Leviticus 20 (NRSV)
Penalties for Violations of Holiness
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2Say further to the people of Israel: Any of the people of Israel, or of the aliens who reside in Israel, who give any of their offspring to Molech shall be put to death; the people of the land shall stone them to death. 3I myself will set my face against them, and will cut them off from the people, because they have given of their offspring to Molech, defiling my sanctuary and profaning my holy name. 4And if the people of the land should ever close their eyes to them, when they give of their offspring to Molech, and do not put them to death, 5I myself will set my face against them and against their family, and will cut them off from among their people, them and all who follow them in prostituting themselves to Molech.
The worship of the horrific idol Molech was mentioned in Leviticus 18:21. Molech was worshipped by heating a metal statue representing the god until it was red hot, then by placing a living infant on the outstretched hands of the statue, while beating drums drowned out the screams of the child until it burned to death.
Psalm 72:4 (New International Version)
He will save the children.
6If any turn to mediums and wizards, prostituting themselves to them, I will set my face against them, and will cut them off from the people.
7Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am the Lord your God. 8Keep my statutes, and observe them; I am the Lord; I sanctify you.
1 Peter 1:13-16 (New International Version)
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
from Praying in the Wesleyan Spirit,
by Paul Chilcote
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal.
God of Perfect Love,
You call me to be perfect even as you are perfect. That is a monumental claim upon my life. Despite the fact that this call to be completely conformed to the image of Christ–to be absolutely Christlike in my life–is offensive to many, I will strive to open my life to the transforming power of your perfecting love. My prayer is that I might become daily more and more like Jesus, your Son.
The perfection to which you call me certainly does not mean that I will ever be free from ignorance or mistakes or infirmities or temptation; neither is it a call to absolute perfection, for only your unconditional love is perfect in this sense.
Rather you call me quite simply to develop such a close and loving relationship with you that I would never want to do anything to separate myself from that love or withhold it from anyone else. You call me to be loving as Christ was loving, in every relationship and at all times. And if I live by your grace in this way, then I will always be able to look you in the face without fear and with love in my eyes.
So I pray sincerely that the blood of Christ might cleanse me from all sin. I know that you are ready to forgive all the darkness of my past and that you are able to fill my heart with your life-transforming Spirit. I know that Jesus is my advocate, a liberator who frees me from the bondage of my past and sets my course for a future filled with reconciling and liberating love. Purify me from pride, from self-will, and from anger.
Grant me courage to press on toward the mark for the prize of your high calling in Jesus Christ, not because I can make it my own, but because you have made me your own. Amen.
9All who curse father or mother shall be put to death; having cursed father or mother, their blood is upon them.
Virtually all commentators agree this is not the outburst of a small child – or even an adolescent – against their parent, but the settled heart of an adult child against their parent. Such inter-generational warfare was not to be tolerated, and punishable by death.
10If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.
Reflections on adultery:
“The evils of the body are, murder, theft, and adultery; of the tongue, lying, slander, abuse, and idle talk; of the mind, covetousness, hatred, and error.”
“Adultery occurs in the head long before it occurs in the bed.”
“He and I had an office so tiny that an inch smaller and it would have been adultery.”
“I love songs about horses, railroads, land, Judgment Day, family, hard times, whiskey, courtship, marriage, adultery, separation, murder, war, prison, rambling, damnation, home, salvation, death, pride, humor, piety, rebellion, patriotism, larceny, determination, tragedy, rowdiness, heartbreak, and love. And Mother. And God.”
“Sin cannot tear you away from Christ, even though you commit adultery a hundred times a day and commit as many murders.”
“Cheating isn’t always kissing, touching, or flirting. If you gotta delete text messages so your partner won’t see them, you’re already there.”
–anonymousIn cases of this sort, let us say adultery, rightness and wrongness do not depend on committing it with the right woman at the right time and in the right manner, but the mere fact of committing such action at all is to do wrong.–Aristotle
11The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.
12If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall be put to death; they have committed perversion, their blood is upon them.
13If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.
14If a man takes a wife and her mother also, it is depravity; they shall be burned to death, both he and they, that there may be no depravity among you.
–Hard to believe they needed a command to say, “Don’t marry your mother-in-law”!
15If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he shall be put to death; and you shall kill the animal. 16If a woman approaches any animal and has sexual relations with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.
17If a man takes his sister, a daughter of his father or a daughter of his mother, and sees her nakedness, and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace, and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people; he has uncovered his sister’s nakedness, he shall be subject to punishment.
18If a man lies with a woman having her sickness and uncovers her nakedness, he has laid bare her flow and she has laid bare her flow of blood; both of them shall be cut off from their people.
19You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister or of your father’s sister, for that is to lay bare one’s own flesh; they shall be subject to punishment. 20If a man lies with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness; they shall be subject to punishment; they shall die childless. 21If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity; he has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.
22You shall keep all my statutes and all my ordinances, and observe them, so that the land to which I bring you to settle in may not vomit you out. 23You shall not follow the practices of the nation that I am driving out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. 24But I have said to you: You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess, a land flowing with milk and honey. I am the Lord your God; I have separated you from the peoples.
25You shall therefore make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; you shall not bring abomination on yourselves by animal or by bird or by anything with which the ground teems, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean. 26You shall be holy to me; for I the Lord am holy, and I have separated you from the other peoples to be mine.
The Canaanites who presently lived in the Promised Land were deeply involved in these sins, and because of that, God would use Israel to judge them and drive them out. God pleaded with Israel to obey Him, that the same fate would not befall Israel. Unfortunately, eventually it did — and the land did cast out Israel, resulting in the exile both for the northern nation of Israel and the southern nation of Judah.
The hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy” was written in 1826 by Reginald Heber, a bishop in the north of India for the Church of England and a prolific hymn writer. It is a true classic — sung HERE by Hillsong United.
27A man or a woman who is a medium or a wizard shall be put to death; they shall be stoned to death, their blood is upon them.
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.