Today’s reading forms a chiastic structure with chapter 20:
1A: Lev 18:1-5, Doing the statutes of Egypt and Canaan forbidden;
1B: Lev 18:6-19:2, Abominations forbidden + Israel shall be holy for YHVH is holy:
–> a) Lev 18:6-23, Forbidden relations;
–> b) Lev 18:24-30, Israel shall not do abominations + the land vomits out its inhabitants;
–> c) Lev 19:1-2, Be holy for the LORD your God is holy;
1C: Lev 19:3a, Every one of you shall revere his mother and father;
1D: Lev 19:3b, Every one of you shall keep the LORD’s Sabbaths;
1E: Lev 19:4, Idolatry forbidden;
1F: Lev 19:5-14, Transgressing the LORD’s statutes forbidden + Israel shall fear their God;
1G: Lev 19:15, Judging unjustly forbidden;
1H: Lev 19:16-18, Israel shall love his neighbor as himself;
CENTRAL AXIS: Lev 19:19-32, The statutes of the LORD which Israel shall keep;
2H: Lev 19:33-34, Israel shall not mistreat strangers but shall love them as themselves;
2G: Lev 19:35-36, Injustice in judgment forbidden;
2F: Lev 19:37, Israel shall observe all the LORD’s statutes and judgments;
2E: Lev 20:1-6, Punishment for idolatry (Molech + mediums + familiar spirits);
2D: Lev 20:7-8, Be holy for I am the LORD your God;
2C: Lev 20:9, Every one who curses father or mother shall be put to death;
2B: Lev 20:10-26, Punishment for abominable relations + Israel shall be holy for YHVH is holy;
–> a) Lev 20:10-21, Punishment for forbidden relations;
–> b) Lev 20:22-25, Israel shall keep the LORD’s statutes + the land shall not vomit them out;
–> c) Lev 20:26, Israel shall be holy to the LORD for the LORD is holy;
2A: Lev 20:27, Mediums + familiar spirits shall be put to death.
Now there is a lot that someone can learn by noting the matching pairs and studying the way this structure is formed. But one theme is repeated over and over (and over) again: Israel shall keep the LORD’s statutes. This is not only the central axis, but it is overtly stated in the A and F pairs, and covertly stated in the B and D pairs.
Why is keeping the LORD’s statutes so important? Well, it is NOT to earn salvation. Israel already has become God’s people! The LORD’s statutes reveal God’s way, yesterday, today, and forever! Love your neighbor as yourself is not new with the New Testament, but showing love has always been the LORD’s way from the beginning! The LORD’s statutes clarify for us what is and is not love!
God is not giving His people His statutes in order to burden them with commandments! Every one of the practices which are forbidden in these chapters, were commonly practiced, not only in Egypt where they came from, but in Canaan where they were going. We do not have a concept of the depravity of ancient paganism, but archaeology has confirmed the glimpses that we see in Scripture. You do not see programs on the Discovery Channel about it, though, because God would instantly be justified in the eyes of all for executing judgment upon Egypt and Canaan.
For further study: Why is it so important to keep the LORD’s statutes? This question is answered in these chapters! Study these chapters and this structure, and answer that question.
Finding Messiah: I can hear what you are thinking: finally we have come to chapters which have nothing to do with Messiah! LOL. Here we go:
“And if you offer a sacrifice of a peace offering to the LORD, you shall offer it of your own free will. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, and on the next day. And if any remains until the third day, it shall be burned in the fire. And if it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an abomination. It shall not be accepted. Therefore everyone who eats it shall bear his iniquity, because he has profaned the hallowed offering of the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from his people.” Lev 19:5-8
Why, if the sacrifice is left till the third day, will that person be cut off from his people? Of course there is a health benefit – I would not want to eat meat that has been out at room temperature for three days. But cutting off from Israel is a strong and severe punishment if that were the only consideration. No, the third day is the day when the sacrifice God provides for Himself, the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, is raised from the dead! Therefore to have Him remain as a sacrifice on the third day, when on the third day He is not the victim of death but the overcomer of it, is an abomination! The third day prophesies of life and victory and not death and loss!