Saturday, March 8, 2014

Leviticus 18

Today's reading in our daily plan is Leviticus 18. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • God continues to lay out the rules for the new Israelite society, rules that will help them to have a healthy society that honors God. In this chapter God gives the Israelites laws concerning sexual relations.
  • In verse 29 God tells the Israelites that if anyone breaks these laws pertaining to sexual relations, they are to be cut off from their society. We have seen in recent readings from (and posts about) Leviticus that this removing a person was a function of the "old covenant" and that in the New Testament, because of Jesus, we receive from God a "new covenant" (a new agreement) in which God gives us a different way to keep our community pure: faith in the sacrifice of Jesus. So ostracizing a person who sins is no longer necessary.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • As you read through the list of sexual sins, you probably nodded your head in agreement that "Yes, that is wrong, and the world would be better if people didn't do that," perhaps until verse 22, which prohibits homosexual behavior. In our culture, this would be questioned. And maybe you have questions. Like, "We've seen some things from the Old Testament that no longer apply today, but we've also see God uphold some standards from the Old Testament law. Is homosexual behavior still prohibited?" Yes, it is. God reiterated this in the New Testament. (See, for instance 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Romans 1:26-27.) Notice, though, that it only deals with the act of homosexual sex, not with same-sex attraction or the temptation. It is entirely possible for people to have same-sex attraction and also love Jesus with all of their hearts. In fact, there are many people who are attracted to the same sex, but have chosen to forego those sexual relationships because of their love for Jesus. The truth is that we all have some broken and misled sexual desires. We all need to submit all of our desires to God. And God is fully capable of giving us the strength we need to live in a way that honors him.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What are some sexual desires/temptations you have that, if you acted on them, would not honor God? Perhaps you're tempted to have sex before marriage? Or to have sex outside your marriage? Or you have desires for people of the same sex? Instead of just going with the flow of your desires, seek God and his wisdom and strength to live in the way he says is best.
  • Perhaps this verse really bothers you. You may have a person you love who is gay, and it makes you angry at God that he says your loved one should not live out his/her desires. Those feelings are understandable, but you have a decision to make. The decision is whether you will let God be God, or whether you will decide that you are God. If God is God, he may say things you don't like, but since he's God he gets to call the shots, and you need to listen. If you decide that there are things he says in the Bible that you won't agree with (no sex before marriage, don't get drunk, give him 10% of your income, homosexual behavior is wrong) then what you're saying is that you have the wisdom to decide what's wrong and right, which therefore means you must be God. It may not be easy, but if you want to let God be God, decide today to follow what he teaches, even if it doesn't line up with what you currently believe.