Leviticus. Nablus (ancient Shechem, between Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal), was occupied by Samaritan Jews nearly two thousand years ago. This photo was taken around 1909.
Many Christians have a peculiar obsession with Leviticus and the subject of homosexuality. Unwilling to accept the clear statements of scripture, they insist that Jewish Law applies to everyone, from creation to eternity. This belief, held by many Christians, is absolutely contrary to what scripture actually says.
Samaritan Jews, early twentieth century.
Leviticus is written specifically for the children of Israel, containing laws and rules for Israel to obey as they prepare to occupy the land of Canaan.
Moses with the Ten Commandments.
Does God tell us, in the Bible, to whom the laws in Leviticus apply? Yes, God states precisely, to whom Leviticus and the Law applied. Moses writes under inspiration, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
“The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, [the Jewish nation] who are all of us here alive this day.” Deuteronomy 5:3.
“This day” was around 1450 BC, when Moses originally wrote the Law that God gave him on Mt. Sinai for the nation of Israel.
Notice Two Important Things
First, the law of Moses did not apply to anyone before God gave it to Moses.
Read Deuteronomy 5:3 again and let it sink into your heart. Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not under the law of Moses.
Second, God made His covenant of law, as given in Leviticus, in approximately 1450 BC, with Moses and the Jewish people who were getting ready to possess the land of Canaan, what we today call Israel.
The Holiness Code was not given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They lived hundreds of years before Moses.
The Holiness Code was not made with everyone living on earth. It was a specific covenant with a specific people, the Jews, at a specific time in history, for specific purposes related to the specific situation in Palestine at that time.
The Molech idol, where pagans sacrificed their children to a false god.
The Holiness Code of Leviticus did not apply to anyone anywhere, until God gave it to Moses, for Israel to obey, in the land of Israel, Deuteronomy 4:5, 14, 5:31, 6:1.
Throughout Leviticus, Moses is speaking to the children of Israel, giving instructions for living in the land, under the Law. Moses is not setting down rules and regulations for Christians, in the twenty first century. The Holiness Code was intended to outlaw the pagan practices of fertility goddess cults in ancient Canaan.
It is important to distinguish between Jews and Christians as we interpret the Bible.
Christians do not show up in scripture until Acts 11:26, some fifteen hundred years after the Holiness Code was given.
Some of the Bible is written to Jews but not written to Christians. For example, we have demonstrated above, that Leviticus is written to Jews (the children of Israel).
The New Testament never instructs us that Christians must live under Jewish Law or that Christians must observe Jewish rituals practiced by Old Testament Jews.
If you don't understand that, you'll have difficulty understanding the difference between law and grace.
Jesus on the Cross
God, through Moses, addressed Himself to a particular people in a particular cultural situation at a particular time in history for a particular purpose in a particular land under particular Jewish Laws which went out of force the moment Jesus died on the Cross.
“Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.” Matthew 27:50, Old KJV
“Like a will that takes effect when someone dies, the new covenant [the New Testament] was put into action at Jesus’ death.” Hebrews 9:16, The Message.
The New Covenant, what we call the New Testament, went into effect when Jesus died on the Cross. The Old Covenant, what we call the Old Testament, went out of force when Jesus died on the Cross.
"For where a testament [covenant] is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator [the person making the covenant]. For a testament [covenant] is of force after men are dead..." Hebrews 9:16-17.
The Law was in effect from the time God gave it to Moses on Mt. Sinai, around 1450 BC until Jesus died on the Cross, around AD 30. When Jesus died on the Cross, even the Jews who did not believe in Him knew things had radically changed because the veil of the temple, which shielded the Holy of Holies, was torn from top to bottom.
"And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain [torn in two pieces] from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent [were torn]. Matthew 27:51.
As we noted above, Leviticus is not addressed to people who lived before the Law, Deuteronomy 5:3, and it is not addressed to people who live after the Law ended.
Hands holding Bible
Matthew 11:13 tells us “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John [the Baptist].”
That word until is important. If I'm going on vacation and I ask you to watch my house until I get back, does that mean you have to watch my house forever or only until I get back? Well obviously, you would be watching my house only until I get back. Until indicates an ending point.
Just so, when the Bible says "For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John" God is telling us that the Law is not in force forever. According to Jesus, the Law was only in force until John the Baptist.
The Old Testament Law Had An Ending Point.
The Law ended when the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, died for the sins of the world. Calvary and the old rugged Cross is the focal point of time and eternity! God's grand plan of redemption, with Jesus on Calvary's Cross, taking upon Himself the wrath of God against our sins, Romans 1:18, is the fulcrum of human history, the pivot point of our theology, the cornerstone of our Christian experience.
God never intended that Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 should be applied to Christians in the twenty first century.
In Leviticus 18:1-3, Moses speaks to Jews, the twelve tribes of Israel, under the Law.
Sterling silver Torah pointer
“And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.”
In Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, God intends to prohibit shrine prostitution and Molech worship, that is, men having sex with men in worship of Ashtoreth, Molech's Canaanite fertility goddess consort.
We know that by the context.
Leviticus 17:7 and 18:3 and 18:21 set the context for Leviticus 18:22. God warns Israel against worshiping the goat idols, the goat demons, the pagan gods and pagan practices of Egypt and Canaan, also specifically mentioning Molech (which includes Molech's fertility goddess consort, Ashtoreth).
Leviticus 20:2-5 & 23 set the context for Leviticus 20:13. God makes the same warning against the pagan practices of Egypt and Canaan, specifically mentioning Molech. The rules God gives in Leviticus specifically target the children of Israel. They are God's rules for Israel, living under the Law, in the land of Palestine, at a particular time in history.
Behold the Man!
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Tim 2:15.
"Rightly dividing" means to apply the scripture in its proper context. 2 Timothy 2:15 is God's warning that we must not take scripture out of context. All scripture is written for us but all scripture is not written to us to practice. For example, Old Testament Law required Jews to bring a ram or a lamb to the Tabernacle and give it to the priests as an offering for sin. Jesus became our passover Lamb.
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John 1:29.
For even Christ our passover [Lamb] is sacrificed for us." I Corinthians 5:7.
The Cross of Christ
The Cross Is The Great Dividing Point
Since Jesus died on the Cross, God requires no one, including Jews, to offer blood sacrifices at the Jewish Temple because Jesus has shed His sinless blood on Calvary. The sinless blood of Jesus appeased God's wrath by making a satisfactory offering for sin while also satisfying all the demands of God's justice and therefore, never needs to be offered again - once for all - one sacrifice for sins forever, Hebrews 10:10, 12, 14.
God no longer requires us to offer a blood sacrifice or to keep the Law in order to be right with God or to get saved. God requires us to accept Jesus' blood as the offering for our sins, a transaction that took place nearly two thousand years ago. Have you accepted Jesus' payment for your sins? Have you received the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior from sin, hell and the wrath of God?
Scriptural Conclusions Based On
What The Bible Actually Says
The Open Bible
There is no logical analogy between ancient cult prostitutes who worshiped the fertility goddess and modern homosexuals.
If you cannot tell the difference between a mob intent on gang raping Lot and his angel visitors in Genesis 19 and a loving legal marriage between two men or two women, then you are struggling with a dishonest heart.
This page updated January 28, 2017
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We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.