Bible Study with Jairus Leviticus 21
A common problem when reading the Old Testament is that after a person reads how God is depicted in the Old Testament, they often think that God is cruel, angry and frequently kills people. This is the reason that many atheists think that the God depicted in the Old Testament is bad-tempered and narrow-minded. He seems to frequently seek revenge against debtors. But the Gospel of John in the New Testament tells us that God loves the world. John, the apostle, also tells us in his epistles that God is love. So, how do we reconcile this contradiction?
A friend and I used to talk about the Bible quite a bit. He had the same questions. During this time, I happened to see a person writing a big “I LOVE U” in the snow, and the word LOVE was drawn inside the shape of a heart. Because more than a foot of snow had fallen in Maryland at that time, these three words were written in very thick snow and were written so big that you had to stand on the second story to see the full image of these words. When you stood in front of it, you would see lots of indents in the snow. You couldn’t see what the words said. Then, I suddenly received inspiration and said to my friend, understanding God relates to these words. When we are too close we can’t see what it says. But when we look at it from high places, we see the whole picture. The same is true for the Bible. The angle and height we view it from are not the same as the angle and height of God. The words and the works of God are like His footprints. From a distance, we may be able to see the words: “I love you” But when we who are as small as an ant in comparison to God, look at things from a close view, we can barely make out the dot in the letter “i.” When we look at things from God’s view we can get a better understanding of what the Bible is saying.
God is love, and every book, chapter, and verse in the Bible show us His love. After reading any book of the Bible, if you feel that God is not loving or you feel that God is cruel, then there is a good possibility that you didn’t understand the chapter and needed more of the Holy Spirit’s illumination. Each week in our study we read a chapter in the Old Testament and a chapter in the New Testament. We have already read up to the book of Acts in the New Testament and the book of Leviticus in the Old Testament. With each chapter we read we are moved by the love of God and the Holy Spirit gives us a deeper understanding and proof of the lavish love that God has for each of us.
We encountered some challenges when we read Leviticus 21, and I proposed the same principle. As a result, when we finished our Bible study, we were all aware of God’s love.
The first half of Leviticus 21 talks about how priests should be holy when they are serving God. They cannot defile themselves. First, the priest should not make himself unclean for any of his people who die, except for a close relative or an unmarried sister. Second, priests must not shave off the edges of their beards or cut themselves. Third, priests must not marry a divorced woman or a woman defiled by prostitution. Fourth, if a priest’s daughter defiles herself by becoming a prostitute, she must be burned in the fire.
As for the requirements of the high priest, it’s even more strict. First, he must not make himself unclean, even for his father or mother. Second, he can’t leave the sanctuary of God; third, like priests, he can only marry a virgin, and fourth, his children can’t be defiled.
The contents of verses 1-15 in chapter 21 can be understood, but the following content has a problem. Let’s read chapter 21, verses 16-24.
21:16 The Lord said to Moses,
21:17 “Say to Aaron: ‘For the generations to come none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God.
21:18 No man who has any defect may come near: no man who is blind or lame, disfigured or deformed;
21:19 no man with a crippled foot or hand,
21:20 or who is a hunchback or a dwarf, or who has any eye defect, or who has festering or running sores or damaged testicles.
21:21 No descendant of Aaron, the priest who has any defect is to come near to present the food offerings to the Lord. He has a defect; he must not come near to offer the food of his God.
21:22 He may eat the most holy food of his God, as well as the holy food;
21:23 yet because of his defect, he must not go near the curtain or approach the altar, and so desecrate my sanctuary. I am the Lord, who makes them holy.’”
21:24 So Moses told this to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites.
A Christian friend felt that after reading these verses, that God seemed to discriminate against disabled people. Why can’t a disabled man offer food to God? They can’t even go near the sanctuary and offer food to God. Why does it say that because they have a disability they will desecrate the sanctuary of God? Isn’t this obvious discrimination towards people with disabilities? How do we explain this?
I replied that according to the principle I mentioned before if you believe God discriminates and is unloving, you need to take a deeper look from a different angle because God is always love. And, if you didn’t feel His love here, it’s not that He is wrong, rather, we are looking at it from the wrong angle and height. We can’t pull God down to our level and use our natural mind to understand Him. We must pray that God will use His Holy Spirit to illuminate us and ask Him to bring us to heavenly heights in the spirit to see God’s love from a higher perspective.
