Yeshua’s Atonement

There is a danger of having no regard for Yeshua’s identity or for His atonement. The danger is eventually being cast into the lake of fire. Very few really want to go there.

To capture both of the concepts of regarding Yeshua’s identity and His atonement, let’s look at Colossians 1:13-23 while taking a few tangents along the way.

Colossians 1:13 says, “He (the Father) has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Yeshua), 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

What exactly is the power of darkness that the Father has delivered us from? Ephesians 2:2 indicates it’s this world; more specifically, it the prince of the power of the air which is a spirit that works in the children of disobedience. Acts 26:18 refers to it as the power of Satan. When we serve the power of the world, we have no regard for Yeshua; but, we can change our minds. As we start to have regard for (respectfully fear) who Yeshua is and what He has done for us, and begin to obey His commandments (repent), we are ushered into Yeshua’s kingdom.

This deliverance from bondage to sin was not possible without redemption; a price had to be paid for our iniquities. The Greek word for redemption is apolutrosis; it means liberation that was obtained by a paid ransom. In this case, the ransom was paid with Yeshua’s blood.

Yeshua was also a propitiation; that’s something that is used to make someone less angry with us when we’ve offended them. First John 2:2 says that the Messiah was the propitiation (hilasmos) for our sins and for the whole world. First John 4:10 says that God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins because of His love for us. We need to be extremely grateful He was willing to do this for us. We need to love Him since He first loved us and we need to demonstrate that by obeying His commandments.

The Father has accepted Yeshua’s offering as a ransom for our redemption and as a propitiation for our sins. Once atonement (reconciliation) was made by Yeshua, God responded by forgiving our sins. We still need to make reparations when applicable because that’s our part of the atonement process. The Greek word for forgiveness is aphesis; it means to release or pardon.  That’s what we need to do when we forgive others; this is part of the reconciliation process.

Some people may wonder why Yeshua’s death was even necessary. We must understand Isaiah 59:2. It says, But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.” Sin separates us from God; this is not a New Testament concept. Originally, this verse referred to God’s people in Isaiah’s day but it applies to us as well because according to Romans 3:23, no one is without sin. Our sins don’t go away just because we start obeying God’s commandments. We need to have those sins removed or at least covered in order for reconciliation to take place. The latter was what the Levitical offerings were for; they also pointed to Yeshua who would be the Passover Lamb that would continually take away (present participle) the sin of the world (John 1:29). It is probably true to say that the reason the Levitical offerings will be made during the millennial reign of Messiah is to look back in gratefulness for the atonement Messiah made for us.

During Messiah’s millennial reign, Satan will be a prisoner in the abyss; his final destruction will come much later. Unfortunately, the Levitical offerings did not stop the power of the devil which is still at work in this world today. Hebrews 2:14-18 explains: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Yeshua) Himself likewise shared in the same [by taking on human flesh], that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham. 17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren [by taking on human flesh], that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” When propitiation was made, God’s anger was appeased. Yeshua’s death makes it possible for Satan to eventually be destroyed. We are still waiting for all of Yeshua’s enemies, including death, to be put under His feet. A spiritual battle is still being waged in the spiritual and physical realms; meanwhile, Yeshua is in heaven officiating as our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.

No ordinary man could pay the ransom for our redemption and be the propitiation for our iniquities; all mankind is sinful and is not qualified to do these things. Only Yeshua’s blood was suitable for atonement because He was without sin or blemish (Hebrews 4:15). He had to be without sin because all animal sacrifices had to be without blemish; offerings with blemishes were an abomination to God (Deuteronomy 17:1).

Isaiah 53:6-9 prophesied: “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord [Yehovah] has laid on Him [Yeshua] the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked — But with the rich at His death.” This verse shows us that it was God’s plan for Yeshua to be a substitutionary sacrifice long before Yeshua was born. When the time came, He did not defend Himself. He was scourged, spit on, and mocked. A crown of thorns was forced down on his head. He was nailed to a tree; once He died, His body was thrust through with a spear so that blood and water poured to the ground at the base of the tree. He died with robbers, but was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.

Yeshua was slain from the foundation of the world in the heavenly realm. I believe atonement was accomplished there for all mankind.  Although His blood was not applied to the actual earthly altar when He died on the cross, the Levitical patterns He fulfilled in the earthly realm still have significance. We need time and insight to understand all of these things better.

Yeshua fulfilled the typology of the Levitical offerings which atone and/or cleanse those who trust in Him:

  • Passover Lamb
  • Sin Offering
  • Guilt Offering
  • Burnt Offering
  • Peace Offering
  • Grain Offering
  • Red Heifer
  • Birds of the Purification Ritual
  • Offerings of the Day of Atonements

Many people will say that Yehovah did not really delight in the sacrificial system that He had established. Their thinking is based on Isaiah 1:11. It says, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?” Says the Lord. “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats.” Their thinking is warped because they fail to see the context found in Isaiah 1:1-20. The sacrifices, incense, and sacred assemblies/feasts of God’s people troubled Him because of the peoples’ iniquities. Yehovah wanted to hide His eyes from them and not listen to them. He told them to cleanse themselves spiritually; He wanted them to stop doing evil; rebuke the oppressor; learn to do good; defend the fatherless; plead for the widow; and seek justice. These represent the weightier matters of Torah.

The Levitical offerings were part of God’s plan, but they had to be accompanied by repentance; and reparations were expected to accompany the guilt offerings. Today, we must repent (turn back to and obey God’s commandments), offer appropriate reparations for our trespasses, and trust in the atonement that Yeshua’s offering provided.

Some people may wonder if there is any other evidence in the Tanach that suggests the Messiah would provide atonement for His people. I believe so! Daniel 9:24 is known as the prophecy of the 70 weeks (shavuiym). It is a prophecy of the coming of Messiah the Prince. One of the things He was supposed to do was make reconciliation for iniquity; blood atonement is the only way to do that. Yeshua offered expiation (made atonement) by offering His lifeblood for us; His blood was shed on the Preparation Day of the Passover in a couple of ways:

  • John 19:1-2 – when Yeshua was scourged, and when a crown of thorns was put on His head.
  • John 19:34 – when blood and water flowed from Yeshua’s body when a soldier pierced His side with a spear.

Typologically speaking, the offering of Isaac by Abraham also pictured the substitutionary sacrifice of Yeshua. In addition, Elijah’s battle of the bulls on Mount Carmel was also a veiled indication of Yeshua’s death. Yeshua was represented by the bull which was killed by the priests of Baal, but whose flesh was not consumed. The bull which was killed, cut up by Elijah, and consumed by Yehovah’s fire, was a picture of the Beast of Revelation being killed and cast into the lake of fire. This dual action is typical of the typological significance of the various Levitical offerings.  The account of Phineas in Numbers 25 is also a shadow of the results of Yeshua’s stonement: the new covenant (covenant of peace), Yeshua’s everlasting priesthood, and being thrust through by spear in order to stop the power of death.

