Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes -

Leviticus: Fellowship With A Holy God
Part III: Acceptable Living Before A Holy God, Leviticus 11:1-27:34
J. Heeding God's Graduated Standard Of Expectations For His Servants
(Leviticus 21:1-24)
  1. Introduction
    1. We believers relate to one another so that the higher our role in God's Biblical assignment of oversight or exampling, the greater our accountability to the Lord, be it in the family, in the Church or in society.
    2. This need for a graduated standard of expectations for God's servants relative to their role before others is taught in Leviticus 21:1-24, and provides us an effective practical application (as follows):
  2. Heeding God's Graduated Standard Of Expectations For His Servants, Leviticus 21:1-24.
    1. The Lord held the priests to a higher standard of conduct than He did the people in Israel, Lev. 21:1-9:
      1. The stipulations of the standards for ceremonial cleanness for the priests in Leviticus 21:1-9 were given in view of the fact that the priests were spiritual leaders in Israel (Leviticus 21:4) who officiated at God's altar in behalf of the rest of the nation, Leviticus 21:6.
      2. Because of this exemplary role, the priests were to abstain from ceremonially defiling themselves in approaching any dead body except if the deceased had been a close blood relative like his mother, father, son, daughter, brother or virgin sister, Leviticus 21:1-3. In cases involving all other deceased relatives or other parties, the priest could not let himself be ceremoniously contaminated to uphold his testimony as a holy man called of God to be committed to functioning as a priest, Leviticus 21:4, 6.
      3. Like the rest of the people, the priest could not practice mourning rites common to the pagans, Lev. 21:5-6; Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament, p. 203; his function in the sacrificial services of the Lord made it imperative that he distance himself from all such pagan rites!
      4. Also, the priest could not marry a cult prostitute or an immoral woman, nor could he wed a divorced woman in signifying that we was of unimpeachable character, Lev. 21:7-8. He could wed a widow in accord with the New Testament rule of 1 Corinthians 7:39. [Note: the prohibition against a priest's marriage to a divorc<\i>e aligns with Jesus' claim that such a union is adultery, and with our stand that deacons and elders be men who have not wed divorc<\i>es, Matthew 5:32b with 1 Timothy 3:2 and 5:9.]
      5. Since prostitution by a priest's daughter undermined the testimony of her father in his office, she was to be punished severely with death by fire that the Jews held to be by molten lead, Lev. 21:9; Ibid., p. 202.
    2. God wanted the priests who approached Him in service not to have any notable physical blemishes that signified the effects of sin in the human race, Leviticus 21:16-21.
    3. However, even those priests who had such blemishes could eat of the holy sacrifices, for their fellowship with God was not to be hindered by the effects of sin in humanity, Leviticus 21:22-24.
    4. The Lord held the high priest to the highest standard of expectations in the nation, Leviticus 21:10-15:
      1. The commands regarding God's expectations of the high priest were given in view of the fact that he was anointed with the holy oil and wore the priestly garments to intercede for the nation in God's presence in the Holiest of Holies, Leviticus 21:10a, 12b with 8:12 and 16:1-4.
      2. Thus, besides what was required of the people and regular priests, the high priest was not to express the normal signs of mourning that all the others in the nation could express, Leviticus 21:10b: he could not let the hair of his head become untidy in grief since his head wore the holy oil of God, nor could he tear the clothes on his body in grief, for his body wore the holy garments in God's presence! (Ibid., p. 204)
      3. Indeed, the high priest could not approach any dead body, even that of his father or mother, nor could he leave the sanctuary to attend their funeral if he was then serving God there, Lev. 21:11-12! (Ibid.)
      4. His marriage partner had to be a virgin, for that would insure before all that his son was truly his, and so keep the high priestly line unquestionably upright in the sight of God and man, Leviticus 21:13-15.
Lesson: The HIGHER the ROLE of the priest involved, the greater the IMPACT of his TESTIMONY, so God required him to live with the greater degree of SELF-CONTROL and ORDER befitting his role.

Application: (1) If God assigns us the role of EXAMPLING to a subordinate party, He expects us to exercise GREATER SELF-CONTROL and ORDER than the subordinate does! (2) May we so live!