-In this chapter the LORD gives instructions for the priests, Aaron and his sons, concerning defilement in touching dead people, who they can marry, and who can approach the holy place to offer the food and fire offerings of his God. The nearest relatives are to be the ones who bear the responsibility for touching and removing the bodies of the deceased. Also included here are some grieving requirements. The priests are not allowed to grieve with shaved baldness on their heads or edges of their beards, nor were they permitted to make any cuts in their flesh (Leviticus 21:5). Holiness is again stressed for the priests as the go between of man and God, who is the Most Holy. This extends into the area of their wives. They were not allowed to take a woman who was profaned by harlotry or divorce (Leviticus 21:7). In fact they were only allowed to take a woman from their own people who was a pure virgin (Leviticus 21:13-14). Widows were not even permitted to be the wives of priests (Leviticus 21:14). This may have some foreshadowing aspect to it as for the purity of Christ’s birth from a virgin.
-The last section deals with the command that only priests without defect could approach the most holy place to offer food and fire sacrifices. The blind, the lame, the disfigured in face or limb, any broken hand or foot, the hunchback, the dwarf, the one who had any defect in the eye, the one with skin irritations like eczema or scabs, or “crushed testicles” could not go in to the veiled area or come near the altar. This, God says, will profane His sanctuaries with imperfections (Leviticus 21:17-23). They were all allowed to eat of the food however. The reason for this appears to be the foreshadowing to a perfect Redeemer with no defects or faults.
-*Application* We obviously must weigh this seemingly harsh set of requirements in Scripture here with God’s mercy, grace, and acceptance of all kinds of people throughout the rest of the Bible (Matthew 9:21-22, 36; 12:10-13; 14:14, Mark 3:1-5, Luke 6:6-10; 7:12-15, John 4:3-42, Acts 10:34-35). These perfections were only instituted for the message that only a pure means of atonement was acceptable to God. This of course could only come through His infallible Son, Jesus Christ. So, it was not that God was thinking less of people with deformities; He was simply teaching the people that they needed to look to the LORD’s perfections for cleansing. Unfortunately, the Pharisees, and often us too, miss the heart of God by focusing on the exterior rather than the spiritual.
Verse to Memorize: Leviticus 21:21