I can’t stress enough that blood atonement was the primary way to appease the Father because this was the method that Yehovah set forth from the beginning. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” This is evident as early as in the Garden of Eden when God killed an animal and used the skins as a covering for Adam and Eve. After that, we see evidence in Scripture of using offerings before approaching God long before the book of Leviticus was written.

Yehovah accepted blood as an atonement for sin because of His grace (chesed). Proverbs 16:6 says, “In mercy (chesed) and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the Lord one departs from evil.” Once atonement/appeasement is made (kaphar), we must not use it as a license to continue to sin. We must have regard for Yeshua and do our best to be obedient to God’s commandments.

Now that we’ve looked at atonement, let’s go back to our passage in Colossians 1 to take a closer look at who Yeshua is. Verse 15 says, “He (Yeshua) is the image of the invisible God (the Father), the firstborn over all creation.” Here we see the pre-existence of Yeshua; He existed before His human birth.

Verse 16 says, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him (see also Philip. 2:13). 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Yeshua pre-existed creation; He had the authority to create everything including powers with various kinds of authority. Everything was created for His pleasure.

How would you feel if what you created did not bring you the pleasure you intended? To bring it closer to home, how do you feel when your rebellious teenagers are disrespectful and have no regard for you? You probably desire them to be more like they were when they were younger; they were probably more obedient then, and had love and respect for you.  Imagine how Yeshua feels about us.

Verse 18: And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (proteuo = the first place). Considering what Yeshua has done for us, He deserves the preeminence! Love and respect should come with that!

Verse 19: “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood (atonement) of His cross.” Yeshua’s fleshly body was like a full body suit that the Father could inhabit and use to interact with creation. It was a way He could reach out and say, “Come now, and let us reason together…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow…if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword (Isaiah 1:18-20).” Don’t you want to say this to your rebellious teenagers so they might choose to be reconciled to you? This is how God feels. He’s gone the extra mile to make reconciliation happen by providing atonement for sin.

Verse 21-23: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled (atoned) 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight — 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”  Yeshua’s goal is for us to be reconciled with the Father so He can present us as an offering without blemish to the Father. The circumstances we face in our life are another means by which God is perfecting us; this is separate from salvation.

As we walk the path set before us, we need to yield to the will of the Father; be faithful; stand firm in the Word of God; and never commit apostasy. We need to always have regard for Yeshua, for who He was, is, and will be. We must not continue to sin in an effort to make grace abound; it’s not going to happen. Instead, we need to walk in newness of life so we can be made perfect.

Will you do that?

My blessing for you: “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11)

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The Danger of False Witness

Exodus 20:16 and Deuteronomy 19:16 both say: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

When we think of false witness, several events in Scripture should come to mind:

  • Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of rape (Genesis 39);
  • Many people bore false witness against Yeshua (Mark 14:55-59);
  • Many people bore false witness against Stephen saying he spoke blasphemous words against Moses and God, and against the holy place and the law (Acts 6:8-15);
  • Paul was falsely accused of teaching the Jews to forsake Moses, not to circumcise their children, and not to walk according to the customs despite the fact he walked orderly and kept the law (Acts 21:20-24).

The results of false witness in these Scriptural accounts were terrible. Joseph and Paul were put in jail, and Yeshua and Stephen were put to death. I think the serious consequences of false witness for the victim are why we are commanded not to commit false witness.

As these men discovered, there is practically nothing you can do to convince anyone that false witness has taken place. A victim of false witness is helpless and indefensible; they feel hopeless and often do not have any recourse unless they have a provable alibi or unless what they did can be interpreted differently. Defending oneself against false witnesses is often dependent on what one is accused of in the first place as well as the type of evidence presented. Often, a person is considered guilty unless he can find a way to prove himself innocent.  It should be the other way around.

In Joseph’s case, the evidence was against him. Potiphar’s wife had his garment and the men in the house probably heard her scream. Circumstantial evidence was against him and it was believable. It was her word against Joseph’s. Despite the righteous life Joseph lived, the people listened to the lie of Potiphar’s wife and assumed she was telling the truth. Proverbs 25:18 says, “A man who bears false witness against his neighbor is like a club, a sword, and a sharp arrow.” I’m sure Joseph felt the enormous pain of that blow for years to come while he was in prison.

I often wonder why God allowed this to happen to Joseph; I’m sure he wondered the same thing. I’ve come to the conclusion that it was because parts of Joseph’s life were intended to be a type of Yeshua who was also falsely accused of something. It was also a trial that was used to shape Joseph into what YHVH wanted him to be. This does not mean that YHVH approved of the false witness; on the contrary, He always hates lying lips no matter the reason.

As we’ve seen above, sometimes false witness is very deliberate; other times false witness is a result of misinterpreting reality. The false witnesses against Joseph, Yeshua, and Stephen were very deliberate. The false witness against Paul could have been deliberate and/or a result of misinterpreting reality. The problem with Paul is that the false witness against him was not short lived; it has been passed down for hundreds of years primarily because we’ve lacked information about the culture of the day and we’ve listened to the lessons we’ve been fed without investigating the teachings of the church. People are finally waking up to reality, trying to learn and understand the culture of Paul’s time, and seeing that Paul’s writings have been misunderstood and misinterpreted. This shows us just how long lasting the effects of false witnesses can be. This is another reason false witness should be detected and dealt with.

Let’s explore this idea of false witness that is the result of a misunderstanding or a misinterpretation of a situation. I recall an episode from “Little House on the Prairie” called “The Monster of Walnut Grove” that aired on TV in 1976 ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0633110/ ). On a Halloween eve, when Laura was still a child, she was outside the window at the Oleson’s place. Mr. Oleson was playing with his sword in the house while he was talking; all of a sudden he chopped off the head of a mannequin with his sword. Unknown to Mr. Oleson, Laura was listening and watching. If memory serves me correctly, the view of the room Laura had was through a drawn curtain with a lamp and the mannequin situated in front of the window. Based on what she saw, Laura assumed Mr. Oleson had killed his wife. The next morning, Mrs. Oleson went out of town. Laura eventually tried to convince a few of the other children that she had seen Mr. Oleson kill his wife. Fortunately, Mrs. Oleson finally came home proving she was very much alive. At the end of the show, Mr. Oleson had enough sense to explain himself and show her the mannequin so Laura could understand what had really happened. If you want a good laugh, be sure to watch the episode on-line.

