Bible reading for April 14 -- Leviticus 18; Psalm 22.
"Do not make yourselves unclean by any of these things, for by all these the nations I am driving out before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants." (Leviticus 18:24-25)
Sexual morality. This chapter lists a number of violations of sexual purity, including incest, homosexuality, and bestiality. They are called abominations. These standards of sexual morality should continue today, since they apply as much to the new covenant as to the old (Matt 5:19; Acts 15:20; Rom 13:13; 1 Cor 5:1-11; 6:13-18; Eph 5:3; Rev 9:21). Note: by these standards the act of Laban in giving -- and the patriarch Jacob in receiving -- two sisters in marriage was wrong (Lev 18:18; cf Gen 29). Indeed, much rivalry came of it (Gen 30). Sexual sins, like other sins, however, do not put people out of the reach of God's grace. Repentance is needed here as in all other forms of immorality. The Bible is honest about the sexual failures among men and women who are later remembered for their faith (Lot, Tamar, Judah, Rahab, David, etc.) Praise God for his forgiveness!
Driving out the Canaanites. Many today think that the Israelite invasion of Canaan was cruel and unfair. Yet, here he speaks of the land "vomiting out" its inhabitants because of their sexual perversions. The destruction of Sodom (Gen 18) is an example of just such a national judgment. God spoke to Abraham and told him that his descendants would live as exiles for many years before they would be allowed to take possession of the promised land: "And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete" (Gen 15:16). In other words, things in Canaan were not as bad as they were going to become, and God was being patient. The taking of the promised land was not a random invasion or act of mere domination. The people of Israel at that time were a confederation of nomadic tribes, outnumbered and outclassed by the powerful Canaanite city-states with their superior military and technology.
The confession of Rahab, prostitute-turned-believer-in-Yahweh, is pertinent here. Hers seems to be the view among the Canaanites themselves at that time: "I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath" (Joshua 2:9-11).
"God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?" (Psalm 22:1)
The suffering of the Messiah is plainly set forth here, as it is also in Isaiah 53. A thousand years before Good Friday, David (king and prophet) describes in detail what happened at the cross of Christ. At first reading of the psalm we observe that David seems to be describing a rejection of his own kingship, and that is likely the context of its writing. But then we notice things that never happened to David... the dividing of clothing by lots, the pierced hands and feet, and the physical condition of his parched thirst, his bones, etc. As he dies upon the cross, Jesus shouts out the first line of this psalm, which is a prayer to his God. This is an indication not only that he was experiencing what David felt, but was a confirmation that this psalm is really about the Messiah. He is suffering not for his unrighteousness, but for righteousness' sake, and is experiencing abandonment by God at the same time.
"He has done it." The psalm ends in triumph, however (v. 27-31). The suffering King will yet experience deliverance from God, and he (alive) will give praise to God in the midst of the congregation (v. 22-26). Because of his suffering, and God's vindication of him, people from around the world (Gen 12:3) will turn to the Lord. He will rule the nations (v. 28; cf Ps 2). Those who fear, or who are facing, death (v. 29) now have confidence (Heb 2:15). And the message (or gospel) of this suffering-now-triumphant King will be told for coming generations (v. 30-31). The peoples of the world will see that salvation is accomplished by God's righteousness (not ours) and that it is a finished and complete work: "he has done it" (v. 31). And so we hear "It is finished!" [Gr., "Tetelestai!"] as one of the last sayings of our Lord Jesus from the cross. So, the psalm that begins with "why have you forsaken me?" ends with "He has done it"!
Image credit: photo above by Pisit Heng on Unsplash.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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