Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Treatment of Debtors and Employees

Leviticus 25:44-55

“Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.  And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.” (Leviticus 25:44-46) 

The Jews were never to take their own people as permanent bondservants or slaves.  People of other groups could be held permanently, as part of a family’s inheritance, but their own people were never to be considered property, or treated as lesser people.  A similar principle is described for Christians in Ephesians 6:5-9 and Colossians 3:22-4:1.

“And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger's family: After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself.” (Leviticus 25:47-49) 

The Jews were to make a special effort to keep their people from being enslaved by the ungodly around them.   If a Jew had become indebted to a non believer, his family had the right to redeem him from that slavery, or if the person was able he could pay off the debt early and be free from the slavery.

“And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto the year of jubilee: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him.  If there be yet many years behind, according unto them he shall give again the price of his redemption out of the money that he was bought for.  And if there remain but few years unto the year of jubilee, then he shall count with him, and according unto his years shall he give him again the price of his redemption.” (Leviticus 25:50-52)

Payoff was to be based on how much was still owed.  If the redemption was very early they might charge the full amount, but if not, it was to be prorated according to how much time was left of the time of service.

In modern America few people realize how this relates to Christians, but Proverbs 22:7 warns, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.”  Many Christians are enslaved by debt today, ignoring Paul’s advice in Romans 13:8, “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another…”  In I Corinthians 7 Paul advised Christians to get free from enslavement because as h said in I Corinthians 7:23, “Ye are bought with a price be not ye the servants of men.”

“And as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall not rule with rigour over him in thy sight.  And if he be not redeemed in these years, then he shall go out in the year of jubilee, both he, and his children with him.  For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 25:53-55)

While it was preferable that the Jew be free it was not a mandatory situation.  He was still to go free in the year of Jubilee,.  Even non Jewish masters were not permitted to abuse God’s people. They belong to God.

Again Paul addresses a similar situation in I Corinthians 7:21-22.  “Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.  For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.”  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Taking Advantage of Misfortune Prohibited

Leviticus 25:23-43

“The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.  And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land.” (Leviticus 25:23-24)

The land belonged to God, not to the individual.  The individual was granted the right to use it however he might choose, but it belonged to God.   He was just allowing them to use it, and they could not sell it.  If a person had leased it out then wanted it back, they were required to let him redeem it.   In any case it was to be restored the original family in the year of Jubilee.  This insured that neither the government or powerful families could seize the land and enslave the people, as had happened in Egypt four hundred years before.  Every family would have the opportunity to produce food and support themselves, even though they might go through some difficult times.

“If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.  And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it; Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession. 

But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubilee: and in the jubilee it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession.” (Leviticus 25:25-28) 

If a person was forced to sell the use of his property to pay debts, he, or his relatives had the right to redeem it at any time, just by paying off the unused portion of the lease.  If he was unable to do so, the land was to be returned during the year of jubilee.

About 4 BC, shortly after Jesus birth, Hillel had started a school broadening the interpretation of the Law.  One of the decrees was that loans using real property as collateral were not necessarily subject to return during the year of jubilee.   Whether they were returned was to be determined by a court.  It was viewed as a major step for making economic progress.  Jesus condemned the practice as a way of ripping off people while pretending to serve God in Matthew 23:14 and various other passages.

“And if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year may he redeem it.  And if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city shall be established for ever to him that bought it throughout his generations: it shall not go out in the jubilee. 

But the houses of the villages which have no wall round about them shall be counted as the fields of the country: they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubilee.” (Leviticus 25:29-31) 

Because farmland and homes in small farming communities were necessary to support a family, and were part of the property designated for each family, they could not be sold, only leased or rented.  City homes, on the other hand, were not an integral part of what God had given.  They could be sold, but even they were subject to a one year trial period in case the seller discovered he didn’t want to get rid of it.

“Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time.  And if a man purchase of the Levites, then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the year of jubilee: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel.  But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession.” (Leviticus 25:32-34)

The Levite cities were their inheritance.  As a result even houses in their cities could not be sold, but only leased until the year of jubilee, and the lease could be canceled at any time.  Their gardens in the suburbs could not even be leased out to others.

“And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.  Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.  Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.   I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.” (Leviticus 25:35-38)

They were to help those who were struggling economically, whether he was a Jew or not.  They were to trust God to provide for them and loan without charging any interest.  As Proverbs 19:17 says, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”
“And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant: But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee: And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.  For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen.  Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God.” (Leviticus 25:39-43) 

They were not to use a person’s indebtedness to enslave him.  He could not be forced to work without pay.  He was to be treated as an employee, with equal wages and freedoms, and his indebtedness was to be canceled in the year of jubilee, leaving him free to return to his family and property.  They were to remember what it had been like when they were slaves in Egypt and not sell their own people into slavery to other people.  They were not to be abusive or demanding in any case, but to demonstrate proper respect.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Sabbaticals

Leviticus 25:1-22

The Seventh Year

“And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD. 

Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.  That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.  And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee, And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.” (Leviticus 25:1-7)

 When they got to the land of Israel where they could, the Jews were to let the land lie fallow every seventh year.  During that year they were to live on what they had stored up from previous years.  They were not to plow or plant or even to harvest what came up naturally.  It was to be year’s vacation, for the owner, his employees, and his working livestock. What ever grew naturally was to supply food for them, their animals, their servants , and those who didn’t have land of their own, but they were only to pick as needed.

Scientific studies have shown that allowing land to lie fallow periodically actually improves it’s productivity.   Plants bring a wide variety of minerals and nutrients to the surface, using what they need and leaving the others in the soil.  Since different plants have different requirements, what they leave behind varies.  

