Study Notes

Leviticus 19:1-20:27

19:1-2 Be Holy For I Am Holy

Holiness. What is it? To be holy is to be sanctified, set apart. Holiness means not being like the world, but being like our God. Holiness means denying the temporary pleasures of sin and investing in eternity through righteous living.

Holiness. Nobody talks much about it, for fear of being called a legalist. But God requires holiness of His people.

1Pet. 1:13-19 Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all {your} behavior; because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

God is our Father, God is our judge, God is our redeemer, and God is holy. So we also must be holy.

We've talked before about how to live a holy life. It is not in the legalism of rules and regulations, but as Paul wrote to the Corinthians,

2Cor. 7:1 ...Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

If you fear God, you will be perfecting holiness in your life.

19:3-4 Reverence Father And Mother

God begins to give them various laws that they must obey if they are to be holy. Keeping the sabbaths, not falling into idolatry - these things we have discussed in detail over the past few months. But He also says,

Lev. 19:3 'Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father...

Of course we know that the Ten Commandments include the command to honor your father and mother. Paul makes an interesting point, saying,

Eph. 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise), THAT IT MAY BE WELL WITH YOU, AND THAT YOU MAY LIVE LONG ON THE EARTH.

Colossians also says,

Col. 3:20 Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.

So obedience to parents is commanded when you are younger. But as you grow, you leave your father and mother and cleave to your spouse. Does that negate the command to honor and reverence them, however? No. Although you are no longer under their authority, you are still called to honor and reverence your parents. The word "reverence" in Hebrew is "yaw-RAY." It means to "revere, to stand in awe of, to honor, respect." We are always to respect and revere our parents.

(19:5-8) Eating Peace Offerings

These verses deal with eating the peace offering. The peace offering, as we've learned before, had to be eaten that day or the next. Anyone who ate it on the third day would become unclean and cut off from his people.

19:9-10 God's Welfare System

God instructed landowners to leave some extra in their fields and vineyards so that the needy and strangers would have a resource to eat.

Notice that they didn't have to gather it to give to the needy and strangers. God has firmly established the rule,

2Ths. 3:10 ...If anyone will not work, neither let him eat.

This law is seen in effect in the book of Ruth, when Ruth the Moabitess gleans in Boaz's field after the reapers. Boaz liked her and instructed his servants to purposely leave more than usual on the ground for her. You can read the entire story in Ruth chapter 2.

19:11-18 Keeping Wages

Among these verses are some things that "common sense" should tell us are good to do or to avoid. But there are some interesting admonitions here, including the command,

Lev. 19:13 ...The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning.

Here God points out that if someone is working for you, you don't just pay him, you pay him in a timely manner. 1Timothy 5:18 says that,

1Tim. 5:18 ...The laborer is worthy of his wages.

God said in Malachi,

Mal. 3:5 "...I will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers and against the adulterers and against those who swear falsely, and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages, the widow and the orphan, and those who turn aside the alien, and do not fear Me," says the LORD of hosts.

So if you are an employer, take heed and pay your employees in a timely manner, not holding back their pay for punishment or because its more convenient for you.

Impartial judgment

James chastised Christians for unrighteous behavior, saying,

James 2:1-4 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with {an attitude of} personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?

Most of us can recognize that when we give partiality to the rich, it is unrighteous. But remember back in Exodus 23, God warned us not to

Exod. 23:3 partial to a poor man in his dispute.

In our day, we need to hear Exodus 23 just as clearly as we hear James 2. Because judgment can just as easily be skewed in the direction of the poor, of the "underprivileged," or of the minority as it can be in the direction of the rich, influential, and powerful.

Impartiality. The book of Deuteronomy says,

Deut. 1:17 'You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike...

Lord, help us to see as You see, not as man sees.


The word "slanderer" here is "raw-KEEL." It means "a merchant of slander, a trafficker of tales." To slander is to bear a tale, to gossip. There are few sins more painful, insidious, and destructive than slander and gossip. These are the sins that hurt the worst, spread the fastest, and destroy with unilateral completeness. The Scriptures say,

Prov. 20:19 ...Do not associate with a gossip.

The problem with slander and gossip is that we only recognize it when it is directed towards us. Somehow, we don't see it as gossip or slander when we are repeating it.

"I'm just saying this so we can get people praying." "This isn't gossip. I'm just telling you what happened." "It's common knowledge. I just wondered what you thought about it."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Here's how you can tell what's gossip: Before you say it, stop and think how the person you're talking about would react. If they knew WHAT you were about to say, would they call it gossip? If they knew WHY you were about to say it, would they call it gossip? And If they knew what would HAPPEN once it was said, would they call it gossip? You'd be surprised at how much of what you say about other people won't stand up to this test.

Reproving But Not Incurring

Reproving our neighbor. What does that mean? Exactly what it says. Keeping one another accountable for sin. Pointing out sin in someone's life isn't pleasant, but it is necessary, and we are commanded to do it:

Matt. 18:15 "And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private..."