If you agree with what we said here or if you agree with our view that God is love, then, how can we see God’s love in these verses?
This friend shared an explanation from the online BiblePoint.net:
The blind represents that he doesn’t know God and the will of God; the lame represents that he’s all talk and no action; disfigurement represents no spiritual sense of smell and has no discretion; the dysmelia (or deformed) represents the flesh; the man with crippled foot or hand represents the lack of spirit at work; the hunchback represents submission and compromise; the dwarf represents that the person’s life is not long; the man who has eye defect represents that this person is prejudiced, short-sighted and snobbish; festering sores and scabies represents that the wound cannot be healed and it’s bitter.
This explanation is quite good. I know that the person who interpreted this received the same spiritual teaching as I did, known as spiritual interpretation. It’s through spiritual meaning that we can explain some of the Bible, especially the Old Testament Scriptures. With this, we can match it with the spiritual significance of our situation today.
If we follow the principles we have talked about before and if we don’t see that God is doing this out of love, then, we are still misunderstanding the bible. I asked the question, what about when Moses told the Lord that he was slow of speech and slow of tongue to do the task that He had given him. What does the Lord mean when he responded to him in Exodus 4:11 saying: “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord?
According to the literal meaning of this sentence, God makes human beings dumb, deaf, and blind. Why would God do that? How do we understand that God is love here? Everyone was speechless because we couldn’t understand why God said this.
Slowly, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we began to understand the spiritual significance of this passage. First, the Bible says that the wages of sin is death. Even if people were born mute, deaf, and blind, this should also be considered as the result of sin. This concept is also so common among the Israelites that the disciples of the Lord asked Him, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (NIV, John 9:2). The Lord Jesus replied that it was not the sin of this man, nor the sin of his parents, but it is to manifest and display God’s work.
How do we understand what Jesus is saying here?
First, we know that the disciples asked this question because they were very familiar with the laws of the Old Testament. They knew that the law of God stipulated that blind people could not offer sacrifices to God. They were deeply influenced by the law and they had a strong concept of good and evil. But Jesus wants to turn their eyes from the horror of human sin and the result of sin to the provision that God is mighty to save in His love. The meaning of this sentence is that God has prepared salvation for the sin of man, that is, the coming of Jesus Christ so that people can be set free from their sins and return to God.
I believe the meaning of this sentence is not the fact that Jesus denies that man is sinful and that the wages of sin is death because it is clearly stated in the Bible that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death. This blind man and his parents may also have sinned, and his blindness may be the result of his sin or the sin of his parents. But the Lord Jesus is here to let the disciples focus on how Jesus Christ can save the sinner, and not let them focus on what is right and wrong, or judge who caused this person to be blind.
The reason why I say this is because God clearly said to Moses that He was the one who created human beings to be mute, deaf, and blind. And in the New Testament, Lord Jesus also told us that not one of the sparrows would fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. (NIV, Matthew 10:29). And we know that every creation of God is good, and God would not deliberately create people who are mute, deaf and blind. But why are there still people who are mute, deaf and blind in this world? Isn’t this contradictory? How do we explain these contradictions?
I heard a message from Kenneth E Hagin that many verses in the Old Testament mentioned that the disasters and plagues brought or sent by Jehovah to people are actually mistakes in translation. He quoted a Hebrew scholar’s research that the usage of these words is actually passive forms of the original text. In other words, these words should be translated into God’s permission to allow these plagues to fall on people.
In addition, I have heard Peter Horrobin, an expert in deliverance, give a very vivid example to explain why the sins of the ancestors often caused the offspring to be possessed by demons. In deliverance ministries, people often encounter demonic oppression due to the fact that their ancestors are practicing idolatry, fornication, and other sins, causing their children and grandchildren to be possessed. This is biblical.
It says in Exodus 34:6-7
6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. Yet he doesn’t leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (NIV)
God did say that “He punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” (NIV, Numbers 14:18). This doesn’t affect God’s claim that He is a God of mercy and a God of grace. When we compare punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third or fourth generation, we also need to recognize that His blessings will reach up to a thousand generations.
Peter Horrobin gave a very vivid example when the audience was puzzled by why God allowed the result of sin to be circulated through the family. He stood on the podium to represent God. He let a member of the audience sit under the podium, under his feet, to represent a father. He let another person stand below this person to represent a son, and then he poured water out of a bottle on the podium. The water dripped onto the head of the person sitting on the podium, flowed over the person’s body, and then dripped onto the person sitting under the podium.