Growing the same crop year after year depletes the soil of the nutrients that crop needs, while leaving a surplus of other nutrients.  When the land lies fallow, a great many weed seeds sprout, each with different requirements.  Those which need the surplus nutrients and don’t need the depleted ones outgrow the others.  Since most weeds have far deeper root systems than most crops, they reach farther down, to bring up nutrients, leaving those the crops need when they die and removing the things which might prevent crop growth.   In effect the weeds fertilize the soil with exactly the nutrients that are needed to continue productivity.

Careful pruning of a tree of vine can greatly increase the amount of fruit produced by leaving only branches that are producing fruit, forcing the plant to grow more and larger fruit.  Unfortunately, this also limits the tree’s ability to grow and repair itself.  By allowing them to grow naturally periodically, the tree is able to grow stronger, ensuring increased output in the future.

Historically, countries that practices such a program have been able to farm the same fields for hundreds or even thousands of years.  The lands of those who did not have steadily become less productive.  Modern commercial farming techniques require ever increasing amounts of fertilizers to maintain production. By observing these Sabbaths every seven years, they would be able to ensure the productivity of the land and vineyards for centuries with little extra investment.  Unfortunately greed frequently ignores long term benefits.

The Year of Jubilee

“And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.  Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.  And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.  For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.  In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession. 
” (Leviticus 25:8-13) 

On the day of atonement, in the forty ninth year they were to sound a trumpet and proclaim the following year a year of Jubilee, a year of celebration, marked by blowing trumpets and rejoicing.  The entire fiftieth year was to be a holy year, dedicated to God.

All Jewish bond servants or slaves were to be freed and allowed to return to their families and farms.  The year was to be considered a Sabbath, and they were not to plant or reap, just eating what they needed from the field each day.

“And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour's hand, ye shall not oppress one another: According to the number of years after the jubilee thou shalt buy of thy neighbour, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee: According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee.   Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 25:14-17)

The land itself was not to be sold, but they could sell the use of it, or lease it.  Every lease was to expire on the year of jubilee and the terms of the lease was to be based on the amount of time the owner was giving up the use of it.  They were not to try to take advantage  of each other in the terms of those leases.

“Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.  And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. 

And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.  And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.” (Leviticus 25:18-22) 

By keeping these statutes, including the Sabbaths, Israel could live in the land without fear of attack, and ensure that their crops would always be productive as God had promised.  While they might be afraid to not plant or harvest in seventh year, God promised that he would take care of them in the short term.  Not only would they experience the long term benefits of  letting the land lie fallow, God promised to intervene to cause the sixth years crop to produce enough for three years.  That would give them enough to survive the present year, the entire Sabbath year, and until after the harvest the following year.

Leviticus 26:3-4 promises, “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.”  God literally promised to intervene in their weather to ensure the crops would grow if they would obey his laws.

I was born in eastern Colorado, near both the Kansas and Oklahoma borders.  In that area, records indicate seven year crop cycle.  On the average, during the seven years there is one year  that produces a bumper crop and farmers get rich, There is a year where almost nothing grows, and farmers lose their shirts because of drought and a depressed market as a result of surpluses from the previous year.  One year they about break even, and four years they have good crops, and make a small profit, assuming the market is fairly stable.  The cycle has been observed for about a hundred forty years.  Since the weather and the fertilization play such a large part in what they produce, one can only wonder what would happen if they were to follow God’s plan.  

Friday, April 25, 2014

Establishing Penalties For Crimes

Leviticus 24:1-23

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually. 

Without the veil of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations.  He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually.” (Leviticus 24:1-4)

Pure olive oil was to be provided to keep the lamps on the golden candlestick burning continuously, with them filled every evening to go all night.  The high priest was responsible to see they were cleaned and filled to burn forever.

“And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.  And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the LORD.  And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 

Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. And it shall be Aaron's and his sons'; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute.” (Leviticus 24:5-9) 

Every Sabbath, twelve unleavened cakes consisting of about two and half quarts of flour were to be placed on the table of shew bread in two rows of six.  Frankincense was them placed on each row.  They were to serve as food for the priests, after another loaf was burned as a burnt offering.  Again this was a perpetual; statute, that there was always to be show bread on the table for the priests.

“And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp; And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed. 

And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:) And they put him in ward, that the mind of the LORD might be showed them.” (Leviticus 24:10-12)

Right after the law was given, an Israelite and a man of mixed blood, half Egyptian and half Israelite got into a fight.  The half Egyptian began to curse and swear, using God’s name.  He was arrested and held until they could find out what penalty God would require, since the penalties for breaking the law had not yet been established..

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.  And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. 

And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:13-16)

Everyone who heard the man curse was to place their hand on his head, identifying themselves as witnesses to his crime.  Then the entire congregation was to stone him to death.  He was responsible for his own death, and the same penalty applied whether the person was a foreign visitor or a native born citizen.  Blaspheming God’s name indicated disrespect for God and death was the mandatory sentence.

“And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:17)

Justice demands that the person pay the same as he took from the other person.  If he took a person’s life, he should pay with his own life.  It is only fair he pay the same as he took.  Provision was made for accidentally causing someone’s death with the cities of refuge, but even with those a person gave up the life he had had before.  It was up to him to get to the city of refuge before he was caught.  If he failed, he was executed on the spot.

 “And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast.” (Leviticus 24:18)

If a person killed another man’s animal, he was required to replace it with an animal of equal value.

“And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.” (Leviticus 24:19-20)

If a person caused another to be injured, they were to do the same thing to him as he had done to the other person.  That way he paid the same price as the one he injured.  Justice had been done, even though the injury had not been reversed.  Jesus said the same standard of Justice remains today in Matthew 5:18.  “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

His comments in Matthew 5:38-39 did not replace that standard of justice.  “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”  Instead, Christians were to voluntarily demonstrate God’s love for others by foregoing their right to justice in minor cases where no serious injury occurred.  It did call for a total reversal of the attitude of getting even many of the Jews harbored in Jesus’ day.  Retaliation tends to only make things worse.