This was a very laughable episode yet what if an event in real life is misinterpreted when someone’s reputation is on the line? Recall that Laura definitely saw something, but how she interpreted what she saw was not reality. She bore false witness based on what she thought she saw; this is still slander. Slander is very serious. In this episode, should Mr. Oleson have borne the blame for Laura misinterpreting what she saw? No. Likewise, in situations today, a teaching moment should take place to explain that things are not always as they appear; the victim of false witness should not be blamed for someone’s incorrect perception. People, especially children, need to learn that we often mistakenly interpret reality based on our cultural backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs, and that if we are to get along with others, we need to understand and be careful of that.  We need to give people the benefit of the doubt and understand that most people are not even aware that their behavior is being misinterpreted unless an issue is made of the situation.

Have you ever seen or heard anything in your inter-personal relationships that could have been improperly interpreted? I think we all have. We often misinterpret body language and what people say for various reasons; sometimes we are actively looking for a problem that doesn’t even exist in another person. We improperly believe people don’t change; we believe, once a _____, always a _____. We interpret how a person behaves based on our beliefs about them. We also read body language, speak, and hear others through the lens of our own cultural backgrounds; personal experiences; and our moral and/or religious beliefs and values without taking into account those same but different things in other people. Because of this, we don’t always connect with people accurately and serious false witness or slander can be a result of that. We often fail to connect because despite the accused explaining their backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs, we reject that vital information and continue to process the event through our own lens of reality. We’ve got to get past that.  We also need to realize this sort of thing is an unfortunate part of life that is not 100% controllable.

Committing deliberate false witness is 100% avoidable, but as I’ve demonstrated, inadvertent false witness is a bit more difficult to avoid. Sometimes we need to give people the benefit of the doubt when the evidence is based on things that could be possibly misinterpreted or when the evidence really is not as sufficient as we think at first. We may need to seek clarification and start listening and believing the accused; more evidence may need to be required before passing judgment on someone.

Consider Deuteronomy 19:16-20: “If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, 17 then both men in the controversy shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. 18 And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, 19 then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.”

Any person who has witnesses against him should be allowed to face these witnesses to fully know the charges against him so that an adequate defense or explanation, and investigation can be made. If the evidence is only circumstantial and can be interpreted in more than one way, doubt should dismiss all witnesses until more definitive evidence can be brought forth.  Two or three witnesses are not always sufficient if their interpretation of the situation is not completely based on reality or if they share a world view different from the victim.  Often times, only YHVH can see the true heart of the victim; false witnesses based on faulty perceptions can improperly interpret that.

The reason we need to be so careful in judging testimony against others is because the damage of a false witness is so bad that Proverbs 6:16-19 lists it as one of the seven abominations that YHVH hates. In fact, Proverbs 19:5, 9 and 21:28 says a false witness will not go unpunished; he will perish.

Proverbs 12:17,20 says, “He who speaks truth declares righteousness, But a false witness, deceit. 18 There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, But the tongue of the wise promotes health. 19 The truthful lip shall be established forever, But a lying tongue is but for a moment. 20 Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, But counselors of peace have joy.”

We need to pursue truth and righteousness which lead to life, peace, and joy while avoiding false witness and deceit which is in the heart of those who are evil.

If it’s possible that you have misinterpreted an event you have witnessed and thereby caused emotional pain and suffering to another individual as a result of it, go and make things right.  If it’s possible that you have listened to and believed this kind of false witness, go to the victim and try to make things right.  The victim of false witness has that against you.  Remember Matthew 5:23-24:  “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

Transmission of Ritual Contamination

Leviticus 11 begins by describing the dietary laws (laws of kashrut):

  • Meat of animals that don’t chew the cud and/or those without split hooves are unclean.
  • Sea creatures without fins and scales are abominations.
  • Unclean birds are abominations.
  • Flying insects that do not have jointed legs and that creep on all four legs are abominations. 

Shortly after explaining the basic dietary laws for meat, fish, birds, and flying insects, Scripture discusses the transmission of tumah (ritual uncleanness).  Most people consider the idea that ritual uncleanness can be transmitted as being completely bogus but it’s not.  This should not surprise us because God’s people can contract various spiritual forms of uncleanness by associating with those who are wicked.  Let’s see how ritual contamination can really happen and what it represents.  Please remember not to cast aside the original commandments concerning literal situations and embrace only the spiritual application.

Leviticus 11:24-38 – Dead non-kosher creatures transmit contamination

“By these you shall become unclean; whoever touches the carcass of any of them shall be unclean until evening; 25 whoever carries part of the carcass of any of them shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening: 26 The carcass of any animal which divides the foot, but is not cloven-hoofed or does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. Everyone who touches it shall be unclean. 27 And whatever goes on its paws, among all kinds of animals that go on all fours, those are unclean to you. Whoever touches any such carcass shall be unclean until evening. 28 Whoever carries any such carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. It is unclean to you. 29 ‘These also shall be unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth: the mole, the mouse, and the large lizard after its kind; 30 the gecko, the monitor lizard, the sand reptile, the sand lizard, and the chameleon. 31 These are unclean to you among all that creep. Whoever touches them when they are dead shall be unclean until evening. 32  Anything on which any of them falls, when they are dead shall be unclean, whether it is any item of wood or clothing or skin or sack, whatever item it is, in which any work is done, it must be put in water. And it shall be unclean until evening; then it shall be clean. 33 Any earthen vessel into which any of them falls you shall break; and whatever is in it shall be unclean: 34 in such a vessel, any edible food upon which water falls becomes unclean, and any drink that may be drunk from it becomes unclean.   35 And everything on which a part of any such carcass falls shall be unclean; whether it is an oven or cooking stove, it shall be broken down; for they are unclean, and shall be unclean to you. 36 Nevertheless a spring or a cistern, in which there is plenty of water, shall be clean, but whatever touches any such carcass becomes unclean. 37 And if a part of any such carcass falls on any planting seed which is to be sown, it remains clean. 38 But if water is put on the seed, and if a part of any such carcass falls on it, it becomes unclean to you.”

Basically, if you physically touch the dead carcass of any non-kosher creatures you will be unclean until evening.  You must wash your clothes and be unclean until evening.  Touching a living non-kosher creature does not transmit uncleanness.  Dead creeping things transmit contamination to things in which any work is done when they fall and come in contact with those things.  Uncleanness can be removed from work related items such as wood, clothing, skins, or sacks by washing them with water and waiting for evening to come.   

When God’s people are in the workplace, they often work with ungodly people who can influence them to sin.  Fortunately, they can be cleansed by going to Jesus, the Living Water.

Earthen vessels such as pottery, ovens, and cooking stoves are an exception to ritually cleansable work related items and must be destroyed.  Any food or drink that is in them will become unclean.  These items must somehow retain an unclean condition to the point they are not cleansable. 

