reflecting God’s impartial love

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Leviticus 19:13-16

Lev 19:13 “You will not exploit your neighbour or rob him. The wages of a hired worker will not remain with you all night until the morning.
Lev 19:14 You will not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you will fear your God: I am Yahveh.
Lev 19:15 “You will do no injustice in court. You will not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but you will judge your associate ethically.
Lev 19:16 You will not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you will not stand up against the blood of your neighbour: I am Yahveh.

reflecting God’s impartial love

The LORD’s commitment was to his entire creation, so even though he had chosen his covenant community to reflect his nature, they were not his favourites. He would not withhold his blessings of rain and sun and families and happiness from other nations. He was just not that kind of a God. The Israelites were to reflect that impartiality in their dealings with one another.

LORD, forgive us for choosing to love some more, and others less. Show us how to reflect your impartial love toward those around us, and so lead them to you.

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reflecting God’s considerate love

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Leviticus 19:9-12

Lev 19:9 “When you reap the harvest of your land, you will not reap your field right up to its edge, neither will you gather the gleanings after your harvest.
Lev 19:10 And you will not strip your vineyard bare, neither will you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You will leave them for the poor and for the temporary resident: I am Yahveh your God.
Lev 19:11 “You will not steal; you will not deal falsely; you will not lie a man against his associate.
Lev 19:12 You will not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am Yahveh.

reflecting God’s considerate love

Consideration for others was built into the Mosaic law code. In order to reflect who God is, and their covenant relationship with him, the Israelites had to love one another. That love was to be manifest by acts of kindness and consideration, and by refusing to take advantage of one another for personal gain. The reason for this kindness as a people was the character of the God they were all to represent — as a community.

LORD, show us how to reflect your considerate love toward one another, and all those who need your protection and provision.

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keeping current

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Leviticus 19:5-8

Lev 19:5 “When you offer a sacrifice for healthy relationships to Yahveh, you will offer it so that you may be accepted.
Lev 19:6 It will be eaten the same day you offer it or on the day after, and anything left over until the third day will be burned up with fire.
Lev 19:7 If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is tainted; it will not be accepted,
Lev 19:8 and everyone who eats it will be responsible for his violation, because he has profaned what is holy to Yahveh, and that soul will be eliminated from his people.

keeping current

The sacrifice for healthy relationships was an offering that indicated the value placed on healthy interpersonal relationships within the covenant community. For that reason, it was to be eaten shortly after presented. To wait days after the offering of the sacrifice is to lose the significance of it a prayer. In essence, it was to devalue the relationships which it represented. It was also to devalue the role the LORD took in bringing about and cementing those relationships.

LORD, thank you for the community, and the community of faith that you have placed us in. May all our relationships bring you honour and glory, and may we never lose sight of their value as a gift from you.

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every one of you

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Leviticus 19:1-4

Lev 19:1 And Yahveh spoke to Moses, and this is what he said,
Lev 19:2 “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, you will be holy, because I Yahveh your God am holy.
Lev 19:3 Every one of you will revere his mother and his father, and you will keep my Sabbaths: I am Yahveh your God.
Lev 19:4 Do not turn to idols or make for yourselves any gods of cast metal: I am Yahveh your God.

every one of you

Here is where the LORD reveals the purpose for all his rules under the Mosaic covenant. He wanted an entire congregation of people who were holy, like him. The various rules and regulations of the Mosaic covenant were designed to reflect the difference between Yahveh and the gods of the other nations. Instead of encouraging rebellion against parents, Yahveh encouraged loyalty. Instead of demanding work for power, he wanted his people to rest in his grace. Instead of images of cast metal, the people themselves were to reflect his image by their holiness. And, instead of a community made up of people possessing various powers and abilities and status, he wanted a community that entirely consisted of holy individuals, equal in status under his grace.

LORD, make us a people entirely holy unto you — every one of us.

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abominable prescriptions

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Leviticus 18:24-30

Lev 18:24 “Do not make yourselves contaminated by any of these things, because by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become contaminated,
Lev 18:25 and the land became contaminated, so that I punished its violation, and the land vomited out those who stayed there.
Lev 18:26 But you will keep my prescriptions and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the foreign guest who is a temporary resident among you
Lev 18:27 (because the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became contaminated),
Lev 18:28 or else the land will vomit you out when you make it contaminated, as it vomited out the nation that was before you.
Lev 18:29 Because everyone who does any of these abominations, the souls who do them will be eliminated from among their people.
Lev 18:30 So keep my charge never to practise any of these abominable prescriptions that were practised before you, and never to make yourselves contaminated by them: I am Yahveh your God.”

abominable prescriptions

The sins categorised in Leviticus 18 sound like a list of extreme sexual and religious deviations, except for the phrase “these abominable prescriptions” in verse 30. That phrase indicates that all these things were actual prescribed practises in Canaanite religion. Such was the depravity in this land, which had become so vile that God said the land itself vomited its people out.

The Israelites were charged to be different. To respect God’s limits and discipline themselves sexually, and hold to the rules of the covenant with integrity.

LORD, make us a people of integrity and personal holiness. Purge us of anything that offends you.

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abomination too

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Leviticus 18:19-23

Lev 18:19 “You will not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness while she is in her menstrual contamination.
Lev 18:20 And you will not lie sexually with your associate’s wife and so make yourself contaminated with her.
Lev 18:21 You will not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am Yahveh.
Lev 18:22 You will not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
Lev 18:23 And you will not lie with any animal and so make yourself contaminated with it, neither will any woman give herself to an animal to lie with it: it is perversion.

abomination too

This passage does not isolate homosexuality as being more terrible than other mistakes. But neither does it concede any of the things this generation asks for. It lists all these sexual sins, including abortion after-the-fact, as sins against the covenant and the covenant community. Words like perversion, abomination and contamination are not words that we can easily skip over. The God who called for sexual and moral purity in the days of Moses still calls for it today.

