The Laws in Leviticus

I’m in the break room at work today and I hear a discussion going on. It doesn’t last long, but what I see reminds me of a great lack that I see in the church today. Somehow, someone brings up the topic of tattoos. Now I don’t really care for tattoos. Don’t think what I’m saying is a defense of them. However, one guy says “Well the Bible says you’re not supposed to have tattoos.”

Yeah. It’s there in Leviticus. The problem was, I wanted to go up to him and say “What are your clothes made out of?” Why? Because if he had anything made out of mixed fabrics, well, the Bible says you’re not supposed to have that in the same book so you need to repent and burn those clothes.

I can imagine if I had said something, I would have got a reply like “Are you saying you don’t believe the Word of God?”

And I fear some of you might be wondering that now.

No. I am not saying that. I am saying we need to have a proper understanding. It would be your problem also if you wore mixed fabrics to tell me why you think one law is okay to break and one isn’t? However, we must be careful because Leviticus also strongly condemns homosexual behavior and we do see the same argumentation from people that since we know it’s okay to wear mixed fabrics, why do we still insist homosexuality is wrong? We’re picking and choosing.

The name for Leviticus speaks of its relation to the Levites, which were to be the priests for the people. The book is a detailed look at holiness before the Lord. There are laws in there of different types. Some are ceremonial. These include such things as tattoos and mixed fabrics. They were to remind the people of purity before God and separate them from the pagan nations, who would often use tattoos in their lifestyle.

Why no mixed fabrics? Because they were to be reminded in even their clothing that God is absolutely pure. Everything in their lives was to remind them that they were the people of a holy God. This is the ceremonial law though. It was never put on Gentiles and they were never expected to follow it.

Another aspect is civil law. Civil law in the OT would relate to the specific punishments for crimes within the nation of Israel. When someone objects to the stoning of the son that is disobedient, they are speaking more of civil law than moral law for we still condemn children who are disobedient to their parents. We don’t stone them though because we are not Israel. Israel had such laws to prepare them for the Messiah and to show them as a kingdom of priests.

The ones that still apply to us all though are the moral laws. These include the laws on sexuality. How do I know? Simple. Read the text. When you read the relevant chapters, they will tell you why Israel is getting the land. God says that these people who you are driving out did these same actions. In other words, “They should have known better.” They are doing that which is wrong in my sight as everyone knows.

When the prophets speak to the other nations, look at what they are condemned for. It is not because they don’t offer burnt offerings according to Levitical methods. It is not because they are raising hybrid animals. It is because they are failing in the moral law that Paul says is on everyone’s heart.

Why write about this? Simple. I think this Christian would have been caught right between the eyes had someone from the homosexual left come up and asked him why he was picking and choosing. I also think it shows that we have a lack of biblical understanding in our culture.

Granted, there are some things hard to understand. We will spend a lifetime unraveling some mysteries in Scripture. Basic biblical interpretation should not be one of them and I suspect that one reason the homosexual left and other groups in other areas are rising is because of biblical illiteracy on our part. Bible drills in church won’t cut it. We need study. We need truth.

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