In yesterday’s reading, we saw that certain relations were forbidden in Israel, and in today’s reading, the punishment for participating in those relations is given. Moreover, in chapter 21, we find that the family of priests not only must abstain from the same relations that all Israel must abstain from, but the LORD imposes a higher standard of purity upon them for those whom they take to wife. And even more, the descendants of the priests who bear any physical defect, cannot serve in offering sacrifices or bread.
Is God prejudiced against divorced people? The handicapped? That is not what is going on here. All of these laws from the past few readings have to do with maintaining the purity of the seed, the biological descendants of Israel. Why? Because, Messiah who is to come, is the Seed of the woman, the Promised Seed! He will be born of a woman of Israel (Gen 3:15)! God is keeping the gene pool as free of inherited mutations as possible, because Messiah is to be a male without spot or blemish!
Notice in how many ways, since we started reading Leviticus, that Messiah is pictured without spot or blemish: He is the Promised Seed without spot or blemish, in chapters 18-20. He is the acceptable Sacrifice without spot or blemish, in chapters 1-7. He is the High Priest of our confession, without spot or blemish, in chapter 21. In many diverse and multiple ways, Torah is prophesying of the spotless Messiah who is coming to take away the spots and blemishes — the sins — of the world.
For further study: A single phrase jumps out at us from Lev 21 because it is repeated so many times, and also because we do not remember seeing it put quite that way before in Leviticus: “the bread of God.” Where are all the places it is mentioned? In what context? What is the bread of God? What other places in Scripture mentions the bread of God, and how does that help teach us what the bread of God is here? Why are we seeing it in this chapter and we have not seen it emphasized this way in previous chapters? What does the holiness of the priests have to do with the bread of God? Remember there is no syllable, word, or phrase of Torah that is there by accident! This is intentional.
For further reading:
Thematic analysis of Leviticus 19:1-20:27 – Restoration of Torah