“Why so many rules? What’s their function? Some of these purity laws encoded common sense or moral ideals that we still follow today, like prohibitions against incest. Others regulated hygiene and sanitation. Still others symbolized Israel’s unique identity that differentiated its people from pagan nations. Ultimately, though, the purity laws and holiness code ritualized an exhortation from Yahweh that is as relevant today as it was 3,500 years ago: “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2, NIV).
God’s community thus reflects his character through the help of his commandments.
Some people object to this as a sort of prison. To me it sounds like paradise. Imagine a “parallel world” where people didn’t steal. Picture a community that didn’t hoard its agricultural abundance but shared it liberally with people in other communities. Consider what work would feel like if employers never exploited their employees, what courts would look like if witnesses never gave false testimony and judges didn’t accept bribes. Dream about a world where women and girls were not trafficked for profit, and where the aged, the alien and the infirm were not marginalized but honored. That’s what community life would be like in Leviticus 19.”
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