A response to the “Response to Dr Laura” Graphic – Part 1

Posted: June 23, 2012 in Culture, General
Tags: , ,

Well folks, I’ve finally gotten round to doing this – sorry its taken a while!

As you all know, there was a graphic (and others like it) that is circulating round Facebook and the internet that is attempting to mis-interpret/misapply the old testament law in order to get around the homosexuality issue in scripture. I thought id write a response to it section by section.

I will say however, that even if you give someone some of these explanations (or others like it done by other people), if they actually praise and champion some of these graphics that are going around in a mocking tone, they are probably not interested at all in a biblical response, or in understanding, but are generally rather bigoted and frankly lack the mental capacity for rational dialogue. We all know the types- they mock and laugh and scorn, but as soon as their claims or world-view is challenged, the eyes roll back, foaming at the mouth starts, rational thought ceases, and an explosive emotional meltdown begins followed by unstoppable irrational verbal diarrhoea.

Do not cast pearls before swine. Some people are simply beyond reasoning with. So do not get disheartened

Here is the text and graphic:

I didn’t write all the above out, but just copied a transcript of it from the net, so I hope the text is accurate

So let’s go through this one at a time shall we?

The fundamental problem with all these ‘objections’ is that they fail to understand the relationship between the old and new covenants, and their relevant fulfilments. If someone does ask these type of questions, ask them, have they actually read Leviticus? Have they actually read the early books of the old testament?  Have they read books in the new testament like Galatians, Hebrews and Romans?  Chances are many Christians haven’t even studied these books properly, never mind unbelievers. This reveals their false motives in simply trying to argue against something without genuinely trying to understand what our position actually is.

Some questions we should consider in regards to these laws would be:

To whom was this law written?
What purpose was this law written for?
What is the historical context in which the law was given?
What does the Law actually state and require?
Finally, does this law have further application in the new covenant?

So, using this rough outline, what should the first response look like (a lot of the other responses will feed of each other in content, so I will try to cut down on repetitious information – if you read them all, you should have a bit more of a holistic view of things).

Leviticus background overview:

Author and Date

Authorship and date issues are resolved by the concluding verse of the book, “These are the commandments which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai” (27:34; cf. 7:38; 25:1; 26:46). The fact that God gave these laws to Moses (cf. 1:1) appears fifty-six times in Leviticus’ twenty-seven chapters. In addition to recording detailed prescriptions, the book chronicles several historical accounts relating to the laws (see chs. 8–10; 24:10–23). The Exodus occurred in 1445 B.C. (see Introduction to Exodus: Author and Date) and the tabernacle was finished one year later (Ex. 40:17). Leviticus picks up the record at that point, probably revealed in the first month (Abib/Nisan) of the second year after the Exodus. The Book of Numbers begins after that in the second month (Ziv; cf. Num. 1:1).

Background and Setting

Before the year that Israel camped at Mt. Sinai: (1) the presence of God’s glory had never formally resided among the Israelites; (2) a central place of worship, like the tabernacle, had never existed; (3) a structured and regulated set of sacrifices and feasts had not been given; and (4) a high priest, a formal priesthood, and a cadre of tabernacle workers had not been appointed. As Exodus concluded, features one and two had been accomplished, thereby requiring that elements three and four be inaugurated, which is what Leviticus provides. Exodus 19:6 called Israel to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Leviticus in turn is God’s instruction for His newly redeemed people, teaching them how to worship and obey Him. Israel had, up to that point, only the historical records of the patriarchs from which to gain their knowledge of how to worship and live before their God. Having been slaves for centuries in Egypt, the land of a seemingly infinite number of gods, their concept of worship and the godly life was severely distorted. Their tendency to hold on to polytheism and pagan ritual is witnessed in the wilderness wanderings, e.g., when they worshiped the golden calf (cf. Ex. 32). God would not permit them to worship in the ways of their Egyptian neighbors, nor would He tolerate Egyptian ideas about morality and sin. With the instructions in Leviticus, the priests could lead Israel in worship appropriate to the Lord. Even though the book contains a great deal of law, it is presented in a historical format. Immediately after Moses supervised the construction of the tabernacle, God came in glory to dwell there; this marked the close of the Book of Exodus (40:34–38). Leviticus begins with God calling Moses from the tabernacle and ends with God’s commands to Moses in the form of binding legislation. Israel’s King had occupied His palace (the tabernacle), instituted His law, and declared Himself a covenant partner with His subjects. No geographical movement occurs in this book. The people of Israel stay at the foot of Sinai, the mountain where God came down to give His law (25:1; 26:46; 27:34). They were still there one month later when the record of Numbers began (cf. Num. 1:1).

