For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2004 James Melough

19:1.  “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,”


The comments on 18:1 apply here also.


19:2.  “Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.”


It is instructive to note that God speaks only to His own people, His only word to the unconverted being warning to flee from the wrath to come, see, e.g., John 3:7, and to be saved by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  And the reason is given in 1 Corinthians 2:14, ”But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”


That Israel is a type of the Church is indicated by the fact that we who constitute the Church are also commanded to be holy, “But as he who has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Be you holy; for I am holy,” 1 Peter 1:15-16.


This call to His people to be holy, is the same command as was given them in 11:45, the repetition here being clearly to emphasize the importance of the command.


19:3.  “Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.”


In the present context “fear” means to honor, respect, reverence; and the joining of this command to the injunction to keep the sabbaths, shows the importance which God attaches to it.


Since the sabbaths were days of rest, the emphasis on the need to keep them, is God’s symbolic way of underscoring the need for every man to enter into that eternal rest made available to believers through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.


19:4.  “Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.”


Unbelieving men must have something tangible, something that can be perceived by one or more of their five senses, but the Lord has declared blessed those who believe without seeing, “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed,” John 20:29.  And again it is written, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” Hebrews 11:1, and again in Hebrews 11:7, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”


Relative to worship, the Lord has declared, “God is a Spirit:

and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth,” John 4:24; but He also said that, “... a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have,” Luke 24:39.  The believer has what the unbeliever lacks: spiritual perception.  He is not dependent on his five senses for the evidence of God’s existence, for, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God,” Romans 8:16; “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” 1 Corinthians 2:14.


The distinction here between an idol and a molten god was that both were idols, but the latter was made of more valuable material.  Whether of wood or gold however, an idol is worse than worthless, for idolatry brings the votary down to hell and the lake of fire.


19:5.  “And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord, ye shall offer it at your own will.”


The presentation was to be prompted by the offerer’s own free will, and without ulterior motive, such as attempting to appear holy in the eyes of men, or of inducing God to bestow blessing.  God cannot be manipulated, nor will He either compel a sinner to be saved, or a saint to serve or worship.  These things He leaves to the individual’s free willed choice.  Men will be in heaven because they choose to trust in Christ as Savior, or in hell because they refused to trust in Him.  Each man chooses his own eternal destination, whether it be heaven or hell.


19:6.  “It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire.”


Eating is synonymous with satisfaction, so the message here is that “the same day,” i.e., the moment we trust Christ, we enter into the enjoyment of peace with God; and “on the morrow,” i.e., the rest of our lives, we walk in the enjoyment of that peace, “which passes all understanding,” Philippians 4:7.


Since three is the number of resurrection, the burning on the third day of whatever remained, may be the symbolic announcement of the fact that after the resurrection of life, everything pertaining to earthly experience will be ended for ever, and replaced with the transcendent bliss and glory of heaven.


19:7.  “And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it is abominable; it shall not be accepted.”


This may be the symbolic announcement of a very different truth; the eater being the unbeliever who has nothing to take into eternity but the menu of the things which he “ate,” i.e., which satisfied him on earth, and kept him from Christ.  Abominable, in the present context, means refuse, that which is repulsive, tainted.


19:8.  “Therefore everyone that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the Lord: and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.”


He who enters eternity without having been born again, will suffer the wrath of God for ever in the lake of fire, the sin which brings that punishment being not murder, adultery, theft, etc., - what men would consider the greatest sins: it will be what men don’t even consider sin: failure to read and obey the word of God; but He brands such neglect as profanation, i.e., making common what He calls holy.


The cutting off of the offender from his people being either expulsion from the camp of Israel, or his execution, the latter seeming to be the more likely.  That fate foreshadows the consignment of the unbeliever, first to hell, and ultimately to the eternal torment of the lake of fire.


19:9.  “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.”


