LEVITICUS 19:1 – 21:24 and MATTHEW 28:1–20
The next two chapters re-establish the truths concerning God’s holiness. In addition, we see the rehearsing of several of the laws and commandments that God gave earlier. In verses 1-2 the cry for holiness is presented. The Lord is raising up a standard of righteousness in our day that was unattainable to the priests and people of the Old Testament; yet the Lord says to “be ye holy”. We also see this verse in Lev 11:44 as well as in the New Testament in 1 Pet 1:15-16. It must mean that holiness is achievable.
We are not holy by virtue of being born again. Holiness is who God is, it’s His nature. The Lord is staking out a very high standard as He introduces this chapter to us. God created man in innocence, not holiness. Man was made in the image of God but was not taken “out” from God. This is one of the differences between Jesus at His birth and man. The Holy Spirit allowed Jesus to be conceived within the womb of Mary. Jesus, as the Son of man was born without sin and is able to make a way whereby we can become holy where we become more like Him. There are two primary elements to holiness.
1) There must be a choosing to be holy. “Be ye holy as I am holy”. It is a choice! We choose to become holy as we learn to acknowledge sin and seek to be changed by His grace. We can refuse and forfeit such opportunities as well.
2) Holiness must be tested. How is holiness tested? It is by reason of the Law for it is the Law that identifies sin and gives strength to it. Satan is a primary instrument in testing people along these lines. The Lord will now lay out some laws and statutes that the people were to live by. Their response will either be the upholding of the law or the violating of it. This will help to indicate whether the people will go down the road that leads to holiness.
The subject of keeping the Sabbath again comes up (vs 3, 30). Since this commandment is repeated so often we would do well to give heed. One of the truths of God’s Word that is not fully appreciated or understood is that of Rest. It is for our benefit. In violating the Sabbath we are taking issue with something that God Himself upheld. We have mentioned on occasion the importance of Bible “Types” and how they are needed to be upheld. A few examples of these types are as follows:
Moses striking the Rock twice, the matter of circumcision concerning Moses’s son and the putting forth of the hand of Uzzah to steady the Ark are but a few examples. One of the names attributed to the Feast of Tabernacles, which is the Feast of the last days is “The Feast of Rest”. There is such striving today, a striving that has found its way into the church where it becomes increasingly difficult to find that needed balance. Failure to enter into Rest can result in “unbelief” where we labor and rely in our strength as opposed to God. The Sabbath is for man’s benefit.
Let’s consider a few more of the laws that God speaks to Moses. In verse 16 we are called not to be “talebearers. “ We earlier rooted this malady back to the days of Noah and his sons (Gen 9). Ham told his brothers about the nakedness of their father. Noah, as a leader was vulnerable and the response of Ham resulted in an eternal curse. He was a tale bearer to his brothers and he sought to take advantage of his father’s vulnerability for his own bebefit. Shem and Japheth covered their father resulting in a blessing and commendation. We will come to know the strength of a particular enemy of Israel known as the Jebusites. They are known for sowing discord on a “divide and conquering” basis. This spirit was in evidence when God spoke to Israel to go in and possess the land. The discord sowers took issue with God’s Word and sowed discontent amongst the masses. (The giants are too big and we are but grasshoppers before them etc) The discord sowers like Korah, Dathan and Abiram were soon judged accordingly. The Lord hates discord sowers and those who gossip as talebearers (Pro 6:16-19). This is a very big problem in our churches today.
One of the big issues seen in today’s world is that of tattoos. It is even a question that many people (especially the young) enquire about as to whether they are acceptable. Lev 19:28 gives a key.
Lev 19:28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
What is it about tattoos, body piercing etc that makes it so appealing today? Why is the Bible against it? I would like to weigh in with some thoughts. One of the struggles people have today, particularly among the youth is that of identity. When a person functions or lives outside his or her makeup there will be that sense of seeking to fit in or find that place of belonging. It seems that when people get tattoos they are making a statement! There is a certain permanence about tattoos that makes them stand out from other means of expression. Typically, when one gets a tattoo it is something received for life. I see a corresponding rise in suicides that coincides with tattoos. Suicide is the ultimate statement and from it there is no return.
