Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. – Leviticus 20:23
Many unbelievers turn to today's portion of Leviticus to proclaim that our Heavenly Father is ambivalent towards mankind, or worse, evil and cruel. This challenge only stands if we sugarcoat the backdrop against which Leviticus 20 and 21 were written. In these chapters we find a response to a depraved and demonically possessed people group inhabiting the land of Canaan. It is hard to imagine their modern-day contemporaries. They weren’t simply engaged in humanism. They didn’t resolutely meet at salons to discuss the innate ability for atheists to display moral rectitude.
They worshiped Satan and they openly worshiped the fallen angels and spirit beings who wanted to weaken and ultimately crush the people whose bloodline Jesus Christ would come through.
They practiced sexual rituals and offered their children to Molech for power and pleasure. They did detestable things in acts of worship to their gods and for themselves. They looked back on the days of Noah with longing desire. What would become of the Nation of Israel if it was fully infiltrated with these pagan practices? Here we find a Holy God forcefully asserting His Holiness to save mankind from utter and complete destruction borne of Satanic lust. – Amy and Todd Smith
The following guide is a resource for your personal time of abiding with the Lord and for your Community Group when you meet. It can also be used for times with family or friends around the table. At the end of this guide is a resource from www.esv.org to help with our study of Leviticus.
VISION + STORIES
Take time to connect and be reminded of our shared vision- We are a people abiding in Christ, to join His vision of transformation in our homes, neighborhoods, work places and city.
+ WHAT is one way you see the Lord working in the lives of those you are walking with to discover the gospel?
SING + PRAY
Take some time for song (guitar, hymn, acapella or read a Psalm) and extended prayer as an individual/community. A simple path of prayer is to pray through one of the Psalms as a group or use the acronym ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication).
DISCOVER [ Leviticus 20-21:1-15 ] In Large group
+ WHAT is this passage saying and what is a key truth or thought that I/we learn? (Use the questions interspersed through the passage to help make additional observations to clarify the main point)
1 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any Israelite or any foreigner residing in Israel who sacrifices any of his children to Molek is to be put to death. The members of the community are to stone him. 3 I myself will set my face against him and will cut him off from his people;for by sacrificing his children to Molek, he has defiled my sanctuary and profaned my holy name. 4 If the members of the community close their eyes when that man sacrifices one of his children to Molek and if they fail to put him to death, 5 I myself will set my face against him and his family and will cut them off from their people together with all who follow him in prostituting themselves to Molek.
+ What were the consequences for anyone who gave their children to Molech? (v. 1-5)
+ What of those who turn to mediums and spirits? (v. 6)
6 “‘I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute themselves by following them, and I will cut them off from their people. 7 “‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the Lord your God.8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the Lord, who makes you holy.
+ What is God commanding them to do? (v. 7-8)
9 “‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head. 10 “‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. 11 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. 12 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his daughter-in-law, both of them are to be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads. 13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. 14 “‘If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you. 15 “‘If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he is to be put to death, and you must kill the animal. 16 “‘If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. 17 “‘If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They are to be publicly removed from their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible. 18 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly period, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them are to be cut off from their people. 19 “‘Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible. 20 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will die childless. 21 “‘If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.
+ What detestable acts were the nations around them were practicing? What were the consequences of following after these ritualistic lusts? (v. 9-21)
22 “‘Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. 23 You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. 24 But I said to you, “You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the Lord your God, who has set you apart from the nations. 25 “‘You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean animals and between unclean and clean birds. Do not defile yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those that I have set apart as unclean for you. 26 You are to be holy to me because I, the Lord, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.
+ What will happen if they remain set apart and obey God? (v. 24-26)
27 “‘A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.’”
1 And the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them, No one shall make himself unclean for the dead among his people, 2 except for his closest relatives, his mother, his father, his son, his daughter, his brother, 3 or his virgin sister (who is near to him because she has had no husband; for her he may make himself unclean). 4 He shall not make himself unclean as a husband among his people and so profane himself. 5 They shall not make bald patches on their heads, nor shave off the edges of their beards, nor make any cuts on their body. 6 They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God. For they offer the Lord's food offerings, the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy. 7 They shall not marry a prostitute or a woman who has been defiled, neither shall they marry a woman divorced from her husband, for the priest is holy to his God. 8 You shall sanctify him, for he offers the bread of your God. He shall be holy to you, for I, the Lord, who sanctify you, am holy. 9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by whoring, profanes her father; she shall be burned with fire. 10 “The priest who is chief among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not let the hair of his head hang loose nor tear his clothes. 11 He shall not go in to any dead bodies nor make himself unclean, even for his father or for his mother. 12 He shall not go out of the sanctuary, lest he profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him: I am the Lord.13 And he shall take a wife in her virginity. 14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he shall not marry. But he shall take as his wife a virgin of his own people, 15 that he may not profane his offspring among his people, for I am the Lord who sanctifies him.”
