Leviticus 18:17 Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. . . . That is wickedness.
This chapter contains the most extensive list of sexual prohibitions in the Bible. Sexuality is God’s idea, and he pronounced it very good (Genesis 1:31). Sex is God’s wedding gift to those who wait, but it’s often misused by married and singles alike. This is why such an extensive list was necessary.
Many applaud themselves for avoiding outward misconduct, but inward purity is also important. You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28), said Jesus. And, among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3), wrote Paul.
This is a struggle for many because the sexual impulse can be powerful and relentless. Good and godly people have done foolish things because they allowed desire to overrule their judgment. Whoever wants to please God should follow the example of Job. I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman (Job 31:1), he said.
Leviticus 24:10 Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites, and a fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite.
We do not know what caused the fight, but the young man used the occasion to blaspheme God. This was a violation of the third commandment: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name (Exodus 20:7), wrote Moses. No penalty had been revealed, however, so the young man was taken into custody until the will of the Lord [was] made clear (Leviticus 24:12).
Leviticus 24:13-16 Then the Lord said to Moses: Take the blasphemer outside the camp. All those who heard him are to lay their hands on his head, and the entire assembly is to stone him. Say to the Israelites: Anyone who curses their God will be held responsible; anyone who blasphemes the name of the Lord is to be put to death.
To use God’s name disrespectfully is to insult the king of the universe and risk immediate judgment. Sinful speech is never appropriate (Ephesians 4:29), but we are not as severely threatened for obscenity as we are for blasphemy. It would be better to use obscenity a hundred times a day than to disrespect the name of God even once.
In light of this fact, it is remarkable how often God’s name is misused around the world. People seldom misuse the name of Buddha, Muhammad or Krishna. But the name of God and his Son Jesus Christ are misused in the most vulgar ways thinkable—as though Satan himself was speaking. [A]ll day long my name is constantly blasphemed (Isaiah 52:5), said God. Imagine what it is like to hear your name being used as a curse twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, three-hundred sixty-five days a year, for centuries.
It may seem that God overlooks the sin of blasphemy, but he does not. I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned (Matthew 12:36-37), said Jesus.
One of my friends in high school was very popular, but he spoke of God and Jesus Christ in ways that were straight from hell. Nothing bad ever happened to him until the summer after he graduated. He was mowing the side of a hill when the tractor tipped over and snuffed out his life. No one heard his final words, but if they were like his ordinary speech, he did not die well.
God is usually patient with us, but we should never put him to the test, because he can call us to account at any time. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31), says Hebrews.
Leviticus 23:1-2 The Lord said to Moses, Speak to the Israelites and say to them: These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.
This chapter outlines Israel’s religious calendar including their many festivals. God wanted his people to rejoice, so he gave them occasions to celebrate. The word rejoice is found over one hundred times throughout the Old Testament.
In contrast, the New Testament has no religious calendar or holidays. Christmas and Easter are never mentioned, nor were they observed until after the apostles died. Christians gathered on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2), but were not forbidden to work on that day.
Christians are not required to observe religious holidays, but God still wants his people to rejoice. Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4), wrote Paul.
A large hotel chain interviewed five thousand people for five hundred jobs. The managers were told not to hire anyone who smiled fewer than four times during their interview. If people judged your religion by your joy, would they want to join? Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Leviticus 25:10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you.
The Year of Jubilee was to be celebrated every fiftieth year, so most people would experience it at least once in their adult life. Debt was to be canceled (Leviticus 25:23-28), and slaves were to be set free (Leviticus 25:39-55). Those who were oppressed could always look forward to the day of their freedom.
Jesus had the Year of Jubilee in mind when he preached at Nazareth. The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners . . . to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:18-19, Isaiah 61:1-2).
The Year of Jubilee was not observed very well by Israel, but Jesus fulfills it by setting us free from sin (Acts 13:9), and canceling our debt of sin. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness (Colossians 2:13-14), wrote Paul. What the Year of Jubilee promised for a year, Jesus Christ has given forever. [I]f the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36), he said.
Reflection and Review
Why is blasphemy so evil?
Why should Christians be joyful?
How does Jesus fulfill the Year of Jubilee?