Leviticus 22:1 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Leviticus 22:2 Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD.
I think the CJB translation is much clearer for verse 2: “Tell Aaron and his sons to treat with respect the sacred offerings the Israelites consecrate to me, so they will not profane my holy name.”
I think it is important to understand how much the name of the LORD is connected to the person of the LORD. The LORD considers the respect with which one treats His name as being directly related to the respect one has for His Being. God is jealous for the honor of His name. He equates His name to His presence.
Exodus 20:7 “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”
1 Kings 8:28–29 “Yet have thou respect unto the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to hearken unto the cry and to the prayer, which thy servant prayeth before thee to day: That thine eyes may be open toward this house night and day, even toward the place of which thou hast said, My name shall be there: that thou mayest hearken unto the prayer which thy servant shall make toward this place.” (A prayer of David)
Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.”
Isaiah 48:10–11 “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.”
Malachi 2:2 “If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.”
Leviticus 22:3 Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD.
No priest is to actively participate in sacrifices and offerings if ceremonially unclean for any reason. It seems that the penalty for doing so was to lose one’s position as a priest.
Leviticus 22:4 What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean. And whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose seed goeth from him;
Leviticus 22:5 Or whosoever toucheth any creeping thing, whereby he may be made unclean, or a man of whom he may take uncleanness, whatsoever uncleanness he hath;
Leviticus 22:6 The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water.
Leviticus 22:7 And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall afterward eat of the holy things; because it is his food.
If ceremonially unclean for any reason, the priest is not to serve at the temple until he can once again be declared clean according to the detailed instructions provided in the previous chapters.
“when the sun is down….” – What a wonderful blessing to know that God’s mercy and compassion are new every day.
Lamentations 3:22–23 “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”
Leviticus 22:8 That which dieth of itself, or is torn with beasts, he shall not eat to defile himself therewith: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 22:9 They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I the LORD do sanctify them.
No priest was to eat meat from an animal that had died naturally or from disease or had been killed by another animal.
Leviticus 22:10 ¶ There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner of the priest, or an hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing.
Leviticus 22:11 But if the priest buy any soul with his money, he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house: they shall eat of his meat.
Leviticus 22:12 If the priest’s daughter also be married unto a stranger, she may not eat of an offering of the holy things.
Leviticus 22:13 But if the priest’s daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her father’s house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father’s meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof.
No one other than qualified members of the priest’s family (as identified in previous chapters) was to partake of His portion of the offerings. Exception is made for one the priest has bought as a servant; that servant is recognized as part of the family. Exception is also made for the daughter of the priest who has been widowed or divorced, is childless and is once again living with her father.
Leviticus 22:14 And if a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly, then he shall put the fifth part thereof unto it, and shall give it unto the priest with the holy thing.
Considering the explicit instructions that accompanied sacrifices and offerings, it is hard for me to understand how someone could eat of the meat from such offerings unknowingly. Evidently, however, it was possible. The penalty for such a person was to make restitution plus 20% more.
Leviticus 22:15 And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the LORD;
Leviticus 22:16 Or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass, when they eat their holy things: for I the LORD do sanctify them.
In context with the previous verse, it seems as though the priest could be the means through whom another person might unknowingly eat of the wrong portion of meat. These verses seem to be warning the priests to be very careful in how they use their portions of meat and not cause someone else to sin. It is only by God’s gracious provision that the priest and his family are allowed to eat of the designated portions of meat.
Leviticus 22:17 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Leviticus 22:18 Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the LORD for a burnt offering;
Leviticus 22:19 Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats.
Leviticus 22:20 But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.
The first thing that stands out to me in this section is that this instruction is directed to everyone living in Israel—even foreigners. All were allowed to make vows and free will offerings to the LORD. All was to be done according to God’s instructions (not according to what they thought best) and were to be male cattle, sheep or goats without blemish. Only our very best should be offered to the LORD.
This instruction is very convicting. I truly want to give the LORD only my best, but I readily admit that I fall far short of that far too often. I am so thankful for God’s grace and mercy. I am so thankful that I live in the age of grace. I am so grateful for the sacrifice of Jesus and the gift of salvation. I am so thankful that it is all about what He has done and not about anything I can do.
We need to remember that the whole of the law and the sacrificial system pointed to fulfillment in Christ. Christ was the perfect sinless human sacrifice for the sin of man, and every animal that was sacrificed was to picture His perfection.
Leviticus 22:21 And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.
Leviticus 22:22 Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the LORD.
Leviticus 22:23 Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.
Leviticus 22:24 Ye shall not offer unto the LORD that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land.
Leviticus 22:25 Neither from a stranger’s hand shall ye offer the bread of your God of any of these; because their corruption is in them, and blemishes be in them: they shall not be accepted for you.
This section of verses again emphasizes that the LORD only wants from us what we are willing to freely give Him. It also emphasizes that God only wants our best—not our rejects.
The prophet Malachi was still trying to make the people understand this truth in his day.
Malachi 1:6–8 “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.”
Point is also made that one’s offerings should come from what is his as provided by God—not what has been given him through someone else’s provision.
Leviticus 22:26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Leviticus 22:27 When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
Leviticus 22:28 And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day.
This section clarifies that qualified animals must be at least eight days old to be an acceptable burnt offering. The animal is to be nourished at least seven days by its mother.
It was forbidden to kill both a mother cow or sheep and her young on the same day.
Leviticus 22:29 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.
Leviticus 22:30 On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave none of it until the morrow: I am the LORD.
Thank offerings were only to be made of one’s own free will. It was to be eaten only on the day of the offering.
Leviticus 22:31 Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 22:32 Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you,
Leviticus 22:33 That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.
The chapter closes with an admonition to obey all of God’s commandments. Again the warning is given to treat God’s name with great respect and honor. God had separated the people of Israel as His portion among the nations on earth and He expects their obedience. That is why He delivered them from Egypt.
I want to close this chapter with a quote that I really like from David Guzik.
“Therefore you shall keep My commandments, and perform them: God commanded Israel - and especially the priests - to keep His commandments and to honor His name because of who He is (I am the Lord), because of what He is (My holy name), because of what He is doing (I am the Lord who sanctifies you), and what He has done (who brought you out of the land of Egypt).”
Though the child of God today hasn’t been delivered from the land of Egypt, we have certainly been delivered from the world of sin it typifies.