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Leviticus Bible Study – Lesson #12

Lesson 12:  Leviticus 24

CEREMONIAL AND MORAL LEGISLATION

Leviticus 24:1-9 Pure oil of pressed olives was to be burned in the gold lampstand before the Lord continually. The people of Israel were to furnish the olive oil, and since the seven lamps burned continually, both day and night, this was no small item. This gave each Israelite, as well as the tribe of Levi, an interest in the service of the tabernacle. The olive oil was to be pure, free from leaves and all impurities. It was not to be pressed out, but beaten out, to produce the very finest grade. The best was to be used, for the oil speaks of the Holy Spirit.  The lamps were to be kept lit continually while the tabernacle was set up. (Obviously, when they marched in the wilderness, they did not hold up lighted lampstands) And we note that Aaron alone controlled the use and the service of the lampstand. “And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations” (Exod. 30:7-8).

The Lord Jesus Christ is walking in the midst of the lampstands today (Revelation 1:12-13). He is our Great High Priest. He trims them every now and then as He moves into our hearts and lives. Sometimes He must snuff out a light that is giving off smoke instead of light.

The twelve cakes were to be set in two rows or piles on the table of showbread, and replaced each Sabbath. The frankincense mentioned in verse 7 belonged to the Lord. It was offered to Jehovah when the old bread was removed and given to the priests for food.  The bread would stay on the table for a week. It was to be changed on the Sabbath, and the old bread was to be eaten by Aaron and his sons—and always in the Holy Place. When David and his men were in desperate need, Ahimelech gave him some of the showbread to eat (1 Sam. 21:4-6). Our Lord calls attention to this when they criticized His disciples for eating grain on the Sabbath day (Matt. 12:3–4).  The bread speaks of Christ. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).  The priests (us, according to Revelation 1) were to feast upon the bread; it was their portion.  WE, as Christians, are to feast upon Christ, for He is OUR portion.

Leviticus 24:10-23 Then there is the abrupt account of a son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, who was stoned to death for cursing God (vv. 10-16, 23). The incident shows that the law was the same for anyone who lived in the camp of Israel, whether he was a full-blooded Jew or not (v. 22). It shows that blasphemy, like murder, was punishable by death (vv. 14, 16, 17, 23). (Verse 16 was probably the law against blasphemy, which the Jews referred to when they said, “We have a law, and according to our law He [the Lord Jesus] ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God” [John 19:7].) It shows that compensation could be made for some other crimes (vv. 18, 21). Finally the incident shows that retribution was a basic principle of law; wrongs had to be righted. Softness brought the law into disrepute. The law of retaliation is scoffed at today in the Western world, but thoughtful people will not dismiss it. (a) In ancient society, punishment was often out of all proportion with the wrong done. Retaliatory punishment was thus a great step toward true justice. (b) Furthermore, rehabilitative punishment—the alternative most frequently suggested—suffers from subjectivism. Who is to decide when a man is rehabilitated, ready to rejoin society? The terms may be lenient today, but what of tomorrow? True justice is an eye (and not more) for an eye.

There are only two incidents or episodes recorded in the Book of Leviticus. One is the incident of Nadab and Abihu back in Leviticus 10, and now we come to this incident. It seems entirely out of keeping with the instructions given here, but we need to recognize the fact that God is teaching a great lesson concerning blasphemy.

This boy who did the blaspheming is of a mixed race. His mother was of the tribe of Dan and his father was an Egyptian. There was a mixed multitude that went out of Egypt along with the children of Israel (Exod. 12:38). We are going to see that this group started trouble in the camp; they would murmur and cause strife. “And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a-lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?” (Num. 11:4).

We can see why these would be problem children, troublemakers. When the day came for the children of Israel to leave the land of Egypt and go out into the Promised Land, the Egyptian father would stay in Egypt and the Israelitish mother would go. There is a separation right there.

This is one of the reasons that God told His people then (and He tells us now) that there should not be intermarriage between a believer and an unbeliever. This does not have anything to do with race or skin color. It is wrong for a believer to marry an unbeliever regardless of the color of the skin. Even though both are the same color, it is still wrong for a believer to marry an unbeliever.  Remember, in New Testament terms, there are only two kinds of people; saved, and unsaved.  “Race” is not a factor, according to Acts 17:26.

This mixed-race boy has a problem. He must make a decision whether to go the way of the father or the way of the mother. The problem is that the decision is never really made. Sure, he made an initial decision, but then in his mind the question would always reappear, I wonder if I should have done the other thing and stayed with Dad. This mixed multitude has an eternal question mark before them. It was a hard decision to leave Egypt in the first place. Then their thoughts constantly go back to Egypt, and when the going gets rough, they are the first to complain.

Now, friends, we have those same people in the church today. There is the unsaved person in the church who wants one foot in the church but he has the other foot out in the world. They are the troublemakers.

God handed down His verdict of guilty, and the penalty was death by stoning. The seriousness of the crime is measured by the penalty which God inflicted. All who heard the blasphemy must place their hands on his head, denoting a placing of guilt solely on the young man. The death penalty is required for blaspheming God, and it is established that the penalty shall be paid by both the Israelite and the stranger.

There is a great moral lesson here. The name of our God is sacred and must be protected. Blasphemy is a crime of the deepest hue. Also, human life is sacred and must be protected. God provides also for the protection of personal property.

In verses 1–9 we see a picture of Israel as God intended. In verses 10-16 the cursing man pictures Israel as it actually became, blaspheming the Name and cursing (“His blood be on us, and on our children”).