There is an inbred desire within man to have an identity, something that anchors and keeps them in being able to go forward. Where you see true identity to be lacking you will often find frustration, anger and resentment with an ever seeking desire for such a person to discover some sort of expression. It also is a sign that such a person is allowing themselves to be defined by the world and its values instead of God. A person who is content in God does not have to resort to “attention” seeking devices. This is why (in my opinion) the Lord so opposes these outward forms of markings. The Lord also exhorts that we major on true justice in our transactions with man (vs 35-36). David, before he died spoke as to how men who have rule must do so in being just (2 Sam 23:3).
The Lord gives very strong warnings to those who worship Moloch. The Lord even goes further to pronounce judgement against those who do not report or deal against such violations. Remember, God is preparing His people to go into a heathen land. These messages can have a deep meaning for us as we are being prepared to be both kings and priests. Which gods are being served with today’s abortion problem? Is this any different than the genocides pronounced at the time of Moses birth, or the time when the Lord was born? There are incidences coming to light of major pedophilia problems in many of the nation’s corridors of power. This is a clear reflection of the paganistic rituals that were common in Biblical times. The church is not to mingle nor pick up any of the habits or practices of the world. The homosexual matter has now crept into the church. There can be no hint of pagan defilements (such as the worship to Moloch) amongst God’s people as we draw close to the end of the age. Israel was not able to keep these precepts but the Lord has provided a way for us whereby we can prevail.
In vs 6-8 the Lord speaks against those who seek after familiar spirits. (seen also in vs 31 from chapter 19) He also reinforces the Truth about being holy and keeping His statutes. Can we see how all these exhortations in Leviticus about holiness is a message for us today? There was no way Israel could keep the letter of the law that was being given yet over and over again there is the charge “be ye holy”. It is for us!
I feel to develop this thought of witchcraft and familiar spirits for a moment. We mentioned earlier that holiness must be tested. How is it tested? It is by way of the Law. Let’s go back to the garden in Genesis. The first law God gave to man was that of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:16-17). With the giving of the Law man was now put into the position of either obeying or disobeying God’s Law. The testing in the area of the Law came via Satan when he encountered Eve in Genesis 3. “Did God really say that you could not eat…”? Satan challenged Eve on the one Law God gave. What was the object that Satan used to capture the attention of Eve? It was the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
What was the appeal in which he enticed Eve? It was that the tree would make her wise; where she could be like God in having insight into hidden truths and knowledge (Gen 3:5). It is here where we see the introduction of witchcraft and familiar spirits to man. It is the very thing that the Lord is speaking about here in Lev 20. It is also here where the Lord is exhorting the message of being holy. It is important to trace the roots of where these things originate.
There is another warning which will be elaborated on a bit later. The ministry of Balaam will present a mixture of a man who had clear anointing and power with God yet allowed the mixture of witchcraft to infect his ministry. This may be the reason why God is taking great pains to lay down clear guidelines to the priests and people prior to their going forth as a mobilized group. The sin of witchcraft and familiar spirits is very prominent in church circles, especially seen in congregations where standards and statutes are not being upheld.
In progressing through the balance of the chapter we see further exhortations for the children of Israel to be a separated people. The law of honoring parents is displayed in verse 9. There is such a breakdown in homes today consisting of divided marriages and broken relationships among children. The Bible makes many references to a great restoring that will be seen in the last days (Mal 4:4-6). Finally, we see the Lord calling upon the church to make a clear distinction between the clean and unclean. This is a ministry that Jeremiah functioned in and gave exhortation too.
Jer 15:19 Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them.
The final two verses again exhort us to be holy as the Lord is holy in addition to giving warning to not delve into the arena of familiar spirits. It is interesting how these two areas are again linked (vs 6-8). There are many lessons to learn from Gen 2 and 3. You have the first Law given, which is focused on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 2:16-17). You have the enemy introduced to man being challenged immediately with the first Law that God gave to man. “Did God really say…?” This indicates the Laws potent threat to the kingdom of darkness. Satane is constantly trying to eliminate the Law or at least redefine it. The enemy then directs the attention of man to the tree and redefines its’ consequences. This is rebellion and it is witchcraft. When man partook of the fruit he stepped into a forbidden realm that God had not given. There is much, so much to meditate on in these verses.
