Hello! Welcome to Episode 6 of the Faith Chase Podcast. I’m Heather Tabata, and this podcast is about making our faith real in everyday life.
Last time, we ended with talking about how God gave the priests instructions to check people for leprosy. We’ll pick up in Leviticus 14 as God gave instructions on how people with leprosy who were healed could be cleansed.
If someone was healed of leprosy, that person was supposed to offer a sacrifice. Then he was supposed to wash his clothes, shave his hair, and wash himself, and then he could come back into the camp. He was supposed to stay outside his tent for another week, and then shave his hair and wash his clothes and himself one more time, and then he was considered clean.
God also told them what to do if a house had a leprous plague. The priest would inspect the house, and if there was a plague the house was closed for seven days. When the priest checked the house again, if the plague had spread, they replaced the stones that were affected, scraped the house, and got rid of the bad stones and the dust. They replastered the house, and if the plague came back again, they destroyed the house and threw away the building material.
Leviticus 15 gives more public health related laws. If anyone had a bodily discharge, they were considered ceremonially unclean and went through a purification process including washing themselves and their clothes.
In chapter 16, God gave instructions for a yearly day of atonement. The priest was to make a sacrifice for his and his family’s sin, and then he would offer a sacrifice for the rest of the people. They sent a scapegoat out into the wilderness on that day too.
The nations around Israel worshipped false gods and offered sacrifices to them. The Israelites had a tendency to pick up their practices, like with the golden calf they told Aaron to make while Moses was on the mountain with God. Leviticus 17 explained how the people were only supposed to offer sacrifices at the tabernacle, and not out in the fields, to help keep them from idol worship.
God gave laws about relationships in chapter 18. He instructed the Israelites to avoid sexual intimacy with any close relative. Verse 21 says, “And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Molech, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.” This referred to the way the Ammonites worshipped the idol Molech. It was a huge statue with outstretched arms, and a fire would be started in its stomach. When the arms were hot, children would be placed on them to be sacrificed to the idol. God hated this, and it is part of the reason He was so adamant about His people staying separate from the other nations. He didn’t want them to be influenced to do this.
Verse 22 says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” God’s plan for intimacy involved a man and a woman as their own family unit.
The chapter ends with a warning for the Israelites to keep themselves pure, or they would lose the land. God explained that He was going to cast the people living in that land out as the Israelites entered it.
For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. – Leviticus 18: 25
Chapter 19 gave more instructions about how the people were to treat each other. There are a lot of laws here, so we’ll touch on the highlights. In verse three, God commanded them to respect their parents. Verse four commanded them to not worship idols. Verses nine and ten said they weren’t to harvest the corners of their fields of crops or gather every grape on the grape vines; they were to leave some for the poor and strangers.
God told them in verse 11 to not steal or cheat each other. In verse 14, God showed concern for people with disabilities. The people were instructed to not curse people who were deaf or cause someone who was blind to fall down. Verse 15 told them to be fair in their judgment and to be partial neither to the poor or rich.
God wanted the people to be considerate of each other. He forbade gossip in verse 16, and in 17 and 18 he commanded the people to not hate people, seek revenge, or hold a grudge.
Verses 26 and 28 deal with the dark arts. They were instructed to not practice divination or soothsaying. They were also not to make cuttings in themselves for the dead or marks on themselves. This was a way that the pagans would gain power from the dead to use in witchcraft, and God did not want the Israelites to do this. In verse 31 He also told them not to go to mediums to communicate with the spirit world. Communication with the dead is definitely possible; if it wasn’t, there would have been no need for God to tell the people not to do it.
In verse 35, God commanded the people to deal fairly in business. Their measurements in length, weight, and volume were to be honest so that they didn’t cheat people in buying and selling goods.
Chapter 20 listed punishments for some of the sins God warned the people about. Sacrificing children to the false god Molech, committing adultery, and practicing as a medium were all punishable by death.
God gave more regulations for the priests in chapter 21. They were not to touch a dead body except for immediate relatives. They also weren’t allowed to cut their beards or make cuts on themselves. Who they married was important too; they were supposed to choose wives from the Israelites.
Aaron’s descendants were told in chapter 22 not to touch anything that was holy or eat the portion of the sacrifices set apart for them while they were ceremonially unclean. Sacrifices offered as a vow or for thanksgiving had to be perfect. God wouldn’t accept anything that was damaged.
Chapter 23 explains the feast days God instituted. The seventh day of the week was a Sabbath day of rest. They also celebrated the Passover and Unleavened Bread, which reminded them of how God brought them out of Egypt. The feast of firstfruits was celebrated at the beginning of the harvest season. The Israelites were to take some of the first of the crops to offer to God, and they weren’t to eat any of that harvest until they did this. The fest of weeks was fifty days later, and they were supposed to sacrifice bread and several animals.
The feast of trumpets was on the first day of the seventh month, and they were supposed to make an offering on this day too. The tenth day of that month was the day of atonement that they celebrated as a solemn sabbath day. The feast of tabernacles was on the fifteenth day of that month, and for seven days they were to offer sacrifices. On the eighth day they had a convocation with a sacrifice. For those seven days, they were supposed to stay in booths they made from tree branches to remind them of how the Israelites stayed in booths after they left Egypt.
Some of the things in the tabernacle had special instructions. The lamp was supposed to always be burning from oil. Even when it was dark, the priests had to keep it lit. Every Sabbath the people were supposed to offer bread on the gold table.
Chapter 25 explained that the people were to allow the land a sabbath rest. Every seventh year, they weren’t supposed to tend their fields or vineyards to let the land rest. Every seventh sabbath year, or every fiftieth year, was the year of Jubilee. That year, they were also to let the land rest. If land had been sold, it went back to the original owner. If they bought or sold things among each other, the price depended on how close it was to the year of Jubilee, because possessions went back to the original owner.
In the sixth year, there would be enough food to store to last until the next harvest was ready, because they didn’t cultivate the land in the seventh years. I think that God wanted to teach the people the value of resting. It’s hard to keep all aspects of life in balance. The responsibilities of school and work can become overwhelming and consume our lives if we let them. Having a year where they didn’t harvest food would also be a lesson in trust. It’s one thing to know God said He would provide for you, but it’s another to take Him at His word and let Him do it.
In the beginning of chapter 26, God instructed the Israelites to not make idols to worship. He promised them that if they would follow His commandments, the food they grew would last them from one season to the next, they would have peace, and they would grow as a nation. He also promised to walk with them and to keep them as His people.
But if they weren’t obedient, they would have diseases, and their enemies would defeat them. God didn’t threaten the people with these consequences just to be mean. In verse 18, God said that if after those things they didn’t repent, He would bring seven times worse to them. The purpose was punishment for behavioral correction, not vengeance alone.
If they didn’t change, God said He would keep the land from growing food for them. And if they still didn’t repent, God would bring seven times worse. He would send wild beasts that would kill children and livestock. If they didn’t change, He would bring seven times worse. He would allow their enemies to defeat them. If they didn’t repent, God would bring worse, and the famine would be terrible. God would destroy their cities.
I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste. ~ Leviticus 26:33
Even then God doesn’t completely write them off. He says that if the people repent and accept their guilt then He would remember their covenant.
Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God. ~ Leviticus 26:44
Chapter 27 gave instructions on how to dedicate a person or animal to God.
That’s it for this episode! Thanks for joining in. Head over to the blog site, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, and let me know your thoughts on the reading from this episode. What stood out to you? What questions do you have? If you’re enjoying the podcast, don’t forget to subscribe so the next episode can come straight to you, and feel free to tell a friend. On to the next reading!