Then the Lord said to Moses, "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. I am the Lord you God. So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the Lord your God. If you obey my decree and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord. Leviticus 18:1-5
I love how God immediately identifies what will get them in trouble (acting like the people around them) and warns them against it. I love how He gives them instructions on avoiding corruption through observation and imitation of the other peoples simply by saying "obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees" because He has already given specifics in regards to all evil practices, they are well prepared by Him if they choose to listen and obey. But my favorite part is verse 5 because it is the words of God paralleling so perfectly with the words of Jesus!
If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.
"Why ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied, "There is only one who is good. But to answer you question-if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.
Echo anyone?! I love it when they do this because it reminds me that they are indeed one and the same no matter what others my say about the wrathful OT God versus the merciful NT Jesus. Clearly they have not read the Bible through, which is necessary in connection making! ;)
Anyway, after the list of rules we come across 24-30:
Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, for the people I am driving out before you have defiled themselves in all these ways. Because the entire land has become defiled, I am punishing the people who live there. I will cause the land to vomit them out. You must obey all my decrees and reulations. You must not commit any of these detestable sins. This applies both to native-born Israelites and to the foreigners living among you. All these detestable activities are practiced by the people of the land where I am taking you, and this is how the land has become defiled. So do not defile the land and give it a reason to vomit you out, as it will vomit out the people who live there now. Whoever commits any of these detestable sins will be cut off from the community of Israel. So obey my instructions, and do not defile yourselves by committing any of these detestable practices that were committed by the people who lived in the land before you. I am the Lord you God. Leviticus 18:24-30
There are four things I really like about this passage so I'm going to list them below.
- the metaphor: I personally love analogies and metaphors and connections and word pictures. They help me to wrap my mind around certain concepts and to remember them. God is the master with that kind of stuff (parables! symbols! OT-NT links!) and this is a great example of it. He's explaining how when we defile ourselves, bad things come of it by saying that abominable practices create a poison that makes what is taking care of us sick. The only way for it to get better is to vomit, which has disastrous results for the defiled people.
- foreigners abstinence: Even if a foreigner does not believe in God, as long as s/he is in the community of Israel, s/he will abstain from defiling practices and abominations. I love this because I often find myself laughing a crude jokes or turning a blind eye when someone who's not a Christian cusses or gossips (aka sins) in my presence because I don't want to seem judgmental. Unfortunately, this strategy can actually be very harmful because it makes us get used to what ever they're doing and, after time, begin to view it as not quite so big of a deal as we used to think it was. However, the way we see it does not change what it is and sin is evil, period. God is reminding the Israelites that it's never a good idea to allow those around you to sin without blinking an eye because, as much as we (or at least I) would like to deny it, it will slowly desensitize our conscience until we end up doing it ourselves or do other things that no longer seem bad in the light of what people do regularly around us.
- "Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways": When God asks us not to do something, it is for our good. God didn't ask us to obey Him because He's the boss. He asks us to obey Him because He's just and doesn't want to have to punish us or drive us out of the good land He's placed us in but will if that's what it takes. Besides that fact that when one's eyes are opened to the fact that they've defiled themselves, that releases a flood of emotions that aren't overly pleasant.
- I am the Lord your God: I love that He ends with this statement. A final reminder of why other peoples do detestable things and many don't seem to be punished. A reminder that the God of the universe loves us enough to rule over us personally forever.
I'm going to end with an exert directly from my study Bible (shockingly enough this is the only Bible notes I used it this whole post!! :O).
Several detestable activities are listed here: (1) having sexual relations with close relatives, (2) committing adultery, (3) offering children as sacrifices, (4) having homosexual relations, and (5) having sexual relations with animals. These practices were common in pagan religions and cultures, and i is easy to see why God dealt harshly with those who began to follow them. Such practices lead to disease, deformity, and death. They disrupt family life and society and reveal a low regard for the value of oneself and of others. Society today takes some of these practices lightly, even trying to make them acceptable. But they are still sins in God's eyes. If you consider them acceptable, you are not living by God's standards. (emphasis added)