Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Thoughts on Leviticus 18:22, Part 3: What did Jesus say about Leviticus 18:22?

In an email exchange, a professor at a Christian college asked me, “How much do we cherry pick when it’s convenient and on what basis do we make those decisions?”  He then went on to argue what Jesus did not say, that Jesus did not regurgitate all the commandments found in Leviticus, as if Jesus had somehow invalidated the Book of Leviticus by not doing so.  How often have you heard people randomly quote other verses from Leviticus, ‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material’ 19:22 as being a meaningless commandment we do not follow today, as if a random verse used out of context somehow invalidates the command in 18:22.  The professor misses the point entirely, that God introduces the section that includes 19:22, saying, “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.”  Not wearing clothing made from more than one fabric was just one of many examples God provided to the children of Israel, to be a constant visual reminder that they were to keep themselves unpolluted by not following the practices of the nations around them, to keep themselves holy. Today, born-again-Christians (there is no other kind according to Jesus), have the constant indwelling of the Holy Spirit to be their reminder to live holy lives.
Throughout the gospels Jesus repeats again and again that the essence of God’s Law will not be repealed until the end of time.  Jesus becomes visibly angry at those who disparage and discount God’s Law, especially those who would consider themselves scholars of God’s Word – ‘Teachers of the Law’.
In Matthew 15:19 Jesus directly refers to sexual immorality, “For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander.”  Seeing as the pre-incarnate Jesus wrote and instituted Levitical Laws in the first place, including what we now identify as Chapter 18, it is irrational to suppose He somehow forgot what He wrote and is now invalidating these laws by not regurgitating each one word-for-word.  To the contrary, not only is He validating these laws, Jesus identifies the source of our desire to break these laws.  Our corruption of God’s law originates in the heart.
Matthew 15:1:20 Some Pharisees and teachers of religious law… asked Jesus, “Why do your disciples disobey our age-old tradition? ….”Jesus replied, “And why do you, by your traditions [your own concepts, ideas and beliefs], violate the direct commandments of God? …….you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.”