Calvary Road Baptist Church

“A SURVEY OF SATANIC & DEMONIC WARFARE IN LEVITICUS”

Leviticus 

Our survey of Satanic and demonic warfare in the Bible brings us to the book of Leviticus, the third book of the Hebrew Bible, the third of the five books of Moses identified as the Pentateuch. Those of you who have read the third book of Moses, the book of Leviticus, have no doubt recognized that it stands quite apart from the other books of the Pentateuch. Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are far more descriptive history books, usually providing accounts of events. On the other hand, Leviticus is primarily prescriptive, setting forth what God proscribed for the executing of the described functions and observations in the Mosaic economy.1

Here is a portion of what Baruch A. Levine writes in The JPS Torah Commentary on Leviticus: 

Leviticus addresses the multiple functions of the priesthood: officiation in the sacrificial cult, purification, and administration of sanctuary and consecrated personnel. But its educational role pervades the book: The biblical priests taught the people what God required of them. The two dimensions of the rabbinic name torat kohanim not only account for the varied subject matter contained in Leviticus, but they also hold the key to the book’s organization and structure.

... the Latin name Leviticus, which goes back to the Greek word Levitikon - which, in turn, reflects Hebrew levi, “a Levite” - was, indeed, intended to characterize the contents of the book.

To Greek-speaking Jews of antiquity, such as those in Alexandria who produced the ancient Greek translation of the Bible known as the Septuagint, the name Levitikon probably meant “priestly” in a general sense and did not refer specifically to the Levites as a group. Leviticus assigns no particular role to the Levites, in contrast to the Book of Numbers, where their role is paramount.

In some way, the name Leviticus was probably conditioned by the terminology in Deuteronomy, which classifies all priests as Levites, using such designations as ha-kohanim ha-leviyim, “the Levitical priests” (Deut. 17:9,18; 18:1). It is significant that the prophet Malachi referred to the priests of Jerusalem as “Levi.” He speaks of “the covenant of Levi,” upheld by the priests in earlier times but abrogated in the prophet’s own day. The equation “Levi” = “the priesthood” suggests the very identification expressed by the Greek name, Levitikon. Most likely, Greek Levitikon expresses the same concept as Hebrew torat kohanim.[1] 

“Leviticus is essentially a rulebook – the book of laws given by God to his people through Moses at Sinai. The laws cover ritual and worship in many aspects of life – but all seen in relation to him.”[2]

I will survey the entirety of Leviticus, briefly commenting on each chapter before pointing out specific passages that bear directly on the spiritual warfare that targeted the children of Israel and their newly formed theocracy.

 

First, THE OVERVIEW OF LEVITICUS

 

1-7

THE SACRIFICES

Priests and people are given instructions about five different offerings:

The burnt-offering (chapter 1 and 6:8-13): the only one in which the whole animal was burnt; a token of dedication.

The cereal- or grain- offering (chapter 2 and 6:14-18); often an accompaniment to burnt- and peace­ offerings.

The peace- or fellowship-offering (chapter 3 and 7:11-36): re-establishing fellowship between the offerer and God; or it could be a thank-offering.

The sin-offering (4:1-5:13 and 6:24-30): made in order to obtain forgiveness. The relationship between this and the guilt-offering is not clear. Generally speaking the sin-offering seems to have referred to offences against God, and the guilt-offering to social offences. (But even sin against others is seen as sin against God, as 6:2 plainly states.)

The guilt- or repayment-offering (5:14-6:7 and 7:1-10).

There was a standard pattern of ritual. The worshipper brought his offering (a physically perfect animal from his herd or flock, or, in the case of a poor man, doves or pigeons) to the forecourt of the tabernacle. He laid his hand on it, implying that it represented him, and slaughtered it. (If it was a public offering the priest did this.) The priest took the basin of blood and spattered it against the altar. He burnt a specified part with certain portions of fat (or the entire animal in the case of the burnt-offering). The remainder was then eaten by the priests, or by the priests and their families, or (in the case of the peace offering) by priests and worshippers together.