“And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.  Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 24:21-22) 

The same standard of justice was to apply to nonresidents as to citizens.  People who came to visit were to respect and obey the laws of the nation.  There was to be no diplomatic immunity or deportation if they broke the law.

“And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.” (Leviticus 24:23)

With the penalties for crimes established, Moses ordered the half Egyptian who had blasphemed God executed, and the people performed the execution as commanded.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

More Jewish Holidays

Leviticus 23:33-44

The Feast Of Tabernacles

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.  On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.  Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.” (Leviticus 23:33-36) 

Starting five days after the day of atonement, Israel was to celebrate the feast of tabernacles.  The first day was to be treated as a Sabbath, doing no servile work, or work for other people.  They were to meet together for worship instead.  Every day during the feast they were to offer special offerings to the Lord.  The eighth day of the feast was to again be a special day of worship and meeting together.

“These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:37-38) 

Each of these feasts were to celebrated in addition to the daily offerings and observances of Sabbaths that might fall on the same day.  Gifts and vows proceeded just like any other day.  There was no need to “fix” any of them, as originally designed.

“Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.  And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.  And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 

Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 23:39-43) 

The feast of Tabernacles was to be a week long national campout to commemorate the forty years of camping in the wilderness after they escaped from Egypt to remind them again of God’s blessing and the need for obeying him.  They were to build brush shelters and stay in them during that week and spend the days just rejoicing that they now had a lond of their own.  They were to celebrate this feast every year for ever.  Deuteronomy 16:13-15 makes it clear everyone was to participate.

“Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates.  Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.” (Deuteronomy 16:13-15)

“And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD.” Leviticus 23:44)

Deuteronomy 16:16-17 commanded, “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.” 

God’s intention was to continually remind the people of how they had been blessed and what their responsibilities were.  Time after time Israel stopped celebrating these feasts, and before long they even forgot they were supposed to.   As a result the people turned away from the Lord.  Time after time, we find the people surprised when they read the law under a good king and found out how they were to celebrate these feasts.  

Elaborate rituals for celebrating Sukkot have been developed for traditional Jews, but many less traditional Jews don’t celebrate the holiday.

Other Holidays

In addition to the holidays God commanded, many Jews celebrate other holidays.  Perhaps the best known, Hanukah, or Chanukah was started to celebrate the rededication of the temple after the Maccabean revolt and  the defeat of the Selucid  Empire about 166-167 BC, resulting in religious freedom being granted by Antiochus V.

Purim celebrates the defeat of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews in Esther,  It’s institution is found in Esther 9, during the reign of Cambyses, also known as Ahaseurus, about 530 BC. There are many other, less well known holidays celebrating other events, but they were not prescribed by God.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Jewish Holidays Continued

Leviticus 23:23-32

Rosh Hashanah

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.  Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:23-25)

The first day of the seventh month, the year was officially half over.  The summer’s work was done and most of the crops were harvested and stored.  The people knew how much God had blessed their work.  God instructed them to devote that day to him as a memorial, blowing the trumpets to get the people’s attention.  Numbers 29:1-6 describes the offerings that were to be made.

“And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you.  And ye shall offer a burnt offering for a sweet savour unto the LORD; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram, And one tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: And one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you: Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD.” (Numbers 29:1-6)

The first day of every month, Israel was to offer a special sacrifice in addition to the daily sacrifices and those of the Sabbath if the first of the month should fall on a Sabbath.  The offerings and celebration of the first day of the seventh month were to be in addition to the regular offerings  the first of every month.

Prior to his speaking to the people from Mount Sinai in Exodus 19, God directed them to spend three days preparing themselves to meet with him.  The assembly on the first day of the seventh month gave them a similar opportunity to prepare themselves for the day of atonement.   Nehemiah 8:2-8 describes the way it was celebrated in Ezra’s day, about 480 BC.

“And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.  And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law. 

And Ezra the scribe stood upon a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam.  

And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 

 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place.  So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading.” (Nehemiah 8:2-8)

Understanding what was required of them, the people were then able to prepare themselves emotionally and spiritually for the day of atonement.  As Nehemiah describes, they spent the next several days reviewing God’s commandments and fulfilling them in a way they hadn’t done in over a hundred years.

Today, Rosh Hashanah is celebrated as the Jewish New Year even though it is considered the seventh month.  Other than taking it as day in which they do not work, the celebration today has little resemblance to that commanded in the Law.  It occurs in  September or early October according to our calendar.

The Day Of Atonement

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 

And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.  For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.  And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.  Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.  It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:26-32) 

Nine days after celebrating the first day of the seventh month, Israel was to celebrate the day of atonement.  While no servile work was to be done on other Sabbaths and holidays, on the day of atonement, there was to be no work at all.  It was to be a day spent wholly in making things right with God.  Leviticus 16 describes the sacrifices and rituals that were to be followed on the day of atonement.  Leviticus 16:34 commands, “And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year…”

Today the holiday is known as Yom Kippur.  It is often observed by a twenty five hour period of fasting, and is the

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Jewish Holidays

Leviticus 23:1-22

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. 

Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. 

These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.” (Leviticus 23:1-4)

God designated certain holidays that Israel was to celebrate.  Each one was a specific reminder of what God had done for them, and the way of celebrating it was designed to remind them of what happened.  Each one was to be a day reserved solely for remembering what God had done.

The Sabbath

The first one was the Sabbath or Saturday.  It was to be a day or rest and worship, and no servile work was to be done, although it was specified that animals could be taken to water or the sick cared for.  It was a reminder that God rested when his work was finished, and that man needed time to rest as well.  In Mark 2:27, Jesus said, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.”  It was for man’s spiritual, emotional and physical health.  Unfortunately, over time it became solely about ritual observance rather than man’s benefit.

Each of the holidays were to be a holy convocation or time of assembling together specifically to worship.


