Leviticus 21-22

Sunday Evening Bible Study

October 12, 1997

Introduction

Leviticus is all about holiness.

Itís all about learning Godís standards for His people.

Leviticus 21

:1 There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people

Keep in mind now that the Lord is speaking to the priests, the descendants of Aaron.

The word "dead" is not in the Hebrew, it was added by the translators, thinking it made better sense. The Hebrew text seems to say, "There shall none be defiled for any soul among his people.

Maybe it means that God doesn't want His priests to defile themselves for anybody's sake (almost anybody's).

So the old crowd you used to hang out with wants to go out and party, get drunk, do all the old stuff you used to do.

It is a way of defiling you. It defiles the temple, your body.

Probably most correctly, this is dealing with the defilement that comes from touching a dead body.

The Law states that when you touch a dead person, you are "unclean" for seven days.

The principle is that you don't make yourself unclean by touching dead bodies.

Why? Being unclean meant that you were cut off from worship, from sacrifice, from the tabernacle, until you went through the cleansing process.

A priest needed to keep clean, because he needed to stay ready for doing priestly things, at any time.

Since we too are all priests, that could apply to us.

Lesson:

Be ready for ministry.

You never know when God will call on you.

(2 Tim 4:1-2 NIV) In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: {2} Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction.

It's kind of like being a fireman on duty. You never know when the fire bell is going to sound, and you have to suit up and slide down the pole.

:2 But for his kin, that is near unto him,

In vs.1, a priest was not allowed to touch any dead body, to become defile by it.

Yet now we see that it was allowable for a priest to help take care of a relative who had been deceased.

God didn't want His priests to be so dedicated to their ministries, that their families suffered.

Lesson:

Avoid alienating your family.

I find that there are times when I have to be careful that I don't alienate family members by my call to ministry.

Example: I don't believe that as a pastor, I should be performing marriages between believers and unbelievers. But then came one of my sister's wedding, as she, a believer, was going to marry an unbeliever.

The issue was, do I take a stand for my position, possibly alienate myself from the family, and especially from my sister's husband, or go along with it, compromising my standards, yet staying accessible for ministry within the family?

You may not agree with this, but I did the wedding.

:5 They shall not make baldness upon their head

Again, this is referring to a particular pagan practice of worshipping a particular pagan god.God doesn't want His priests to be mistaken for pagan idol worshippers.

I was listening to a tape this week from a Catholic theologian who was trying to say that the Franciscan monks were following Scripture for shaving a little bald spot on the back of their heads. I wonder. Hmmm.

Reminder - the Bible says that WE ALL are priests to God (Rev. 1:6)

:6 profane the name...

profane Ė chalal Ė to profane, defile, pollute; to treat as common

There should not be anything "common" about the name of Jesus Christ.

It is the name above all names.

It ought to be a name we hold precious and valuable.

How would you like it when every time somebody got hurt, they yelled your name?

:7 They shall not take a wife that is a whore

God desires purity in marriage for His priests.

Why?

Lesson:

Ministry should come from a healthy, supportive family.

Itís not that God canít use you if your wife is an ungodly woman, but youíre definitely going to be having problems.

Godís desire is that ministry be supported by a complete marriage.

If youíre charging into ministry without your spouseís support, you can have some slow going.

Iíve heard of pastors whoís wives donít even go to their own church. Ouch.

:10 the high priest

Weíre going to see that the rules concerning the high priest are similar to the ordinary priests, but often a little more strict.

:11 nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother

He wasn't allowed to be defiled for anybody, not even his own parents.

He wasn't allowed to marry a widow, only a virgin.

Why?

Lesson:

Higher callings require higher costs.

Note in vs.12 - "for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him: I am the LORD."

The idea here is that this is the one person who would be standing in the gap between God and the people.

With a job like that, you don't stop to take a fifteen minute coffee break from the Lord. What if you're needed?

I know itís kind of tempting for us in ministry to look at people like Pastor Chuck, or Greg Laurie, and think that weíd like to be like them.

I donít think so. I donít think I even want to think about the responsibilities on their shoulders.

:14 he shall take a virgin

The regular priests were allowed to marry widows, but a high priest wasnít allowed to do so. He was only to marry a virgin.

Lesson:

The picture of Jesus Christ.

The high priest is a picture of Jesus, who is our Great High Priest.

Jesus is totally pure, totally undefiled.

Guess what kind of Bride He is going to marry?

A virgin bride.

2Co 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.

Hmmm. Think about it.

:21 No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron

There is a sense in which we are all qualified for the priesthood because of Jesusí sacrifice for us.

But thereís another lesson here about ministry.

Lesson:

Give God the best.

I wonder if it could possibly be that the priesthood could have become a place where all the people who wouldn't have been able to handle other jobs would have ended up?