To glean is to gather bit by bit, slowly and laboriously; and gleanings in this present context refers to that which God had decreed should be left for the poor and the stranger to gather up for themselves, see Leviticus 23:22, Deuteronomy 24:21.  The farmer was not to reap the corners of his fields, nor to rake up every last stalk of grain.  The practical lesson being taught in this is that believers are also to be mindful of the poor, and are to be liberal in ministering to their needs.  The teaching however, goes beyond the tangible.  We are to be equally generous in supplying their spiritual need: we are to seize every opportunity to present them with the warnings and invitation of the Gospel.


19:10.  “And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.”


Since a vineyard is a plantation of grape vines, especially those whose grapes are used for making wine, wine being a biblical symbol of joy and gladness, see Psalm 104:15, “And wine that maketh glad the heart of man ....” this command is related to our responsibility to bring joy and gladness into the hearts of others; and in the present context, especially “the poor and the stranger,” who typologically represent the unsaved, for he who hasn’t been born again is poor indeed, and is a stranger to grace.  The gospel “... is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth ....” Romans 1:16, and there is no joy on earth equal to that of the knowledge of sins forgiven.   


The repeated, “I am the Lord your God,” continues to emphasize that the leaving of the gleanings for the poor, and the preaching of the gospel, are commands, not options.


19:11.  “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.”


To steal is to take by force or stealth what belongs to another, and the enormity of Israel’s guilt may be measured by the fact that they not only stole from one another, but from God, see Malachi 3:8, “Will a man rob God?  Yet ye have robbed me, But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee?  In tithes and offerings.”  Israel had failed to present to God, not only free will offerings, but also those that were mandated.  And before condemning Israel, we would be well advised to examine ourselves whether we are not guilty of the same crime.  Do we, for example, give to God out of our gross income, even the bare minimum one-tenth, that was mandated under law for Israel?  Dare we who are the beneficiaries of far greater blessings than were given to Israel, rob God by giving less than the tenth?  (I know an elderly woman, converted in her teens, who since then has followed the practice of giving to God not only the tenth of her income, but in addition, the same amount of money that she spends on her clothes).


Money however, is not the only thing of which we rob God.  Do we waste time in frivolous pastimes such as reading, playing or watching sports, TV viewing, music, painting, etc.?  These things might not be classified as sins, but we are to remember the exhortation given in Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”  How differently will we view these seemingly harmless “weights” when we stand at the Bema, and discover to our eternal loss, that they have robbed us of eternal reward!


“... neither deal falsely,” means don’t deceive or cheat.  How subtle we can be in deceiving others into believing that we are better than we are!  How deceitful we can be in our business dealings: for example, failing to disclose defects when selling our used cars or appliances, etc., salving our consciences with the old cliché caveat emptor (let the buyer beware).


“... neither lie one to another.”  This applies not only to the “big lies,” but also to those about which we salve our consciences by calling them “little white lies.”   A lie is a lie no matter what color we may choose to assign it.  It is to be noted what is written relative to lies, “These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him ...” and “a lying tongue” is second on the list, preceded only by “a proud look.”


19:12.  “And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord.”


This does not forbid the use of God’s name in connection with the making of a solemn oath or promise, but rather the use of it in connection with an oath or promise made by one who had no intention of keeping it, the breach thus causing God’s name to be dishonored.


19:13.  “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.”


“... defraud,” in the present context means to exploit, take advantage of, to use for one’s own selfish ends, oppress, use extortion towards; extortion meaning the act of obtaining something from someone by means of force, threat, intimidation, or abuse of authority.  To rob someone is to take something from him by unlawful force or threat of violence.


The wages due to the day laborer were not to be kept overnight, but were to be given him at the end of the workday or other stipulated time acceptable to him.  Loving consideration was to characterize the dealings between employer and employee.  Today’s large factories and workshops, and trade unions, have largely eliminated the personal relationship between employer and employee; but where it still exists, these principles laid down by God still apply.


