Leviticus 18 talks about the 17 situations on the prohibition of fornication that God told Moses about. Have you ever wondered why there are a lot of details listed here?
Some people say that God the Father is a man of few words in the New Testament. He didn’t say much, but in the Old Testament, He spoke to Moses about the unlawful sexual relations in detail. Isn’t this a bit overboard in detail? For example, check out the following references: Do not have sexual relations with your mother, your father’s wife, sister, son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, father’s sister, mother’s sister, aunt, daughter-in-law, brother’s wife, both a woman and her daughter, with many women of different generations; you could not marry the older sister and younger sister at the same time; homosexuality is not allowed; do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during her monthly period, do not have sexual relations with an animal, do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molek. When we counted them, there were about 17 different references.
Let me ask you a question. Don’t these verses seem somewhat repetitive, wordy, or even unnecessary? We don’t often hear our Father speak in the New Testament. One preacher said that God had barely talked, yet here, God (our Father) and the Israelites (represented by Moses) engaged in a long-winded discussion about the unlawful cases of sexual relations. It’s a bit confusing, isn’t it?
I realized a few things after reading the Old Testament. If you don’t get anything spiritually beneficial from what you’ve read, then you might not understand what it’s saying. There are a lot of chapters in the Bible that you may think are very simple, but often these are the easiest ones for Christians to ignore. What I mean is, you may take the words in their most basic sense, but you don’t fully understand the deeper spiritual meaning. When you think about it, this is the case. You know that the Bible is inspired by the revelation from the Holy Spirit, and John 21:25 NIV said, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them was written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written”. According to this principle, all that is written in the Bible whether the Old Testament or the New Testament can be said to have no-nonsense writing and everything written was on point.
The second thing I realized is that if you’re done reading a chapter of the Bible and it did not give you any inspiration for your present life or give you answers to the problems that you are currently facing; it might be that you haven’t understood or fully grasped the spiritual meaning contained in this part of the Bible.
Third, if you’re done reading a chapter of the Bible and you have not experienced God’s love in a deeper way this is also an indicator that you have missed the deeper and spiritual meaning of this chapter.
For example, after reading this chapter, what kind of inspiration will a person get in order to be counted as understanding the deeper meaning? The Bible is inexhaustible. Everywhere you go, the Holy Spirit gives spiritual illumination, so there is not just one conclusion. The key is that the Holy Spirit speaks to you through the Bible and illuminates scripture to you. In addition, the deeper we understand the passage, the more real God’s love will be to us.
We have already read this week’s readings and have specific experiences on these two points that we will share here. Not only this week but in previous times as well, every time we read the Bible, the Holy Spirit gives us fresh illumination. It also helps us understand the exhaustive and profound meaning of the Bible. In addition to this, it moved us, helped us to know more about God’s love, ourselves, God’s calling and His glorious expectation of us, and the enemy’s tricks. It helps us triumph over the spiritual and practical difficulties we face in our lives today. I also mentioned this point specifically in our meeting. I will talk about this in further detail later.
First, let’s discuss how this chapter will help us feel God’s love in a more tangible way.
One man said that the first impression he had after seeing these 17 points was the difference between the civil law and the common law. The civil law is a general principle and it does not necessarily have many details. But in the common law, all cases are clearly written and are clearly laid out. The 17 specific rules here are more like common law. Each case was laid out one by one. A lady in our study mentioned that the United States has many laws but behind every single law is a mountain of detail that could drive a person crazy. Each detail of the law could be a case in itself.
To help you understand what we mean, we will give a few examples. One example is I grew up in a rural area and I’ve heard my family tell a story about a young man named Xiao Zhang (pronounced: SEE-yo Jong) in our village. He was my classmate during elementary school. I heard people say that his father committed incest and thus, he had become very angry. Another childhood friend told me how he got angry and crazy. This friend further told me that Xiao Zhang often wields a knife and doesn’t pay for his bus ticket. Others asked him to buy a ticket but instead of buying one, he said, “You’re playing with fire aren’t you?” which is in line with the Chinese proverb saying someone who doesn’t think of the consequences of his/her actions. This person may not want to live anymore, therefore, nobody dares to offend or mess with him. After some time, I heard from my family that Xiao Zhang died on the street on a snowy day. What kind of pain was Xiao Zhang in? For example, he may have thought of killing his father. However, although his father had committed incest, he loves his son. His son had been well-treated by his father since childhood. If he killed his father, it would be going against his morals and conscience. How much pain did these things bring to his inner heart?
The New Testament tells us that there is one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (NIV, Ephesians 4:6). Jesus also mentioned that“Not one of the sparrows will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” (NIV, Matthew 10:29).In layman’s terms, God is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. God surely knows Xiao Zhang’s pain.