LORD, turn the tide, make us a pure people again.

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shameful exposure

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Leviticus 18:6-18

Lev 18:6 “None of you will approach any one of his close relatives to uncover nakedness. I am Yahveh.
Lev 18:7 You will not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother; she is your mother, you will not uncover her nakedness.
Lev 18:8 You will not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness.
Lev 18:9 You will not uncover the nakedness of your sister, your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether brought up in the family or in another home.
Lev 18:10 You will not uncover the nakedness of your son’s daughter or of your daughter’s daughter, because their nakedness is your own nakedness.
Lev 18:11 You will not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife’s daughter, brought up in your father’s family, since she is your sister.
Lev 18:12 You will not uncover the nakedness of your father’s sister; she is your father’s relative.
Lev 18:13 You will not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister, because she is your mother’s relative.
Lev 18:14 You will not uncover the nakedness of your father’s brother, that is, you will not approach his wife; she is your aunt.
Lev 18:15 You will not uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife; you will not uncover her nakedness.
Lev 18:16 You will not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness.
Lev 18:17 You will not uncover the nakedness of a woman and of her daughter, and you will not take her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter to uncover her nakedness; they are relatives; it is an immoral act.
Lev 18:18 And you will not take a woman as a rival wife to her sister, uncovering her nakedness while her sister is still alive.

shameful exposure

The Israelite would listen to these commands with two realities in view. First, he would remember Ham, the son of Noah, who uncovered his father’s nakedness, and brought terrible consequences down upon his son, Canaan. Then, he would remember the stories told about the descendants of Canaan, how they engage in all kinds of disgusting sexual acts, even doing so as part of their religion. The Israelite had no problem understanding both the shame and the danger of things like pornography and incest. He would also understand that as a member of the covenant with Yahveh, he was expected to be different — to be sexually disciplined.

LORD, may our private lives be a public example of the purity you expect in your covenant community.

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the impossibility of pluralism

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Leviticus 18:1-5

Lev 18:1 And Yahveh spoke to Moses, and this is what he said,
Lev 18:2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am Yahveh your God.
Lev 18:3 You will not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you stayed, and you will not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You will not walk in their prescriptions.
Lev 18:4 You will follow my rules and keep my prescriptions and walk in them. I am Yahveh your God.
Lev 18:5 You will therefore keep my prescriptions and my rules; if a human does them, he will live by them: I am Yahveh.

the impossibility of pluralism

The Israelites has religious freedom. They could choose to follow the rules and prescriptions of the God who rescued them, or not. They had been rescued from Egypt, and they were being brought to Canaan. The religions of both of those nations had their appeal, but there would be negative consequences if an Israelite chose to follow Egyptian or Canaanite ways. Pluralism was an impossibility. There was to be no mixture of religious practise or faith among the Israelite community. Yahveh insisted on being their God exclusively.

God has once again rescued his people. He has rescued us from our sins through the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. As a part of his rescue covenant, we learn that there is salvation in no one else, because there is only one name by which we can be saved. That means that pluralism is an impossibility in the new covenant as well.

LORD, we declare absolute and unqualified devotion to you, our God.

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respect for animal life

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Leviticus 17:13-16

Lev 17:13 “Any one also of the people of Israel, or of the foreign guests who are temporary residents among them, who takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten will pour out its blood and cover it with land.
Lev 17:14 Because the soul within everyone’s skin is its blood: its blood is its soul. Therefore, I have said to the people of Israel, you will not eat the blood of any creature, because the soul within everyone’s skin is its blood. Whoever eats it will be eliminated.
Lev 17:15 And every soul who eats what dies of itself or what is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a temporary resident, will wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be contaminated until the evening; then he will be clean.
Lev 17:16 But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, he will be responsible for his violation.”

respect for animal life

Even for animals killed for food, there were regulations as to how to show proper respect for the loss of life. All of the life forms that God has given to us on earth are precious to him, and should not be taken lightly, or regarded as objects for us to dispose of as we we will for our own amusement.

LORD, thank you for the blessing of the other lives all around us. Show us how to regard these lives as a gift, and respect them as part of your creation which we are responsible to you for.

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given for you

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Leviticus 17:8-12

Lev 17:8 “And you will say to them, any one of the house of Israel, or of the foreign guests who are temporary residents among them, who offers an ascending offering or sacrifice
Lev 17:9 and does not bring it to the entrance of the conference tent to offer it to Yahveh, that man will be eliminated from his people.
Lev 17:10 “If any one of the house of Israel or of the foreign guests who are temporary residents among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that soul who eats blood and will eliminate him from among his people.
Lev 17:11 Because the soul within the skin is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to provide reconciliation for your souls, because it is the blood that provides reconciliation for the soul.
Lev 17:12 Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, no soul among you will eat blood, neither will any foreign guest who is a temporary resident among you eat blood.

given for you

Eating food with the blood still in it was prohibited in the Israelite community for two reasons. First, the LORD wanted his people to have respect for the living souls of the animals. The blood flowing was represented the loss of a soul — not an immortal soul — there is no such thing. But God commanded respect for all living souls. But he also prohibited the eating of bleeding flesh because he had commanded that he alone would consume it on the altar. He alone would participate in the prophecy that would be fulfilled on Calvary. He has given the sacrifice of the blood of his own Son to provide reconciliation for our souls.

LORD, thank you for loving us, and paying the price for our sin — the pice of the life of your only Son.

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