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WVW: Disabled and Doomed? - Leviticus 21: 18-20

So there I was, standing in a military formation with a quarter pint of snot on my face and chest. It was a cold morning standing at attention, unable to move, waiting for the platoon sergeant to conduct his pre-inspection before the real inspection by the battalion commander later that morning. Everything must be perfect, no stray dog hairs, no hanging threads, ribbons precisely placed down to the millimeter, everything had to conform to a rigid set of rules and regulations. Well, needless to say, my snot was not an acceptable accessory to my uniform and when the platoon sergeant took one look at the slimy mess, I was quickly dismissed. I would not be at the formal inspection by a high ranking commander. So what does snot have to do with God’s restrictions against disabilities and deformities we read of in Leviticus 21:18-20? Absolutely nothing! What it does though is help us understand these weird verses. Read on to find out how this connects.

Leviticus 21:18-20

For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.

What's the context?

Leviticus is chock full of goodies such as these verses and it is a prime resource for those against Christianity to use as a reason for their unbelief. To understand all the strangeness that comes from Leviticus, we have to understand the historical context of the entire book. In the post Does the Bible Support Polygamy Part 1, Leanne provided this context. In short, this book was written to the Levites, the priesthood God chose to administer the laws and ordinances provided by God through Moses. These strict peculiarities of worship set Israel apart as His chosen people. So when we come to chapter 18 we find more laws that were to govern who and how these priestly functions were conducted.  

So Does God Discriminate?

From first glance at these verses, it would appear that he does discriminate. These men were not to participate in the public administrations of the priestly service and even barred entry through the veil into the Holy of Holies as we read in verse 23. But why? So here is where my snot story comes back in; I knew you were wondering when this would connect. In essence, my platoon sergeant discriminated against me because of a deficiency in my uniform. The standard was clear and my snot was a glaring assault on that standard. In that condition, I was not fit to stand in formation and present myself to a commanding officer. It would have been an insult to him. Similarly, we must view these physical deformities and diseases in light of what they represent. 

Deformities & God’s Holiness

The prohibitions for people with these deformities had little to do with the deformities in and of themselves. They were given because they represent impurity and sin. Now before you get your knickers in a bundle, these men were not neglected like stray mutts, they were taken care of and didn’t go hungry (see verse 22). God discriminates where his holiness is concerned and in the context of these verses, sin cannot dwell in the presence of God. We see this when the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies once a year on the Day of Atonement to offer the blood sacrifice to God for the sins of himself and the people of Israel (Leviticus 16). These blood sacrifices came from a bull and a goat that were without blemish. To draw near and enter the Most Holy place in the tabernacle was a dangerous task because that was where the presence of God was the most potent and to enter his presence with glaring blemishes was untenable for a Holy God.

What does this mean for us today?

This is where every unregenerate man and woman born find themselves, marred by sin, unable to draw near to a holy God, justly deserve His wrath. The good news of these few verses is that they point us to two pictures of Christ our only hope. First, he is our great High Priest as we read in Hebrews 4:14-16 and second, he was the Lamb that was slain (1 Peter 1:18-19). As our Great High Priest, His perfect sacrifice tore the veil that separated us from a Holy God (Matthew 27:51) that through faith in Him we have access to God’s throne of grace. As the spotless Lamb that was slain, the deformities of our sin are cleansed by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7). God no longer discriminates against the blemish of our sin because of Jesus!

Ding on,

Jarrod Strickland

Dingers, this WVW was written by our friend Jarrod Strickland; you can find more of his biblical content on instagram @ReclaimingChristianity!

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