“In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover.” (Leviticus 23:5) 

The Jewish calendar is based on the movement of the moon around the earth.  Each month starts with the new moon.  Since the lunar movements do not exactly coincide with the movement of the sun around the earth, the exact date of the new moon varies from year to year, although it can be readily calculated.  To compensate the Jews used a complex combinations of twelve and thirteen month years. The month Nissan thus starts shortly after the spring equinox which occurs on March twenty first.  Fourteen days later, they were to celebrate the Passover.  As a result Passover nearly always falls in April.

A similar method is used to determine Easter, but since it is celebrated on the Sunday after the first new moon the spring equinox, Easter‘s date varies far more.  Thanks to the different ways of calculating, Easter can fall the same week, or up to a month before Passover.

Instructions for the celebration of Passover are found in Exodus 12.  It is celebrating the death angel passing over and sparing the Jews when he killed the firstborn of Egypt.  The instructions are a re-enactment of what the Jews did that night.   Passover is still celebrated, although in a modified form.

Feast Of Unleavened Bread

“And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.  In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.  But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.” (Leviticus 23:6-8)

Immediately after the death angel passed through Egypt, Pharaoh ordered the Jews out of the land, but after thinking about it changed his mind and ordered the army to bring them back.  For six days, the Jews fled across the Sinai peninsula to escape Pharaoh’s army, only stopping to prepare a quick meal of unleavened bread similar to a corn tortilla but made of wheat.  On the seventh day, they crossed the Gulf of Aqaba, a branch of the Red Sea, at Baalzephon, where the Egyptian army drowned.

The feast of unleavened bread was to commemorate that seven days of flight from the Egyptians culminating on the seventh day with the crossing the Red Sea and the destruction of the Egyptian army. They were to assemble on the seventh day to celebrate their deliverance from Egypt.

Feast of Ingathering or First Fruits

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 

And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD.  And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.  And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” (Leviticus 23:9-14)

When they began to harvest their crops, they were to take the first bundle or sheaf to the priest, who would wave it before the Lord as an appreciation for what he was going to provide.  It was to be offered on the first day of the week, on the first day of harvest.  Along with the first fruits, they were to offer a yearling lamb for a burnt offering, a food offering of flour mixed with olive oil, and a drink offering.  None of the  crop was to be eaten until the sacrifices had been offered.  God commanded them practice this forever, but it in seldom practiced today.  

Feast Of Weeks

“And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. 

Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.  And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the LORD, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the LORD.  Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.  And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.  And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.” (Leviticus 23:15-21)

Seven weeks after they offered the first fruits of their harvest the Jews were to come before the Lord with a new food offering to thank God for what he was providing.  It was to consist of two leavened loaves of bread as the first fruits of what was produced from the crops.  Along with them they were to offer seven yearling lambs, a young bull and two rams as a burnt offering, along with the specified food and drink offerings as a sweet smell of thanksgiving.  This was to be followed with a sin offering and peace offerings which were waved before the Lord along with the two loaves of leavened bread before being given to the priest.  This also was to be performed forever.

By Jesus’ day the feast of weeks was known as Pentecost, and was dated from Passover, rather than the first day of harvest.  Today it is called Shavuot, and is celebrated as a commemoration of the giving of the Torah or law on Mount Sinai, rather than as a thanksgiving for the food God provides.

“And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 23:22)

No effort was to be made to get every bit of the crop.  Anything that was missed or hard to get was to be left behind for those who might need it.  They were to trust God to provide enough without worrying.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Guidelines For Priests

Leviticus 22:1-33

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 22:1-2)

Moses was to instruct Aaron and the priests to distinguish between themselves and the holy things to prevent profaning them before the people.  They were to keep the things offered to God at arms length to prevent beginning to treat them as their own, or people from feeling like it just belonged to them.  If they treated those things as their own, they might use them improperly.

Over the years I have seen a lot of ministries use money that was given for a specific purpose for to buy jet skis, or pay for expensive vacations instead.  Donors who had given up their own pleasures and comforts were seriously offended as a result, making it far harder for legitimate ministries to obtain needed help.

 “Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD.  What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean. 

And whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose seed goeth from him; Or whosoever toucheth any creeping thing, whereby he may be made unclean, or a man of whom he may take uncleanness, whatsoever uncleanness he hath; The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water.  And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall afterward eat of the holy things; because it is his food.” (Leviticus 22:3-7)

The same health guidelines for uncleanness applied to the priests as well.  During the time they were unclean, they were to be isolated from the tabernacle and were not permitted to serve as priests or partake of the offerings until they were again clean to prevent the spread of disease.  Once they were clean they could resume their duties.

“That which dieth of itself, or is torn with beasts, he shall not eat to defile himself therewith: I am the LORD.  They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I the LORD do sanctify them.” (Leviticus 22:8-9) 

While ordinary people could eat normally clean animals which had died of natural causes, just taking precautions to protect others, the priest were prohibited from doing so because of their position before God and their constant contact with other people.  Failure to do so could result in death of the priest.

“There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner of the priest, or an hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing.  But if the priest buy any soul with his money, he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house: they shall eat of his meat.” (Leviticus 22:10-11) 

The things dedicated to God were to be given to the priests for their personal use and that of their immediate families.  They were not to be shared with other people, not even the priest’s visitors or employees, although his own family and slaves could since they were his responsibility.

“If the priest's daughter also be married unto a stranger, she may not eat of an offering of the holy things.  But if the priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof.” (Leviticus 22:12-13)

If the priest’s daughter was married to someone who was not a priest, she was not permitted to eat the holy things because her father was no longer responsible to support her.  If she was divorced or her husband died, and she was forced to go home as a dependent of her father, she was allowed to partake, but if she had a child she was responsible for she could no longer be fully dependent on her father.  She had to take responsibility for her child.

“And if a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly, then he shall put the fifth part thereof unto it, and shall give it unto the priest with the holy thing.” (Leviticus 22:14)

If a person accidentally ate some of the holy things, he was to replace it and add twenty percent of its value to make up for their not having it.