Sacrifice of some sort was almost universal practice amongst ancient peoples, and Israel’s sacrifices have some similarities with those of their neighbours. Nonetheless, certain features are unique:

Ÿ Israel’s absolute monotheism - belief in the one true God - and the ritual as a direct revelation from him.

Ÿ The emphasis on ethics and morality, stemming from God’s own absolute moral holiness; sin as a bar to communion; the need for repentance and atonement; the insistence on obedience to God’s law (moral as well as ceremonial).

Ÿ The complete absence (and prohibition) of associated practices in other religions; no magic or sorcery.

Ÿ The high tone of the sacrificial system: no frenzy, or prostitution, orgies, fertility rites, human sacrifice, etc.4

 

8-10

THE CONSECRATION OF AARON AND HIS SONS

8 The investiture

Now that the priest’s sacrificial duties have been listed, Moses implements instructions given in Exodus 29. In an elaborate and impressive ritual Aaron and his sons are instituted to the priesthood. Moses performs the priestly duties on their behalf. The blood on Aaron’s ear, hand and toe indicate the dedication of the whole man to God’s service.

 

9 Aaron and his sons take office

The order of their first sacrifices is significant:

A sin-offering: obtaining cleansing and forgiveness.

A burnt-offering of dedication to God.

A peace-offering: fellowship and communion with God is restored and enjoyed.

 

10 Sacrilege

The rejoicing is short-lived. In no time Aaron’s sons are deciding to do things their way: and God reduces the priesthood to three. Perhaps they were under the influence of drink (10:9).

Whatever the reason, God’s terrifying holiness cannot allow disobedience in those dedicated to his highest service. His commands are absolute; no man may tailor them to suit his fancy.

Verse 6:   the uncombed hair and torn clothes are signs of mourning.

Verse 9:   God’s priests are to avoid the excesses of Canaan, where wine featured prominently.

Verse 16: the people’s sin-offering should have been eaten by the priests in the sanctuary area as a sign that God accepted the offering-Aaron’s excuse is not clear, but Moses accepts it.

 

11-15

LAWS FOR DAILY LIFE: PURITY AND IMPURITY

Today we are better able to understand and appreciate the sound principles of diet, hygiene and medicine which these laws express. God works in and through the processes he has built into the natural world.

 

11 Food-laws: clean and creatures

Israel may eat:

Ÿ Animals which chew the cud cloven hoofs.

Ÿ Sea creatures with both fins scales.

Ÿ Birds not listed as forbidden.

Ÿ Insects belonging to four classes locust family.

Amongst those banned are:

Ÿ Carnivorous animals - which readily transmitted infection in a warm climate where flesh decayed rapidly.

Ÿ Pork - specially dangerous in this respect, as the old British saying about eating it only when there is an ‘r’ in the month (i.e. the cold months) bears out. Pigs are also hosts to various parasites.

Ÿ Vermin and predatory birds - likely disease-carriers.

Ÿ Shellfish - even today these often cause food-poisoning and enteritis.

Verses 32-40 set out measures to prevent contamination of food and water supplies. The same principles govern present-day public health regulations.

 

12 Purification after childbirth

In Canaan, prostitution and fertility rites were all mixed up with worship. In Israel, by sharp contrast, anything suggesting the sexual or sensual is strictly banned from the worship of God - as this chapter and chapter 15 make plain. The intention is not to write off this side of life as ‘dirty’, as is plain elsewhere in Scripture. The purpose is to ensure its separation from the worship of God. The rule of strict cleanliness in all sexual matters was also a positive safeguard to health.