We too have an obligation to our neighbors: to present them with the good news of the Gospel.  As the worker’s wages were not to remain with the employer “all night until the morning,” neither during this night of the Lord’s absence are we to hoard up to ourselves the Gospel message of salvation to every man who will admit that he is a sinner, and who will trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior.  By morning we could be in heaven.  By morning the man we should have warned could be in hell.


9:14.  “Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the Lord.”


In Scripture, physical deafness is often used to portray spiritual deafness, i.e., sinners often turn a deaf ear to the Gospel; and saints likewise often fail to “hear”, i.e., heed words of exhortation. 


As used here “curse” means to belittle, make light of, to regard as vile, to be contemptuous of.  How often we who are believers are guilty of adopting this attitude towards the unconverted who seem deaf to the warnings of the Gospel!  Instead of looking upon them with pity, and seeking to lead them to the Savior, we view them with contempt, and ridicule their lifestyles, when we are responsible to present them with the Gospel.


Literal blindness is often used symbolically of the corresponding spiritual state.  Sinners are blind to their true condition.  Many view morality, church-going, generosity, good works, etc., as the means of getting to heaven, when they are, in fact, Satan’s blinders to keep them from seeing the need, not of good works, but of repentance, and faith in Christ as Savior.  The dreadful “stumblingblock” we often put before these blinded dupes is our own moral lifestyles divorced from the explanation that we are saved through faith in Christ as Savior and Lord, and not through these good deeds.  We owe them the explanation that our moral living is not to get salvation, but to express our gratitude to God for salvation already obtained by faith, He having made it available to us at such cost: the terrible death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.


“... but shalt fear thy God.”  “... fear” in the present context means “to regard with loving reverence.”  We should never forget that the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, is also the majestic second Person of the Godhead, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the One in whose presence even the angels veil their faces.


19:15.  “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbor.”


“... unrighteousness” here means to distort morally; to do evil; be unjust; be unrighteous; be perverse.  Israel was not to be guilty of any of these sins in connection with the rendering of judgment.  They were neither to show partiality to the poor; nor favor or deference to the rich or powerful.  All cases were to be decided fairly on the basis of strict legal judgment, yet in spite of this command, there was never a greater travesty of justice than the trial and condemnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. It will be very different at the Great White Throne.  Perfect holiness will be combined with perfect knowledge to supply the affirmative answer to the question, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25, and to guarantee that the judgment rendered against each one arraigned there will be exactly suited to the degree of his guilt.


We who are believers should never cease to thank God that the Lord Jesus Christ has been willing to take our guilty place at Calvary, and suffer there Himself the righteous wrath that should justly have consigned us to the eternal torment of the lake of fire.


19:16.  Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor: I am the Lord.”


This is also rendered, “spreading slander among your kinsmen ... nor stand idly by while your neighbor’s life is at stake because of a false accusation.  Do not whisper calumnies in the public ear,” calumny being a false and malicious statement designed to injure a reputation. 


It is a peculiar trait of fallen human nature, that most of us, though we would never admit it, find some pleasure in hearing gossip.  Since however, God forbids the uttering of gossip, it is clear that He is equally displeased with those who delight in hearing it, see Proverbs 11:13; 18:8; 20:19; 26:20-22 and 1 Timothy 5:13.


Relative to “the blood of thy neighbor,” it is instructive to note that Israel, not only didn’t stand idly by, but were the active agents in procuring the death of their “neighbor,” the Lord Jesus Christ, their utter depravity being declared in their reply to Pilate’s question, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” and they responded, “Let him be crucified,” their reply to Pilate’s further declaration, “I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it,” being, “His blood be on us, and on our children,” Matthew 27:23-25.


How dearly they have paid for those murderous words!  For two thousand years Jewish blood has wet the soil of virtually every nation on earth; nor is the worst behind them.  The now imminent Great Tribulation will bring such slaughter as will virtually annihilate them, it being only by God’s mercy that a small remnant will be spared to inherit millennial blessing.


19:17.  “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.”


