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

22:1.  “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,”


Since only Moses is addressed, the Lord is speaking in law, not in law mingled with grace as was the case when He addressed both men.


22:2.  “Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the Lord.”


Aaron and any of his sons who were ceremonially unclean by reason of the defiling things listed in the following verses, were not to officiate in the presentation of any of the offerings brought by the people.  The practical lesson being taught in this is that the believers, the spiritual counterparts of those priests, are not to participate audibly in offering worship at the Lord’s Supper if they are aware of any known sin unconfessed, for it is to be remembered that those brethren who do participate audibly are not only presenting their own worship: they are acting as the spokesmen for the whole company. 


22:3.  “Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the Lord, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the Lord.”


“... the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the Lord” were the offerings brought by the people; and as noted above, the officiating priests were the OT counterparts of those brethren who participate audibly in the presentation of worship at the Lord’s Supper, and who thus act as the representatives of the whole congregation.  It is imperative that such men live exemplary lives, for otherwise there is the likelihood of their being viewed as hypocrites.


“... cut off from my presence,” is variously translated “removed from My presence, shall be outlawed from My presence, shall be discharged from the priesthood.”  In this present context “cut off” does not seem to mean that the man was executed.


22:4.  “What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean.  And whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose seed goeth from him;”


Leprosy is the scriptural symbol of sin in general; and “a running issue” represents the actual sins proceeding from our old sinful natures.  The Church-age believer portrayed here is the professed believer who is living in sin; and as the leprous Aaronic priest was not permitted to eat the offerings presented by the people, neither is his present day counterpart, the believer living in sin, permitted to eat the Lord’s Supper.


Inasmuch as death is the result of sin, the Aaronic priest who had even the slightest contact with a corpse was defiled, and was therefore forbidden to eat any of the offerings until he had followed the prescribed procedure for cleansing.  The practical lesson for us is that we are to be holy, and where we have committed sin, we must confess, repent, and forsake the sin before eating the Lord’s Supper, or attempting to render any form of service.


“... or a man whose seed goeth from him,” whether in legitimate sexual intercourse, or in involuntary nocturnal emission, the loss of semen rendered the man unclean, for semen contains the germ of physical life, that is the life of the flesh, about which Scripture has nothing good to say, see e.g., Romans 7:18, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing.”


It is to be remembered however, that virtually all of these legal proscriptions imposed under the law, were for the age of law only, and were the OT typological presentation of transcendent spiritual truths operative during this present age of grace.


22:5.  “Or whosoever toucheth any creeping thing, whereby he may be made unclean, or a man of whom he may take uncleanness, whatsoever uncleanness he hath;”


22:6.  “The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water.”


For the significance of creeping things see comments on 11:43.


The deadly contagion of sin is emphasized symbolically in that even to touch an unclean creature or man rendered the individual unclean. 


The cleansing effected by washing in water during the age of law, points to the truth, that during this dispensation of grace, cleansing comes, not by literal water, but by the application of the written Word, as declared in Ephesians 5:26, “That he (Christ) might sanctify and cleanse it (the Church) with the washing of water by the word.”  We keep ourselves clean by reading and obeying the written Word.


As the defiled Aaronic priest might not eat of “the holy things” (the sacrifices) unless he washed his flesh with water, neither may we eat the Lord’s Supper unless we are “washed with the water of the Word,” i.e., until we have examined ourselves under the light of Scripture, confessed to God, repented, and forsaken every known sin.


22:7.  “And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall afterward eat of the holy things; because it is his food.”


In the literal language of this verse is conveyed a far more profound spiritual truth than is readily apparent on first reading.  The sunset which marks the end of each literal day is a figure of the end of each man’s earthly life; and as the priest was declared clean at sunset, so will it be with every believer when he has finished his earthly course, and his redeemed soul, released from the prison house of his corrupt earthly body, takes its flight to God’s unsullied heaven.


Since eating is synonymous with satisfaction, the cleansed priest’s eating “of the holy things” after sunset, is the symbolic declaration of the truth that only when each believer has finished his earthly course, and has entered heaven, will he be completely and eternally satisfied, as the Psalmist has declared, “I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness,” Psalm 17:15.


