Sometimes as I read the Bible, I think about how strange some of God’s commands seem to be. They just do not make sense.
For example, when we studied Genesis, we read that God commanded Abraham to kill his son that God had given him in such a miraculous way!
In our study of Hosea, we read that God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute!
And surely you know the story of Joshua and the Israelites’ defeat of Jericho. God commanded Joshua to defeat an incredibly fortified city, Jericho, by having the Israelites walk around the city for seven days and blow trumpets!
Strange Commands in Leviticus
And I’m sure that if you are like me, as you’ve read Leviticus over the past few weeks you’ve probably thought more than once, “Well, that’s kinda strange.”
And no wonder. For these laws have never been a part of our daily lives.
As Christians, we know that the Jewish ceremonial laws do not apply to us. Jesus fulfilled those laws when He died on the cross as the final sacrifice for sin. (Matthew 5:17-18) As a gentile, I wasn’t raised keeping the feasts (Leviticus 23) or presenting to God the sacrifices (Leviticus 1-7) that are commanded in Leviticus. I’ve never had to restrict my diet (Leviticus 11), or go to a preacher for health concerns (Leviticus 13), or leave home for days because of mold or mildew in the bathroom! (Leviticus 14:33-53)
So, I have to say that these commands of God in Leviticus seem strange to me. And therefore, hard to relate to.
Because of this, I must confess that other times when I’ve read Leviticus, I’ve approached it like taking medicine. You know…just get it over with.But this time, the Lord gave me a heart that was interested in finding out what in these pure and perfect words of God I could and should apply to my own life. Because…
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16)
And I’ve learned some things as I’ve read and studied the book of Leviticus with an open heart that I’d not realized before. One being that…
The book of Leviticus is just as meaningful as the book of John or Psalms or any other!
Something else I’ve learned is that…
God’s commands can be trusted.
Even the seemingly strange ones.
In our reading this week we read two chapters (13-14) on the disease leprosy. God gave some very specific commands to the Israelites on how to handle this disease—it’s diagnosis, treatment, and cleansing (of a leper once healed).At first God’s commands concerning lepers might seem extremely strange, harsh even.
Besides the living death of the disease itself that caused the disintegration of body parts, lepers also suffered greatly socially. Once the priest declared a person a leper, he or she had to live an isolated life away from family and friends. They were no longer allowed inside the camp.
This also meant that they could not participate in worship at the tabernacle.Lepers even had to call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” as they walked about. All due to the laws God had given concerning leprosy.
And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.
All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be. Leviticus 13:45-46
Many believed that this disease was a curse of God upon those who had sinned against Him in an especially grievous way. Because of this, there was not a whole lot of sympathy for a leper. They lived as castaways outside the camp until they either died or were miraculously healed.
This treatment of our fellow man may seem harsh, but God always has a purpose for what He does and for what He commands of us.
And that is something else we can learn from the book of Leviticus.
God is deliberate in His dealings with man.
These laws concerning leprosy were more about the community as a whole than about the rights of the individual. The laws were given to protect those who were still healthy from the spread of the disease.
With the medical knowledge God has allowed us to have today, we know that to quarantine the sick is the best way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. But the Israelites had no way of knowing this.
They simply had to trust in God’s infinite knowledge, His love and care for them, and obey anyway.
And isn’t that what we many times are called upon to do as well. We don’t always understand God’s commands to us either. They are strange to us. They don’t make sense.
I mean, what makes sense about having to forgive someone who has hurt us, especially those who have hurt us repeatedly and without remorse?
Yet, God commands that we forgive others as He has forgiven us. (Ephesians 4:32)So, with the help of the Spirit, we forgive.
Or, what about this? What makes sense about God’s call to someone to leave a good life where they are and go to a foreign land as a missionary? Yet, the Spirit says, “Go.” God’s Word says, “Go.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
So, with the help and strength of the Spirit, this person called of God, goes.
Again, God works with purpose in our lives. Therefore, we can know and trust that…
God’s commands are never arbitrary.