 “And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the LORD; Or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass, when they eat their holy things: for I the LORD do sanctify them.” (Leviticus 22:15-16)

While the holy things were designated to be given to the priests, they were to receive it seriously as belonging to God.  They were not to partake, without first taking care of their own sin.

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the LORD for a burnt offering; Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats.  But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.” (Leviticus 22:17-20) 

Any offering to God other than the various sin offerings were voluntary gifts.  There could be no pressure to give them., but they had to be given with respect to God.  Offering him something less than their best was an insult to him.

“And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.  Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the LORD. 

Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted. 

Ye shall not offer unto the LORD that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land.” (Leviticus 22:21-24)

An animal that had a birth defect could be given as a freewill offering as it was the way God had made it. Although it was not acceptable for replacement for something a person had promised to God.  Diseased or injured animals were not acceptable at all, either at the tabernacle or anywhere else.

 “Neither from a stranger's hand shall ye offer the bread of your God of any of these; because their corruption is in them, and blemishes be in them: they shall not be accepted for you.” (Leviticus 22:25)

They were not to buy their offerings from non Jews because there was no way of knowing what diseases or injuries they might have contracted.  Thus, such sacrifices would not be acceptable.

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD.  And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day.” (Leviticus 22:26-28) 

No animal less than eight days old was acceptable as a burnt sacrifice, and in any case they were not to sacrifice both the mother and her offspring in the same day.

“And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.  On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave none of it until the morrow: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 22:29-30) 

Thanksgiving sacrifices were to be completely voluntary, and the priests and people offering them were to eat them completely that same day.  Nothing was to be left over or saved for the priests.

“Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD.  Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you, That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 22:31-33)

Every effort was to be made to show respect toward God, and appreciation for his delivering them from slavery in Egypt.  By demonstrating such respect, their children and grandchildren would learn to show similar respect.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Qualifications For Priests

Leviticus 21:1-24

“And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people: But for his kin, that is near unto him, that is, for his mother, and for his father, and for his son, and for his daughter, and for his brother, And for his sister a virgin, that is nigh unto him, which hath had no husband; for her may he be defiled.” (Leviticus 21:1-3)

As an expression of their grief, people would often throw dust or ashes on their head.  Some cultures would cut themselves or refuse to change clothes for a certain number of days.   Permanent things such as tattoos or cutting oneself was forbidden for everyone.  The priests were forbidden even to put ashes or dust on their or not change clothes except for his parents, or his children, or an unmarried sister.  Their relationship to God was to be so important as to completely overshadow any other relationships.

As Christians, we are priest to God.  Our most important relationship is our relationship with God.  The second is our relationship with our spouse.  Third is our relationship to our children and our parents.  Other relationships must never be allowed to interfere with our service for God, just as the priests were not to allow other relationships to affect their service for God.   One mistake many people make is to equate the church with God.

“But he shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.  They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.  They shall be holy unto their God, and not profane the name of their God: for the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and the bread of their God, they do offer: therefore they shall be holy.” (Leviticus 21:4-6)

A person in position of leadership was not to allow even those close family ties to detract from his relationship with God, implying that God is somehow less important.  Their relationship to God was to be maintained at all times so that they were prepared to fulfill their responsibilities.  They were dealing directly with God and they should not dishonor him by coming to  him dirty or involved in sin.  

“They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God.  Thou shalt sanctify him therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I the LORD, which sanctify you, am holy.” (Leviticus 21:7-8)

Because of their responsibilities before God, the priest was not to marry a woman who had a reputation for promiscuity, or a worldly attitude.  They were not to marry a woman who had been divorced.  The goal was to avoid any suspicion of immorality.  Both I Timothy 3 and Titus 1specify a similar standard for a pastor’s wife in the present age.

“And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.” (Leviticus 21:9)

A priest’s daughter who was sexually promiscuous mad a mockery of her fathers profession.  She was to be burned with fire to eliminate any indication he considered it acceptable.  Both I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 stress the behavior of the pastor’s children for the same reason.  As I Timothy 3:5 points out, if he cant even teach his own children to do what is right, how can he teach the whole church to?

“And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes; Neither shall he go in to any dead body, nor defile himself for his father, or for his mother; Neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor profane the sanctuary of his God; for the crown of the anointing oil of his God is upon him: I am the LORD. 

And he shall take a wife in her virginity.  A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.  Neither shall he profane his seed among his people: for I the LORD do sanctify him.” (Leviticus 21:10-15)

The  rules were even stricter for a high priest because he served a function even ordinary priests couldn’t fulfill.  He could not wear torn clothes or even take off his hat as a symbol of respect for a dead person, nor could he go to their wake, even for his own father or mother.  He was to be so totally dedicated to God that no human relationship affected his service.  When he married, he could only marry a woman who was a virgin.  Even a widow was not acceptable, and any indication of promiscuity on his part, even as a boy disqualified him to be high priest.

Christ is our high priest and as Hebrews 4:15b tells us, “…was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  As Christians we are priests, but we are not high priests, and do not have to meet the same standard he did.  However, a pastor or church leader should be held to a higher standard that the average Christian.  God’s goal is for every Christian to be conformed to the image of Christ.  No one can teach others what they don’t know.

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his God.  For whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded, Or crookbacked, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God. “ (Leviticus 21:16-21)

The demands of this passage are considered politically incorrect and unloving in our day.  Any person with any kind of physical deformity was permitted to serve as priest.  Even a scabbed over sore or a rash, a broken bone, or a damaged eye was enough to disqualify a person from serving as priest.

“He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy.  Only he shall not go in unto the veil, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them.” (Leviticus 21:22-23)

As a child of Aaron, the person was still qualified to go into the holy place, and to partake of any of the foods that the priests were given, any blemish disqualified him to offer the sacrifices for others or to go through the veil into the Holy of Holies .

