The priestly laws continue. It must be hard to be a priest in Biblical times. The rules and regulations you had to keep track of. Some of them are obvious of course… like if you touch something unclean you will remain unclean until evening. No leaper of the sons of Aaron may eat of the holy sacrifices, and while the family may eat, the married daughters may not eat unless she is divorced or widowed with no children and returns home to her father’s house. It just seems like the laws and rules never end, but they are there for a reason. An important reason. Because someone needed to represent the people to YHWH, and YHWH to the people.
So the priests were responsible for the sins of the people and their relationship with YHWH. They are the ones who placed their lives on the line day after day to make sure that the people’s sins were covered. They are the ones who had to do everything perfectly every day and every time. They had to teach the people the precepts of YHWH. It is their responsibility and their honor. YHWH is a holy and a jealous God. To serve Him day by day is an honor and a responsibility of a lifetime.
Do we take YHWH seriously, or do we just use Him as a rescue raft. Do we worship the Holy God, or do we demand assistance from a galactic servant. Do we pursue a relationship with Him in awe and wonder, or do we attempt to flippantly use Him for our advantage and advancement? We are the servants of the Most High. Maybe we need to start acting that way… if that’s alright with you.
Leviticus 19 is a chapter of miscellaneous (sundry) laws and regulations. It starts out focusing on idolatry and that that is to be forbidden among the people of Israel. From there, the chapter focuses on various laws directly and indirectly related to the Ten Commandments, such as not stealing and dealing falsely with neighbors, and not swearing falsely in the name of YHWH. There are also other sundry laws. Some of those laws we will see again, and some don’t really reoccur in the Torah.
Here we see the command not to take vengeance on your neighbor because “I am the LORD (YHWH)” We also see commands about what to do with the fruit of your fruit bearing trees in the first five years after they are planted, as well as tattoos and self-cutting, and having respect for those with grey hair.
Overall, there are many interesting laws and regulations within this chapter, most of which i haven’t even hinted at. So i recommend that you take some time and look through and read the chapter for yourself.
All of these laws, regulations, sacrifices, offerings, rules, etc. get a little tedious after a while. I’m only on Leviticus 6 (technically 7, but i’m behind a day on my postings) and the law keeps going for quite a few more chapters. So what is with all of these rules and regulations? It’s almost brutal trying to get through it all. I remember reading the Bible through in a year and reading four chapters a day, and this was still pretty brutal to get through. Now doing one per day, that’s something else entirely.
However, what i am beginning to understand is that these rules, regulations, sacrifices, etc. are not about doing the perfect thing so much as about worship. These rules, laws, sacrifices, etc. are in place to let / help us worship YHWH. They allowed the Israelites to connect to and worship the God that they had sought and pursued for so many years. It is a promise fulfilled. The people now know, not only who to worship, but how. It’s a chance to connect and relate to the one who has directed them in both troubles and good times. They now have the ability to be the men and women that they have been working to become. This is not about sacrifices, this is about seeking out and worshiping the true God! This is how it needs to be done… to allow the people to pursue that relationship with YHWH.
So YHWH finishes giving the people His first set of instructions. They have heard His Decalogue and His various other commands, so now we get to see their response to this sampling of the laws. God starts out by telling Moses and the leaders of Israel to come up to worship Him, but before that happens Moses wants to make sure that the people understand what is expected of them. He doesn’t want them rebelling as soon as Moses and the leaders go up the mountain or anything.
So Moses starts out by recounting to the people what YHWH expects of them. YHWH told them once, now Moses tells them again. The people respond that they will listen, and they will obey. Great! Now Moses and the people sacrifice to the LORD, and Moses sets up 12 pillars to represent the 12 tribes. Then for good measure, he takes the evening / night to write down the covenant and instructions that God has given to him and the people. Then, to MAKE SURE that the people know and are aware of YHWH’s instructions, he reads the book of the covenant to the people!
Don’t you think that that’s a little overkill! I mean come on! They heard it from God Himself, then Moses reminds them of what they have already heard and agreed to, so they confirmed it to him again. Then after worshiping and sacrificing to the LORD…THEIR GOD, Moses wrote it all down and read it back to them the very next day! I mean come on Moses, didn’t they already agree to this TWICE! I mean honestly, what do you think is going to happen here? Do you think you will go up the mountain with the leaders and the people will forget everything that has happened and everything that they have sworn to do!?! Give it a rest already!
So now Moses and the leaders go up. The leaders actually see YHWH, the God of Israel! Wow! I mean, WOW! To see the LORD in all His glory! Now that is a life changing experience! Isn’t it!?! No man can see that and ever rebel or fall away… can he?
How many of us desire to see God? How many of us think that if we just see Him perform a miracle or see just a part of His glory it will change who we are and how we live the rest of our lives? He is The Living God after all. Is that enough?
This chapter seems to have quite a few miscellaneous justice and balance regulations. I was going to say that they are oppression and mistreatment laws, but then i realized that they are not rules to tell people not to do something so much as they are regulations to help you live in justice and balance. Here are some examples. Do not pervert justice. Don’t take bribes. Take care of your enemy’s beasts even if your enemy isn’t willing to take care of them himself. Work six days and make sure you rest on the seventh. Plant for 6 years but let your fields go fallow for the seventh.
Then YHWH goes into our responsibility to honor and celebrate Him. Three times per year the people are to get together and celebrate feasts to God. Offer sacrifices with unleavened bread, not leavened, and bring your first fruits into the house of the LORD. It’s all about recognizing and honoring Him above all.
Finally, YHWH talks about what He will do. He will send an angel to guide and direct them. He will bring terror of them on their enemies. He will bless the land and the people. He will drive their enemies out ahead of them… not all at once, so that the land is not overrun by wild beasts. But the people MUST make sure that they do not pursue the false gods of the people of the land.
Overall, i don’t see an overarching theme that describes / covers the entire chapter, but these concepts need to be understood and applied to fully honor God.
We are coming to the end of the beginning. Israel is dying and Joseph is bringing his sons to Israel so that he can bless them. Israel does something unexpected. He tells Joseph that Joseph’s sons do not belong to him. Israel is taking Manasseh & Ephraim and claiming them as his own. Joseph can claim any others that come after them, but these two are his.
Then Israel goes to bless them. Joseph puts Manasseh (the elder) at Israel’s right hand, and Ephraim at Israel’s left. So Israel goes to bless them and he crosses his hands and places his right hand on Ephraim giving him the blessing of the elder while Manasseh gets the lesser blessing.
God does that sometimes. He sets up certain expectations and standards of His own actions and behaviors and of ours. Then He goes ahead and breaks those expectations as if they don’t really matter. Go figure, the God who sets the expectations can rearrange them as He sees fit. 🙂 God blesses / favors him who he wishes to bless / favor, and curses him who he wishes to curse.
Does that mean that we can do the same thing? I would say, absolutely positively, without a doubt, usually not. God puts his rules and expectations into place for specific reasons, they are important and when we ignore them it means trouble (…the rules serve the reasons). However, the purposes and reasons extend beyond the rules.
So when God chooses to bless His favored over the expectations of society and the individual, that is a choice He is free to make.