Remember as you read Leviticus that the LORD is pulling Israel out to be separate from the nations around them. Not only are they to avoid the detestable practices of their neighbors, but they were to live and worship according to the very specific way that he prescribed.
Our reading today begins with an address toward one of the detestable practices of the day, giving one’s child up to the god Molech. Notice that the LORD flows right into soliciting mediums, and then into cursing one’s father or mother. This is followed by a list of penalties for all the sexual sins outlined in chapter 18. There are three stages of punishment: those who are to remain childless, those who are “cut off,” or put out of the community, and those who are to be killed for their sin.
Just as in yesterday’s reading, the instructions for priests in Chapters 21 and 22 are bookended by the LORD’s affirmation of His role in sanctifying Israel. To sanctify is not just to cleanse, but to set apart – to move into another category – so completely that one can stand to be in the presence of the LORD.
The expanse of His power and the integrity of His name is so profound that they cannot be approached unless the LORD Himself prepares them. It is not simply that the LORD is a stronger version of a human, but that His power is wholly outside of human experience. The LORD is set apart, holy, in a category all to Himself.
So read these instructions, perhaps, through the lens of a compassionate God who is making a way for the people of Israel to have His presence among them. And read these instructions to the priests through a lens of just how set apart the people’s representatives to the LORD should be.
Our verse for this week is Romans 5:6: For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
Leviticus chapters 20 through 22. Now let’s read it!
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.