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.

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