I've heard it suggested that some people go into the ministry because there's nothing else they can do, why not try it?

I think that those in ministry should be the cream of the crop. I think that they should be people who would excel, not fail out in the secular world.

Hereís from Charles Spurgeonís "Lectures To My Students" (pg.35-36) Ė

I have met ten, twenty, a hundred brethren, who have pleaded that they were sure, quite sure that they were called to the ministry Ė they were quite certain of it, because they had failed in everything else. This is a sort of model story: - "Sir, I was put into a lawyerís office, but I never could bear the confinement, and I could not feel at home in studying the law; Providence clearly stopped up my road, for I lost my situation." "And what did you do them?" "Why sir, I was induced to open a grocerís shop." "And did you prosper?" "Well, I do not think, Sir, I was ever meant for trade, and the Lord seemed quite to shut my way up there, for I failed and was in great difficulties. Since then I have done a little in life-assurance agency, and tried to get up a school, besides selling tea; but my path is hedged up, and something within me makes me feel that I ought to be a minister." My answer generally is, "Yes, I see; you have failed in everything else, and therefore you think the Lord has especially endowed you for his service; but I fear you have forgotten that the ministry needs the very best of men, and not those who cannot do anything else." A man who would succeed as a preacher would probably do right well either as a grocer, or a lawyer, or anything else. A really valuable minister would have excelled at anything. There is scarcely anything impossible to a man who can keep a congregation together for years, and be the means of edifying them for hundreds of consecutive Sabbaths; he must be possessed of some abilities, and be by no means a fool or neíer-do-well. Jesus Christ deserves the best men to preach his cross, and not the empty-headed and the shiftless.

:22 He shall eat the bread of his God,

An "imperfect" priest could eat the food given to the priests, but not do the work in the tabernacle.

Leviticus 22

:3 having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off

With the ordinary, common people, the cost of uncleanness was that they could not go to the tabernacle to offer sacrifices or worship.

With the priests, itís a little more different.

A priests could actually run the risk of being in an "unclean" state, and yet hide it and go about his business, even to the point of walking right into the Holy Place.

Lesson:

Ministry should be done in purity.

In this world we live in, we are bombarded with all kinds of temptations, all kinds of lusts.

God's desire is that as we minister to people and for people, that we're not doing it outwardly while inwardly we are filled with all kinds of lusts.

Jesus said,

MAT 7:15 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

:10 shall not eat of the holy thing

Here the idea was to specify just who was allowed to share in the priests' portions of the sacrifices.

Basically, it was kept in the family.

It was meant to provide for the needs of the priests.

Nobody but priests and their immediate families were qualified to eat of these offerings.

A layman (stranger) was not allowed to eat of the holy gift, only a priest or family member.

In the O.T., these "holy things" were meant to be the way that the priest supported his family.

Note:

There were some exceptions to this law. Think of David as he ran from Saul, how the priests gave David and his men the leftover showbread to eat. They shouldnít have done it. Jesus used this as an example of how God was "flexible" in some of these laws.

:11 buy any soul with his money

A servant in the household of a priest was allowed to eat of these offerings.

:12 the priestís daughter also be married

She was not allowed to come home and eat of the holy food, her husband was to support her.

:13 a widow Ö

If the daughter was widowed or divorced, then she could come back and eat with the family.

:14 fifth part

"add a fifth to it" - this was the price of restitution - if you stole from someone, you were to return it, plus pay twenty percent on top of what you stole.

If someone snuck into the priestís refrigerator and snacked on some of the BBQ ribs there, heís have to replace it.

:24 Ye shall not offer unto the LORD that which

Those animals with defects were not acceptable as sacrifices to God.

Lesson:

Give God your best.

Don't give God your leftovers, don't give Him your second-best.

It isn't a sacrifice if it doesn't cost you anything.

David and the temple land.

There was a plague in the land due to David's sin of wanting to be prideful in the nation by taking a census. He needed to offer a sacrifice to stop the plague. A man with land and animals offered to just let David take his property and use it.

2SA 24:24 Ö "No, but I will surely buy {it} from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the \Lord\ my God which cost me nothing."

:27 from the eighth day

A new born animal wasn't to be sacrificed until after the eighth day from its birth.

The whole idea sounds so cruel to me.

But that's what sacrifice is all about.

Sacrifice is a sacrifice. It wasn't meant to be pleasant or easy. Otherwise it wouldn't be a sacrifice.

:30 on the same day Ö

The peace offering could be eaten for two days after the sacrifice, then the leftovers were burned.

Here, the thanksgiving offering was to be eaten in one day, no leftovers.

Lesson:

"Thanks" is a meal thatís best served right out of the oven.

Itís not that people donít appreciate you saying thanks a week after the event, but itís especially nice to learn to say "thanks" right away.

Does God know youíre thankful?