He said that when God created us, He set up a principle that the blessings of our ancestors will be passed down from generation to generation, starting from the son to the grandchildren. The blessings and grace of God will be passed on to the family as characterized by this example. He said that pouring down mineral water is like God pouring some of the oil on Aaron’s head. Then it flowed through Aaron’s beard and robes, soaked the whole body, and then this blessing has also passed through Aaron’s sons and grandchildren. It’s passed from generation to generation.
He said that if God stops the consequences of human sins through the ancestors and passing on one’s genes to the next generation, it’s like asking God to close the principle of the Father’s blessings to his children that He established. This is not what God wants to do, nor what God will do. What God is doing is changing the source of sin and not closing the channel of God’s blessing. When Jesus Christ comes to earth to redeem us from sin, the channel of God’s blessing will still work. God will continue to bless us to a thousand generations. In other words, God is looking at the problem from eternity’s perspective. In God’s eternal eyes, sin is only a problem that occurs at a certain time. God won’t change the principles of the Father’s blessing to his children or the Father’s passing on genes to his children that He has set for eternity because of bad things that happened during a certain period of time.
Peter Horrobin said that if God closes the path of inheriting the sin of the ancestors to the descendants, it also closes the way God blesses the son through the Father. There is no problem with regards to the inheritance principle set by God, nor is it the root cause of the problem here. The root cause is that the source is wrong. People made the wrong choice. They chose Satan and sin as the source. God’s solution is to change the source, correct the error made by the source. If the error of the source is corrected, slowly, other things will be solved, but this will take time.
From this perspective, God allows sin to flow to the third and fourth generations. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love people. But in God’s eternal eyes, God continues to retain the blessings of the Father to his children and grandchildren. The blessings of God are to be passed for generations. The New Testament also tells us “for God’s gifts, and his call are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29). We have to resolve the contradictions of the Bible here. We don’t need to deny that God does allow the passing on of sin in families, and the fact of mute, deaf and blind caused by the result of sin. We should instead stand at a higher altitude and eternal perspective to look at God’s plan and economy. You must know that in God’s eternity, sin is short-lived. There are no records of sin in the first three chapters of Genesis and the last three chapters of Revelation. The law was established because of sins. “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” (NIV, Romans 5:20). This is what Paul said in Romans.
Similarly, the Lord Jesus is answering the disciples that it’s not the sin of his father or the sin that the son committed that made this person blind, but to show the work of God. I personally think that Jesus is not denying the fact that He or His ancestors had sinned, but rather saying, when sin abounds, grace abounds much more. Jesus is teaching his disciples not to focus on sin, but to focus on the grace and the work of God.
So how do we understand why this chapter said that God doesn’t allow disabled people to come to Him to sacrifice? How can this be linked to God’s love, and not make God look so mean?
I feel like I was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and I shared this at the meeting:
What is the essential difference between philosophy and other religions and Christianity? The essential difference is that Christianity teaches us that we must come to God through a unique mediator – Jesus Christ. No matter how kind, godly, and hard we work, we cannot reach God.
Throughout the ages, Satan has encouraged people to strive for salvation through human efforts, religion, asceticism, good deeds, and the law to please God, but 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
If you try to convince an atheist or others who are passionately pursuing God’s acceptance through philosophy and good deeds that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, these people would consider you to be narrow-minded. The message of one way to God eliminates their freedom to pursue a variety of paths.
Why do you feel hurt when it says here that God doesn’t allow disabled people to offer sacrifice to God? This is the result of the damage that the sin brought that distorted our minds. Let me give you a few examples to illustrate this.
As a child, because I was thin, and I had white skin compared to other Chinese children, I was often bullied by my classmates. Some students often laughed at me because I was white-skinned. Although the classmate that called me white was only teasing, because of the bullying and insults I received, I thought of the word white as a person who is thin, weak and unhealthy. I hated that my skin was white, and I longed for my skin to be darker. I thought if a person was dark-skinned, they were strong because I saw a lot of strong people that had dark skin. So when it comes to the word white, my instinctive reaction was to be annoyed. I liked the word black. But does black and white really represent my interpretation? Does black connote good and white connote bad?
