Oh, How I Love
"Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Ecclesiastes 8:11
If every human being had the perfect love of the Eternal in their hearts, we would not need numerous laws and penalties to govern our affairs. We would all naturally take care of others every bit as well as we take care of ourselves (Mark 12:31; Phil 2:4). But we are all still human and do not yet behave perfectly (Rom 7:14-23, Phil 3:12).
For example, John, a poor man, wants to visit his mother so he borrows Mark's second car to make the trip. (Both men believe they have the "love of God" in their hearts that can solve all human problems.) While on the trip the car brakes down and it will cost $1000 to fix it. John would like to pay to fix it, but he does not have the money so he thinks Mark should show love and pay for it. Mark has enough money but he was saving it for new carpets for which his wife had been asking for two years. He would not be showing love to his wife to ignore his promise to her. Mark thinks he was showing a lot of love to loan John the car in the first place, and that John should show love in return by honoring his promise to be responsible for the car.
The Bible solution to this problem was covered in Part Two of this series (July 1995 or see Ex 22:14-15). Had these men read and endeavored to live by the words of the Bible, rather than to just "have love," they might have made different arrangements before the trip, and they certainly would know who is responsible for fixing the car.
The Bible is clear that we need the Eternal's law to tell us what sin is (1Jn 3:4). We can grow to have the love of God by doing things that define His righteousness (Psalm 119:172; 1Jn 5:3).
Anyone that has raised children realizes that simply telling children what to do is not always enough. As our opening quote form Ecclesiastes 8:11 states, there is a need for a speedy sentence or punishment in order to help correct people that are doing things that our Creator told them not to do. Indeed, because neither man nor the Eternal has enforced the punishments given in the Scriptures, there is an incredible amount of evil in the world today.
So, what should be done? Should the Eternal or human governments begin to enforce the Biblical penalties without warning? Should parents who have let their children use profanity all their lives suddenly start spanking them? No. People punished for breaking laws of which they are not aware usually do not learn very well. They usually blame the "punisher." Our Father is more concerned about people disobeying laws that they do know compared to those laws they do not know (Rom 2:11-16; Luke 12;47-48). Nevertheless, people can be destroyed because of their ignorance of the Eternal's ways (Hos 4;6). What is necessary is to first teach the Eternal's laws, then to enforce them!
As previous articles have already covered Exodus 20-23 and Leviticus 19, we will continue in Leviticus 20. This chapter deals mostly with punishments. Many of them seem harshso harsh that they were often not carried out in the nation of Israel. Nevertheless, if people knew these punishments all of their lives, most of the sins described in this chapter would virtually never be committedand punishment would be rare. The total amount of human suffering would be infinitesimal compared to what happens today as a result of the sins.
Killing Babies for Personal Gain
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Again, you shall say to the children of Israel: 'Whoever of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who gives any of his descendants to Molech, he shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I will set My face against that man, and will cut him off from his people, because he has given some of his descendants to Molech, to defile My sanctuary and profane My holy name'" (Lev 20:1-3).
While there is scholarly debate on the exact nature of Molech worship, many scholars believe that some Israelites actually burnt their new-born children in the fire as a sacrifice to this false god. We learn in 2 Kings 23:10 that "he [Josiah] defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech." (A thorough treatment of Molech may be found in Molech: A God of Human Sacrifice in the Old Testament by John Day, Cambridge University Press, New York 1989.)
We know for certainty that Israelites did sacrifice their children to some false deity: "And they have built the high places of Tophet [probably the same place that Josiah destroyed, above], which is in the valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart" (Jer 7:31). "They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to demons, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and daughters" (Psalm 106:37-38).
Today, few people sacrifice their children directly to Molech, but millions sacrifice their children on the altar of conveniencethe convenience of sex without commitment. We live in a bizarre world indeed. A woman could walk into a hospital nursery, see her tiny newborn premature baby of only six months gestational age, open its incubator, cut him up and throw him away, and receive the death penalty for her heinous crime. In an office next door, a woman can walk in with an unborn baby of exactly the same gestational age, let a professional doctor cut him up and throw him away, and not be in violation of any of man's laws.
