The Lord instructs Moses to tell the Israelites, “Whoever of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell in Israel, who gives any of his descendants to Molech, he shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I will set My face against that man, and will cut him off from his people, because he has given some of his descendants to Molech, to defile My sanctuary and profane My holy name. And if the people of the land should in any way hide their eyes from the man, when he gives some of his descendants to Molech, and they do not kill him, then I will set My face against that man and against his family; and I will cut him off from his people, and all who prostitute themselves with him to commit harlotry with Molech.”
Molech worship involves child sacrifices. God takes very seriously the sacrifice of children, whom He created, and He commands the community to punish by death those who are killing babies. But if the community fails to carry out justice on the ones sacrificing children, God ensures that He will serve justice to those doing this sort of practice. The Lord also addresses the worship of mediums, cursing your parents, and sexual sin. If a person violates any of His commandments, that person will either be cut off from the people or killed.
God gives additional instructions for the priests and the high priest on holiness. Yesterday the Lord provided instructions to Israel as a nation for holiness in personal conduct. Today we see the priests are called to a greater standard of holiness and the high priest to an even greater level of holiness. One commentary said, “The threefold degree of holiness among the Israelites – people, the priests, and the high priest – corresponds to the graduation of holiness in the tabernacle – the outer court, the Holy Place, the Most Holy Place” (Rooker from Enduring Word). Since the priests are to represent the Lord to the people and mediate on their behalf, they are called to this higher standard of holiness and purification. That’s why the Lord says over and over again that they are not to profane His ordinances, the sanctuary, or the offerings “for I the Lord sanctify them.”
We end the reading with God describing acceptable sacrifices. The Lord says the offering “must be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no defect in it.” Hebrews chapter 10 explains that animal sacrifices only covered the sins of the people until Jesus’ arrival – “For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect… But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: ‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.’ Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come— In the volume of the book it is written of Me— To do Your will, O God.’… He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:1-10).
One day in this story, the Lord will do away with the sacrificial system, and His Son will do for us what animal blood can’t. In the meantime, God is working His plan for salvation through the Israelites. Therefore, we end the reading with the Lord saying – “you shall keep My commandments, and perform them: I am the Lord. You shall not profane My holy name, but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord.” Keep reading. (Leviticus 20:1-22:33)