Alternative translations of this verse are, “Do not nurse resentment against thy brother; put thyself in the right by confronting him with his fault,” “yet correct your fellow man lest you incur sin on his account,” “reprove your fellow countryman frankly and so you will have no share in his guilt.”

Regarding this same matter, the Lord, in Matthew 18:15 has commanded, “... if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”


See Matthew 18:16-17 for the course to be followed when the offending brother refuses to listen to reason, “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.  And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”


1 Corinthians chapter 6 forbids believers to go to law with one another, it being written, “... brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.  Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” verses 1-7.  We will never lose by leaving ourselves in God’s hands - even if it means waiting for the Bema for the adjustment of wrongs done to us on earth.


19:18.  “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.”


Relative to vengeance it is written, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord,” Romans 12:19.


In response to this command to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” the response is often given, “It’s impossible to love others to this degree, except our immediate family.”  God however, never commands us to do the impossible.  The difficulty is removed when we remember that He is not commanding us to love every other person with the same emotional intensity as we love our parents, spouses, and children.  He is commanding us to act towards others in the same manner as we do to our own families, a factor which puts the command within the realm of possible fulfillment.


19:19.  “Ye shall keep my statutes.  Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender (breed) with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.” 


“Ye shall keep my statutes” announces the imperative of obedience, apart from which there will be chastisement rather than blessing, the value God sets upon obedience being declared in 1 Samuel 15:22, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”


The prohibition against cross breeding of different kinds of animals is the OT typological announcement of the truth that there is to be separation between believers and unbelievers, as declared in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you ....”


It is instructive to note that God, anticipating man’s violation of this command, has ordained that the product of such cross breeding is always sterile, e.g., mules.  The lesson being taught in this is that the union of believer with unbeliever will bear no spiritual fruit.  On the contrary, the believer will almost invariably be dragged down to the level of the unsaved partner.


“... thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed....”  Seed is one of the biblical symbols of Scripture; and the lesson being taught here is that there is to be no adulteration of it either in preaching the gospel to the unsaved, or in teaching believers.


The proscription relative to the wearing of a garment woven of linen and wool has to do with testimony, particularly our lifestyles as distinct from our oral profession of faith, garments being to the body what habits are to the life.  Linen is derived from flax, a product of the earth, while wool is the God-given covering of sheep.  The lifestyle is to be a confirmation of the believer’s oral profession, but sadly, in the lives of all too many of us it is a contradiction: our lifestyles savor more of earth than heaven, of the flesh rather than the Spirit.  The “filthy rags” of self-righteousness, Isaiah 64:6, are seen more often than is the spotless righteousness of Christ which clothes every true believer, 2 Peter 1:1, and is here portrayed by the wool, perfect righteousness being the “covering” of God’s obedient “Lamb.”  But “... the fine linen is the righteousness of saints,” Revelation 19:8, that is, the righteousness resulting from our own obedience here on earth, our good deeds.  The righteousness of Christ clothes the believer and fits him for heaven: his good deeds however, will determine the measure of eternal reward to be given him at the Bema.  The two are never to be confused: the “linen” and the “wool” are to be kept separate.


19:20.  “And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.”


This verse has to do with adultery (voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse), and fornication (voluntary sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other). The guilty woman was to be whipped, but not put to death “because she was not free.”


As with virtually all of this book, the spiritual meaning transcends the literal.  The bondmaid represents every unsaved person, for all such are the bondslaves of Satan, sin, and death. Her bondslave status saved her from death, and so is it with every sinner, for God “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9.  Only those who refuse to confess themselves sinners, who refuse to repent, and to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, will suffer eternal punishment in the lake of fire, for their sins.  Those who confess, repent, and trust Christ as Savior will be forgiven and saved.  It was to deliver us from bondage and death that He died in our stead, giving His own perfect life to redeem us from the consequences of our sin.


Her being scourged is the reminder that sin has painful consequences here on earth.


