And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,…
It is of the essence of law to be impartial. Its precepts apply to all without distinction. "Aaron and his sons and all the children of Israel" are here included in the scope of the Divine commands. Let none deem himself too humble or too exalted to incur displeasure by infraction of the Law.
I. We see that A LAWFUL ACTION MAY BE UNLAWFULLY PERFORMED. A wrong time or place may vitiate a deed otherwise permissible. Animals were given to man as food, and to slaughter and eat them was not in itself sin, but after the issue of this prohibition it became sin to do so without presenting them at the tabernacle. "Blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood." So the homicide justifiable in war becomes murder, and the intercourse of matrimony fornication, and the "word spoken in season" a casting of pearls before swine, by reason of impropriety of person or season.
II. THE PEOPLE OF GOD MUST EXPECT RESTRICTIONS TO BE PLACED UPON THEIR LIBERTY. The nations may follow their own devices and desires, the chosen people are under a covenant to obey the commands of the Legislator. They are assured that his wisdom and kindness will prevent the adoption of unnecessary and inequitable prohibitions. For all his precepts there are the best possible reasons, and therefore obedience is cheerfully rendered. Note the noble reply which Milton puts into the mouth of the seraph Abdiel, to the taunts of Satan ('Paradise Lost,' book 6:170-181). Whilst the Israelites were in the wilderness, and the tabernacle abode in the midst of the camp, no hardship was involved in attending to this injunction, and it restrained them from evil practices, disciplining them against the time that they should enter the land of promise and have the injunction removed. Besides, animal food was scarce in the wilderness, as we learn from the complaints of the people.
III. TO RECOGNIZE GOD IN OUR COMMON ACTIONS AND ENJOYMENTS HALLOWS LIFE - MAKES IT A RELIGIOUS SERVICE. The slain animal is consecrated as a peace offering, its blood being sprinkled on the altar, the fat burnt for a "sweet savour unto the Lord," and the remainder partaken of with gratitude and joy. God is honoured and man profited. Alas! that so many can continually receive God's mercies without acknowledgment, no blessing invoked, and no emotion of holy gladness sweetening the repast! The Christian ideal is to do all in the Name of Jesus and to the glory of God.
IV. TO REFUSE TO GOD HIS RIGHTS IS TO COMMIT IDOLATRY. The Israelites were certain to turn the slaughter of an animal into a festival, and the question was, to whom should the feast be dedicated? Homage to the demons of the field could not be sanctioned, it was a breach at once of the first and seventh commandments. It is frequently forgotten that a neutral attitude in respect of God is impossible; we are either on his side or against him. Intellectualism, materialism, scientificism, agnosticism, it matters not by what name our rejection of the claims of religion is covered, it really designates the setting up of an idol upon the throne of the heart, and we adore the enemy of God.
V. THE PROBATIONARY CHARACTER OF MANY OF GOD'S REQUIREMENTS IS HERE MADE VISIBLE. In Deuteronomy 12 the precept of the text is repealed as relating to the settled condition of life in Palestine, when it would manifestly be difficult to comply with the law. By that period the precept had served its purpose in training the Israelites to abstain from evil practices, and to honour Jehovah with all their substance. And we today have our wilderness system of probation and training, many rules designed to meeten us for the society of just men made perfect. The injunction of the text pointed to the transitory nature of the Law as a whole. It has been abrogated by the gospel, the dispensation of promise, the land of liberty and rest. Yet, as in their residence in Palestine, the Israelites continued to observe the spirit of the repealed Law, so do we, under the gospel, retain the principles that underlay the Mosaic legislation. To acknowledge God in every meal and mercy, to hallow the secular and to promote it to the sacred, this, as it is the object of Christian endeavour, is the spirit of the command we have been considering in Leviticus. And equally so, the principles and spirit of our Christian earthly life will be recognizable in the higher worship and service of heaven. The accident changes, the essence alters not. - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,