This kind of unclean condition might compare with someone like the Pharaoh who had no regard for Joseph.  His spiritual condition was so bad that God hardened his heart and set him aside for destruction.   He was so unclean, he was no longer cleansable.  Sometimes our work situation may be so bad that the only way we can escape the evil influences around us is to quit and find another job.  It’s better to do that than wake up one day to discover we are in the same condition as a broken clay pot.

As we thoroughly wash ourselves daily in the Word of God and fellowship with other believers, we can remain clean.  We just need to remember not to come in contact with that which is unclean.

A dry seed does not become clean if the carcass of a creeping thing falls on it but if it falls on a seed that is already wet, it becomes unclean.  What can we learn from this commandment other than its literal meaning?  A non-Christian (dry seed) doesn’t normally become a Christian (clean) when he associates with other non-Christians (dead creeping thing).  A Christian is someone who has been washed by Living Water yet by regularly and intimately associating with those who are non-Christians, he can be spiritually affected by it and become unclean.  He must confess his sin in order to be forgiven and cleansed of unrighteousness.

Leviticus 11:39-40 – Dead kosher animals transmit contamination

“And if any animal which you may eat dies, he who touches its carcass shall be unclean until evening. 40 He who eats of its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. He also who carries its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening.”

This commandment refers to contact with dead kosher animals that die by a means other than slaughter.  Note these animals do not transmit a more extensive rule of uncleanness.

Leviticus 11:41-47 – The point/goal of the laws of kashrut:

A  “And every creeping thing that creeps on the earth shall be an abomination.  It shall not be eaten. 42 Whatever crawls on its belly, whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet among all creeping things that creep on the earth — these you shall not eat, for they are an abomination.  43 You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps; nor shall you make yourselves unclean with them, lest you be defiled by them.

B – 44 For I am the Lord your God.  You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.

C – Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth.

B’– 45 For I am the Lord who brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God.  You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.

A’ 46 ‘This is the law of the animals and the birds and every living creature that moves in the waters, and of every creature that creeps on the earth, 47 to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, and between the animal that may be eaten and the animal that may not be eaten.’”

The Lord brought the children of Israel out of Egypt to be their God.  He intended for them to remain separate from the Canaanites in the Promised Land.  The command of what not to eat [labeled “C“ – “Neither shall you defile yourselves with any creeping thing that creeps on the earth” is repeatedly emphasized by being surrounded by the message [labeled “B” and “B’”] to be holy because He is holy.  This kind of literary structure is known as a chiasm or chiastic structure.  Statement “C” is the center and emphasis of this chiastic structure.  The Bible is full of these kinds of literary structures.  Chiasms can also be embedded within larger chiastic structures.  In this particular chiasm, God stressed the need for His people to distinguish between the clean and the unclean and between what could and couldn’t be eaten because those who are holy can become defiled by eating certain things.     

The idea that certain animals are unclean while others are clean is very strange to many of us but this is what God taught His people.  Another idea that seems strange to us is that certain animals and objects can receive and/or transmit tumah (ritual contamination).  This is not the same as transmitting disease caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses.  God was using these commandments to teach His people something very important. 

Let’s consider what the Lord said through Haggai to His people who had returned from the exile to see what that might be.  At this point in time, the Lord was commanding the remnant to build the second temple.

Haggai 2:10-20 says, “On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 11 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Now, ask the priests concerning the law, saying, 12 “If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?”’ “Then the priests answered and said, “No.” 13 And Haggai said, “If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?” So the priests answered and said, “It shall be unclean.”  14 Then Haggai answered and said, “’So is this people, and so is this nation before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. 15 ‘And now, carefully consider from this day forward: from before stone was laid upon stone in the temple of the Lord —  16 since those days, when one came to a heap of twenty ephahs, there were but ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty baths from the press, there were but twenty. 17 I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,’ says the Lord. 18 ‘Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid — consider it: 19 Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day I will bless you.’”

God’s people were supposed to be holy.  They had become unclean by their association with the people and gods of Canaan (Promised Land).  God’s people had not been able to transmit their holiness to the people who they were supposed to have eventually driven out of the land.  Instead they had become defiled.  Now that God’s people were back in the land, they wanted to make sure that they weren’t exiled again.  The remnant created many oral traditions during the second temple period in order to build a fence around the law to accomplish this goal.  Expecting everyone to obey all of the oral traditions eventually created a burden that was too great for the people to bear.

We need to stick to the basic laws that were originally given and just do what was commanded in the first place.  Paul reminds us what the Lord said in 2 Corinthians 6:17-7:1: Therefore “Come out from among them [unbelievers] And be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”  18 ‘I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” 7 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”

This verse commands us not to touch unclean things and indicates that there are things that can contaminate both body and spirit!  In today’s church communities we always emphasize keeping our spirits clean from things like greed, malice, jealousy, and bitterness but don’t bother to think much about keeping our physical bodies from becoming contaminated too.  We need to stop this and be vigilant about keeping both our bodies and spirits from becoming defiled with various abominations in order to be holy as the Lord desires.  As we do this, we will experience the blessing of the Lord instead of curses.

Tzara’at or Leprosy

We are about to discuss what many consider to be a complicated topic called tzara’at.  The main reason this can be hard for the average person to properly understand is because there are several Hebrew terms in the Biblical text that have no adequate English translation.  Do not be discouraged by these foreign terms.  Endure to the end, I’m sure you’ll be amazed.

Tzara’at is not leprosy [Hanson’s disease] as Bible translators have led us to believe.  Tzara’at is a Hebrew word in which there is no common suitable English equivalent although it is possible it is similar to a dermatological condition known as leukoderma or vitiligo when it affects a person’s skin; however, we must remember it can also affect physical objects which is why it’s also translated as mildew.

Tzara’at, contrary to popular belief, is not contagious like a communicable disease that requires isolation to prevent its spread.  This becomes evident if you carefully read the laws concerning tzara’at.  The isolation prescribed is not for medical purposes.  It was for spiritual purposes—to prevent a severe form of uncleanness from being transmitted to the temple and the people.

The Jewish Sages taught that tzara’at was primarily the result of the sin of slander because the Hebrew word metzora which is usually translated into English as leper is a contraction for the Hebrew word which means “one who spreads slander.”  This is why Moses’ sister, Miriam was briefly struck with tzara’at.  Tzara’at was also considered to be the result of other trespasses as well.  It’s fair to say that tzara’at is a physical condition of a spiritual problem.

Leviticus 13:1-4 says:   And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying:  “When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling [s’et], a scab [sapachas], or a bright spot [baheret], and it becomes on the skin of his body like a leprous sore [nega tzara’at], then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests.  The priest shall examine the sore [nega] on the skin of the body; and if the hair on the sore has turned white, and the sore appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is a leprous sore. Then the priest shall examine him, and pronounce him unclean.

