Vicar Matt Doebler
Matins Devotion: May 5, 2023
In Leviticus 18, God shifts his focus from how his people are to worship him to how they are to live sexually pure and decent lives before him. The shift can seem strange and a little abrupt. One minute we’re reading about where to bring your sacrifice and the next minute we’re reading this long list of sexual abominations. It’s all a bit weird—and highly uncomfortable—a bit like having “the talk” with your parents. Reading over this list can lead us to ask, does God really need to say all this? Isn’t it obvious that all of this behavior is wicked, and perverted, and sinful? Does God really need to go there?
And so I think the key to understanding why God does indeed go there is found in the opening verses of the chapter:
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, I am the LORD your God. You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the LORD your God.
Here, God is giving his rationale for having the talk with his people. They have both come out of and are about to be led into a land where many of these perverted practices are commonplace. Not only are they commonplace, but many of them are intricately linked to the false religion and idol worship that God wants to keep his people from. The two go hand in hand. We are body and soul creatures. And what pollutes the soul always ends up polluting the body. God wants to save his people from what he knows will destroy them. And so, out of love—to give them life, he goes there.
You see, this is God’s nature—who he is at his essence. He is a God who goes there for you. In the incarnation, Jesus goes there. He takes on human flesh so he can redeem it. In his suffering on the cross, Jesus goes there. He hands his holy and innocent body over to be broken because of all the wickedness that we’ve committed with ours. And in his death and burial, Jesus goes there. He tastes the sting of death and the darkness of the grave that our depraved hearts and wicked deeds have earned. Jesus goes there for us. But he doesn’t stay there. He rises. The body that was broken and cast into the grave cannot be destroyed. Jesus lives. He lives to save our souls from every sin—he lives to cleanse our bodies from every stain.
Nothing you have done and nothing you will ever do can make Jesus blush—because he’s already gone there. So go there with him. Go there to the cross. Go there to the empty tomb. This Sunday, go there to the Lord's table. Go there. Go there and receive his forgiveness. Go there and let him cleanse you of your shame. Go there and let him heal you in both body and soul. Go there and meet the one who loves you so much that he went there for you.