Israel's Practical Sanctification: Part 2

Leviticus 20:22‑27  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
The closing paragraph of the chapter is of a more general character, and opens with that obedience to which Israel was called. The law given through Moses defined it. If Jehovah called a people to be His, they must be conformed to His word. They had to learn that, being sinners, they had no power to please Him, but continually failed. If they kept not His covenant and refused to walk in His law; if they forgot His doings, and His wondrous works that He had shown them in Egypt, in the desert, and in the land of Canaan, still less did they judge themselves and remember His promises or look on to the Messiah in faith. And thus their unbelief has brought on them the sad fate, to be driven out of the goodly land as the Amorite should have been before them. Can they deny its righteousness? It was not only Israel greedily lapsing into idolatry as keenly as the Gentiles, but even Judah's favored remnant sent back to their land by Cyrus according to the prophets guilty of rejecting their own Messiah, and the chief priests professing the apostasy of the people in the renegade sentence, “We have no king but Caesar.” What could God do to them in adequate retribution, but send the Romans to take away both their place and their nation?
Nevertheless scripture is no less clear that, if God tells us the sad tale of their ruin through trusting themselves and unbelief of His grace, He will surely and soon work for His own glory in the Messiah risen and exalted to prove Himself their merciful and faithful Savior God. For He will restore health to His people, in spite of the multitude of their iniquity, and will heal them of their wounds however deserved. Do men call them an outcast, and say that none cares for Zion? Thus saith Jehovah, Behold, I will turn again the captivity of Jacob's tents, and will have compassion on his dwelling-places, and city and palace and temple shall rise never more to fall as long as earth endures. And everlasting joy shall be theirs under the reign of Jehovah-Jesus. Nor shall they be small but exalted beyond all nations, and their oppressors punished by Jehovah. Not the Jews only, but all the families of Israel shall be His people as they never were, and He their God in sovereign mercy rejoicing over judgment.
But here we have the humbling story of their responsibility before they are brought to say, Blessed is He that cometh in Jehovah's name. No believer should wonder that “this generation” came to naught—that such a fig-tree bore no fruit, nothing but leaves. Grace, will create a generation to come. No doubt that sovereign grace has called in us of the Gentiles who believe, while the Jew holds out in his incredulity; but the same grace will bless them, beginning with a remnant when we are caught up, and issuing, after awful judgments which cut off the wicked, in His people being righteous and mighty, the days of their mourning ended forever.
“22 And ye shall observe all my statutes, and all my judgments and do them, that the land whither I bring you to dwell therein vomit you not out. 23 And ye shall not walk in the customs of the nation which I cast out before you; for all these things they did, and therefore I abhorred them. 24 And I said to you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you for a possession, a land flowing with milk and honey: I [am] Jehovah your God who separated you from the peoples. 25 And ye shall make a separation between the clean beast and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast or by bird, or by anything which creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. 26 And ye shall be holy to me; for I Jehovah am holy, and have separated you from the peoples that ye should be mine. 27 And if there be a man or a woman in whom is necromancy or soothsaying, they shall certainly be put to death: they shall stone them with stones; their blood [is] upon them” (vers. 22-27).
Yet there stands written not less indelibly the history of Israel in flagrant derelictions, notwithstanding a patience on Jehovah's part as admirable as it is affecting. They fell in their way like Adam in his. And Christendom has followed not less but more than man or Israel. Happy they who find in the Second man the only refuge, salvation, and rest for the guilty and lost. “This is the victory which hath gained the victory over the world—our faith. And who is he that gaineth the victory over the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?”
Those who looked for His coming alone sought to please God in heeding His statutes and doing them. They abhorred the unnatural horrors of Canaan. They felt God's goodness in giving them the land flowing with milk and honey. They bowed to each mark in daily life whereby He had severed them from their heathen neighbors, and recognized that they were bound to be holy to Him, because He was holy who separated them from all peoples to be His people. And their hearts would go with His burning anger against such as in the face of all lent themselves to the old enemy in necromancy and soothsaying as unworthy to live in His land.
The great error of foes, and even friends sometimes, lies in making this to be a question for Christians. It was really so for Israel. Christians are a heavenly people, with a calling on high, which the New Testament defines and expounds. Their responsibility is wholly distinct, being under grace, not law, as Israel was if we defer to the authority of the apostle of the Gentiles, as we surely ought. Yet it is our privilege to profit by the teaching of the older scriptures, and to draw out the divine principles which underlie even the least shadow of the Levitical economy.
But we stand on a ground different from that of Israel. The coming of the Son of God and accomplishment of redemption made the way for this. The rent veil has for the present closed the Mosaic system, and opened the door for the better hope by which we draw nigh to God, as no Jew could.
We are now free and exhorted to enter boldly into the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus. He is become surety of a better covenant. There are moral truths which ever abide as faith in God and obedience of His will; but as Israel had marked peculiarities, so has the church what rises immeasurably higher, and distinct even from what Israel will have in the day of the millennial glory. However blessed, and they will be so richly, they do not cease to be an earthly people in that day. We are even now heavenly, according to 1 Cor. 15:4848As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. (1 Corinthians 15:48); and then we shall bear the image of the Heavenly One, instead of suffering with Him till He come again.