Note the three Hebrew words s’et, sapachas, and baheret.  Two of these words are exclusively used in reference to tzara’atsapachas and baheret.  The Jewish Sages describe s’et and baheret as colors (not a swelling or bright spot) – each having its own sapachas (secondary category)—not a scab.  Therefore there are four colors of tzara’at that a priest must compare to healthy colored skin.  In addition, the color of hair in the afflicted areas must be checked as well.  Nega which is translated as sore can also be translated as spot, infection, wound, or plague.  The person who has been declared to be afflicted with tzara’at is called a metzora. 

To see splotchy light colored places on someone who has a naturally darker skin tone is quite shocking and turns many heads in public places.  I would not know for sure if these areas of skin which may have been once normal and suddenly lacking in pigment are truly tzara’at or not but I suspect that they are.

The following portions of Scripture are straightforward; however, I will try to share some things I feel will enhance our understanding.

Baheres—Leviticus 13:4-8

The isolated person is automatically tamei (unclean) since he’s required to ritually immerse (wash) himself despite the fact he isn’t yet declared to be a metzora.  To be tzara’at, the skin and hair must be white and the affliction must appear to be deeper than the skin.  If it isn’t obvious, the person must be isolated for seven days to determine if the affliction is a healing sore or tzara’at.  This may require another seven days if the identification of the affliction still isn’t clear.

S’et – Leviticus 13:9-17

If the affliction of tzara’at completely covers the person from head to toe, he is declared taher (clean) but if he begins to heal, he is once again declared tamei (unclean).  This is one reason why tzara’at is not considered a true communicable disease.  

Tzara’at on Inflammations – Leviticus 13:18-23

Most translations use the term “boil” for the Hebrew word sh’chiyn.  This could also be translated as an inflammation.  No matter what caused the boil or inflammation, once the wound is healed, if it appears to have a white s’et or baheret, it needs to be evaluated for tzara’at.

Burns – Leviticus 13:24-28

Any burn that has healed and has a white baheret that is streaked red or is all white needs to be evaluated for tzara’at.

Tzara’at of head or face – Leviticus 13:29-39

An affliction of tzara’at of the head or beard is called a netek which is often translated into English as a scaly leprosy, an itch, a scale, a scall, or dry scall.  Again, we have a word in Hebrew that has no English equivalent.  If golden yellow hair grows in an area of the head or face where hair would normally grow, then it is considered tzara’at.   Other areas of flesh require white hair in order to be declared tzara’at.

Baldness at the front and back of the head –Leviticus 13:40-44

A person with normal baldness may be found to have a s’et affliction that is white with a red streak that needs to be evaluated for tzara’at.

Isolation of Metzora – Leviticus 13:45-46

“Everyone who has tzara‘at sores is to wear torn clothes and unbound hair, cover his upper lip and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’  As long as he has sores, he will be unclean; since he is unclean, he must live in isolation; he must live outside the camp.”   (CJB)

God commands the unclean to declare their uncleanness and live separate from His people.  Isn’t it interesting how the wicked declare their sins to the world as if they aren’t doing anything wrong and live among us in order to get us to accept their lifestyles as normal.  Their lifestyles even affect the churches despite God’s command to remain separate.

Afflictions of Clothing – Leviticus 13:47-59

This is the law concerning infections of tzara‘at in a garment of wool or linen, or in the threads or the woven-in parts, or in any leather item — when to declare it clean and when to declare it unclean.”  (CJB)

As I mentioned before, tzara’at is not mildew as our English translations suggest.  Tara’at can occur in people, be on things, or afflict dwellings.  Remember, tzara’at does not have an English equivalent. 

Tzara’at seems to be a very mysterious affliction but hopefully this next section will give us a clue regarding its true nature.

The Purification Ritual for Cleansing A Healed Metzora – Leviticus 14:1-32

Leviticus 14:1-11 begins the law for the metzora’s day of cleansing:  “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “This shall be the law of the leper for the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest. 3 And the priest shall go out of the camp, and the priest shall examine him; and indeed, if the leprosy is healed in the leper, 4 then the priest shall command to take for him who is to be cleansed two living and clean birds, cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop. 5 And the priest shall command that one of the birds be killed in an earthen vessel over running water. 6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, the cedar wood and the scarlet and the hyssop, and dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. 7 And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird loose in the open field. 8 He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent seven days. 9 But on the seventh day he shall shave all the hair off his head and his beard and his eyebrows — all his hair he shall shave off. He shall wash his clothes and wash his body in water, and he shall be clean. 10 “And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil as a grain offering, and one log of oil. 11 Then the priest who makes him clean shall present the man who is to be made clean, and those things, before the Lord, at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.”

A metzora cannot simply perform the purification ritual for cleansing from tzara’at in order to be healed.  He must first be healed by God.  The priest must come to him outside the camp to see if he has truly been healed before the purification ritual can be performed.

The Hebrew word for “clean” throughout Leviticus 14:7-11 is taher.  The Greek Septuagint uses the word “katharizo” (verb) and “katharos” (noun).  The term “clean” is repeated several times for the various stages that occur over a period of 7 days.  The Jews understand that the healed metzora experiences various degrees of contamination during the purification process.

  • First — the healed metzora can enter the camp of the Israelites.
  • Second – the person’s head, beard, and eyebrows are shaved.
  • Third – the person brings offerings but still remains only at the entrance of the Tabernacle until the sacrifices are complete.  Then he may finally enter the Tabernacle.

Luke 17:11-19 is the account of the ten lepers Jesus cleansed:  “Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed [kathariso].  15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed [iaomai], returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. 17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed [kathariso]? But where are the nine?  18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

The Hebrew word for healed is raphah.  The Greek Septuagint uses the equivalent word iaomai for “healed” in Leviticus 14:3.  Remember, God must heal a metzora and the priest must verify that healing has taken place before he can perform the purification ritual to accomplish cleansing.

This passage in Luke 17:11-19 is really an incredible story.  The ten people with tzara’at asked Jesus for mercy so He told them to go and present themselves to the priest.  As they were on their way to do so, one of them noticed he had been healed (iaomai) and returned to give thanks to Jesus.  What’s amazing here is that verse 14 says they had been cleansed (katharizo).  That’s what they were supposed to go to the priest for.

This would be as impressive as Jesus telling a crippled man that his sins were forgiven and then making it possible for him to walk again.  In both instances, Jesus addressed both the spiritual and physical condition of men.

This was a great testimony of Jesus’ identity to the priests and others who had never seen a healed metzora.  In Luke 4:27, Jesus said that during the three years of famine during Elijah’s time, only Naaman the Syrian had been cleansed (katharizo) of tzara’at even though many others were afflicted with it during that time.  I don’t know of any record of others with tzara’at being healed or cleansed other than Moses’ sister, Miriam prior to Jesus’ ministry.  Certainly, the presentation of numerous people healed of tazria caused many priests to believe Jesus was the Messiah. 

