And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,…
This chapter contains laws against abominations practiced by the heathen, together with reasons why they must be avoided by the people of God. Foremost amongst these reasons is -
I. THAT THEY ARE FORBIDDEN BY GOD. This is the highest reason, for:
1. He is the supreme Arbiter of men (verses 5, 6, 24): "I am the Lord."
(1) He is our Creator. His power over the work of his hands is absolute. It is our wisdom to confess this without gainsaying.
(2) He is our Governor. He has not abandoned his creation to mechanical laws. The providence of his intelligence is everywhere and ever active. This his people saw in the miracles of the Exodus.
(3) Moral beings are morally responsible to a God of holiness and truth. His will is law. It is truth. It is purity.
2. He is the covenant Friend of his people (verses 1, 4, 30): "I am the Lord your God."
(1) The covenant relationship is set forth in this declaration. It therefore suggests all the promises:, Blessings pertaining to this life; also to that which is to come. What glorious blessings!
(2) Gratitude is appealed to here. Love should constrain us. The obedience of love is the purest. It is most acceptable to God. It is most perfect; for the whole being is in it.
II. THAT THE HEATHEN HAVE PRACTISED THEM.
1. They were the doings of the Egyptians (verse 3).
(1) The corrupt state of heart which prompted them, and which was aggravated by their repetition, was that from which the children of Israel suffered cruel and relentless persecutions and oppressions. The bitter experience they had of these abominations should lead them scrupulously to avoid them.
(2) If they had learnt to follow their vices, it is time to unlearn them, now that they have been delivered from Egypt. Providence furnishes men with opportunities favourable to repentance and reformation. We are answerable for these.
2. They were the doings of the Canaanites.
(1) Customs common to the heathen should be viewed with suspicion by the people of God. The practices of custom come to be called "ordinances" (see verse 3). Ordinances of man must not be confounded with ordinances of God.
(2) We need admonition here. It is easy to flow with the stream; difficult to stem the torrent. We must brace ourselves to this. We should look to God to nerve our resolution.
III. THAT THE MATTER IS VITAL.
1. God leads his people into temptation.
(1) Thus he led his people into Egypt. Now he conducts them in amongst the Canaanites. "Shall there be evil in a city and the Lord hath not done it?" (see Isaiah 45:7; Amos 3:6).
(2) Yet is not God the Author of moral evil. Physical may exist apart from moral evil. Witness the afflictions of Job (see also John 9:1-3).
(3) God leads men into temptation, not that they may fall into it, but that they may learn to resist it, and so form a strong moral character.
2. There is life in the Law to those who can keep it.
(1) In so far as it is fulfilled, it brings the benefits of a wise and good code (Deuteronomy 4:8; Nehemiah 9:13, 14; Psalm 147:19, 20).
(2) But who can so fulfill it as to ensure eternal life? No one (see Luke 10:25-28; Romans 10:5).
(3) Therefore faith is declared to be the principle of justification (Hebrews 2:14). Upon this Paul founds his reasoning (Galatians 3:10-14; Romans 1:16, 17; Philippians 3:9).
3. Ruin is denounced upon the transgressor.
(1) Faith is the principle of a true obedience. The transgressor of the Law denies his faith and comes under the curse (Hebrews 10:38; Deuteronomy 27:26; Jeremiah 11:3)
(2) For his sake the land is cursed (verse 25). So defiled may it become as to be unfit for the tabernacle of God. The curse upon the ground for man's sake came in the form of a deluge of water; it will yet come in a flood of fire (Genesis 3:17; Genesis 5:29; 2 Peter 3:7).
(3) The transgressor is cut off from among his people (verse 29; comp. 1 Corinthians 3:17). The abomination in which he is held is vigorously set forth under the figure of the land vomiting and spuing out its inhabitants (verses 25, 28). So were the Egyptians ejected. So were the ancient Canaanites (see Genesis 15:16; Revelation 3:16). So in turn were the Israelites (Ezekiel 20:11, 13, 21). We should not be highminded, but fear (Romans 11:19-21; Hebrews 4:11). "Lay the car of your faith to the gates of the bottomless pit, and hear the doleful shrieks and outcries of damned sinners, whom earth hath spewed out, and hell has swallowed, and tremble lest this be your portion at the last" (M. Henry). - J.A.M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,