It was “... because she was not free,” when she sinned that she was not put to death.  Life on earth is a time of probation for sinners.  They are the bondslaves of sin, Satan, and death, and they may be punished for their sins, but a gracious God doesn’t normally slay them dramatically - Ananias and Sapphira being the exception, so as to be a warning to others at the beginning of the new era, not to sin.  It is only when men die unrepentant, refusing to trust in Christ as Savior, that they not only die physically, but will die also the second death, i.e., be cast into eternal torment in the lake of fire, following the judgment of the great white throne, Revelation 20:14.


19:21.  “And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregaton, even a ram for a trespass offering.”


The guilty man also was delivered from death, but he must pay a penalty for his sin.  He must bring a ram for a trespass offering.  (The trespass offering emphasizes the injury which sin does; the sin offering emphasizes the guilt associated with sin).


Like all the offerings, the ram is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ as the One Who in the energy of His own voluntary will has died in our guilty stead to make atonement for all our sins.


“... unto the door of the tabernacle....”  The tabernacle was the symbolic dwelling place of God in the midst of His redeemed people, so that the man’s coming to the door of the tabernacle speaks of approach to God.  All who would approach that Holy Presence must bring the equivalent of the trespass offering: each one must, through faith, present Christ as the One Who has died as his Substitute, for the remission of all his sin.


19:22.  “And the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before the Lord for his sin which he hath done: and the sin which he hath done shall be forgiven him.”


The priest is a type of Christ our Great High Priest Who has made atonement for all our sins by the sacrifice of Himself at Calvary in our guilty stead, as it is written, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:14.  He who presents Christ to God in faith has the assurance that all his sins are forgiven by virtue of the Lord’s vicarious sin-atoning death.


19:23.  “And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.”


“...uncircumcised” in the present context means forbidden, ceremonially defiled, unclean, the proscription being undoubtedly due to the fact that the wickedness of the Canaanites had affected the land, as the sin of Adam had the earth, see Genesis 3:17, “... cursed is the ground for thy sake.”  Sin is inherently contagious: it affects adversely everything it contacts.


Three is the biblical number of resurrection, so that as those three years concluded the need to destroy all the fruit of the land, so does resurrection out of spiritual death - which comes through faith in Christ as Savior - conclude that part of a man’s life which had been spent in a state of spiritual death: the believer has passed from a state of death into eternal life.  The fruit to be destroyed represents the works of evil which mark the unconverted part of a man’s life.  All such deeds are to be put away, destroyed.


“... it shall not be eaten of.”  Eating speaks of satisfaction, and the spiritual lesson here is that the believer is no longer to find gratification or pleasure in the things which afforded him satisfaction in his unsaved state.  All those things are to be put away.


19:24.  “But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the Lord withal.”


Four is the biblical number of testing, and in that fourth year Israel’s obedience was being tested.  Three years was a long time in which they were to refrain from eating the fruit of the land, and the necessity of foregoing that pleasure for yet a fourth year must have sorely tried their patience; but it is by just such trial that God tests our faith, for what doesn’t withstand testing is worthless, and relative to the testing of our faith it is written, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 1:7.


All the produce of the fourth year was to be presented to God as a praise offering, this being the grateful acknowledgement that He is the Giver of everything, see James 1:17, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”


In relation to testing it is instructive to consider 1 Kings 17:8-16 which records the visit of Elijah to the widow of Zarephath.  In the midst of famine, and down to her last handful of meal, she obeyed the word of God’s servant, “make me thereof a little cake first and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.  For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.  And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days, (literally a full year).”


We impoverish ourselves by withholding from God what is His due.


19:25.  “And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the Lord your God.”