The ancient Israelites sacrificed their children believing the false gods would give them prosperity for doing it. They recognized it as a sacrifice. Today, most parent(s) kill their children simply because they do not want to be bothered by them. Which do you think is worse? It is interesting to note that Leviticus specified a double punishment for this sin. The offender was to be put to death by the people, but, in case they did not do their job, the Eternal promised to cut the offender off from His people.
Is the solution for today to find every woman and doctor that has been involved in an abortion and put them to death? Some may have known what the Eternal said about it; others may really believe today's ideas and think that all they have done was remove a little extra "fetal tissue." The solution is to first teach the crime and its punishmentthat will cause many that believe in the Bible to stop the sin. Implementing the punishment will have to wait until the millennium, but then it will certainly stop nearly all of the senseless killing of innocent babies.
"And if the people of the land should in any way hide their eyes from the man, when he gives some of his descendants to Molech, and they do not kill him, then I will set My face against that man and against his family; and I will cut him off from his people, and all who prostitute themselves with him to commit harlotry with Molech" (Lev 20:4-5).
It is interesting to see that the Eternal makes all of the people responsible, not just the leaders or a "police force." People were not allowed to "cover up" this sin if they discovered it in others. Today, we are not responsible for administering the civil government, but we are certainly responsible for teaching our children, and those in our congregations the truth of this matter. If someone in our congregationeven in our own family has one of their children murdered, we should put them out of our congregations. Are they barred from fellowship forever? Probably not. We will cover that in a few paragraphs.
Avoiding Spirits and Mediums
"And the person who turns to mediums and familiar spirits, to prostitute himself with them, I will set My face against that person and cut him off from his people. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am the Lord your God. And you shall keep My statutes, and perform them: I am the Lord who sanctifies you.... A man or a woman who is a medium, or who has familiar spirits, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones. Their blood shall be upon them" (Lev 20:6-8,27).
The Eternal promises to punish people Himself for consulting with mediums. This sin would be too difficult for men to effectively prosecute, since there is rarely any witness involved, and two or three would be required to establish the guilt (Deut 19:15). Without witnesses, how can one prove that a "consultation" took place? By not specifying a penalty for those that consult with mediums, it is much easier to get witnesses to come forward to testify against the mediums. If two or three people that had consulted with a medium decide to testify against him or her, the problem can be ended.
Clearly, the Eternal intends us to look to Him and His law to provide a happy and meaningful life. When people fear the futureespecially if they are sinningthey often turn to mediums for guidance or assurance that "things will turn out all right." As prostitutes give up their virginitya part of themselvesfor the temporary benefit of money, so people that consult mediums give up their close relationship with their Father in heaven for the temporary benefit (if it is a benefit at all) of demonic advice. Our loving Father wants us to be sanctifiedset apart for His holy purpose.
Today, one can look in the phone book of any major city and find psychics, card readers, palm readers and spiritual advisors of all types. Some of these people are charlatans; they possess no skill at all but take money for predictions and then move on before too many unhappy customers return. Others have great human skill to understand people and their feelingsthey can discern things about people that they may not know about themselves. Still others, like the witch at Endor, are in contact with demons that may impersonate the dead or give advice in other ways (1Sam 28:7). Finally, some people are completely demon possessed and have access to much knowledge in the spirit realm (Acts 16:16). None of these four types of advisors can guarantee that they are telling you the truth. Our Father has more knowledge than all of them, always tells the truth and is willing to share His wisdom with us if we are willing to do what is best for ourselvesto put away sin (Isa 59:1-2).
Sometimes, people with Bible knowledge seek mediums anyway because they know they are sinning. They are afraid that the Eternal will not answer them, where the mediums do not really care if people are sinning. This approach places us "deeper into trouble" rather than getting us out of it. If we know that we are sinning, we must cry out to our Father and ask for forgiveness. Then He will hear and help us (2Chr 7:14, 1Jn 1:9).
