You want odd U.S. laws? You got ‘em! Supposedly these are still on the books… In Alabama, it is illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes people to laugh in church. In Oregon, it is illegal to perform a wedding ceremony at a skating rink. In Iowa, one-armed piano players must perform for free. In Connecticut, you may not educate dogs. In California, no one is allowed to ride a bike in a swimming pool. And in Georgia, it is illegal for a chicken to cross a road. Now my question is, “Is this the way we view God’s laws in Leviticus?” He’s definitely laying down the law to His people! Do we see His holiness laws as more important than quirky state laws? Do we see that God laying down His laws is His way of setting up His kingdom?
God is laying down the law to His people because He wants to teach them to be like Him. They and their ancestors have lived in Egypt for 400 years watching the Egyptians live, learning life from them, and being engulfed by their culture. The Israelites most likely are thinking, speaking, and acting more like Egyptians than God’s chosen people. So He gives them His laws to teach them how to live like Him. Isn’t it the same for us? If we are in church just 3 times a week, have a 15 minute devotional daily, and pray every night…then we are being taught to be like God for 7.5 hours a week out of the 168 hours in the week. No wonder we live so worldly!
Some of God’s laws in Leviticus make perfect sense to us. Don’t sacrifice your children to the false god, Molech (18:21). Men, don’t have sex with other men (18:22). And nobody should be making love to any animals (18:23). Those are no-brainers. But what about the laws that make little sense to us? Such as, don’t breed two types of animals together, don’t plant two kinds of seed in your field, and don’t wear clothes with two different kinds of material (19:19). Here, God is showing them to be holy by keeping different things separate from one another. In the same way, He doesn’t want them mixing with the world’s ways. God also said not to make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourself (19:28). The ancient cultures surrounding Israel would cut their bodies as a mourning ritual for deceased loved ones, and they would tattoo their bodies as a sign of ownership to pagan gods. God is calling Israel to treat the human body with reverence and reserve it only for His service. Honestly, I cannot decisively say that all tattooing is wrong today, but we should never do it to show our ownership to false gods.
God certainly takes obedience and disobedience of His laws very seriously. In one occasion, an Israelite’s son used God’s name in vain in the middle of a fight. God told Moses to have everyone who heard him blaspheme God’s name…stone him! Yeah, God takes His law very seriously. God also gives us grace though…through Christ. Because we deserve to be cursed rather than blessed, the blessed Jesus has become our curse for us (Gal 3:13). All of God’s wrath from our disobedience was poured out onto Christ that we might be forgiven. Jesus then is the fulfillment of the demand of the law. And what does Jesus have to say about the law? Jesus said that the entire law boils down to two things: Love God with everything you have, and love others as much as you love yourself (Matt 22:36-40). Some say this means we have to love ourselves before we love others. That is crazy! Both Moses and Jesus are saying that we naturally love ourselves and put ourselves first. Therefore, we need to take that same type of love and place it onto others. God is saying that the theme of His Kingdom will always be love.
For all eternity while we’re on the New Earth in the New Heavens, Jesus the King will rule and reign by love. We will perfectly obey Him because we will fully love Him. We will absolutely love each other because we will lavishly love Christ. This is what God is pointing the Israelites to. He is demanding them to obey all of His laws because each law is teaching them how to love Him and each other. So we too must know and obey God’s Word to grow in our love for Him and others…especially our brothers and sisters…by looking to Christ. Read back through the laws of Leviticus. They are not odd, but all are about Loving God and loving others.