What does it say?
Holiness is a key concept here (Lev 19) and in the entire book. Some consider 19:2, to be holy as God is holy, as the key verse of Leviticus. The rest of this chapter shows how holy people relate to God and each other, an expansion of the Ten Commandments.
A series of 14 statues follows (Lev 20). This is not the first time we have seen most of these issues discussed (Lev 18), but the point here is to ascribe the common penalty of capital punishment underscoring the seriousness of these violations in Israel.
Though all priests in Israel are descendants of Aaron, only those who could meet certain physical qualifications (Lev 21) were allowed to actually serve in the priesthood.
What does it mean?
To be holy is to be set apart. God is holy because there is no other like him; he is set apart from everyone and everything. We are to be holy, or set apart to him and his purposes (20:24-26). In other words, to be holy is to be godly, God-like. These statues of the Law show how God’s people were to exercise qualities of godliness in everyday life and relationships.
These laws were for Israel at a specific era of historical and cultural context. You probably won’t want to analyze any of these regulations in depth, but maybe one jumps out at you. Can you discern the spirit behind the law? Can you think of any type of application for today? Don’t force it! Not every one of these laws has a direct application, but they all have a purpose, and from those purposes we draw lessons.
As we have seen, priests are born priests by being descendants of Aaron. Here we learn that one can be born a priest and still be disqualified for service in the priesthood. As followers of Jesus, our new birth makes us part of a new, spiritual priesthood with direct access to God. We can, however, discredit ourselves by ungodly living. God will still accomplish his mission however he chooses, but we lose out on the blessing.
How will I respond?
The importance of holiness in our daily living is perhaps the greatest practical lesson to learn from Leviticus. From this passage today, can I discover one characteristic of God and one practical way to exercise this godly characteristic in my life today?