Many have erroneously applied this cleansing to the water of baptism, which however, has a very different spiritual significance.  Water baptism is the ordinance in which the believer - already cleansed of all sin the moment he trusts in Christ as Savior - confesses that he has not only died vicariously in Christ (portrayed symbolically when he goes under the water), but that in association with his resurrected Savior, he has also risen up out of spiritual death (portrayed in his coming up out of the water), to walk henceforth as a new creature possessed of Christ’s life and nature, as declared by Paul in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of (in) the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”


22:8.  “That which dieth of itself, or is torn with beasts, he shall not eat to defile himself therewith: I am the Lord.”


See comments on 17:15 for the spiritual significance of this command.


22:9.  “They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I the Lord do

sanctify them.”


An ordinance is a rule or law; and profanation, in the present context, is failure to show reverence for God’s law, death being the penalty for disobedience.  Inasmuch as this applied to those who were God’s earthly people, the lesson for believers today is that sin and death are spiritual Siamese twins, for though believers will live for ever, the solemn lesson being taught here is that time which they spend in sin is time in which they might as well have been dead, for that misspent time will bring corresponding diminution of reward at the Bema.


To be sanctified is to be set apart for a holy purpose, and in the case of believers it means to be set apart to live their lives for God’s glory, those who fulfill the purpose of their sanctification earning for themselves an eternal great reward, as it is written, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” 1 Corinthians 2:9.


Obedience is the truest expression of love for the Lord, He Himself having declared, “If ye love me, keep my commandments ... He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him,” John 14:15-21.


22:10.  “There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner of the priest, or an hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing.”


In Scripture the term stranger is frequently used to designate both the Gentile, and the unbeliever, so that the truth being declared here is that an unbeliever is not to partake of the Lord’s Supper.


The sojourner of the priest was a guest in the priest’s house.  He too was forbidden to eat the holy food, and the lesson being taught is that neither unsaved family members, nor unsaved guests or servants of the believer, are to eat the Lord’s Supper, the NT warning being, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body,” 1 Corinthians 11:29.  The Lord’s Supper is proscribed to all except true believers.


22:11.  “But if the priest buy any soul with his money, he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house: they shall eat of his meat.”


The purchased servant here represents the believer, of whom it is written, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s,” 1 Corinthians 6:20; and again, “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men,” 1 Corinthians 7:23.  As the purchased servant was permitted to eat the holy bread, so are we who have been purchased by the precious blood of Christ, privileged not only to eat the Lord’s Supper on the first day of each week, but to feed our souls daily on the “finest of the wheat,” i.e., Christ presented in the written Word.


“... he that is born in his house,” also represents the believer, of whom it is written that he is born of the Spirit, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,” John 3:6.  We have not only been bought: we have also been “born of the Spirit,” into God’s family, and not as servants, but as His royal sons and daughters, whom He has made heirs and “joint heirs” with His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, Ro 8:17.


22:12.  “If the priest’s daughter also be married unto a stranger, she may not eat of an offering of the holy things.”


Since husband and wife are said by God to be “one flesh,” see Ephesians 5:31, the marriage of the priest’s daughter to a “stranger,” i.e, to a Gentile, made her also a “stranger” in God’s sight.


The same principle applies in this NT age, as is declared in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  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.”


22:13.  “But if the priest’s daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her fathers house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father’s meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof.”


Where the marriage bond was severed by the death of the unbelieving husband, or by divorce from him, and where the widow had no child, and had returned to her father’s house, she was permitted to eat of his food again, i.e., of the offerings that had been presented to God by the worshiping Israelites, because circumstances had returned her again to virtually the same state as had existed prior to her marriage.


This seems to indicate that the typological picture here is of the penitent return of a formerly disobedient believer.  Every such penitent saint is to be received back into the fellowship of the local church.  For a NT example of such a case, see 2 Corinthians 2:6-8.


“... but there shall no stranger eat thereof” continues to emphasize that the unbeliever has no place amongst God’s people. This may not however, be construed as teaching that we are not to have a genuine care for the souls of the unconverted.  We are!  Every effort is to be made to lead them to Christ, but that effort does not extend to receiving them into the fellowship of the local church.  This, in fact, is the very error of which many local churches are guilty today; and the tragic result is that the unbelievers thus received are deluded into believing that they are saved and on the way to heaven, when they are instead still on the way to hell, but now blinded as to their true state and terrible danger, and thus unlikely ever to be awakened and saved.


22:14.  “And if a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly, then he shall put the fifth part thereof unto it, and shall give it unto the priest with the holy thing.”