In the same way, a person can be a Christian, a member of the church, and take part in everything God gives the Church, but be unqualified to perform the office of pastor or deacon.  

“And Moses told it unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel.” (Leviticus 21:24)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

God’s Demands On Israel

Leviticus 20:17-27

“And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.” (Leviticus 20:17) 

Nearly every society in history has had prohibitions against incestuous relations.  Besides potential genetic problems, they almost always result in conflicts between members of the family, and emotional problems.  Whether the sex act was completed or only looking or touching were involved, sexual activity between siblings is wrong, and has serious effects, whether full brother and sister or not.  They were to be isolated from the people to prevent further problems.  The responsibility rested solely on them.

“And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.” (Leviticus 20:18) 

Knowing the increased risk of infections to both parties or of spreading it to others from sexual contact during the menstrual period, those who deliberately ignored the risks were to be isolated from other people to protect them.

"And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister, nor of thy father's sister: for he uncovereth his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity. 

And if a man shall lie with his uncle's wife, he hath uncovered his uncle's nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. 

And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.” (Leviticus 20:19-21)

Nudity or sexual relations between other relatives has the same potential for causing conflict and emotional problems within the family.  They were responsible for their part in the activity, and God would not bless  such involvement with children, which would only increase the conflict.

“Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.  And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.” (Leviticus 20:22-23)

As a result of Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, man had a sense of right or wrong, a conscience.  All these behaviors stimulated that conscience, but people often find pleasure in the sense of guilt and getting by with something, and eventually it no longer bothers them.  After a while they have to do something else to get the same sense of guilty pleasure.  The original inhabitants of the land had practiced all these sins, accepting them as an alternative lifestyle, and causing God to abhor them.  It finally reached a point where God evicted them from the land, much a landlord might evict tenants who used a rental property for selling drugs or prostitution.  In the next lease agreement, the landlord might well specify that using the home for illegal activities was grounds for eviction.

In much the same fashion, God warned Israel that indulgence in such activities would result in their eviction.  Few question a landlord’s right to set such a standard, yet many people challenge God’s right to do so.

“But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.” (Leviticus 20:24)

God had promised to allow Israel to occupy the land he had taken from the previous occupants.  It was a good land, and God had chosen them to occupy it rather than letting whoever wanted to.  

“Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.  And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.” (Leviticus 20:25-26) 

Just as a landlord would expect some form of remuneration for the use of his property, God made some requirements for Israel.  They were to distinguish between animals which were potential disease threats and those which were not and avoid contact with those which were.  They were to live a life that was acceptable to God, keeping themselves in a holy state because of what God had done for them.

Considering that most of the demands would benefit them even more than it would God, it seems a no brainer to practice them, even if he didn’t require it, kind of like a landlord asking that the house be kept clean.  Unfortunately, many people don’t consider how much they benefit from such demands.

“A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:27)

Anyone who practiced occultic arts such as séances or palm reading, or who used secret rituals to try to invoke the power of other gods to control the world around them was to be put to death.  They were essentially trying to replace God.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sins Requiring Death Or Exclusion

Leviticus 20:1-16

"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.  And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name. 

And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.” (Leviticus 20:1-5)

By sacrificing his children to Molech to accomplish his goals, a person profaned the name of God, implying he was not able or willing to provide, and defiling the sanctuary by pretending to worship God.  The people were responsible to execute the person who did so, removing him from among them, whether he was Jew or one of the other groups.  If they refused to take the responsibility, God would isolate him and his family  from the people, by death if necessary, as well as any who followed his example.

“And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.” (Leviticus 20:6)

Anyone who consulted a wizard or medium would be isolated from the nation of Israel.  Deuteronomy 18:10-12 warns, “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.”  God would literally force participants in these activities out of the land.

“Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.  And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you.” (Leviticus 20:7-8) 

Israel was to sanctify or make themselves free from sin because God was their God and it him who had consecrated or set them apart for himself.  To do so would require keeping and obeying God’s laws.

“For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.” (Leviticus 20:9)

Disrespecting the parents God gave a person by cursing them was an insult to the god who gave them and was to be punished by the execution of the son or daughter, regardless whether the parents were good or bad.

“And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10) 

Throughout history, societies have blamed and punished the woman while excusing the man.  God said both were responsible and both were to be executed, freeing their partners to remarry if they chose.  Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:32 is based on this teaching and implies that adultery effectively ends the marriage. “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”  The Jews were not consistent in enforcing this law in his day, as shown by the story in John 8:3-9.  The woman had been caught in the very act, yet they were only concerned with punishing her, and had let the man go free.  They were breaking this law themselves, which is why Jesus’ statement that the one who was without sin should cast the first stone had such an impact.

“And the man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:11-12)

In I Corinthians 5, Paul instructed the church to put a man who was guilty of this sin out of the church, to allow God to destroy the flesh in hopes of turning him from his sin.   Under the law, both parties were to be executed.  The guilt for their death was on them rather than on those who killed them.  The same penalty applied if the roles were switched.

“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

Homosexuals were to be executed, and any guilt for their death was to be credited by God to their own choices.

“And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.” (Leviticus 20:14)

Sexual relations with a woman and her own daughter required the death of all three.  They were to be burned to destroy any remembrance of what they had done.

“And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.  And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:15-16)

Beastiality required the death of both the person and the animal, whether it involved man or woman.  They were responsible for their own death.

