Study Notes

Leviticus 21:1-22:33

God has been telling Moses about the people's requirements to be holy. Chapters 21and 22 of Leviticus deal specifically with the priests of God - they were called to certain holy laws - an even higher calling and expectation because of their calling.

God has called us a kingdom of priests. To the churches, Revelation says,

Rev. 1:6 ...He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father...

Everyone in the church has such a high calling to holiness. Let us glean wisdom regarding the heart and expectation of God from these chapters.

21:1-6 Defiled For The Dead

Remember that contact with the dead made a person unclean. The priests were not to defile themselves by coming into contact with the dead unless it was a close relative.

They were also not to display their grief as the heathen did. The pagan cultures mourned their dead by cutting their hair, cutting their bodies, etc.

The way we deal with death can be a ministry of God to others. The writer of Hebrews said that those who fear death are subject to slavery all their lives (Heb 2:15). As Christians, we need have no fear of death. That is not to say that we cannot weep, for indeed, even Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus (John 11:35). But we don't need to go over the edge - getting out of control - deliriously grieving. The Scriptures teach us that when we leave this body, we go to be with the Lord (2Cor 5:6-8). So have your quiet time of grieving the fact that you'll miss the person for a while - but look around for those to whom you can minister who don't have the blessed hope laid up in heaven that you do.

21:7-8 Who The Priests Can Marry

The priests were not forbidden to marry, nor did they have to be married before they began to serve as priests. But when they did marry, it had to be a woman that had been neither a harlot, nor divorced previously.

As Christians, priests of Christ, who are we called to marry? What is God's ideal for us? We are called to the standard that Jesus set,

Matt. 5:32 ...whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matt. 19:9 ...whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.

Whoever you marry, God wants that person to be a believer if you are:

2Cor. 6:14-15 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?

God's desire is also that you marry someone that is happy to assist you as you seek to minister to the Lord and His people. The apostles took their wives along as the preached the gospel:

1Cor. 9:5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?

Remember the excuse of the man who was invited to the king's wedding feast:

Luke 14:20 ..."I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come."

Ultimately, the Bible even proclaims it is best not to be married at all:

1Cor. 7:32-34 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and {his interests} are divided. And the woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

But unless you've been given the gift of celibacy, it is best to get married, for Paul wrote,

1Cor. 7:8-9 ...I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn.

What shall we say then? The perfect situation for you to be in is to marry a godly Christian man or woman that will help, rather than hinder, your walk with God and service for Him.

21:9 A Daughter In Harlotry

If a priest's daughter was found to be a harlot, then she was to be stoned, and her body burned with fire. Now, although we don't practice such strict punishment today, the principle is still that a priest's family must not be running around in ungodliness. For example, an elder, or overseer, has to be...

1Tim. 3:4-5 who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?);

If your children are out being promiscuous or drunkards, how can you expect that you'll do a better job with the children of God?

21:10-15 Extra Regs For The High Priest

The high priest was given even stricter requirements under the law. Why? His ministry was even weightier, his responsibilities greater. Jesus said,

Luke 12:48 "...From everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more."

The more God entrusts to us, the more He expects of us.

In Her Virginity

The high priest was to marry a virgin. Remember that the book of Hebrews points out to us that Jesus is our Great High Priest. The church is the bride of Christ. Paul wrote,

2Cor. 11:2 For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you {as} a pure virgin.

Ephesians 5 says,

Eph. 5:25-27 ...Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.

As the church, we must strive to maintain our virginity by being holy and blameless.

(21:16-24) No Defects In Priests

These verses point out that any Levite with a defect could not be a priest. If a man was blind, lame, hunchbacked, disfigured, etc., he could eat the bread with the rest of the Levites, but could not serve as a priest.

The priesthood was a very physical, two-handed job, what with slaughtering the sacrifices all day. There would be no way that a man could perform the job's requirements with such physical handicaps.

But God also points out that a defective priest would profane His sanctuaries. The priests, like the sacrifices, were to be without blemish, that they would be an accurate typology of Jesus, our priest and sacrifice.

22:1-9 Priestly Uncleanness

God tells Moses that no priest is to serve in his uncleanliness. This would profane their holy ministry.

Whether you are a pastor, Sunday school teacher, evangelist, or a witness at work, before you can minister to others, you must make absolutely sure that you're in right relationship with God. We must confess our sins, and ask for forgiveness. We cannot rightly represent Him unless we are walking near to Him.

22:10-16 Eating The Holy Gifts

God explains who in the priests' households were allowed to eat the priests' portions of the offerings. Only slaves and family members that lived in the house were allowed to eat of it.

If anyone dropped by and munched on some of the holy gift unintentionally, then he had to offer an extra fifth of it to keep from profaning the gift.

(22:17-30) No Defects In Offerings

In these verses, God explains that defective animals - those that are blind, have injuries, birth defects, etc. - will not be accepted as offerings.

Of course, by the time of Malachi the prophet, the Israelites had disregarded this portion of the Law. God speaking through Malachi says that they have despised His name.

Mal. 1:8 "But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?" says the LORD of hosts.

We are not to give God the valueless castoffs. God deserves and demands the best that we can give.

22:31-33 Sanctified

God said He would be sanctified among them. He also said that He sanctified them. What does the word "sanctify" mean? It means to be set apart, to be holy, to be consecrated, purified.

God had set these people apart from the world, and He expected them to set Him apart from the false gods of the world.

God has sanctified us as well:

1Cor. 6:11 ...But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.

So now let us live and walk in that sanctification:

Rom. 6:19 ...Just as you presented your members {as} slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in {further} lawlessness, so now present your members {as} slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

God has called us over and over again to live holy, sanctified, set apart lives - being in this world, but not of this world.

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