The “holy thing” was what had been presented to God by a worshiper, and which was therefore to be eaten only by the priests.  When one other than a priest partook of it, even inadvertently, he was guilty of wrongdoing, and was responsible to expiate his sin by making full restitution, plus an additional fifth of the value of the thing taken.  Five, incidentally, is the biblical number of responsibility.


The offender here may represent the believer who presumes to participate audibly in the presentation of worship at the Lord’s Supper, at the impulse of the flesh rather than of the Holy Spirit.  His impoverishment caused by his having to restore the thing, plus an extra fifth of its value, may portray his “loss of face,” i.e., his humiliation resulting from the censure of the elders for his breach of scriptural order.


22:15.  “And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the Lord;”


In the present context, to profane the holy things, means to treat irreverently the offerings presented by the children of Israel; and the lesson is that reverence is to mark every activity at the Lord’s Supper.  There is to be reverential fear of speaking or acting there, other than at the impulse of the Holy Spirit.  In spite of this warning however, it is painfully apparent that such care is conspicuously absent at many of the celebrations of that most important feast, the activity of the flesh being far more evident than that of the Holy Spirit.


22:16.  “Or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass, when they eat their holy things: for I the Lord do sanctify them.”


This continues to declare the imperative of vigilance on the part of the priests to ensure that none but they the priests ate the holy bread.  The same care is required today on the part of elders to ensure that only obedient believers eat the Lord’s Supper.  Negligence results in those who partake of the Lord’s Supper unworthily, eating and drinking damnation unto themselves, as it is written, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body,” 1 Corinthians 11:29.


“... for I the Lord do sanctify them.”  It is God Who sets believers apart for Himself, and as those thus sanctified (set apart), they are responsible not to “bear the iniquity of trespass,” i.e., incur guilt by daring to sit at the Lord’s table without having first confessed, repented of, and forsaken every known sin. 


22:17.  “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,”


22:18.  “Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the Lord for a burnt offering:”


22:19.  “Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats.”


Since only Moses is addressed, the Lord is speaking in law, not in law mingled with grace as is the case when He addresses both men, see comments on 21:24; and in His prescribing a specific ritual to be followed in the presentation of Israel’s offerings He is declaring that whether it be in the age of law or that of grace, the worship of His people is to be presented according to the order He Himself has appointed.  Compared to the minute details governing Israel’s worship under law, that of the Church, at first glance, appears to be virtually free of detail: but it isn’t!  God is no less careful relative to the worship of His people today than He was in connection with their worship then.  The great difference is that now our worship is to be presented at the impulse of the Holy Spirit.


We must remember however, that in Israel the worship of only a very small minority was impelled by genuine love for God, that of the majority being simply the mechanical performance of an outward ritual.  And so is it still.  The vast majority of professing Christians engage in a loveless ritual which they call worship, but only a tiny minority “worship the Father, in Spirit and in truth,” as He desires, John 4:23, their worship being impelled by love, and expressed at the impulse of the Holy Spirit, not of the flesh.


Sadly, much of what passes for worship today is clearly impelled by the flesh rather than the Holy Spirit.


The requirement that each burnt offering - whether of cattle, sheep, or goats - be an unblemished male, has much to teach us.

Each such animal is a type of Christ the sinless One; and its being presented as a burnt offering in which the whole carcase went up in smoke to God, reminds us that Christ’s sacrifice was first for the Father’s glory, and then for the expiation of men’s sins.


22:20.  “But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.”


The lesson here is easily read.  A physical blemish in a sacrificial animal would have been the symbolic announcement that Christ had sin of His own.  But He had none.  He was sinless, and that fact must be presented typologically in each animal used to represent Him.  It must be unblemished.


22:21.  “And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.”


Whether presented as a peace offering in fulfillment of a vow, or simply offered as an expression of love for God, the animal must be perfect, its unblemished state being symbolic of the sinlessness of Christ.


22:22.  “Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the Lord, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the Lord.”


Such blemished animals could not be presented for any type of offering, whether trespass, sin, peace, or burnt offering.  They would have been rejected by God, for their blemished condition would have implied symbolically that Christ was not perfect,

i.e., not sinless.


22:23.  “Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.”


A deformed animal might be offered as a freewill offering, i.e., as an expression of love or gratitude to God, the deficiency of the animal being indicative of our inability to properly express our gratitude for all His goodness to us.


