Leviticus 20
Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
The Limitations of the Dwarf

Leviticus 20:21

Under the old Hebrew priesthood the dwarf, while permitted to partake of the holy bread, was restrained from offering it to others. He was not to blame for being a dwarf, but only men without blemish, and who had the full measure of manly power, were permitted to exercise the functions of that holy office.

I. It is the bitterest sorrow of weakness that a man cannot render aid to the helpless. And in the higher realm the sorest pang that a man can know is that he is so dwarfed in his spiritual nature that he cannot offer the bread of his God to his fellows. The physical dwarf is very often, and indeed usually, without personal blame. It is his misfortune, which may have come to him by inheritance, or by accident. But the spiritual dwarf, while the conduct of others may have contributed to his lamentable condition, is in the last analysis personally responsible, for the power to emerge from such a condition is always within his reach.

II. The Hebrew priest that was born a dwarf, or who had been dwarfed by accident or by cruel treatment in childhood, could never become anything else. No penitence, no care, no culture could ever give him the broad shoulders, the splendid presence, and the noble personality of the full-grown and mature manhood necessary for his office. But God is more gracious in spiritual things, or rather the spirit is not subject to the limitations of the flesh, and the man who has been dwarfed by poverty, or affliction, or harsh treatment, into narrowness of vision and experience, may through devotion and self-surrender to God emerge out of the dwarfed manhood he now knows into the large and splendid personality which shall give him the privilege of offering the bread of God to humanity.

III. We do not need to be weak and powerless. We need not go along the way of life spiritual dwarfs. God is no respecter of persons. He is seeking for men and women to offer the bread of life to hungry souls. All that is needed is that we should surrender ourselves to Him for the highest and holiest service. What folly that for a few paltry dollars, or for a few years of sensual pleasure, or for a few shouts of applause from unthinking crowds, we should miss the building up of soul and character into those splendid proportions that shall fit us for Divine usefulness.

—L. A. Banks, Sermons which have Won Souls, p. 211.

References.—XX. 26.—J. Vaughan, Sermons (9th Series), p. 117. XXI.-XXII.—H. Bonar, Short Sermons for Family Reading, p. 358. XXII. 21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxii. No. 1897. XXIII. 42.—Bishop Woodford, Sermons on Subjects from the Old Testament, p. 1. XXIII.-XXVII.—J. Monro Gibson, The Mosaic Era, p. 223. XXIV. 5-9.—J. H. Holford, Memorial Sermons, p. 127. XXV. 9, 10.—J. Flemming, The Gospel of Leviticus, pp. 91, 123. XXV. 10.—J. A. Aston, Early Witness to Gospel Truth, pp. 23, 36.

The Message of the Book of Leviticus

Leviticus 20:26

The book of Leviticus is one which we all feel to be specially difficult. Yet there is no book that more amply repays study. At every point it proves itself to be the Word of God, and as such profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for inspiration in righteousness. While, by the advent of the Lord Jesus, many of the forms enjoined in Leviticus were abolished, the principles which found expression in these forms have been reasserted with greater force than ever. The book has a message for us today, and it is this message which we must now strive to discover. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about it is its insistence on the holiness of the body. Leviticus recognizes what is expressly asserted at a later period in revelation, that the body is meant to be a temple of the Holy Ghost, and as such must be kept holy unto God.

I. It set before the Israelite his duty to God. In its religious aspect this code is the exposition of the first and great commandment. It bade the Israelite recognize Jehovah as the one object of worship. It bade him recognize Jehovah as the ultimate ground of all morality, it bade him see in what was good and right the expression of the will of God. It bade him recognize Jehovah as the Lord of Life and the Lord of Time, the giver of every good and perfect gift. Moreover it bade the Israelite recognize that Jehovah was a God terrible in His moral government.

II. Then this law of holiness set before the Israelite his duty to his fellow-men. It endeavoured to explain also the second great commandment of the law, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. In the precepts that it lays down there is a wisdom and an enlightenment from which present-day legislators would do well to learn. To begin with, it puts social relations in their right place. But having defined the relation between our duty to God and our duty to man, it goes on to demand for our brother men justice, honesty, forbearance, kindness, purity, tenderness, and love.

III. And then this law of holiness set before the Israelite his personal duty as a member of the holy nation. This it did in an indirect manner by the regulations it enjoined for maintaining the purity of the priests. All Israelites were not priests and did not actually minister at the altar. But Israel was not allowed to forget that she was a priestly nation. With such care manifested that the priest who ministered to the law should be holy, pure, and without blemish, the law of necessity taught the Israelite how holy his God was, and at the same time taught him that he also must be holy if be would stand accepted in God's presence. Then having dealt with the holy life in its Godward, manward, and selfward aspects, the section of Leviticus closes by announcing the rewards which God has promised to the obedient, and the punishment threatened to those who wilfully disobey. This code completes the short appendix, and the matter of vows brings the whole book to a close.

—G. H. C. Macgregor, Messages of the Old Testament, p. 31.

Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.
And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not:
Then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people.
And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people.
Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you.
For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.
And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
And the man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.
And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.
And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.
And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.
And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister, nor of thy father's sister: for he uncovereth his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity.
And if a man shall lie with his uncle's wife, he hath uncovered his uncle's nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.
And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.
Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.
And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.
But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.
Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean.
And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.
A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.
Nicoll - Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bible Hub
Leviticus 19
Top of Page
Top of Page