These were mandatory sentences.  They were not recommended guidelines, and no alternative was provided.  The physical, emotional and psychological effects of the sins were irreversible, so there could be no restitution or correction.  All of them involved deliberate rejection of God’s design or authority.  No means of atonement for these sins was offered under the law, but under grace even they can be forgiven.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

More About Being Holy

Leviticus 19:20-35

“And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.  And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, even a ram for a trespass offering.  And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the LORD for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him.” (Leviticus 19:20-22)

Once again we see God’s justice and concern for the individual person.  A bond servant was just a slave for a set amount of time.  A female bond servant would be in constant contact with her employer and his associates, and either side could be tempted by the constant contact.   If she was approached sexually, she risked a great deal to refuse to cooperate, even if she was engaged to someone.  While she was still responsible to try to avoid the situation, she might be feel forced to go along.  In such a case they were not to be executed for their sin.  She was to be punished for giving in, but the primary fault lay with the man who took advantage of his power over her.  He was to bring a ram for a trespass offering and his sin would be forgiven.  There was no provision for a lesser offering.  This only applied to bond servants.  A hired maid was free to quit, and she was equally guilty because she was free to say no.

“And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.  But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD withal.  And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:23-25)

Fruit trees take several years to begin producing significant fruit, and young trees are very susceptible to damage.  For three years, the Jews were to avoid picking the fruit, counting it as unacceptable.  This would prevent damage to the tree, insuring future productivity.  The fourth year, all the fruit was to be given to God in appreciation for making the tree healthy and productive.  From the fifth year onward, they were free to use the fruit.

“Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.” (Leviticus 19:26) 

God had claimed the blood for himself.  Out of respect for him they were to avoid eating the blood, besides its potential for carrying disease.  Similarly, out of respect for God, they were not to try to use magic spells or rituals to influence the outcomes.  They were not to focus on certain signs of the moon or planets, such as the Zodiac or horoscope, or phases of the moon, but were to trust God with the outcome.

“Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.  Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:27-28) 

Out of respect for God, they were to accept the way he made them, not focusing on how they styled their hair or trimmed their beards to make themselves look better.  They were not to cut themselves to produce scars  or amputate fingers as a memorial to the dead, nor were they to get tattoos or various types of makeup, but to accept the way God made them.

Paul encouraged the same attitude among Christians in I Timothy 2:8-10.  Peter referred to it again in I Peter 3:1-4.  So much of our modern attitude, even among Christians indicates a lack of faith and appreciation for what God has done.

“Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.” (Leviticus 19:29)

Sexual promiscuity destroys a culture and brings God’s judgment on a nation.  People who wanted to be holy should not use sex as a way of getting money or favors, even when they were not personally involved.   To do so would promote the spread of promiscuity.

“Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:30) 

A people who were dedicated to God would need to keep his Sabbaths, including those special holidays to be reminded of what God had done for them.  They were to show special reverence or respect for his sanctuary, the place provided to worship.   In Jesus day, it had become the accepted practice to sell the things used for worship in the temple.  In John 2:16,  Jesus drove them out, “And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.”  Even the sale of religious materials in God’s house is disrespectful toward him.

“Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:31)

Holy people should not defer to or show extra respect for those involved in the occult, whether mediums and palm readers or shamans and medicine men.  Involvement with them was likely to lead to false worship just as contact with a person who was infected with some disease could  result in spreading the infection.  Deference gives them and aura of legitimacy.

“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:32)

A holy people should show proper respect for the experience and wisdom of those who have lived many years.  Grey hair or wrinkles indicate a person has had experiences younger people haven’t yet had.  God should receive even a stronger resoect because hie is the creator.

“And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.  But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)

In Acts 17:26. Paul said God “…hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.”  Out of respect for God,  since God had made them, holy people would treat other races just as they treated their own people.   They were to consider Israel’s experience in Egypt to understand what the people would feel, and remember what God had done for them.  It illustrates the attitude Christians should have.  Colossians 3:11 says, “…there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all".

“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.  Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.  Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:35-37)

As holy people, they would have to entirely fair in all their conflicts and court cases.  They would have to be fair in all their business dealings, recognizing that God had delivered them from Egypt and was able to take care of them in business so there was no need to cheat.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Being A Holy People

Leviticus 19:1-19

“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.” (Leviticus 19:1-2) 

We are told that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  A little boy who sincerely loves and admires his father will copy everything his father does.  If we sincerely admire and love God as our father, we ought to copy him the same way.  Because he is holy, we should be holy as well.  The word holy has several different meanings, but there are two which apply in this case.  One definition is ‘spiritually perfect or pure, untainted by evil or sin, sinless.   The second is belonging to or coming from God, dedicated to him or consecrated.   I Peter 1:15-16 tells us this command applies to Christians as well as to the Jews.  “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”  God explains what will be required to be holy people.

“Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.  Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:3-4)

God placed our parents over us.  By showing respect to them, we demonstrate respect for the one who put them in charge.  Unfortunately we have developed some symbols of respect that are often mistaken for the real thing.  Frequently terms such as sir are used to conceal disrespect.  Real respect is the attitude rather than the symbolic actions or words.

If we are truly consecrated or dedicated to God, we will want to do what he desires, taking the Sabbath day off to please him.   Like a wife who is devoted to her husband, there should be not desire to find somebody else.

“And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, ye shall offer it at your own will.  It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire.  And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted.  Therefore every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the LORD: and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.” (Leviticus 19:5-8)

The attitude with which peace and thanksgiving offerings were given was mor important than what was given.  They were to given because a person wanted to, rather than from a sense of obligation or in order to get God to give something in return.  While they were free to partake of such offering themselves, they were not to try to get the maximum value from them, but to burn what was left over after the second day.  To misuse it in an attempt to get greater value was to profane the gift.   It was like a person who gives to get the tax advantages or to stimulate business by promising to donate a certain amount for each item sold.

“And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.  And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:9-10)

They were not to be greedy in harvesting their fields to try to get every bit of their crops, but to trust God to  supply enough, leaving what was missed or hard to collect for others who might need it.  

“Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.   And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.  Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” (Leviticus 19:11-13)

If they truly tried to be like God, and trusted him to do what he promised, they would not feel a need to steal or lie to each other,  At the same time they would not want to show disrespect toward God by using his name to falsely convince people of something or by using it frivolously.  How many people demonstrate a lack of respect for God by using comments like “ Oh my God” to express surprise?

