Leviticus 20 Commentary

Leviticus 20 Commentary: Punishment detailed for sexual perversions and idolatry.


The consequences for sins listed in chapters 18 and 19 are selectively detailed in chapter 20. Idolatry represented here by child sacrifice to Molek is to be punished by death. The community is expected to execute judgment on such an individual. Idolatry included consulting spiritists and mediums. Again the punishment is exclusion from God’s community. In today’s language this punishment is equivalent to exclusion from the body of Christ – like having your name deleted from heaven’s database. It’s intense!

What many saints don’t know is that the number of pastors is nearly half the number of witch doctors and like-minded pagan practitioners. Star reading, palmistry and an endless list of innocent-looking divination practices are strictly forbidden in scripture. Here you have it. Leviticus 20 verse 6. Don’t go to them.

If a man marries both the mother and her daughter and sleeps with both, he and they are punished. The scripture makes no distinction. Our culture has the tendency to put blame on the man. Here we learn that wickedness is punished in both parties. They are willing partners to wickedness.

We notice that child sacrifice has consequences in the wider family. It’s not just the man. His entire family is in trouble. As we bring repentance before the LORD today we want to do it on behalf of the entire family. What we do affects us and those over whom we hold responsibility.

We have mention of the LORD here as one who makes His people holy. This is interesting. Sanctification or being set apart is the LORD’s work.

The chapter repeats the warning to stay away from practices in Canaan – practices so bad that the LORD decides to destroy them. The language used is also important. The land rejects or vomits people when sin occurs. It’s the repeat of Genesis 3 where the land was cursed because of man’s sinfulness.

The death penalty for nearly all these grave sins is interesting. This could be distorting the picture of the LORD as a loving God. No. It is actually completing or revealing the right picture of the LORD we met in Exodus 34 verses 6 and 7. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.

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Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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