Today the Lord gives His people the prohibitions against eating blood that we looked at a couple of days ago – “And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” And it will be the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, whose blood will make the final atonement.
God chose the Israelites as His people from whom the Messiah will come. He desires for His people to be set apart from the ones around them. Therefore, He commands them not to be like the people in Egypt where they left nor like the people in Canaan where they are going – “According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the Lord your God.”
The Lord instructs the Israelites not to uncover the nakedness of their father, mother, sister, aunt, uncle, and so forth. He also says to them, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion.” The Lord explains that the people around them, the Canaanites, are engaging in these sexually deviant acts, and that His people are to be set apart as holy – “Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people.”
Remember the Canaanites are descendants of Ham’s son Canaan. They were cursed as a result of Ham’s perversion toward his father Noah. Apparently the Canaanite people have progressed in their sexual perversion, and the Lord does not want them to negatively influence His people. God desires for His people to be holy. That is why the Lord says to Moses, “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.’” Then He gives them instructions on how to be honest, fair, and kind to one another. He says “you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”
God establishes boundaries for His people, which will distinguish them from the people around them. He expects His people to exhibit self restraint and care for others, including the poor, blind, deaf, and strangers. And why does God desire for His people to be holy and set apart from the people around them? So they can be a light in this dark world and draw others into His presence – “You are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
During the Conquest Era, we will read an amazing story of a Canaanite harlot who is drawn into the light and glorifies the Lord. And during the Judges Era, we will read about a Moabite widow who puts her faith in the Lord and benefits from God’s instructions for His people to leave the grain along the edges of their fields for the poor and foreigners living among them. So keep reading. (Leviticus 17:1-19:37)