The purification ritual for the healed metzora found in Leviticus 14:1-32 has similarities to the preparation of the ashes of a red heifer that are used to purify someone from sin when they’ve come in contact with a dead body which is found in Numbers 19:1-22:

  • They both are performed outside the camp.
  • Both have a 7 day purification period.  On the eighth day, a new creature emerges.
  • Both use cedar wood, hyssop, scarlet yarn, blood, and water as part of the purification ritual. 

If we compare these elements to Jesus, the cedar wood is a reminder of the wooden cross that Jesus died on and the scarlet yarn is a reminder of sin.  Hyssop is a reminder of how the blood was applied to the lintels and doorposts of the Hebrews’ houses prior to the Passover and a reminder of David saying, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51:7)  Blood and water is a reminder of the birth of a baby and also a reminder of the blood and water that flowed out of Jesus’ side when He was pierced by a soldier after his death (John 19:34).  It also reminds me of Zechariah 13:1 which says, “In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”  Hebrews 9:18-22 explains, “This is why the first covenant too was inaugurated with blood. After Moshe [Moses] had proclaimed every command of the Torah to all the people, he took the blood of the calves with some water and used scarlet wool and hyssop to sprinkle both the scroll itself and all the people; and he said, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has ordained for you.”   Likewise, he sprinkled with the blood both the Tent and all the things used in its ceremonies. In fact, according to the Torah, almost everything is purified with blood; indeed, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”  (CJB)    

The purification ritual for the healed metzora found in Leviticus 14:1-32 also has similarities with the person who has made a Nazirite vow but became defiled due to contact with a dead body:

  • Both have to shave hair off their heads on the seventh day—the day of their cleansing.
  • They both have to offer a sin offering, a burnt offering, and a trespass offering. 

The purification ritual for the healed metzora found in Leviticus 14:1-32 has similarities with the consecration of a priest described in Leviticus 8:19-21 because blood from the offering was applied to the right ear, right thumb, and right big toe.   This leads me to believe that as a metzora is cleansed, he is consecrated to God.

Being a metzora and contact with a dead body show us the most severe forms of uncleanness because they require a purification ritual that pictures death, rebirth, and/or resurrection.  All other less severe forms of uncleanness require immersion in a baptismal pool (mikveh=ritual bath) and time passing until evening.

Someone who has never trusted Jesus as their Savior is as spiritually dead as a metzora who still walks the earth.  They are defiled and unclean.  They need the atonement and forgiveness of sin that Jesus’ blood offers and they need their sins taken away.  They need to be cleansed by the blood and water of Jesus’ sacrifice.  Aren’t you glad 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us [katharizo]  from all unrighteousness”?  Once our sin is atoned and forgiven and once we are clean, we can be consecrated to the Lord for ministry!

The Woman’s Purification After Childbirth

Women contract tumah (ritual contamination) through childbirth.  The time period of the woman’s purification after childbirth differs and is based on the sex of the child as explained in Leviticus 12:1-8:

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean. 3 And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days. She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled. 5 ‘But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her customary impurity, and she shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days. 6 ‘When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Then he shall offer it before the Lord, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female. 8 ‘And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons — one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”

Mary obeyed this command after Jesus was born in Luke 2:21-25:  “And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.  Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”“ 

Here we see that Jesus was named on the day of His circumcision but they did not offer sacrifices until the days of Mary’s impurity were completed.  This was to fulfill the commandment of God.  At this time, Simeon saw and blessed Jesus in addition to saying Jesus was the Lord’s salvation, the glory of the people of Israel, and a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles.  The prophetess, Anna also saw Jesus, thanked the Lord, and talked about Jesus to those who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem.

There’s still more for us to learn about the time of ritual contamination after childbirth.  Let’s see what else can be revealed by comparing the command for women who give birth to a male child to the law of the Nazirite vow and to parts of Jesus’ life since all three have the common theme of “separation.”

Leviticus 12 explains that women who gives birth to a male child shall be contaminated for 7 days as in her days of menstruation (niddah = separation from marital relations and sacred things).  Circumcision on the 8th day pictures the putting to death of the fleshly nature in order to be made clean.  The number eight is the number for new beginnings—being born again.  The new mother must be in blood of her purification for 33 days. This is basically a ceremonial purification from the blood of birth, life, and death.  During that time, she may not touch anything sacred and she’s unclean until time of purification is complete.  After the 33 days are complete, she must bring a sin offering and a whole burnt offering.  The sin-offering can be a young pigeon or a turtledove and the whole burnt offering can be a lamb or a young pigeon or a turtledove.  After that the woman can now be with her husband and enter the Tabernacle/Temple.

In general, a woman’s consecration is defiled by birth or menstruation.  Birth is a picture of death in one world (the womb) in order to be given life in new world outside the womb.  Menstruation is the result of the lost opportunity for life—defaulting in death.

Numbers 6:2-10 is the passage concerning the Nazirite.  If someone next to the Nazirite (who can be a man or woman) dies very suddenly, so that he defiles his consecrated head, then he is to shave his head on the day of his purification; he is to shave his hair off on the seventh day.  Since the Nazirite is as bald as a newborn baby, this represents a new birth.  On the 8th day he is to bring:

  • Two doves or two young pigeons – (a sin offering and a burnt offering).
  • A lamb in its first year as a guilt offering. The previous days will not be counted, because his consecration became defiled.

The Nazirite is made clean.  As long as a man or a woman consecrates himself to the Lord as a Nazirite he is to eat or drink nothing derived from the grapevine.  This is basically a ceremonial purification from the blood of grapes.  The Nazirite is not to shave his head or approach a corpse because his consecration to God is on his head.  He is to be holy for the Lord.  Once the time of his consecration is complete, he must bring the following sacrifices:

  • Sin offering:  female lamb.
  • Burnt offering:  male lamb.
  • Peace offering & grain offering is waved.
  • Drink offering.
  • Hair burned under peace offering.

Once this is done, the Nazirite is purified or clean and he may now drink wine.

Jesus experienced separation from His heavenly Father while He was on earth and was defiled as a sin offering at death.  While He is now in heaven, He is experiencing separation (time of consecration) from His bride while in heaven.  Even now, the wicked are being cut off from their people and the righteous (Christ’s bride) are putting their fleshly nature to death (circumcision of the heart).  The righteous are being purified from their uncleanness and being made holy unto the Lord.  The consecrated are offered to God as various kinds of living offerings since Jesus’ blood has made atonement for them.

In Matthew 26:29, Jesus said, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”   This is essentially the vow of a Nazirite.

