Leviticus 14-15: God with Us
February 20, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Leviticus 14-15; Psalm 42; Matthew 19:1-15; Acts 26:1-18
Once again we are diving into the precise regulations for maintaining healthy communal living in a tight-knit, ancient society, immersed at a time without modern medical procedures, modern plumbing or building materials, and the like. Various skin diseases could easily spread; mold in houses could easily spread; human “emissions” and bleeding could carry infection, and various laws are required.
However, what is interesting about these laws is that the grounding of them—indicated over and over again by the stipulation that sacrifices are required for the reintroduction of the unclean into the community—is that such order has a witnessing component to it. Leviticus 15:31: “Thus you shall keep the people of Israel separate from their uncleanness, lest they die in their uncleanness by defiling my tabernacle that is in their midst.” It is also worth noting, because it is frequently foolishly misunderstood, that these various cleanliness laws are not specifically targeted at females, but about men and women, even houses. They are, Leviticus 15:33, “for anyone, male or female.”
What can we learn from these rules? The same lesson we have learnt in previous weeks. Some of the details of these are lengthy and span multiple chapters, but the overarching message remains. God has set apart for himself a people for his own possession who are to be holy. And while we are no longer a nation-state religious community (we are not a “theocracy”), we as the people of God are required to live holy lives in ways that are different from those around us and so point to the dwelling of God with us.
The specifics of these laws have shifted, as Jesus declares about similar laws that all foods are now clean (Mark 7:18-19); as Peter eats with a Roman centurion (Acts 10); as Paul says abstinence from certain foods is no longer required, but nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer (1 Tim. 4:3-5). So Christian consciences are not anymore to be bound by the details of these matters. They point us instead to the freedom we have in Christ, and they remind us that as disciples of Christ we are to live overtly lives of love and holiness to indicate that God is with us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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