Historical and Theological Themes

The core ideas around which Leviticus develops are the holy character of God and the will of God for Israel’s holiness. God’s holiness, mankind’s sinfulness, sacrifice, and God’s presence in the sanctuary are the book’s most common themes. With a clear, authoritative tone, the book sets forth instruction toward personal holiness at the urging of God (11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; cf. 1 Pet. 1:14–16). Matters pertaining to Israel’s life of faith tend to focus on purity in ritual settings, but not to the exclusion of concerns regarding Israel’s personal purity. In fact, there is a continuing emphasis on personal holiness in response to the holiness of God (cf. this emphasis in chs. 17–27). On over 125 occasions, Leviticus indicts mankind for uncleanness and/or instructs on how to be purified. The motive for such holiness is stated in two repeated phrases: “I am the LORD” and “I am holy.” These are used over fifty times. See note on 11:44, 45. The theme of the conditional Mosaic covenant resurfaces throughout the book, but particularly in chapter 26. This contract for the new nation not only details the consequences for obedience or disobedience to the covenant stipulations, but it does so in a manner scripted for determining Israel’s history. One cannot help but recognize prophetic implications in the punishments for disobedience; they sound like the events of the much later Babylonian deportment, captivity, and subsequent return to the land (c. 538 B.C.) almost 900 years after Moses wrote Leviticus. The eschatological implications for Israel’s disobedience will not conclude until Messiah comes to introduce His kingdom and end the curses of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 (cf. Zech. 14:11). The five sacrifices and offerings were symbolic. Their design was to allow the truly penitent and thankful worshiper to express faith in and love for God by the observance of these rituals. When the heart was not penitent and thankful, God was not pleased with the ritual. (cf. Amos 5:21–27). The offerings were burnt, symbolizing the worshiper’s desire to be purged of sin and sending up the fragrant smoke of true worship to God. The myriad of small details in the execution of the rituals was intended to teach exactness and precision that would extend to the way the people obeyed the moral and spiritual laws of God and the way they revered every facet of His Word. See notes on 11:1–47; 11:44, 45; 13:2.

Interpretive Challenges

Leviticus is both a manual for the worship of God in Israel and a theology of old covenant ritual. Comprehensive understanding of the ceremonies, laws, and ritual details prescribed in the book is difficult today because Moses assumed a certain context of historical understanding. Once the challenge of understanding the detailed prescriptions has been met, the question arises as to how believers in the church should respond to them, since the NT clearly abrogates OT ceremonial law (cf. Acts 10:1–16; Col. 2:16, 17), the levitical priesthood (cf. 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), and the sanctuary (cf. Matt. 27:51), as well as instituting the new covenant (cf. Matt. 26:28; 2 Cor. 3:6–18; Heb. 7–10). Rather than try to practice the old ceremonies or look for some deeper spiritual significance in them, the focus should be on the holy and divine character behind them. This may partly be the reason that explanations which Moses often gave in the prescriptions for cleanness offer greater insight into the mind of God than do the ceremonies themselves. The spiritual principles in which the rituals were rooted are timeless because they are embedded in the nature of God. The NT makes it clear that from Pentecost forward (cf. Acts 2), the church is under the authority of the new covenant, not the old covenant (cf. Heb. 7–10). The interpreter is challenged to compare features of this book with NT writers who present types or analogies based on the tabernacle and the ceremonial aspects of the law, so as to teach valuable lessons about Christ and new covenant reality. Though the ceremonial law served only as a shadow of the reality of Christ and His redemptive work (Heb. 10:1), excessive typology is to be rejected. Only that which NT writers identify specifically as types of Christ should be so designated (cf. 1 Cor. 5:7, “Christ our Passover”). The most profitable study in Leviticus is that which yields truth in the understanding of sin, guilt, substitutionary death, and atonement by focusing on features which are not explained or illustrated elsewhere in OT Scripture. Later OT authors, and especially NT writers, build on the basic understanding of these matters provided in Leviticus. The sacrificial features of Leviticus point to their ultimate, one-time fulfillment in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:11–22). Leviticus 1–16 explains how to have personal access to God through appropriate worship, while Leviticus 17–27 details how to be spiritually acceptable to God through an obedient walk.

MacArthur, John (2005-05-09). The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Kindle Locations 5759-5831). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.”

Frankly if I were simply to leave it at that, it would suffice. But lets look further,
(we will ignore the ridiculous references to the neighbours and smiting, and focus on the real issues.)

*1. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a
pleasing odour for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbours. They
claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?”*

Lev 1:9 states:

“‘9 Its entrails, however, and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall offer up in smoke all of it on the altar for a burnt offering, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.”

As mentioned in the above notes, the old covenant was superseded by the new, the sacrifices that were done in the OT were simply a foreshadowing and picture of what was to come in the actual fulfilment of Christ:

Heb 10:1-18:

[10:1] For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very *form of things, *can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. [2] Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins? [3] But in *those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. [4] For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. [5] Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,

[8] After saying above, “SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them” (which are offered according to the Law), [9] then He *said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. [10] By *this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
[11] Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; [12] but He, having offered one sacrifice for *sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, [13] waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. [14] For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are *sanctified. [15] And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,
He then says,
[18] Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

So we no longer have to sacrifice animals, because they were simply a foreshadowing of what Christ was to accomplish- that is, full and final atonement for sin for those who repent and believe in His name.

In the Old covanent, God commanded sacrifice to be made, but it was simply as picture of what was to come in the future fulfillment, ie Christ, and it pleased God that they obey the commandment to do this sacrifice, however the sacrifice itself did nothing for their spiritual state. What God desired was that the people ceased doing evil and purified their hearts before Him, as Isaiah 1:11-17 states:

[11] “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the LORD.
“I *have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
[12] “When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires *of you this trampling of My courts?
[13] “Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
[14] “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.
[15] “So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are *covered with blood.
[16] “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
[17] Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
*Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow.

This is why it can be said that God was both pleased with that sacrifice being commanded in Lev 1:9 in principle, but later in scripture, have no pleasure in their sacrifice, because they were done not in the right heart in practice.

So for this first command, we can see that it has no relevance to being done today, being fulfilled in Christ,  therefore it is an invalid objection to attempt to nullify the teaching of Lev 18:22 on this basis.

I will continue to deal with the other objections in the next few posts.

Part 2 is here:

  1. […] A response to the “Response to Dr Laura” Graphic – Part 1 […]

  2. […] A response to the “Response to Dr Laura” Graphic – Part 1 […]

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