This chapter is a very controversial chapter and tends to bring up all kinds of questions and debate. In it YHWH deals with defilement (primarily sexual defilement); what defiles the people and what defiles the land. In this chapter YHWH gives instruction for the people not to uncover their relative’s nakedness (or have sexual relations with them). Incest is forbidden including incestual relations between a man and his mother, a father and his daughter-in-law, a man and both a woman and her daughter, and other relations.
There are other issues at work in this chapter as well. For instance there is the command not to uncover a woman’s nakedness during her menstrual period, not to sleep with a neighbor’s wife, and not to sacrifice your child to Molech (this doesn’t happen anymore… does it?). Each of these issues is very important and significant and should in no way be minimized.
However, the most controversial verse in this chapter (according to the current cultural view) is verse 22: “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.” You can see where a big part of the controversy begins here. There are many that say that this passage does not apply anymore due to Christ having fulfilled the law. That since Christ came and died and was raised again, and the curtain to the most holies was torn, we are no longer bound by the law. We do not have to fulfill the sacrificial rules and regulations because Christ became the perfect sacrifice. Since this passage is part of the legal instructions given to the Israelite people, it is completed and fulfilled and no longer applicable to us.
To some extent, that is an accurate (albeit flawed) understanding of Christ’s fulfillment of the law. This entire chapter holds a different kind of sway than most of the rest of the law. It is true to some extent that the law was for the nation of Israel, but this chapter is about what supersedes that law. Verses 24-25 explain this a little bit better:
“Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.”
It doesn’t take an exegetical genius to understand that the commands in this chapter aren’t limited to the people of the Israelite nation. These are laws that defy nature itself. They are not limited to the people of Israel. They apply to all people and all time. It is because of these kinds of sins that the Israelites have the right, and the responsibility to not only conquer the land of Canaan, but to destroy its inhabitants as well. The land itself has judged the Canaanites and is spewing them out because of the sins listed in this chapter. The Israelites are simply tools to the fulfillment of that justice.
So how should we respond to those caught up in these kinds of sins? Are we to judge and condemn them? Is that our “right”? I don’t believe so. God says, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” In that passage He is referring to not judging those of the world. That judgment is His, not ours to dole out. However, in I Corinthians 5 we are instructed to judge those within the body that are sinning against the body, and the sin refereed to there is a sin directly related to this chapter. It was a sin being accepted and even praised within the church that should have been condemned. That is a pattern we would be wise to heed. The leaders of the church are responsible for understanding and responding appropriately to sin within the body. In NO WAY should the church be lifting up and encouraging within the body what YHWH has condemned. We are to be the light of hope to the troubled and struggling, not following in the defilement of the world.
I’m beginning to understand more and more the qualities of a good pen. I have gone through probably 5 different pens already. Each of them has had a different work and feel to them. I started out with a three pack of Pilot’s Varsities. I had wanted to try out fountain pens for a while, but had never gotten around to it. They ran out of ink way too quickly, and the ink was so liquid that it would seep through the paper. On the other hand, writing with them was scratchy yet smooth, and the writing was bold and vibrant. That was a very good thing. Next i went on to an older gel pen that i had lying around. It was not nearly as bold or vibrant, but overall the flow was smooth and not at all scratchy. It was easy to write with, but the color definitely wasn’t strong enough. When that ran out, i moved on to a decent quality ball point. It was a bit more scratchy, the color was weaker, and writing with it was just a little bit more difficult, but overall it wasn’t overly uncomfortable to write with.
Now, I’m using what i can only describe as a cheap ball point pen that i picked up a while back. The pen stock seems to be decent quality (it advertises a small college), but the ink and writing process is horrible. At 32 i have hand and wrist problems that i suspect is from carpel tunnel ( i actually started noticing it at around 25). Ultimately, the rough working of this pen is definitely irritating it. The pen is not smooth at all. It requires heavy pressure to get a good line, and it is not really comfortable at all. I never really noticed just HOW different each pen is until i started on this project.
The Israelites had a different kind of body problem. While mine has to do with pain while writing or typing, the Israelites problem stems from much more important bodily factors. They were travelling through the wilderness and had no (or very little) food to eat. How does a man like Moses go about feeding a million plus people? The answer is that he can’t; so God has to do it. So what does God do? He provides them with bread from heaven. The instructions are simple. It shows up on the ground in the morning. Each person gathers what he needs for himself and their family for the day, and at the end of the day it needs to be eaten up. On the sixth day, gather enough for two days. Such a simple concept, yet the people just can’t seem to get a grip of it. Some try to hoard it. Others leave leftovers for the next day. Others don’t gather two days worth on the sixth day, and still others continue to complain.
It’s almost like this people have two things that they truly love; 1) complaining and 2) not listening. God is providing for their physical needs, yet it still just doesn’t seem to be enough. How about us? How do we react when God doesn’t supply what we are looking for?
Compared to the other chapters, this one is definitely much shorter. I only discovered how short the chapter was when i was almost done with it. It is only nine verses compared to most other chapters that average closer to 32 verses. At the same time, it has taken me longer than 1/3 of the time to do it as a regular chapter. I have been very groggy and it has been very difficult for me to focus. As a result, nine verses has taken me about as long to do as 16-18 verses on a normal day. It’s not unsurprising that it is on the day that i have a much shorter chapter, that that is when i just can’t stay focused. It’s like God has been giving me the energy and focus on the days that i really need it, and on days like today He reminds me of how much this kind of schedule wrecks havoc on my body. A reminder that i really need to take early bedtimes seriously to help me function better.
There is a ton of very heavy theology in this chapter. I think that i could really dissect this chapter and easily double my regular 400-500 word post for it. In this chapter God is beginning to prepare Moses for what He is about to do. This final plague is going to go the distance. It is going to push Pharaoh to the limits so that he pushes back and ejects the Hebrew people out of the land. As such, YHWH has to prepare Moses and the people to leave.
God blesses the people with honor and favor in the sight of the Egyptians, and Moses himself with great esteem in their sight. When they go out, it is not going to be with a whimper but with a bang. As a result Moses and the people need to be prepared. To be ready to move out.
So He tells Moses what to expect and what to do in the process. He gives him not only the instructions, but the go-ahead to get the job done. The people may have wanted to leave and thought that they were ready when Moses first presented God’s command to Pharaoh, but they were far from that. They still aren’t fully ready, as we will see in future chapters, but now they have all that they need to be successful.
How about us? Is YHWH preparing us for something bigger? Do we think we are ready and that we can handle what He has for us, or does God have more He needs to do in our lives before all of this happens?