Leviticus 18:1–5, 20–26; 20:6–8comment (0)
May 20, 2010
By Jeffrey S. Quiett
Related Scripture: Leviticus 18:1–5, 20–26; 20:6–8
Explore the Bible
Associate professor of marriage and family counseling, University of Mobile
STAY AWAY FROM PERVERTED PRACTICES
Leviticus 18:1–5, 20–26; 20:6–8
Set Apart (18:1–5)
Beginning with a familiar preamble, Moses repeated to the Israelites their connection with God and their obedient response to Him. The Israelites were reminded frequently who they were and whom they served. God commanded them to set themselves apart from the practices of their former captors (the Egyptians) and their future subjects (the Canaanites).
Egyptian and Canaanite perversions are well attested in Scripture and nonbiblical sources. Brothers married sisters in the Egyptian royal family. Homosexuality was referred to among the Canaanites (Gen. 19:5). Bestiality (sex with animals) was known from Egyptian, Canaanite and Hittite sources. Archaeological findings also have suggested the practice of child sacrifice among the pre-Israelite inhabitants of Canaan. These verses make it clear that God’s people are to be different in thought and practice from those who reject Him as their Lord. The Israelites were under constant temptation to deviate from God’s standard of right behavior. Much of their downfall in the Old Testament can be attributed to their inability to set strong boundaries against the unholy living of people around them. The modern parallels are clear. One’s claim to be a follower of Christ without evidence of holy living as defined by God’s standard nullifies the claim (John 14:15). Although works do not save a person (Eph. 2:8), holy living does give evidence of his or her connection with Christ after he or she has made Him personal Lord and Savior (Eph. 2:10).
Holy Living (18:20–26)
In this passage, God specified certain common practices among the Canaanites that the Israelites were to shun. Verse 20 denounces adultery, while verse 21 prohibits child sacrifice. Verse 22 is a clear condemnation of homosexuality, and other biblical passages make further denouncements of this practice (Gen. 19; Lev. 20:13; Judg. 19:22; Rom. 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:9). Verse 23 condemns bestiality, which transgresses the God-given boundaries between man and animals. Verses 24–26 give further warning of the dangers of adopting Canaanite practices. If the Israelites did adopt these behaviors, then God warned them that the land would “vomit out” them as it had the Canaanites. Failure to keep God’s law meant consequences for the Israelites. Social norms and popular opinion do not define what is right and wrong. This passage makes it clear that God defines correct thinking and behavior. God’s holiness sets the standard for human living. Homosexuality is a prime example. Although many may consider this behavior a “lifestyle choice,” the Bible clearly condemns it. Though we may change moral standards, God’s standard never changes.
Dependence on God (20:6–8)
Verse 6 refers to “necromancy” or “divination” that came in many forms in the Old Testament. This verse names “mediums” and “spiritists” as off-limits to the Israelites. The common occupation of these individuals was attempting to communicate with the dead for purposes of telling the future. Only God knows and is in control of the future, eliminating the need for necromancy. Verses 7–8 are more exhortations to holiness. Holy living demands that God’s followers separate themselves from sinful practices and live in accordance with His definition of right living. Notice at the end of verse 8 that God is ultimately the One who makes it possible for His followers to live in accordance with His will. The pursuit of holiness can only be accomplished with God, who is the very definition of holiness. An increased interest today in ghosts and communicating with these spirits is easily seen in television and other media. Scripture clearly denounces the practice of looking to the dead for guidance. Followers of Christ are to be dependent on God for direction and security. The pursuit of holy living cannot be realized unless one dies to self and gives that life to God (Rom. 6:4). Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, holy living is not possible. Sheer willpower or knowledge of all of God’s laws is not enough. Only through Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit can holiness be achieved in God’s eyes (Rom. 8:3–4).