Another reason why we may have a hard time understanding the Bible when reading it is that we are looking at it from the wrong angle. We often look at it as though God is a judge and punisher. We may feel like a criminal who attempts to commit crimes but is afraid of being caught, or we may feel that it’s like the relationship between a mouse and a cat. We are too heavily influenced by the law and the concept of right and wrong. We often think that God has made these rules in order to restrain us from doing certain things. But if you change the way you think and put yourself in other’s shoes and view God as a loving Father, which means what He said and do is all because He wants to care and help people, then it will be easier for us to understand the Bible because the Bible is God’s love letter. If you don’t understand God’s love, then you’ll have a hard time understanding this letter.
God’s main goal is not to keep a close eye on you, but rather, to care for others. Before the Lord talked about these 17 cases, Leviticus 18:5 NIV said, “Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them, will live by them. I am the Lord.”We’ll be able “to live” by obeying the laws and rules set by God.
Using the example I mentioned earlier, Xiao Zhang’s father violated the law here. But it seemed that he did not receive any punishment. He is still alive, but his son died. Many people don’t understand this. They often say, “God does not exist or is unfair. Why didn’t God strike the evil man with lightning and kill him for hurting me? ?” Those who say things like this do not understand God. God loves you, so when you are hurt, God feels anger and pain because of His love for us. Thus, He doesn’t allow us to do bad things. God also loves the bad guy and He wants him to have life, so laws were also put into effect to keep us from doing such bad things. The Bible says, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?” (NIV, Ezekiel 18:23).
For thousands of years, human beings were guilty of committing incest. How many instances are there total? We know that there were rumors that the legendary Emperor Gaozong of Tang（https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Gaozong_of_Tang） and Su Shi（https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Su_Shi） had committed incest. We often take the side of the perpetrator and ignore the victim’s side. How many people were in pain because of this sin? We know that the Old Testament has repeatedly mentioned that the complaints or sins of the Israelites have reached the Lord, and the Lord has heard them. The Lord also heard the crimes of people during the time of Noah.
There is a place you could call the Courts of Heaven. The Lord is the judge, Satan is the accuser and Lord Jesus is the defender. But, what’s the use of the defender when there is no court? When the crimes of people have been passed and laid out to the Courts of Heaven, there may be a lot. Perhaps in terms of morals and ethics, people’s sins are too numerous to count. For a moment, I need you to open up your imagination in the spirit. Imagine the crimes committed by people in this area which are laid out to the Courts of Heaven. It may be countless. But perhaps after God had taken this into consideration, the cases or crimes in these 17 situations are the biggest, so He has especially written them down. In other words, the 17 rules here are probably the most notorious cases. And behind every case, there are countless blood, sweat, and tears. Not only does Jesus often weep on earth but He also weeps in heaven. The Bible says that God will wipe every tear from their eyes, but it does not say that Jesus will not shed tears in heaven. On the contrary, many people who have the gift of prophecy have seen that Jesus still sheds tears for people’s sins and for people who refuse to repent.
Heavenly Father loves us so much. Every person, whether he is hurtful to others or he is the victim, is made by God. He loves them. Every time there’s a criminal case, it is like the mother mentioned in the Bible. One of her sons kills his brother; which makes her suffer. Every time you commit a crime, the pain that God feels will be doubled. He is deeply distressed for the victims and he’s also saddened by the perpetrators. As a result, many people complain that God is unfair and He seems to be inactive. Actually, you don’t know how difficult this is and how long-suffering God is in His love. In Jesus Christ, God offered salvation to both victims and perpetrators.
I told another story during our meeting. One person prayed, asking God to let him feel what He feels even if it’s only for a day. He prayed very fervently. One day God answered his prayers, allowing him to have the supernatural gift of prophecy which enables him to know what God knows. On this day, he arrived in a parking lot and saw a woman, and immediately saw in the spirit how the woman’s father raped her and how much pain she was in. He was overcome and felt every heart-wrenching pain that the woman was feeling. It was so painful that he couldn’t stand it any longer. He quickly prayed to God to remove this gift. He didn’t want it anymore. He couldn’t bear this gift.
After I told this story, a lady sighed and said: “It seems like only God and Lord Jesus can identify with the pain of others.” We can’t sense or deeply feel the suffering of others. We are God’s children and the body of Christ so God feels our pain just as we feel the stab of a thorn in our fingertip. Another sister also sighed saying, “It seems that God has a very strong heart.” Yes, unlike humans, God is not only love but powerful enough to handle our pain. Many times, we don’t understand why God makes certain laws or regulations, mainly because we don’t have God’s divine love and we don’t feel the pain that God is feeling.
After I believed in the Lord, I gradually experienced God’s love. This experience reminds me that I used to intentionally or unintentionally hurt people. In the past, when I was a sinner, I was indifferent, even to the point of being complacent about the fact that I had taken advantage of other people. But I repented of my sins, especially after receiving the love of the Lord. Thinking about it now, I feel terribly ashamed. The reason why people sin is mainly that they do not know or understand God’s love. Once a person knows and experiences God’s love, will he or she still intentionally sin? No, this person will do their best to avoid sin. As Christians, if we can’t help others or overcome our own weaknesses, there is a good chance we don’t understand God’s love.