There are a series of laws that the Lord gives to Moses which are primarily for the priests and their related family. The primary points of interest however are the blemishes of the priesthood that are revealed in verses 16-24. In this case the blemishes refer to natural and or physical blemishes or shortcomings that would prevent them from coming into the most holy place or before the altar of incense (vs 21-23). The true implications of these blemishes speak for the New Testament priesthood. There is a manner of priest that will have access to the holy things of God. The blemishes here reveal impediments that need to be addressed in the New Testament order of priests. A brief description is given.
1) A blind man – A priest with limited or no vision. Such a priest has little regard for the law or is unwilling to pay the price to grow in the attributes of holiness. (Pro 29:18, 2 Pet 1:9)
2) A lame man – No ability to walk or carry a vision
3) Flat nose – No ability to smell or discern
4) Superfluous – The tendency of drawing attention to self as opposed to the ministry
5) Broken footed – A priest who is unstable in his walk
6) Broken handed – cannot hold onto truth, one who let’s go easily under pressure.
7) Crookbacked – Cannot carry a burden, easily weighed down
8) Dwarf – Spiritually small, limited capacities for growth
9) Blemish in eye, scurvy or scarred – Wounds that do not heal, unable to get over offenses
10)Stones Broken – Inability to reproduce spiritual sons and daughters
There are other interpretations that could be given but one gets the idea of some of the limitations that can be upon a priest. These last few chapters in Leviticus are really instruction manuals for our day. We want to be open to the Lord so that any blemish or hindrance that may lurk within us can be identified and removed. The Bible makes clear here that these priests that had blemishes could eat of the most holy bread but they could not approach the altar before the veil, or go beyond it.
In verses 1-10 the account of Mary Magdalene and the other Mary (The mother of James and Joses-Mark 16:1) are mentioned as the ones who came to the tomb. There was a great earthquake coupled with an angel who came to roll away the stone. The ministry of angels is something we often do not think too much about but we see it here. What a sight that must have been. Imagine being one of the gatekeepers, having the charge of making sure the tomb remains sealed. They were as good as dead.
It is hard to imagine what these women must have felt at this time. There was great fear and yet great joy. The fulfillment of what they and others were looking for had now come to pass. The angel invited them to come into the tomb to see where He was laid as further proof of the testimony they were about to present to the disciples and others. If that was not exciting enough they came into the presence of the Lord (vs 9-10) where they were told to go forth and share what they had witnessed. The disciples were closest to the Lord in his latter years of ministry yet it was these few women who had the initial privilege of meeting the Lord.
In verses 11-15 the report of what just took place comes to the attention of the chief priests and elders. They were given a significant amount of money to suppress the news of His resurrection and altered the narrative into a lie that still holds true till today. The message of the gospel is a threat to the status quo mentality of the world. It is a threat to the system due to its liberating power. The Truth does set people free and it breaks the shackles of conformity that Satan seeks to implement into today’s world. A vast sum of money and effort has gone towards the extinction and removing of Christianity. It will not go away. The closer we get to the 2nd Coming of Christ the more flagrant the opposition and violence will become against Christians.
The effort to discredit Christianity has been an ongoing affair. You see it right from the beginning, right at the time of the creation. “In the beginning, God”. Think what is taught in many schools today. In the beginning BANG! To think that the world and life could be initiated by a spontaneous explosion is beyond comprehension. It really does take more blind faith to believe the alternatives to God as being creator. Well, there are many who do believe in but do not believe that He sent His Son to die upon a Cross and that He arose and now lives.
The effort to suppress Truth today knows no limits. In verse 14 we see the government being willing to provide cover for those who perpetrate the lie. This is no small matter because it cuts through to the identity of who Satan is. He is the father of lies (Joh 8:44). A lie is a direct variant of Truth. I am spending some time on this point because today’s culture emphasizes “perception over reality”. Culture, as defined by Satan is always seeking to shape and form the opinion of man. You can take an obvious truth and over time reshape that truth into a new reality.
