Distinctions and Degrees in Obligation
Leviticus 21:1-15
And the LORD said to Moses, Speak to the priests the sons of Aaron, and say to them…

In the kingdom of God there is, as a rule, but one law for all subjects. What applies to one applies to another. The same principles of righteousness are obligatory on both sexes, on all classes, conditions, nations, generations of men. This is importantly true; but it is a truth subject to certain not unimportant qualifications. Of this latter we have -


1. Respecting ceremonial defilement certain distinctions were drawn.

(1) The commonalty were bound to avoid all defilement (by touching the dead, etc.), whenever it was practicable to do so; but it was anticipated that they would be compelled, sometimes, to become unclean, and legal purifications were accordingly enjoined.

(2) But the priests were to take peculiar care not to incur this ceremonial defilement (verses 1-4). Allowance was made for natural human feeling (verses 2, 3), but the occasions when they might permit themselves to become unclean were carefully prescribed.

(3) And the high priest was not permitted to incur defilement by "going in to any dead body" under any circumstances whatever, not even "for his father, or for his mother" (verse 11).

2. So, respecting marriage alliances:

(1) the whole people were under certain severe prohibitions (Deuteronomy 7:3, 4); but

(2) the priests were more circumscribed (verse 7); and

(3) the high priest was still more limited in his choice (verses 13, 14). The Hebrew nation was holy unto the Lord, and was required to separate itself from the actions of surrounding peoples; the priests were peculiarly holy, and must, therefore, be especially careful to walk in purity; the high priest was, in position and function, the holiest of all, and on him it was most particularly incumbent to shun every possible defilement, and to do that which was purest and worthiest in the sight of God. We have to consider what are -


1. Respecting the avoidance of evil, we may say that

(1) the members of the Church of Christ are bound to avoid all appearance of wrong. They who bear the Name of the holy Saviour, though humblest members of the smallest Church, are, as professed followers of his, bound to walk as becometh the gospel of Christ, in all purity of heart and blamelessness of life; but

(2) ministers of his Church, and their sons and daughters (verses 9, 15), are especially bound to shun everything which would bring discredit on the holy Name of the Divine Redeemer (see 1 Timothy 3:2-7; Titus 1:6-9).

2. And respecting the contraction of intimate alliances (especially the life-long alliance, marriage), we may contend that

(1) all who are the avowed followers of Christ arc bound to be circumspect in this most important matter (see 1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14). The subject of forming a life-long alliance, by which such serious spiritual consequences must inevitably follow to two human souls, and such great and immeasurable results may follow, affecting numbers of human hearts and lives, and reaching to the most distant time, is not to be dismissed to the region of harmless but helpless humour, nor is it to be left to the direction of careless fancy or of worldly policy; it is a matter for the exercise of the fullest, profoundest, heavenliest wisdom which man and woman can command.

(2) Of those who minister in the Church of Christ, it is yet more urgently demanded that in the intimacies they form and the life-long friendships they contract, they shall have regard not to a transient whim, nor to worldly advantage, but, first and foremost, to the glory of Christ and the well-being of those whom they live to serve. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them, There shall none be defiled for the dead among his people:

WEB: Yahweh said to Moses, "Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them, 'A priest shall not defile himself for the dead among his people;

Blemishes Affect Service, not Sonship
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