Luke 17:3 "...If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.

1Tim. 5:20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful {of sinning.}

There's no way around it - we are called to rebuke sin. First privately, and if it continues, then publicly. Why? To keep the church holy, and to instill a fear of sinning among the people of God.

Lev. 19:17 ...You may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.

How would we incur sin because of our neighbor?

Gal. 6:1 Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; {each one} looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.

A Christian enjoying their sin can be very dangerous. Be careful when you go to bring rebuke in private that you don't fall into the same sin yourself.

Bearing Grudges

When you bear a grudge against someone, you walk in bitterness and unforgiveness.

The Lord taught us to pray,

Matt. 6:12 'And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

Then explained,

Matt. 6:14-15 "For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

Today, if you're bearing a grudge against anyone, forgive them and begin to walk in victory.

19:19 Two Kinds

Whether you're talking about cross-breeding cattle, mixing seeds, or meshing fabrics, God hates mixture. Why? Because compromise starts with small, seemingly insignificant things. Ultimately, compromise leads to greater evil. Some examples:

God hates it when a believer yokes together with an unbeliever.

2Cor. 6:14-16 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?...

God hates it when people bless and curse with the same mouth.

James 3:9-10 With it we bless {our} Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come {both} blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.

God hates it when people combine Christianity with paganism:

1Cor. 10:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

God hates it when people attempt to pursue Him and money simultaneously:

Luke 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

God desires purity, oneness, holiness - not mixture.

(19:20-22) Lying With A Slave Woman

These verses deal with a man having sexual contact with a slave woman, and the punishment prescribed.

(19:23-25) Planting Trees In The Promised Land

These verses deal with the fruit trees that they will find when they enter the land of Canaan. They are to offer their fruit in the fourth year, and are not to eat from them until the fifth year.

19:26-31 Imitating The Heathen

In these three verses, God warns His people to avoid imitating the practices of the pagan cultures around them. They were involved in the occult, would offer their hair in honor of their gods, and cut or tattoo themselves to mourn their dead. They would also make their daughters into temple prostitutes as offerings to their gods.

God says that His sanctuary was to be revered, not a place for immoral sexual or occultic practices.

19:32 Honor The Aged

Respect for older people has gone by the wayside. No longer is the old man or woman viewed as having wisdom that could benefit society, but as being a medical and financial burden to society.

Prov. 20:29 The glory of young men is their strength, And the honor of old men is their gray hair.

We are to honor the aged.

19:33-34 Strangers

As He did in Exodus 22 and 23, God again instructs His people to bless strangers, for just as the Israelites had been strangers in a strange land, so they would encounter other strangers.

19:35-37 Just Balances

Every butcher that's ever put his thumb on the scale should read this.

20:1-5 Offering To Molech

Molech was the Ammonites' god of pleasure. He was represented by a very large, hollow, bronze statue of an ox's head on a man's body. Inside the statue a fire would be continually burning, keeping the outstretched arms of the image red hot. Worshippers would put their babies on the arms to be burned alive - a sacrifice to their god of pleasure.

"How horrible!" you may think. How could anyone sacrifice a baby just so they could continue to enjoy their pleasure? It continues to happen every day in abortion clinics all over the country. Women sacrifice their unborn babies so that they can continue enjoying their sexual sin. Girls throw their children in a dumpster so they can go to the senior prom. They continue to drink alcohol, smoke crack, and shoot heroin while they're pregnant. Sure, the baby is dying, but what price is too high for a little pleasure?

God has ordered the death penalty for parents who do such things. And if the community refuses to enforce it, God will step in and deal with it Himself, including those who looked the other way.

God is not a God of tolerance. In the book of Revelations, Jesus rebuked the church at Thyatira, saying,

Rev. 2:20 "...I have {this} against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray, so that they commit {acts of} immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols."

The sin of the church was toleration. The Thyatirans knew that she was teaching heresy, idolatry, and immorality, but didn't want to make waves. And even people who hadn't bought into Jezebel's deception were being held accountable. In the political correctness of today's society, toleration is viewed as a good thing. But as far as the Lord is concerned, toleration is sin.

Ps. 50:16, 18 But to the wicked God says... "When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you associate with adulterers."

You're not the thief, you're not the adulterer - but the wickedness of their sin is imparted to you by your toleration.

It is usually very tempting to just let sin slip by, and neglect it. But as we read in chapter 19, we are not to tolerate, but rebuke. And God here says that when parents are killing their children, they themselves are to be put to death.

(20:6-21) Penalties For Certain Sins

God here prescribes the death penalty for sins He has already named as abominations: turning to a medium or spiritist, cursing your father or mother, and the unclean and immoral sexual contact that we talked about last week: adultery, incest, homosexuality, and bestiality.

20:22-27 Holy In The Land

As we discussed last week, the land would spew out the Israelites if they followed the sinful practices of the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. If they lived as a holy and separate people, God would bless and prosper them in the land.

God has also called us to be a holy and separate people from this dark world. Will we heed the call, or be spewed out?

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