The Nazirite represents Jesus, the bridegroom of all true Christians.  While Jesus was with His disciples, they enjoyed a time of personal fellowship and teaching with one another that God did not have with His people during previous times.  Before Jesus left to return to His Father in heaven, He took the vow of a Nazirite by saying He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until He drank it with them in His Father’s kingdom.  This vow represents Jesus’ separation from His bride who is still physically separated from Him on earth.  It is also how someone from another tribe can attain a similar level of consecration as that of the Levitical High Priest.  

The number of days for the purification for a male child is 33.  Thirty three is a product of three and eleven.  The number three represents that which is complete or resurrection and eleven represents the end of something such as the end of the age.  In Jesus case, He passed from death to life in three days and is alive forever.  When the Father says it is the time of the end, Jesus will return for His bride.

The woman in our passage who gives birth to a male child represents the bride of Christ.  The bride of Christ is now experiencing her time of separation from Jesus who is the bridegroom.  While the bride is waiting for Christ to return, she is being sanctified. 

The number of days for the purification of a female child is 66.  Sixty six is a product of six and eleven or three, two, and eleven.  Six is the number of imperfect man or the flesh.  The number two is the number for judging and separating.  As we said before, three represents that which is complete or resurrection and eleven represents the end of the age.  Mankind must choose to put to death the flesh in this life.  Eventually, mankind will be resurrected, judged, and separated at the end of the age.

Every time a believing woman gives birth to a child or experiences the pain associated with her monthly period, she should remain separate from her husband according to God’s commandments.  She should use that time to reflect and remember that she is still physically separated from her bridegroom, Jesus Christ.  Just as a woman experiences joy when the pain of childbirth and menstruation is over and when her time of separation from her husband is past she should remember that the pain of being separated from Jesus will soon be over too and that one day she will experience the joy of being with Him face to face.

Revisiting the Ten Commandments in Leviticus

Leviticus 19 has several similarities with the Ten Commandments.  Some commands concern worshiping God and others concern our relationship with those around us.

As chapter 19 begins, we are reminded to be holy because God is holy, to keep the Sabbaths of the Lord, and to avoid idolatry.  This passage also tells us that peace offerings were to be offered in a manner in which they would be accepted.  This meant the peace offering had to be consumed within the first two days of offering it.  If any remained on the third day, it had to be burned up completely. 

The peace offering is a shadow of Jesus who was our peace offering.  Even though He was in the grave for three days and nights, His body did not decay but was raised up on the third day.  According to Revelation 20, those who are raised up in the second resurrection will be judged according to what they have done when they stand before the Lord and will never have peace with God.  Since their names will not be found in the book of life, they will be thrown in the lake of fire.

Leviticus 19:1-10 is primarily concerned with our relationship with God but a few of these commandments seem out of place.  Those few seem to only be commands for our relationships with certain people:

  • Mothers and fathers
  • The poor and the stranger

Can these two groups of people somehow be similar to our relationship with God?   I think so.  Parents are authority figures in the lives of their children.  If children can’t learn to obey and submit to their parents, they won’t be able to easily learn to obey and submit to God.  As children obey their parents, they are obeying God.

Matthew 25:37-40 also shows us a similar relationship between poor people, strangers, and God:  “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

Based on this verse, it is obvious that the way we treat others is how we treat God.

Leviticus 19:11-17 deal mainly with man’s relationship with others:  “’You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another. 12 And you shall not swear by My name falsely, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. 13 ‘You shall not cheat your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning. 14 You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the Lord. 15 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. 16 You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord. 17 ‘You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”  

Wouldn’t it be amazing if people actually took these commandments into their hearts and started obeying them?  We would have a lot less evil in the world today and more peace and harmony.  Not treating one another as we’d like to be treated breeds the desire to retaliate and seek vengeance.  Hatred and evil ends up escalating instead of dissipating. 

Leviticus 19:23-25 says, “When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. 24 But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the Lord. 25 And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am the Lord your God.”

We know from the end of Leviticus 18 that the previous inhabitants were being expelled from the land due to the abominations that they had committed and that the land was contaminated as a result of their abominations.  It’s interesting that the word “uncircumcised” is used to describe the condition of the fruit of new trees they would plant.   New trees are like newborn boys who needed to be circumcised.  Just as a certain amount of time (8 days) has to go by before the circumcision of a boy could be performed, the new fruit trees had to grow five years before their food could be removed and eaten. 

For new Christian believers, there is a time of gaining knowledge and maturity that must take place in order to adequately circumcise the heart.  Bad fruit such as sinful desires and actions must be put to death and the contaminating influence of the world around new believers must be cut off.  This is not always a pleasant experience.  Once the heart is circumcised and there are healthy and godly influences in the new believer’s life, good fruit is bound to spring forth.

Leviticus 19:26-29, 31 says, “You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying. 27 You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard. 28 You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord. 29 ‘Do not prostitute your daughter, to cause her to be a harlot, lest the land fall into harlotry, and the land become full of wickedness.  31 ‘Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.” 

 God has given us more prohibitions that are tied to demon worship or contact with the dead.  Dabbling in the occult always results in some degree of defilement whether we realize it or not.  It doesn’t matter if it is in the form of fantasy games, books, TV programs, praying to dead saints, witchcraft, pagan rituals, prostitution, or other things. 

In this day and age we are seeing more occultic input creeping into our lives than ever before.  We need to take the time to know God’s commandments concerning these things and teach our children not to get involved in these things.  We need to prevent our children’s teachers and friends from making these activities seem like normal fun topics to read about or participate in.  We need to be proactive in teaching our children to avoid the occult and to help them question things in their lives that may have occultic connections.  These things should not be exalted in our children’s lives because once occultic interests take hold, they are very difficult to remove.  Instead they often grow.

 We need to aggressively respond when we find out our children are being exposed to or have become involved in the occult.  We need to stop thinking that occultic influences are no big deal or aren’t that serious.  They are doorways that can open an entire family up for demonic attack.  We need to know how to properly respond to the forces of evil that are attacking our families today.  We must nurture our children toward salvation at an early age and keep them from backsliding.  We need to give them commands to say in the name of Jesus for times of need.  We can show them what kind of Scripture verses to read out loud if they are being harassed by the forces of darkness.  Sometimes it may be necessary to regularly anoint our children with oil in the name of Jesus in order to keep these spiritual pests away.  We should also show our children how to use praise music and prayer as weapons of warfare. 

 Some people may never face such intense spiritual battles with demons but I can assure you there are some people who are constantly and blatantly attacked with little relief because:

  • Parents don’t believe their children complaints or take them seriously.
  • Psychologists, psychiatrists, and medication can’t help demonic problems.
  • Most Christians don’t know what to do.
  • Many Christians don’t believe these are the kinds of things that should be done.
  • Christians give up.
  • Children don’t keep their parents informed of what they are going through. 

Those who are under such attack need prayer support and deliverance.  They don’t need condemnation by those who are ignorant of what they are truly facing.