+ How were the priests of the tribe of Levi to be set apart? (1-15)
PROCESS (In Breakouts of 2-3’s, guys/girls)
+ HOW is the Lord calling me to action/obedience? Is there sin to confess, a next step to take, how has it gone since last time? (Below are a couple of ideas to help prompt responses if needed)
+ Are you wrestling with any sexual sins? These same spirits that sought to possess the Israelites are at work today twisting and turning the hearts of mankind. Resist the devil and rest in Christ’s righteousness. Against the backdrop of that power, pray to draw closer to God’s holiness that He might abide in you and set you apart.
+ WHO am I walking with and praying for to discover Jesus, what is my next step? (e.g., spend time with them, set-up an intentional time to share your story, begin a discovery study on the teachings of Jesus with them)
STUDY GUIDE ( ESV STUDY BIBLE - WWW.ESV.ORG )
+ Lev. 20:1–6 Worshipers of Molech ought to be stoned to death (v. 2). If that is not done, the Lord himself will cut them off (vv. 4–5; see note on 7:11–36). The Lord carries out the same punishment upon those who consult mediums and necromancers (20:6) in order to communicate with the spirits of the dead.
+ Lev. 20:7–8 The Lord sanctifies the Israelites by making them his holy people, set apart to be his own. Now he calls on them to consecratethemselves and be holy (dedicate themselves to holiness in practice); see note on 11:44–45.
+ Lev. 20:9 anyone who curses his father or his mother. Cursing one’s parents is the exact opposite of “honoring” them (Ex. 20:12; 21:17; compare Prov. 20:20).
+ Lev. 20:10–20 This section includes the punishments for each of the sexual activities prohibited in ch. 18: capital punishment (20:10–16), exile (vv. 17–18), or barrenness (vv. 19–21).
+ Lev. 20:17 sees her nakedness. A euphemism for having sexual relations.
+ Lev. 20:22–26 A land flowing with milk and honey is a common scriptural description of Canaan (Ex. 13:5; Num. 13:27; etc.).
+ Lev. 20:27 In v. 6, the one who consults a necromancer or a medium was to be put to death. In this verse, the necromancer or the medium is to be put to death. Why this verse appears here in the text is puzzling. It may be because the act receives capital punishment, as do most of the other activities of the section.
+ Lev. 21:1–24 Stricter rules of holiness are required of priests because they work directly with the holy objects of the sanctuary.
+ Lev. 21:1–4 Ordinary priests are prohibited from contact with the dead, except in the case of their closest relatives. (The rules for high priests are given in vv. 10–15; see note.) his virgin sister. The assumption is that, once she marries, she is not regarded as one of his closest relatives, but comes under the care of her husband and his clan (see Gen. 2:24).
+ Lev. 21:5–6 Priests were prohibited from making bald patches on their heads, shaving off the edges of their beards, or making cuts on their body (compare 19:27–28). These are pagan mourning and burial practices. Israelite priests oversee the worship, and no Canaanite ritual is to enter the priestly system.
+ Lev. 21:7–8 The wife of a priest must be a woman of high moral character. She may not be a prostitute, because that is a defiling profession. She must not have been divorced. Even though divorce is allowed in the OT (see note on Deut. 24:1–4), a broken marriage falls short of the creation ideal, which the priests are to embody (compare Mal. 2:1–9).
+ Lev. 21:10–15 The high priest is subject to stricter holiness regulations than the ordinary priest. While an ordinary priest may marry a widow, the high priest must marry a virgin (vv. 13–14). (Perhaps this is to ensure that all the children in his home are his own.) The high priest may not participate in any mourning or burial activities (vv. 10–12; compare note on vv. 1–4). This is to keep him from any uncleanness that he might bring into the inner parts of the sanctuary.
+ Lev. 21:16–20 No priest who has a blemish may approach to offer sacrifices. The same requirement applies to sacrificial animals. Both the priest and the animal are to exemplify holiness and completeness (see 22:17–25).
+ Lev. 21:21–24 for I am the LORD who sanctifies them (v. 23c). Although “them” might refer to the priests with physical defects (vv. 17–23a), more likely it refers to my sanctuaries (v. 23b). While “my sanctuaries” matches the plural “them,” the references to the priests with physical defects are all singular.