Going back to my unfinished thought from earlier, this is what I have to say now. I mentioned in the meeting that the secret of a Christian’s victory or the secret to winning battles is not to fight, nor to be spiritual warfare advocates who are always on the search for spiritual enemies. A victorious Christian is someone who really knows God, who wants to know more about God and His original calling and His glorious expectation towards us, that is, what we truly are in Christ. The more you know who God is and the more you know who you are to God, the more you can overcome sin and the enemy’s attacks. Your authority over the enemy is not how high your voice is, but how much you know about God and how much you know about your worth to God. It increases your understanding and you will naturally overcome the enemy’s deception and attacks.
This understanding should be applied when reading the Bible. Every chapter of the Bible should be read for this purpose – it should allow us to know God better and to know our worth to God and Christ. Every time we lead the Bible study, we should help our brothers and sisters to improve in these two aspects. Of course, there is a third aspect, which helps us to see through more of the schemes of the enemy. We will talk about this next. After reading a chapter of the Bible,many of us have the feeling that it fails to get to the heart of a matter. Why is that so? Mainly because we are only understanding the words in their literal sense; without the help of the Holy Spirit, you’ll not be able to get the deeper meaning behind these words. The Holy Spirit has come as our helper, but the extent of His help is the same as the gift of prophecies. It varies according to the degree of your faith. The more confidence you have in the Holy Spirit, the more you will rely on him to help you. God is not biased.
We’re almost at the end but to recap, we have just discussed an example of a case of incest and gaining a better understanding of God’s love and pain. We don’t have time to analyze each situation one by one, but I hope you have understood this subject better. Let’s talk about another aspect. Every time we read the Bible, it should help us understand the enemy’s tricks and schemes in order for us to have a greater chance of defeating him.
Many times, Christians don’t need evil spirits to personally attack them. As long as the evil spirits arouse the fleshly desire of the brothers and sisters, they will stir you up to fight with each other. The evil spirits and Satan don’t need to show up at all. But if Christians can recognize the evil spirits behind them, will they still be easily fooled? Of course not. Although God made us a little lower than the angels (Psalm 8:5), we were appointed by God to judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3). The basic principle of the Bible is that God never calls us to do something and He’ll not personally equip us with the ability to accomplish it.
In addition to revealing God Himself and explaining how we communicate with God, the theme of the Bible is to reveal the workings and tactics of Satan, the enemy, and the evil spirits. These three are the basic pillars of the Bible. God, Himself is the center, but how we communicate with Him is also important how the enemy works and how we deal with them is also important.
These 17 points can also offer an explanation of God and his 17 ways of dealing with the workings of the evil spirits in this area. When I learned deliverance in a Charismatic church, I learned this truth: the enemy often gets a foothold through your sin or weakness and then takes root in you. A teacher named Rodney Houge, who is good at deliverance and who has a background of being in an American Baptist Church, gave a good example. The teacher said that the mountain climber has a basic tool called Piton. What is a Piton and how does it work? When climbing there are often rocky places where the footing is not good, but there are many cracks. Once the Piton is hammered into a crack it will expand. With this expanding force, you can hold on to rocks and let the climbers hang ropes as they climb. The teacher explained that evil spirits also work that way. Once you’ve committed a sinful act, the evil spirit will immediately be on the fly or piton’s radar, and then it stays and lives in your house, which will bring you a lot of trouble later. If you know that the sinful act is a foothold for evil spirits, you will consider the consequences of not committing sins. But many people are ignorant about this, so they’ve continued to commit sins. The key to deliverance is to let this person repent of the sin that he/she has done and remove the legal means of which the evil spirits have entered in order to cast out the demons.
For example, we talked about the sin of fornication committed by David. This is not just David’s weakness, but when his great grandmother Rahab was a prostitute, she gave opportunities to the evil spirits. This evil spirit is very powerful. Although Boaz, the son of Rahab, is a pious person and he prevails over fornication, this generational trait has become one of the roots of David’s weakness.
We often cannot see the work of evil spirits in the spiritual realm, but God knows everything because He has specifically given us these rules for our own good. He doesn’t want us to be fooled by the enemy. Of course, it will be more beneficial to obey God’s word even if we are not aware of the work of evil spirits around us. However, in terms of actual experience, it is important to be aware of how evil spirits work, which in turn will help us apply God’s word to the situation and subvert the tricks and schemes of the enemy.
In this way, when we read the Bible, we will not only have more understanding about God’s love, but we’ll also understand more about our calling to God and His glory and the enemy’s tricks. We’ll be able to receive these practical benefits every time we read the bible. We can also help our brothers and sisters to advance in the kingdom. May the Lord bless you. May the Lord also bless more brothers and sisters who lead others to read the Bible, and know more about these three things in the spirit.