 Leviticus 19:32-37 says, ‘You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.  33 ‘And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. 34 The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. 35 ‘You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume. 36 You shall have honest scales, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37 ‘Therefore you shall observe all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them: I am the Lord.’”

 We must treat the elderly with respect.  In doing so, we are respecting the Lord. These days in America we are seeing more foreigners in our midst than ever before.  They must not be taken advantage of, mistreated, or ridiculed but treated with kindness and respect as long as they are here.  However, foreigners should:

  • Be subject to all of the laws of our country because this is what God required.
  • Be punished for criminal or terrorist activity.  This makes sense because God commanded foreigners (strangers) to be subject to the same penalties of lawlessness as citizens of the land.

 As having lived overseas myself, I have been taken advantage of.  I’ve been the victim of false weights and measures.  I’ve been misled.  I’ve been the victim of attempted robbery while others looked on and encouraged it without warning me.  I’ve dealt with language barriers.  I’ve had to abide by the laws of the country I was in.  These were not always pleasant experiences and I’m grateful that God is concerned about the foreigner.  It makes me more sensitive to the foreigners in my midst.

The first time we read the Ten Commandments was in Exodus 20.  In Leviticus 19, the Ten Commandments were explained a little differently but still captured the need to worship only God and to treat others as we’d like to be treated.  In Deuteronomy 5:6-21, Moses once again repeated the Ten Commandments to the generation that would enter the Promised Land.  Even today, our generation must make it a point to know God’s commands and keep them. 

Forbidden Mixtures

Did you know God has a verse that deals with forbidden mixtures?

This only the first of many questions I’ll be asking you today.  First, let’s see the verse I’m referring to.

Leviticus 19:19 says, ‘You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you.

In addition to Leviticus 19:19, Deuteronomy 22:11 also informs us that a mixture of wool and linen is forbidden in clothing.  Have you ever wondered why?

These statutes (chuqqah = singular) seem really strange to us but that’s what statutes are.  They are commands that don’t make sense to us.  It’s quite possible the Israelites thought these statutes were bizarre as well; however, the Lord expected them to be obeyed and nothing has changed that.

What are these laws all about?  They are mysterious but I think the Bible gives us some good insight that may help us to understand them better.  These laws which were for life in the physical realm were most likely given to daily remind us of what we must do in our spiritual lives.

To understand the mysteries of these statutes, think of the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13.  Tares are weeds.  In this parable, the sower planted good seed, not mixed seed.  It was the enemy who came along and planted weeds among the wheat.  The result was the same as if the sower had planted mixed seed.  As the wheat and weeds matured, it was hard to tell them apart because they looked so similar to each other.   Instead of ruining the crop, the owner of the field told his worker to wait until the time of the harvest to separate the wheat from the weeds.

Now remember, a parable is not an allegory and we must be careful not to read more into it than is there.  A parable only has a primary meaning about the kingdom of God but there is still much we can learn from this parable and others like it.   In this case, we know that the world is the harvest, the good seeds are the people who belong to Jesus, and the bad seeds are those who belong to Satan.  At the end of the age, there will be a final separation of the wheat and the tares.  This is the basic teaching.  Let’s see what else we can learn from it.

Let me speak in similitudes.  When we plant mixed seeds in our lives, it’s as if we are planting what ended up in the field of the sower in Matthew 13.  In our case, seeds could be compared to the bad influences of the world.  As the plants grew and matured in the field of the original parable, it was difficult to tell the wheat and tares apart because they looked so much alike.  The same is true in our similitude.  If we allow the evil things of this world to influence us, no one can tell us apart from the other kinds of people in the world.

This idea is also similar to another parable.  Jesus said the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the lake or sea.  When the net was pulled in, it had good and bad fish which were separated from each other.  The good fish are comparable to clean fish or the children of God while the bad fish are comparable to unclean fish or the children of Satan.   It is relatively easy to separate the fish as long as you can discern the presence of absence of scales.  At the end of the age, how will the angels tell us apart from the wicked if we live like them?  Obviously, we’ll need to submit to God and be purified at some point in our lives.  At the end of the age, the angels will know because the children of God will be sealed but the children of Satan will have the mark of the beast.

Think about the prohibition to physically wear mixtures of linen and wool.  What kind of spiritual clothes are you wearing?  Are you spiritually dressed in fine linen, clean and white which are the righteous deeds of God’s people (Rev. 19:8) or are you a ravenous wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing (wool) like a false prophet (Matt. 7:15-16)?

Can people identify you by your fruits or is it too difficult because you’re wearing a mixture of wool and linen?  What kinds of seeds are you sowing in your life?  Can others tell if you are a child of God or child of Satan?  Are you a good fish or a bad fish?  What is your lifestyle revealing to the world?  Is what you do in the light of day the same as in the dark of night?  Are you of the world or just living in the world?  I’m asking in different ways in order to get you to repeatedly think about your lifestyle.

Let’s look at another part of Leviticus 19:19.  What happens when you interbreed livestock?  The reason people do it, is to create something with the strong qualities of both animals.  This is the same reason people mix different kinds of fibers to make durable fabric and clothing.

If you interbreed livestock, you might not get what you were hoping for.  If God had wanted what you might attempt to create, He would’ve already created it.  Do you know what happens when God’s people interbreed with the people of the world?

The answer is found in Ezekiel 22:1-22.  It explains that when God’s people participated in idolatry and didn’t love their neighbor as themselves, they eventually became like mixed alloys of metals that had to be purified.  Mixed alloys of metals can’t be easily separated.  It’s as bad as trying to separate the grains of a mixture of salt and baking soda.  Intense fire is required to separate the dross from what is pure.

From the Old Testament through the New Testament, God is telling us to remain separate from the world.  Since we’ve rebelled against God since the day we were born, the Refiner has to purify us once we come to Him in our filthy rags (hopeless condition).  This can take awhile and it can be mighty painful.

The Refiner is also the Potter.  He uses circumstances in our lives to break us down and reshape us into the vessel He originally created us to be—a vessel of honor.

Evaluate your spiritual condition.  Repent of your sins, provide restitution for your trespasses, be purified, and offer your lives in total dedication to the Lord.

If you think you’ve already done that, think again.  Come out of Babylon!  Don’t allow pagan customs and traditions to become mixed with the commands God has specifically given us in regard to pure and holy worship and daily living.  If we are to submit to the Refiner’s fire, we’re going to have to be willing to cooperate and radically excise that which has pagan roots from our daily lives and worship styles.

Obey the statutes of the Lord.  Avoiding clothing with mixtures of wool and linen is not hard.  There are plenty of other things to wear.  This is a choice we make.  It is no different from the choices we make that impact our spiritual lives.

Do not have fellowship with lawlessness.  Remember, 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 says, “Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 1 8 ‘I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.”