A good example of this would be the homosexual movement. A few years back most people would agree that it was unbiblical abnormal behavior. The truth of marriage was rock solid among the populace. In a deliberate campaign via media and social pressures this truth is being redefined by man with a new reality, a new definition being written into law regarding marriage. A new reality that states man was born with this potential of homosexual tendencies while “sugar coating” the root of sin. If you take something that is clearly false but purport it to be true on a consistent basis it slowly changes the reality into a new narrative or into a new perception. This perception then becomes the basis of a belief system as to how one will govern their lives. The father of lies works extremely hard through today’s media to inculcate his values and message through subtle and deliberate measures, countering the Truth that comes forth from God. The end result is a people who are becoming programmed into a new reality.
A retired CBS TV CEO made an astounding comment recently regarding the objective of today’s programming. The 11:30 PM time slot is a lucrative one after the evening newscasts in the major markets in the USA. This executive said that it is no longer the advertising dollars that matter when gauging the success of a particular program; it is rather how people perceive your program. It used to be that the truth of the success of a program would be based on the attraction of advertising dollars; this is how they survived. Apparently, now it is more about being cool, trendy and how you are perceived. A famous athlete advertised a camera in the 1980’s which speaks to this whole point. The end of that 30 second ad had these words. “Image, is everything”. I remember that ad well and I have come to the conclusion that this is the new reality today. Image and perception is the new reality. (You can google this ad-Andre Agassi advertising a Canon Rebel camera) Why am I spending so much time on this point? How does this relate to the narrative in Mathew? Where is this deception rooted?
One would think that the attempt to suppress the truth of the resurrection would find no takers however in understanding the tactics of the “father of lies” we can see how this can happen. A lie told over and over again can soon become believable; can soon become the accepted truth. I think people would be thoroughly shocked if the veil were to be lifted today on what has passed for accepted truth in recent times. One can start with the events surrounding 911, or how debts suddenly become assets in today’s new reality of accounting norms. The point I am trying to drive home is that the “father of lies” continues to work hard in undermining Truth at the expense of a new reality and perception as to what matters. A new reality based on falsehoods and lies that is leading a “programmed” people down a dangerous road. Understanding this helps us to experience that TRUTH indeed liberates and sets free (Joh 8:32).
So, where is the origin of this new reality? Where do we see the beginning of Absolute Truth being changed into something untrue, something that becomes believable resulting in a whole new perception of what is real? It is found in the Book of Genesis. God gives His first Law concerning the fruit of a tree. If the fruit of this particular tree were to be eaten, there would be consequences, death and separation from God.
Gen 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
There it is, a clear enunciated Law that was established by God. This is the true reality. Now what happened next? How did this statement of Truth become a new reality, something perceived differently? Let us introduce Satan to man. He is the means by which God will test man to see if His Laws will be kept or not. Remember, holiness must be a choice and it must be tested.
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
Notice the very first words out of his mouth to Eve. It is a challenge to the very first Law God gave to man. Can you see why the Law is so important and jealously guarded? Eve responded properly in the following verse but Satan persisted. He re-altered the judgment in vs 4 by saying that man would not die. He was speaking to her emotions. The reality of breaking God’s commandment is subtly being redefined by changing its consequence. This is the origin of false doctrines seen today. By the time you get to verse 6 look how the tree of knowledge of good and evil has been redefined, look now at this new reality.
Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
This tree no longer looks to be forbidden but is now one to be partaken of. This has now become the New Reality. The tree is now perceived differently. In short, sin now has an attraction to it. You keep bombarding the soul and emotion of a person and you will see how easily a new narrative can be constructed. The only remedy to counter this assault is for the Spirit man to be fed through the reading and assimilation of God’s Word.
This subject is a bit off track from our review of Math 28 but it helps to explain how a false narrative can be perpetuated like the one the Chief priests and leaders used in saying Christ never rose from the dead. It is time we wake up and break free from the programming nature of this worlds culture. It succeeds in large part because it is overseen by the “father of lies”, the same figure that is seen in Genesis 3.
Joh 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
Joh 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.