Do white and black really have different meanings? No, in fact, white and black are the same. They have no special meaning, but the fall of man adds meaning to them because of the taint of sin. This meaning is not necessarily correct. Just like my experience, I thought that black was better than white, but that is actually a wrong judgment caused by the twisted soul.
When Adam sinned, God came to look for him and asked where he was. His first reaction was to think that God would punish him, so he hid. But God came not to punish him, but to redeem him. God not only slaughtered a sacrificial animal for them, but He also covered them using animal skins and promised that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head.
Why is it when God came to Adam to save him, Adam felt that God was going to hurt him? A person will have an orphan spirit after he/she has committed a sin. What is an orphan spirit? An orphan spirit is like the prodigal son in Luke 15. It is clear that his father loved him, but he didn’t feel that way. So, he wandered away from his father.
Bethel Church, in Redding California, which is led by pastor Bill Johnson, had a prophet named Kris Vallotton, give an example to explain the meaning of an orphan spirit, and it left a deep impression on me. He said that their family adopted an orphan. Because of his lack of love, the child isolated himself when he first came to their home. Later, when he felt the warmth, he opened up his heart, but he still obviously had the orphan spirit. Kris said that during Christmas, his daughter was responsible for distributing gifts to the stockings. She accidentally put two identical gifts in the stockings of another child and unintentionally put just one gift in the stocking of the adopted child. After the adopted child opened the gift, his first reaction was anger. He said, “Why is it that the other children have two gifts and I only have one?”
Kris said that the first reaction of this child is not to thank others for giving him a gift, but rather he was hurt because he thought that the others looked down on him. This is a typical example of the orphan spirit. When we hear the Word of God say that disabled people could not sacrifice in front of God, it stings our orphan spirit, and we feel that God is condemning us.
It’s just like I didn’t like to hear others say that I’m white due to the ridicule from my classmates. It’s a reaction from cognitive distortion.
What does God mean here? God’s meaning is completely good, and it’s completely out of love.
Since people have been tempted by Satan’s temptation to fall, Satan has always used two methods to deceive people. One is to constantly lie to people, telling them that God doesn’t love them or that God has abandoned them. When people believe the lies, they become more distant from God. This is an orphan spirit, the sickness that the prodigal son in Luke 15 had.
Satan’s second trick is to constantly encourage people to become like God or to strive to reach God’s standards. First of all, the fall of Satan is due to the fact that he said he wanted to be like God in his heart. Second, he first deceived Eve saying that if she ate the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, she would be like God. Satan also stirred Cain up to give his produce as an offering to God. We all know that Cain’s produce from the field represents people’s efforts and religions in an attempt to please God. But after his failure to please God, he became a murderer. Men with religious spirits will tend to act this way. The brother of the prodigal son in Luke 15 has this sickness. This is called the religious spirit.
So Satan encourages all kinds of religions, philosophies, and human efforts to work hard to reach God, practice to be God or to be accepted by God. All of these efforts are types of disabilities in the eyes of God. These are the tactics of the enemy to stop people from using the unique, perfect sacrificial lamb and our high priest, Jesus Christ to come to God.
In other words, you should understand the words of the Lord like this. God doesn’t say, “You can’t get close to God if you’re disabled. You are all disabled. You are not worthy to come near me.” Instead, you should hear God shout loudly: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind that is Christ Jesus. No one outside of him can get close to me. Anyone who is mute, deaf, or blind can come close to me, but you must come through my son Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrificial Lamb. In Him, I can see that you’re also flawless. Don’t try to use personal efforts to do what pleases me. It’s all Satan’s tricks to stop you from getting close to me. Don’t be fooled! Mute, deaf, blind, I long for you to serve me, so I prepared my son Jesus Christ to be a perfect sacrificial Lamb. In Him, you will become righteous, you will be close to me, and I will no longer see you as mute, deaf and blind.”
These words are actually God preparing the right path to salvation and sacrifice for the sake of the mute, deaf, and blind. But because people have an orphan spirit, they misunderstand God.
To summarize what we said in the beginning, it’s important to see and know God’s love within every chapter of the Bible. If we cannot grasp his love within the chapter, we need to continue to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in revealing it. The Bible is God’s love letter to us. He is love. God is often blamed unjustly, although he is quietly patient and longsuffering with us. He’s madly in love with us but is often treated as the bad guy. Hey…it’s not easy to be God!