Do Not Curse Your Parents
"For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him (Lev 20:9).
Human babies are helpless when born. Without their parents, or someone to care for them, they would soon die. Many thousands of hours and dollars are needed to bring a child to adulthood. While many parents today are far from the ideal that the Eternal intended, we are commanded not to curse those that made it possible for us to be alive.
The expression "curse" means a thought-out expression of long-lasting contempt. This does not mean that the child that argues with his parents or calls them a naughty name should be put to death. Nevertheless, a lot of cursing of parents occurs today. There is a great need for believers and everyone else to begin teaching and following this law.
Homosexuality and Bestiality
"If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. If a man mates with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. If a woman approaches any animal and mates with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood is upon them (Lev 20:13,15-16).
In today's society, the death penalty seems harsh for the above sins. After all, do these acts really hurt anyone as long as all parties are consenting? Are not some people simply born homosexuals? Are not others conditioned to be so by dysfunctional relationships in their own family? There is no doubt that some people have much greater tendencies to be involved in homosexual activity and that it is family related. The penalty of sins is often passed down to the children (Ex 20:5;34:7; Num 14:18, Deut 5:9). Children with violent or sexually promiscuous parents also tend to be the same way. So should we let a murderer or rapist go free in our society because their parents were the same?
Obviously, the Creator that made us knows what kinds of sexual relationships are good for us and which ones are not. According to one theory, the AIDS virus was first introduced to humans when they were "lying with" monkeys. The virus was certainly spread by homosexuals. When people with these perverted sexual preferences are without a willing partner, there is a great tendency to coerce or force a partnersometimes children that cannot defend themselves. Animals that have partaken of relations with humans may try to repeat the behaviorwith a human that does not want it.
In His love for all of His creation, the Eternal decreed that people and animals that have partaken of such deviant behavior should be killed in order to protect the rest of the population. The people that die are not lost forever but will have a chance to deal with their problems when they are raised from the dead and given the holy spirit (Ezk 37:13-14). Once these people learn that they have a sin to be overcome, rather than just an "alternative lifestyle," there will be hope for them changing.
...Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor 6:9-10).
Various Sexual Sins Defined
"The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death. The man who lies with his father's wife has uncovered his father's nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death. They have committed perversion. Their blood shall be upon them (Lev 20:10-12).
"If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness. They shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you" (Lev 20:14).
"If a man takes his sister, his father's daughter or his mother's daughter, and sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a wicked thing. And they shall be cut off in the sight of their people. He has uncovered his sister's nakedness. He shall bear his guilt" (Lev 20:17).
"You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother's sister nor of your father's sister, for that would uncover his near of kin. They shall bear their guilt. If a man lies with his uncle's wife, he has uncovered his uncle's nakedness. They shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. If a man takes his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing. He has uncovered his brother's nakedness. They shall be childless (Lev 20:19-21).
Most of the above verses are quite specific and fairly self-explanatory. They start by prescribing the death penalty for adulterysomething no longer recognized as a crime by most Western societies. Too much of our population does not see anything wrong with it; some psychologists actually claim it is beneficial to a marriage. All we can do today is teach the truth, put major sinnerseven if they are "high ranking"out of our congregations that engage in the practice.
How do we know that we should put people out of our congregations today? This section defines the very sin of marrying one's own mother that occurred in the Corinthian church (1Cor 5:1-5). Leviticus specifies the death penalty, but Paul instructed the congregation to put them out when they came together again. Later (some estimate about six months), Paul instructed them to welcome him back (2Cor 2:6-7). If we can generalize from this example, a person who sins a sin worthy of death should be put out of his or her congregation. The whole congregation will know (just like they all knew when the death penalty was administered under Moses). But, if the sinning person remains out of the congregation for some time, appears repentant, and desires to return, then he or she should be allowed to return.
Why do we make a distinction between different types of sins? After all, if a person is guilty of breaking any point of the law, is he not guilty of it all? (Jms 2:10.) In a spiritual sense, any sin on our part brings on the death penalty; we can only obtain eternal life by our Savior's sacrifice (Rom 6:11, John 3:16). But we also have to deal with sin from the physical damage it causes. If a member of a congregation has a bad habit of stealing pens from the other members, he can restore two pens for every one he took, and continue in the congregation. He can repeat this problem several times, and still remain there. However, if a congregation has a practicing murderer, adulterer or homosexual, the damage he or she would do to the congregation often cannot be undone. The congregation is to put him or her out for the protection and reputation of the congregation (Matt 18:15-17, 1Cor 5:1-5, 2Thes 3:6 1Tim 6:5).
We can further note that many of the above Scriptures tend to deal with various forms of incesta temptation that occurred more often when extended families lived in close proximitysometimes in houses with very few rooms. The expression "uncover his/her nakedness" does not refer to the case where a person accidentally opens a door when someone else is dressing or bathing. These accidents do not bring the death penalty. "Uncovering nakedness" refers to a prolonged exposure with the possibility some sexual act of which the writer would rather not give specific details. In Genesis 9:22-24, Ham "saw the nakedness" of Noah, his father, but when Noah awoke he "knew what his youngest son had done to him." Obviously, Ham had done something more than just look at him, else Noah would have no way of knowing when he woke up.
"If a man lies with a woman during her sickness and uncovers her nakedness, he has exposed her flow, and she has uncovered the flow of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from their people" (Lev 20:18).
The question of whether or not couples should have intercourse during menses has been debated by the medical community as well as the sexually active for many years. The women's liberation thinking is that women are little different than men and should be able to do whatever they want whenever they want. Other women (and some men) find the whole idea repulsive. Some medical research shows a greater chance of disease spreading during such intercourse. Other research refutes those claims.
Whatever men might say, we have to realize that our Creator knows what is best for us. This command is repeated in Ezekiel 18:6 and 22:10. Furthermore, there are many happily married couples that have practiced this principle for years. This writer knows of some cases where one spouse believed in it and the other did not. In no case was the practice of this principle ever considered a problem or a sore-point in the marriage.
Do Not Follow Other Nations
"You shall therefore keep all My statutes and all My judgments, and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out. And you shall not walk in the statutes of the nation which I am casting out before you; for they commit all these things, and therefore I abhor them. But I have said to you, 'You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey.' I am the Lord your God, who has separated you from the peoples" (Lev 20:22-24).
This is a principle that applies to both nations and local congregations. We should not look to the customs and laws of other people or churches to decide how we will conduct our lives and worship our Father. We should look first to His instruction. We can learn physical things from other people: how to read, write, build buildings, etc., but we should never let these things replace the Bible instruction.
What is the punishment for following the customs of other nations? Being cast out of our land. This happened to ancient Israel and Judah on more than one occasion, and could happen again. Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 indicate this is the ultimate end for disobeying the Eternal.
Eating Clean Food
"You shall therefore distinguish between clean animals and unclean, between unclean birds and clean, and you shall not make yourselves abominable by beast or by bird, or by any kind of living thing that creeps on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine (Lev 20:25-26).
The difference between clean and unclean animals is explained in Leviticus 11. Some people look at the associated command to "be holy," above, and use it as proof that unclean meats are part of a ceremonial law that was ended along with the animal sacrifices. However, the language in verse 26 is about the same as verse 7 where the subject is familiar spirits. Does anyone believe that the command to not seek mediums ended with the ending of the sacrifices?
The Bible shows us that the knowledge of clean animals existed long before Moses. Noah was told to take seven pairs of the clean animals but only one pair of the unclean (Gen 7:2). Isaiah 66 speaks of the millennium, a time when our Savior will reign on earth. Verse 17 tells us that it will still be wrong to eat unclean foods at that time. Modern science has confirmed that many of the unclean animals do create an increased risk of disease. But we do not have to wait for science to discover all of the reasons why the Eternal's laws are good for us to follow. We can simply believe Him and obey Him now!
Norman S. Edwards
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