The laws concerning leprosy were for the good of God’s people. And helped prevent the spread of many other diseases as well. Diseases such as chicken pox, measles, smallpox, etc. all begin with skin lesions. And all skin lesions had to be checked by a priest and quarantined until such time as leprosy could be positively ruled out. Therefore, this quarantine law served to also help contain the spread of these diseases, as well, among God’s people whom He greatly loved.
The laws concerning unclean animals also protected the Israelites from the spread of disease. (Leviticus 11:24-28) According to the laws concerning unclean animals, if a rat, declared as unclean, crawled into a bowl, then the bowl would have to be broken. No one else could use it. This would have ensured that any disease the rat might carry would not be passed on to anyone who might have afterward used that bowl.
Today, however, we have antibacterial soaps and dishwashers for sanitation. But Israel didn’t yet have those things. But they did have a God who loved and cared about them! And gave them laws that would help and protect them, if they obeyed. (I’d still just throw the bowl away myself! 😊)
The laws concerning the disposal and burial of animals (Leviticus 11) and people (Numbers 19:11-14), were also given, not to be harsh, but to protect. Such as…
…if a dead rat was found in an Israelite village, it would be carefully and promptly disposed of, and the one disposing of it would wash afterward. This would help prevent disease in a significant way; after all, the Black Death – bubonic plague – killed one quarter of Europe’s population around 1350, but Jewish communities were largely spared because they followed these hygienic regulations.David Guzik
Even though we are no longer under these “strange” ceremonial commands of God…
There are still many commands of God that we find to be strange today.
What command or leading of God has you struggling to trust and obey right now? Are you struggling to—
Forgive someone you feel doesn’t deserve it
Submit to a difficult husband or boss
Respond with kindness to those who have hurt you
Be the first to seek reconciliation in a broken relationship
Those are all commands of God to us His children. And they are strange commands to us. We don’t in our flesh want to obey them, either, but we know we must.
I have struggled with each one of these commands of God (along with many others) in my life. But God has helped me and taught me to obey…when I’ve finally let Him. And I’d like to share how.
How can we trust…and obey…those seemingly strange commands of God?
1) Turn to God for help.
We cannot obey in our own power or understanding. So, we must pray and ask God for His help. Ask God to help us want what He wants for us. And keep seeking Him until our heart finally turns to wanting to do the right thing. Pray like David did.
Teach me to do thy will;for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. Psalms 143:10
2) Let go of the situation.
In order to obey the seemingly strange commands of God, we have to let go. Let go of our fears, our plans, our need to understand…anything standing in the way of our obedience. And in faith take that first step of obedience, trusting that God’s way is perfect. So, what He commands and expects of us is right and good and perfect, as well.
As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. Psalms 18:30
3) Remember the truths of God’s Word.
To follow God in obedience when everything within us is fighting to hold us back, we must stop and remind ourselves that God’s commands are for our good always!
And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. Deuteronomy 6:24
4) Remember God has infinite knowledge.
God’s knowledge of the world and of our life and of the future is way more than what we can possibly know. The Lord knows what will be best for us now and in the future. Therefore, we can trust His commands and His leading in our lives.
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Romans 11:33
5) Remember that obedience is how we love our God and Saviour.
When we think about how much God deserves our unwavering faith and love, then obedience will make much more sense! What God asks of us will seem such a small thing…no matter how strange it seems at first…compared to what He has already done for us through Jesus and His death for us!
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. John 14:23
Obeying our Father…anyway
God’s commands may seem strange to us sometimes, but I’m so thankful that He is willing to give us His commands.
God is willing to be that parent whose child does not understand and feels that his parent is just being unreasonable, or selfish, or cruel. Our Father loves us enough to give us tough commands, just like our parents had to be “the parent” in order to protect us their children from getting hurt or into trouble.
God is good. He loves us. And He knows what He’s doing. So, let’s trust that His “strange” commands and His leading in our lives is good, as well.
And just obey!
Drawing nigh to Him,
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.
What helps you to obey God when you feel that He’s asking you to do something that is strange—either because it is outside your comfort zone, or you think it isn’t fair, or you think it just doesn’t make sense?