New Believersí Class, to come alongside those that are new.

:36 Just balances, just weights,

Be an honest business man.

May the title, "Christian owned and operated" someday become synonymous with integrity. It is not so today.