This passage is sometimes known as the Holiness code. We can see this because it starts and ends with a call from God to be holy because he is holy. In between we get a list of rules and instructions, most of which we’ve seen before.
The lesson to be learnt is in order to be holy, to share in God’s presence, we need to be obedient to what he says. This is separate, but also deeply linked with being clean and pure before God.
As Christians we can be made clean and pure because of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection, but if we continue to choose to be disobedient, we will never enjoy God’s presence.
Spread within these rules that God lists through again are the Ten Commandments. Jesus summed up these into two parts, “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ... love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37, 39).
We see this idea already coming through here. We start with a block of rules concerning our relationship with God, followed by a block of rules concerning our relationships with others.
After that we read God saying “you shall keep my statutes” followed by a whole collection of different rules. These range from how to treat your cattle and your fruit-bearing trees, to avoiding fortune tellers, mediums and necromancers, to respecting the elderly and the foreigner, just to name a few.
Most of these are repeats of what we have seen already. This time the focus is on obedience to be holy, as well as to be clean.
In Leviticus 20 we get another long section on child sacrifice and sexual immorality. This is very similar to Leviticus 18, and the reasons are the same. To maintain and to grow the family. The fact that they are given another big section here shows how important it is to keep sex in its right place.
In the New Testament Paul says, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18). The message God wants to drill into his people is sex is powerful and dangerous and needs to be treated with respect and used properly.
Then, as mentioned, God rounds it off with another call to be holy. If you obey my laws, if you refuse to live like everyone else but stick with my ways, if you keep yourself clean, then you will be holy like me. Then you can enjoy my presence.
This psalm is attributed to king David and is often placed in the category of lament, but this is loose and tentative. It is based on Psalm 36:11 where the psalmist finally makes a request for protection. This would suggest that they are going through struggles, but that’s the extent that this psalm reflects a lament psalm.
As we’ll see, this psalm is a wisdom psalm blended with a prayer psalm. It speaks of the wisdom of God’s order and then invites that order down to earth.
a) Psalm 36:1-4 - The folly of the wicked
b) Psalm 36:5-9 - The steadfast love of God
b) Psalm 36:10 - Let your steadfast love continue
a) Psalm 36:11-12 - Let the wicked fall
The first section looks like a wisdom psalm, teaching on the foolishness of the wicked. They fear God and have no integrity. They flatter, but speak deceitfully. They have stopped choosing wisdom and instead have set themselves down a path where they no longer reject evil.
Typically, a wisdom psalm would contrast this first section with a section on those who are righteous. But instead of focusing on humans who are righteous, the psalmist compares the wicked with God’s righteousness and steadfast love.
God’s faithfulness and love are never ending. They are precious, protecting God’s people from wicked and sustaining them. God is the source of all life..
It’s at this point the psalm switches into a prayer psalm. Motivate by the wisdom of God’s love, the psalmist asks for more of God’s love. May it continue.
Then, motivated by the folly of the wicked, the psalmist asks that God deal with them. May their wickedness fail, and they lay fallen, defeated by God.
In this psalm we see that the foolishness of the wicked comes from their rejection of God’s faithfulness and love. God’s love is sustaining. We also see how wisdom (in our case, theology) isn’t meant to be just head knowledge, but it to lead us to prayer.
Anything you think I've missed? Maybe you've got a question that still needs answering. Send me a message over on my Instagram (@brynjoslin). I'd love to talk it through with you some more.
This Bible study devotional covers Leviticus chapters 19-20. Here we find the famous and repeated phrase, "Be holy as I, the LORD, am holy." We learn that God's holy law not only communicates how we can be holy, it also tells us what characteristics God has that makes him holy.
As always, we are committed to showing you how Jesus fulfills these specific passages. In Leviticus 19-20, we see that Jesus carried out God's holy law perfectly because he is holy God himself. And we see that through Jesus' death and resurrection, we can be made holy just as God is holy.
The Naked Bible Podcast is for those that want intense Bible study. Be warned, many will find these podcasts go too deep for them. But for those that persevere this will be a rich source of teaching for you.Check the podcast out here
Understanding the context of your passage is always important. BibleProject always do an incredible job of breaking down each book so you can see how your passage fits into the wider story.
BibleProject have done an animated recap of Leviticus to help you fit today's passage into the overarching story of Leviticus.
Spoken Gospel outlines the book of Leviticus and point out some of the key themes, all in the medium of spoken word.
In this video, the guys at BibleProject explore the paradox that God’s holiness presents to human beings. God is the unique and set-apart Creator of all reality and the author of all goodness. However, that goodness can become dangerous to humans who are mortal and morally corrupt. Ultimately, this paradox is resolved by Jesus, who embodies God’s holiness that comes to heal His creation.
God is on a mission to remove evil from His good world, along with all of its corrosive effects. However, He wants to do it in a way that does not involve removing humans. In this video on sacrifice and atonement, the guys at BibleProject trace the theme of God’s “covering” over human evil through animal sacrifices that ultimately point to Jesus and his death and resurrection.