If they really believed God or cared about others like he does, they would not cheat other people, or hold back a man’s paycheck so they could save some interest like modern businesses do, often leaving their employees to struggle until their check finally comes.

 “Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:14)

They were not to take advantage of a person’s handicaps, even as a joke, but were to give them the same respect they would give anyone else.

“Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.” (Leviticus 19:15)

Truly holy people will be completely impartial in their judgment of others.  They will not favor a person because he is rich or or famous, or because he is poor.  Race will play no part in his decision.  Unfortunately, in the American court system we deliberately select judges and juries based on their commitment to favor a particular view, then wonder why we get such perverted judgments.

“Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:16) 

Holy people would not spread rumors and gossip, nor would they take sides against somebody to destroy their life and happiness, even when mobs of people demand it.

“Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.  Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:17-18)

Holy people would not hate their neighbor bu would love them and treat them as they would want to be treated.  They wouldn’t hold grudges or try to get even with other people.  By straightening things out when they occurred, things would not come to that point.  

“Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.” (Leviticus 19:19)

A holy people would appreciate and respect what God had done.  Not only would they keep his laws, they would not try to modify his creations by trying to breed different species of animals to try to get some particular traits.  For example, they wouldn’t cross a horse with a donkey to get a mule, or a cow with a buffalo to get beefalo, nor would they cross rye with wheat to produce triticale.  Such efforts, like modern efforts to produce genetically modified animals and plants imply we know more than god about what we need.  Even planting very similar plants in close juxtaposition can result in such crossbreeding and was to be avoided.  The hybrids that result are usually unable to reproduce, and the strains of seed are lost.

Clearly, holiness is as much about the attitude as it is about the actions.  When the attitude is right, proper actions tend to follow naturally.  While Christians are not obligated to follow the rules in Leviticus, it clearly illustrates the attitudes they should have toward God and toward other people.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Other Perversions Forbidden

Leviticus 18:19-30

“Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness.” (Leviticus 18:19) 

We’ve already looked at the health risks involved as a result of the woman’s body flushing potential hazards during her period and her responsibility to protect others.  Her partner shares responsibility for preventing the spread of possible disease.

“Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour's wife, to defile thyself with her.” (Leviticus 18:20)

This is the specific meaning of the commandment.  There was a saying a saying to the effect that when you had sex with someone, you were having sex with everyone else they had been with.  It referred to the fact that in the process you were exposed to all the diseases they had been exposed to as a result of promiscuous sex.  Promiscuous sex can lead to one carrying and spreading a disease they don’t even know they have.  This is the first form of defilement.  It is only a potential risk.

The second form of defilement is more invidious, and always occurs.  The root word for adultery is to adulterate, meaning to make inferior, to dilute, pollute, or counterfeit.  As we have already seen, the sex act produces a psychological and emotional bond.  Promiscuous sex dilutes and pollutes that bond.  Some have used adhesive tape to illustrate what happens.  The first time you use the tape it sticks very firmly, but each time it is removed, it retains dirt and oil from the surface, which reduces the ability to stick to the next surface.  Eventually, it will not stick at all.  Sex outside the marriage has the same effect on the emotional bonding.  It weakens the ability to love.

Much of the earlier section dealt with uncovering the nakedness, or just looking.  In Matthew 5:27-28, Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”  What he is saying is that nudity or pornography have a similar psychological and emotional effect as the physical act.  They mess up the emotions and mental attitudes.

“And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 18:21)

Several of the cultures around them worshipped the idol Molech.  In an effort to get him to get him to give them their way, they would burn their children to death. Clearly they placed getting their own way above the Children God had given them.  It is the same attitude as we see in many abortions today.  Profane means of the earth.  To profane the name of God means literally to place him on the same level as the things of earth.  Casually destroying children he has given us as just a natural thing is one way of profaning or disrespecting God.

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. 

Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.” (Leviticus 18:22-23)

Genesis 2:18-22 describes the creation of the woman.  “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.  And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.  And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. 

And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

None of the animals were suitable for man’s mate.  God specifically designed the woman for that role.  Homosexuality, lesbianism, and bestiality all profane or demean God by replacing his plan with something else.  Many today claim homosexual tendencies are genetic, but a study of Mendel’s laws, and other genetic principles proves that to be scientifically impossible.  The lack of understanding of those scientific principles are the only reason such a claim can be seriously considered.

Homosexual activity is forced to indulge in either oral or anal sex, and both pose serious health risks.  Neither the mouth or the anus are equipped with a system specifically designed for protecting against diseases carried in semen.  Many harmful organisms can survive in the mouth for extended periods and can be transmitted by it.  The anus routinely excretes many harmful organisms.  Oral sex often damages the lining of the colon and the anal opening, exposing both people to infection by such organisms carried in fecal mater.

Almost all of the sexually transmitted diseases(STDs) have been linked to sexual intercourse between humans and animals.  They involve organisms that occur naturally in the animal but natural systems protect the animal from them.  Humans do not have such natural protection and it results in disease.

Finally, both homosexual activity and bestiality counterfeit the natural sexual experience, and produce a distorted form of bonding that many mistake for the real thing.  Promiscuous behavior dilutes the counterfeit bonding just as it does in the natural one, with even more severe problems.

“Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.” (Leviticus 18:24-25)

Accepting these sexual behaviors had caused both emotional and mental health issues, as well as physical problems that led to their cultures being destroyed and the loss of their lands and freedom.  God himself caused this to happen, and it was like a disease that caused the land to vomit them out.  Israel needed to be aware of he danger.

“Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. 

For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people.  Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 18:26-30) 

The same standards applied to the Jews as to the other groups.  If they practiced these behaviors, it would have the same result on them as on the peoples before them.  To protect themselves and be sure they didn’t adopt some of these practices of the people before them, Israel needed to follow God’s ordinances.  They had the right and the responsibility to demand that people who lived in their land live by their standards.