Five is the biblical number of responsibility, so that with the privilege went also responsibility to eat to God’s glory, as it is written, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,” 1 Corinthians 10:31.  But here again, a deeper spiritual meaning lies underneath the surface of the literal language.  As we nourish our bodies with literal food, so are we to nourish our souls with spiritual food, the written Word; but we are to remember that that fifth year had been preceded by the four years of testing, their obedience during that time manifesting their fitness to eat the literal produce of the land.  The believer whose obedience is confirmed by his steadfastness in the midst of testing, is the one to whom God extends the privilege of understanding the deeper spiritual message hidden underneath the literal language of Scripture.  That revelation is the spiritual counterpart of the literal “increase” promised obedient Israel.


19:26.  “Ye shall not eat anything with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.”


Since we have already discussed the spiritual significance of the proscription relative to blood, there is no need to repeat it here, see comments on 17:10-16.


“... enchantment” means augury, divination, soothsaying; augury being the art or practice of divination from omens or signs; divination being the practice of seeking to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge by occult or supernatural means, sometimes involving the use of serpents in a manner now unknown; and soothsaying being the practice or art of foretelling events by various means including observance of “times,” i.e., the study of cloud formations.  God forbids all such wizardry.


19:27.  “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.”


It is generally believed that this has reference to customs practiced by pagans in connection with their religious rites at times of mourning, which involved special trimming of their hair and beards.  This God also forbade.


19:28.  “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.”


In many pagan nations it was the custom, when mourning for the dead, to cut themselves with knives.  This too the Israelites were forbidden to do.


Another custom of many pagans was to have themselves painted or tattooed, but this also God forbade His own people to do.


19:29.  “Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.”


A man was forbidden to cause his daughter to become a harlot, and thus encourage wickedness throughout the land, the belief of many being that the reference is to cultic prostitution associated with the idolatrous worship of Israel’s neighbors.


19:30.  “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.” 


The God-appointed weekly sabbath days were to be kept, so that man and beast might enjoy rest and refreshment of body and mind; and they were likewise to show respect for God’s dwelling place which He had caused to be set up in their midst.  Like the rest of God’s commandments however, this one too has been disregarded, to His dishonor, and man’s physical and mental malaise.  The seventh day of each week has been designated by God as the Christian counterpart of the Jewish weekly sabbath, i.e., a day of rest for man and beast, but the avariciousness of our western society has caused God to be ignored, and His appointed day of rest to be prostituted to the service of moneymaking and pleasure. 


But a penalty accompanies every breach of obedience.  The frenzied state of today’s society is the evidence of God’s displeasure.  He is still “the Lord,” and His impending terrible Tribulation judgments that will leave the world a devastated ruin, will be the still more tangible evidence of His anger.


19:31.  “Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God.”


In this present context familiar spirits were those who professed to have contact with the spirit world; and wizards were fortune-tellers pretending to be able to tell a person’s future by examining the lines on his palms.  God forbad any contact with such people because their traffic with unclean evil spirits would bring defilement on those who had any communication with them.


That there is such an evil unseen spirit world is evidenced by Saul’s experience with the witch at Endor, see 1 Samuel 28:7-20.


19:32.  “Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the Lord.”


The young are here commanded to be deferential to the aged, rising to their feet when an aged person comes into their presence; and they were to stand in reverential awe of God.  This is also understood by some to have reference to the rulers of the community, so that the command enjoins obedience to the laws which it is the duty of the leaders to enforce.


19:33.  “And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.”


“... stranger” is here synonymous with Gentile, and when such a person came to dwell amongst the Israelites, he was not to be maltreated in any way.


19:34.  “But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”   


Relative to “love him as thyself,” see comments on verse 18.


19:35.  “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure.”


19:36.  “Just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin, shall ye have: I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt.”


There was to be no unrighteousness in their legal verdicts, nor in their measures of length, weight, capacity, or volume.


19:37.  “Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: I am the Lord.”


A statute is an enactment or ordinance; and a judgment means a verdict, sentence, or charge.  All of God’s commands are to be obeyed, as it is written, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams,” 1 Samuel 15:22.

Obedience is the evidence of love, the Lord Himself having declared, “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” John 14:15, and again, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me,” John 15:21.

[Leviticus 20]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough