Reading Leviticus 17-20 today.
There have been many who have wondered why God would give the land of Canaan to the people of Israel. The first promise of this comes through to Abram [Abraham], then it is promised to Isaac, and Jacob [Israel]. We are told, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to Him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3; Genesis 15:6). We see much from the reading of Leviticus. God requires a holy people. A people set apart, sanctified, different, trusting the LORD.
Chapters 17 – 20 deal with holiness, and gives explanation of why God gives these ordinances for Israel to believe and obey.
“Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled;) that the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you. For whosoever shall commit any of these abominations, even the souls that commit them shall be cut off from among their people. Therefore shall ye keep Mine ordinance, that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 18:24-30 (KJV)
The land we know as Israel is referred to by God Himself as a “Land of milk and honey” meaning that it is a prosperous, beautiful land. The land needs water; and it is dependent upon rain. The LORD even tells us at one point at least that that is where they should be dependent upon the LORD.
The laws/commandments given in these chapters deal with sexual immorality with family, neighbor’s spouses, same sex, and animals. In reading the above verses, as well as 20:22-24 leads me to conclude that these were the sins of the people of Canaan. God calls them abominations. The laws also deal with sorcery, astrology (using the zodiac or stars to predict one’s future), speaking with the dead [necromancy]. My convictions tell me that if God called these abominations in the days of Canaan and Israel’s wandering in the wilderness; He still calls them abominations.
“It is just an Old Testament single passage that is no longer relevant to today or Christianity” is one phrase I have heard concerning passages such as these. What should the Christian response be to these laws of holiness. The Christian response should be one of godliness, holiness. The Christian response should be of loving God which is obeying God from the heart and with one’s life. The question the Christian will ask is not “How close can I get to sin and still be alright with God?”, but is a statement “I must stay as far away from sin as I can, lest I offend God, and sin against Him”.
Some might say, “Well why didn’t God just drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, and the others when Abraham was in the land?” Not only was God preparing a people; His people; for the land, but He was giving the people of the land ample time to repent. To Abraham God spoke of a coming day when Israel would be in the land, but it would be after they had served a nation for 430 years (Genesis 15:13-16). For 430 years God was giving mercy to the people of Canaan, the Amorites; they refused repentance and only grew more and more evil.
Let’s not be so quick to judge God’s holiness, righteousness, and Justice; by asking, “If God is so good why does He not judge and remove evil?” I no longer ask that question because I have come to realize, that if God were to remove evil, then He would need to rid the world of me. God is merciful. He has shown us His mercy and grace through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ His holy Son.
Please read Leviticus 17 – 20.
-Tim A. Blankenship