Sin unto Death
Leviticus 20:1-27
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,…

The offenses described in this chapter were mentioned before. Such is our obtuseness that we need "line upon line." Adorable is that goodness of God which takes such pains with us. We have here -


1. Parents giving their seed to Moloch.

(1) This infernal god was the King of Tophet (Isaiah 30:33), and, in malignity, not to be distinguished from Satan. The sacrifices he demanded were human. By a refinement of cruelty he required parents to immolate their own offspring. They were offered to him in the horrible torments of fire. Nothing could be more devilish.

(2) In denouncing death as the penalty for this sin, the reason given is that it "defiled the sanctuary and profaned the holy Name" of God (verse 3). The temple and the Shechinah were in the land, and to commit this wickedness there was consequently to commit the highest crime against the most awful sacredness. Also the body of man is the temple of God, and to give that temple to Molech was, in this sense, to defile the temple of God (see 1 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Corinthians 10:21).

(3) The penalty is denounced in order upon the Hebrew first. Having more light, he is in a higher degree responsible, and therefore is the first named to suffer (comp. Romans 2:9). Let not Protestant Christians forget their great responsibility.

(4) But the "strangers that sojourn in Israel" are amenable to the same punishment. They must not abuse their hospitality by showing an example of wickedness. This consideration should restrain the licentiousness in foreign countries of some of our travelers.

2. Persons having dealings with necromancy.

(1) The principals in this. Those "who have familiar spirits," or demons attendant upon them and obedient to their calls. "Wizards," or wise ones, viz. to pry into the "depths of Satan "(verse 27). Such persons are accounted guilty of the highest crime, and were doomed to suffer death by stoning, without mercy.

(2) Their customers. Those who have recourse to such abandoned persons to discover things which it has not pleased God to reveal. Such pruriency into Divine mysteries is defiling (verse 6; chapter Leviticus 19:31).

(3) Those who would be sanctified by God must first sanctify themselves from these abominations. If they refuse to do this, God will sanctify himself of them by cutting them off (verses 6, 8).

3. Children who curse their parents.

(1) Those guilty of this irreverence must be woefully destitute of the fear of God (see chapter Leviticus 19:32). Our fathers according to the flesh are to us representatives of our Father in heaven.

(2) So heinous is this crime that it must be punished with death. There is no atonement for it. "His blood shall be upon him." He must be made himself the sacrifice for his sin. What an admonition to the fast youth of modern times!

4. Excesses in uncleanness.

(1) Death, in one form or another, is the penalty for the horrible crimes specified (verses 10-21). "Their blood shall be upon them;" "they shall be cut off from among their people;" "they shall bear their iniquity;" "they shall be stoned;" "they shall be burnt;" "they shall die childless."

(2) In this last the retribution must come speedily. Their cutting off out of the land of the living must be before any issue could come of their crime. It may also imply that any issue they may have already should be involved in the punishment of their sin (comp. Numbers 16:32; Joshua 7:24).


1. To withhold testimony against sin is to incur its guilt.

(1) It is here taken as complicity in the crime. He that "hides his eyes from the man" that giveth his seed to Moloch, so as to let him escape the hands of justice, is said to "commit whoredom with Moloch" (verses 4, 5). What a lesson is here to "peaceable" Christians who let swearers and other public offenders go unreproved!

(2) He that "hides his eyes," in this case, is visited with excommunication. For complicity in this gross idolatry, here described as "whoredom," God, as a jealous husband, gives his writing of divorcement. "I will set my face against that man,... and will cut him off from among his people." Not only is he expelled from the Church, but also from the nation, if not in addition doomed to suffer a violent death (comp. Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 26:17; Jeremiah 44:11-14; Ezekiel 14:7-9; Ezekiel 15:7).

(3) For this culpable want of zeal for the honour of God, the tacit accomplice in the abominations of Molech involves also his family in his punishment (verse 5). How many illustrations of this principle have we in the history of the kings! (see Exodus 20:7). Sin is a desperate evil, and requires a strong hand to deal with it.

2. The testimony against sin is a sanctification to the witness (verses 7, 8).

(1) The faithful witness thereby sanctifies himself.

(a) He clears himself of all complicity.

(b) He approves himself to God as zealous for his truth, purity, and honour.

(c) He fulfils the part of a true patriot; for nations are exalted by righteousness and ruined by crime. Public duty may cost us inconvenience, but it must not be neglected.

(2) He is sanctified by the Lord (verse 8). God will honour them that honour him.

(a) He will bring them to dwell in the land (verse 22). This possession was the earnest of the better Canaan. It was a "land flowing with milk and honey."

(b) He will watch over them as a proprietor over precious treasure. "They shall be mine" (verse 26; Exodus 19:5, 6; Deuteronomy 7:6; Psalm 135:4). "Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord." - J.A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

WEB: Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,

Sin At its Worst
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