Leviticus 18 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
1-5 Exhortation to avoid heathen customs
6-18 Unions regarded as incestuous
19-23 Canaanite customs (sexual) to avoid
24-30 Warning of the consequences of neglecting these rules
This chapter loosely resembles the covenant-treaty form (see Ex 20)
2 Preamble: “I am the Lord Your God”
3 Historical Perspective: “Egypt, where you have been living.”
4 Basic Stipulation: “Do my laws.”
5 Blessings: “He will enjoy life.”
6-23 Detailed stipulations
Notices the repetitions and the strong polemic (strong argument against something/someone). Seven times do not be like the nations (18:3 (twice), 24, 26, 27, 29, 30); sixth time the phrase, “I am the Lord (your God) (18:2, 4, 5, 6, 21, 30).
Both of these observations are critical. We need to remember that we are called out of our culture – wherever we live and whatever country we live in and in whatever age. We must never think like, let alone act like the world. Do not love the world or the things in the world. wIf anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” I Jn 2:15. and Do not be conformed to this world . . . . (Rom 12:2). These are not just random thoughts that both John and Paul thought up but are major themes found throughout the entire Bible. These verses lay serious responsibilities on us. Think carefully about these verses in Leviticus and remember that you also live among a pagan culture. We are never to show disrespect or be unkind, but we must reject being like the world in our minds and hearts. This might be a fine distinction but an important one. This is also something that takes a lifetime to think about, recalibrate, think about again, and recalibrate once more.
Read this quote about the chapters and the judgment of God. “Hertz argues that the order of the laws in chs. 18-20 is significant. These chapters set out “the foundation principles of social morality. The first place among these is given to the institution of marriage . . . the cornerstone of all human society . . . . Any violation of the sacred character of marriage is deemed a heinous offence, calling down the punishment of Heaven both upon the offender and the society that condones the offense” (Wenham, p. 250 quoting J.H. Hertz commentary on Leviticus Oxford UP. 1932, p. 172).
Look again at the first few verses. “I am the LORD your God. 3 rYou shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and syou shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. 4 tYou shall follow my rules1 and keep my statutes and walk in them. qI am the LORD your God. 5 tYou shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; uif a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD.”
Notice the beginning and end as well as the end of verse 4 grounds the commands in who God is. This is important since who God is does not change. If these commands are established and centered on God’s character those commands will not change since God’s character does not fluctuate. He is immutable. Who God is will not and cannot change. Therefore what He approves of and what He hates will never change. Even if we do change, or if our laws change, or if we approve of changes, He does not.
This chapter is of special interest to any interested in homosexuality. You will notice the significant phrase, “I am the Lord your God” in vs. 2 and 4 which is almost identical to what we read in Ex. 20:2 and Duet 5:6 in the preamble to the 10 commandments. The sin of homosexuality is couched in a chapter where God stresses His authority and with clarity and a concise manner that leaves no doubt that God disapproves.
Let me suggest an easy-to-read book about homosexuality: What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality by Keven DeYoung. Also Robert A. J. Gagnon. The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics “By all accounts, the most comprehensive and most detailed treatment of the historic Christian position” In Kevin DeYoung’s book Annotated Bibliography.
Father, we know what happens when drive a car out of the bounds of a road or past a solid yellow line. We sometimes act like we can disobey your just and perfect law and not suffer any consequences. We can admit that we have experienced the result of our disobedience and that has been painful. Help us to see Your grace in these laws. We do not like to be told “No.” But Your protection on marriage, Your hatred of sexual abuse, and Your justice will always shine bright. Finally, help us to care enough about others to prepare ourselves to speak up and then just tell the truth. May we be motivated by Your glory and Your eternal Kingdom. In the pure name of our Lord Jesus. Amen.