-The LORD God is making His covenant arrangements with the people of His choosing in this chapter. There are a wide array of stipulations, commands, and expectations involved for the purpose of being “holy, for I the LORD your God am holy (Leviticus 19:2).” These words are spoken by God through Moses to the entire congregation of over a million people in the Sinai Desert following their miraculous escape from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 13-15, Leviticus 19:34, 36). These are holy commands of the LORD for His people for a just society and perpetual well-being (Shalom), and they are worth meditating on closely. The heart of these laws can be summed up in Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” When Jesus was asked what the greatest law was, He answered with the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-6) and like unto it this passage on loving your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-34, John 13:34). Idolatry is forbidden along with various sundry laws for the establishment of peace in the culture of the Hebrews.
-*Application* What ended up happening with these good and perfect laws that God gave for His people is corruption from human, manmade tradition. The scholars, scribes, and Pharisees added to these laws interpretations that God never meant, which became ever so burdensome to the nation. It became a comparison of holiness rather than a heart of holiness. This is the situation that Jesus had to confront and attempt to eradicate when He sojourned on this earth over 2,000 years ago (Mark 7:1-13). This same spirit can be felt today if we are not in tune with our hearts towards the nature of God. Take for example the admonition to not make any tattoo marks on the body (Leviticus 19:28). Many would denounce those with body markings in our culture as apostates and renegades, while breaking the verse right before this one by shaving their beards every day (Leviticus 19:27, this verse may help one understand Orthodox Jews are little better). This is termed “legalism,” and it is the very thing that Jesus sets us free from through His death, burial, and resurrection. We have all broken the Law and stand condemned before a holy-righteous God. Unless we are clothed with His righteousness by faith, we cannot enter into His presence with unity, peace, and eternal protection. God’s laws are perfect. He expects us to carry them out for our well-being, and He has made a way for us to come back into His good graces when we transgress them. Thank God for His concern for us, broken mankind. Thank God that only He can forgive the vilest of sinners and bring them back into His Kingdom. His love never fails.
Verses to Memorize: Leviticus 19:2, 18