Chapters 20 – The Penalties for Breaking the Law
Leviticus 20 – the big points
1) God’s people were to separate themselves from the sin practiced by the nations around them.
2) Consecration is done by God but requires the participation of the one being sanctified.
3) All sexual sin is sin in the eyes of God.
4) In some cases, a judgment could only be carried out by God. This tells us that God is intimately concerned with our lives.
5) Interestingly enough, despite all the warnings the Israelites still indulged in idolatry and had to be expelled from the Promised Land.
A question: what’s with all the stoning?
1) The punishment was meant to be a deterrent. God wanted to make disobedience so distasteful that people would away from it.
2) According to the laws of Deuteronomy, the death penalty would only be carried out if there were 2 or 3 witnesses and the witness had to cast the first stone. This kinda served to the whole thing – what’s the likelihood of someone committing adultery in front of multiple witnesses?
3) Can you imagine how God must have felt to have that punishment carried out? He may have hated the sin, but He still loved the sinner.
Leviticus 20 starts with a stern warning:
“Anyone who gives any of his descendants to Molech shall be stoned to death. If the people of the land are aware of his actions but do not carry out the penalty, then I will punish the man, his family and everyone who was aware and did nothing (author’s paraphrase).”
But you know, I find grace in that. I can just see your face, “How?” you’re wondering. Let me explain.
I always wondered why God seemed so … angry every time He talked about “passing children through the fire” or “giving children to Molech”. I just couldn’t get it. So I researched it. There are slight variations in the accounts but this was the basic practice:
The Molech idol was a giant metal statue that was fashioned either with a bull’s or a goat’s head. The idol was heated from within and then the child was placed either in the statue’s hand or in a pit that was dug around the idol.
Either way, the child remained in the fire until he burnt to death while the priests of Molech beat drums to drown out the cries of the dying infant. There are no words to explain such horror.
I can only imagine how God felt when the cries of that child came to His ears… and yet because of free will, He cannot intervene unless we ask Him to. Hence His stern command, “Do it and be killed.”
God wanted His people to get to that place where they were appalled by the practice and didn’t do it anymore. Sadly, they never got to that place as they continued passing their children through the fire to Molech until they were scattered among the nations.
There was grace in God’s attempt to get His people to recognize the value of the life of a child.
Jehovah, thank You for trying to get us to value people as You do. Help us to love our neighbor as ourselves. In Jesus’ name. Amen.