Such an animal however, was not acceptable as payment of a vow made to God.  For example, a man might have vowed to express his gratitude for God’s granting some special petition, and in such a case it is highly unlikely that he would have vowed to give anything less than a perfect animal; but then when the petition was granted, he might have been tempted to offer a blemished animal.  It would not have been acceptable, for it would have indicated that his avowed gratitude was less than sincere.


22:24.  “Ye shall not offer unto the Lord that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land.”


Virtually all other translations indicate that the injuries mentioned here were to the testicles of the animal thus precluding the possibility of its reproducing itself; in other words it was as good as dead, for with its death its line would end.  Such an animal therefore could not be a fitting type of Christ who is perfect, and the eternally existing Source and Sustainer of all life.


22:25.  “Neither from a stranger’s hand shall ye offer the bread of your God of any of these; because their corruption is in them, and blemishes be in them: they shall not be accepted for you.”


When a stranger, i.e., a Gentile living amongst the Israelites, offered a sacrifice to God, his sacrificial animal must also be unblemished, and for the same reason as is stated in verse 24: every animal offered was a type of Christ.


22:26.  “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,”


22:27.  “When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam: and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the Lord.”


“... seven days under the dam” means that a newborn animal was to be suckled by its mother for seven days, and was not acceptable as a sacrifice to God until after those days were expired.  The first seven days of the animal’s life and close association with its mother portray symbolically what is associated with the old earthy nature, and consequently unacceptable to God.


Since seven is the scriptural number of perfection or completeness, and since each sacrificial animal was a type of Christ, another spiritual lesson may be that Christ was not to die until He had come to mature years.  It was not by compulsion, but by His own free will, and with a perfect knowledge of all that His death involved, that He voluntarily laid down His life on our behalf, to expiate our sins.


22:28.  “And whether it be cow or ewe (female sheep), ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day.”


As the female speaks symbolically of submission, so do the cow and ewe portray Christ’s perfect submission to the Father’s will, even unto death.  The fact that mother and young were not to be killed on the same day, meant that even though one was slain, the line was not cut off on that same day, and in this God is declaring symbolically that Christ’s death did not cut off His line.  Having voluntarily submitted Himself to death, He demonstrated by His resurrection that it lacked the power to hold Him.  He arose in triumphant power as its mighty Conqueror.


22:29.  “And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the Lord, offer it at your own will.”


The comments on verse 19 apply here also.


22:30.  “On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave

none of it until the morrow: I am the Lord.”


The requirement that the sacrifice of thanksgiving be eaten up completely on the same day as it was offered seems to teach the truth that the return of thanks to God should be instant and instinctive, for tardily expressed thanks lacks the genuine fervor and sincerity of that which is spontaneous.


22:31.  “Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the Lord.”


As used here keep means to guard carefully.  God’s injunctions are not to be treated lightly.  A man’s life or death hinges on his response to God’s commands.


22:32.  “Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the Lord which hallow you.”


Profane means to desecrate, dishonor, show contempt for; and hallow means to sanctify, set apart, revere, honor.  The Israelites were to live so as to ensure that God’s name would be revered amongst the nations, for He had hallowed them, their obedience being the only thing required to ensure His blessing.  The sad fact is however, that by disobedience they had caused His name to be blasphemed, and had thus unwittingly made themselves the heirs of chastisement rather than blessing.


It is incumbent upon us to so live as to ensure that God’s name will not be blasphemed, but honored as a result of our obedience.


22:33.  “That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord.”


Their physical liberation from Egyptian bondage is a figure or type of our spiritual deliverance from thraldom to Satan, sin, and death. 


It might have been expected that gratitude for their emancipation would have been expressed in obedient lives, but it was far otherwise.  They repaid His kindness with blatant rebellion; and surely honesty compels us to confess that we have aped their conduct, the enormity of our ingratitude being disclosed in the fact that our deliverance cost the Lord Jesus Christ the terrible agony and death of Calvary, yet we have repaid His kindness, not just with indifference, but also with deliberate rejection of His right to control our lives.


The repeated “I am the Lord” is the emphatic reminder that in a coming day every unbeliever will be arraigned before that same Lord Jesus Christ at the great white throne, where the degree of each rebel’s eternal punishment in the dreadful lake of fire will be proportionate to the measure of his disobedience on earth.


Nor is the believer’s disobedience without eternal consequences. He can never lose his eternal life and certainty of being for ever in heaven, but the measure of our eternal reward at the Bema will be proportionate to the degree of our obedience here on earth.  That knowledge ought to have a sanctifying effect on our lives.

[Leviticus 23]


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