 

13-14 Uncleanness due to skin diseases

Although the word ‘leprosy’ is used throughout in many versions, true leprosy as we would define it is only one of the skin diseases mentioned here. Chapter 13 is written in technical jargon - a professional textbook on diagnosis for the priest-physician, enabling him to distinguish between ‘acute’ and ‘chronic’ forms of the various diseases. This is the earliest formulation of quarantine regulations and preventive medicine relating to these diseases so far recovered from the ancient Near East.

As far as clothing and buildings are concerned, the ‘disease’ is a mildew, or fungus.

14:34ff.: we have a similar system of house inspection and treatment for dry-rot today.

Cedarwood (14:49): contains a substance used in medicine for skin diseases.

Hyssop (14:49): a herb, possibly matjoram, containing a mild antiseptic.

 

15 Uncleanness due to bodily discharge

See under chapter 12. Regulations are given for both normal (seminal and menstrual) and abnormal, possibly malignant, discharges. Washing is prescribed both to prevent and to sterilize infection.

 

16

THE DAY OF ATONEMENT

The 10th day of the 7th month

(Tishri-September/October) was to be the annual Day of Atonement (‘at-one-ment’) for the nation. Only on this occasion was Aaron allowed into the innermost part of the tabernacle, where the ark of the covenant was housed. He must first obtain forgiveness and cleansing for his own sin. Only then might he cleanse the tabernacle and offer on behalf of the people’s sins. For a New Testament look at the Day of Atonement, see Hebrews 9 and 10.

Azazel (8, 10): a place in the wilderness which the scapegoat was sent, symbolically carrying away the sins of Israel. The meaning is uncertain, but it cannot refer to an offering to a demon, as some suggest, for this was strictly forbidden (see, e.g., 17:7).

Outside the camp (27): neither offering might be eaten, since no one was to eat any of his own sin-offering, and Aaron identifies himself with the people in their sin-offering.

 

17

FURTHER REGULATIONS ABOUT SACRIFICE

As a safeguard against sacrificing to idols (17:7), sacrifice might be offered only in the proper place, and to the proper Person. On 17:10ff. See “The Meaning of Blood Sacrifice’, page 178.

 

18-20

ETHICAL AND MORAL LAWS

18:3 provides a key to these chapters. From what we know of Canaanite and Egyptian religions it is clear that many of these laws are directed against specific practices of Israel’s neighbors

 

18 Sexual offences

6-18: marriage between those closely related by blood or by marriage is forbidden in Israel. In Egypt, which had no marriage-laws, such marriages were common.

19-30: adultery, child-sacrifice, homosexual relations, bestiality (perhaps a hangover from animal cults) were all part of the indescribably debased religions of Canaan. Israel is to shun behaviour which is bringing God’s judgement on the land (compare Genesis 15:16).

 

19 Various laws

19:2 stands at the heart of the moral law for Jew and Christian alike (see 1 Peter 1:15-16). God’s holiness, the holiness we are to reflect, shows itself in concern for the underprivileged (9-10, 14, 20), in honesty, fair dealing and impartial justice (11, 13, 15) and in respect for life and reputation (16-18).

Verses 23-25: the likelihood of heavy cropping is greatly increased by this practice.

Verses 26b-3l: these are all heathen practices.

 

20 Serious offences and crimes punishable by death

Verses 6-21 list the penalties for disobedience to laws in chapters 18 and 19 (compare, e.g., 6 with 19:31, 9 with 19:3; 10 with 18:20). That such a wide range of offences should be punishable by death seems incredibly harsh to the modem reader. It is worth noting, however, that the offences listed are either in deliberate defiance of God’s holy law, or offences against people - not property.

Molech (2-5): an Ammonite god. Amongst the Phoenicians live infants were placed in the arms of an idol, and died in the flames burning inside it. Some equally horrible practice is in mind here.

 

21-22

RULES FOR THE PRIESTS

Because of their position and duties the priests are subject to particularly stringent regulations on ritual purity. Any defilement disqualified them from contact with the holy things. The rules for the high priest (21:10-15) are even stricter (compare 11 with 1-2; 13-14 with 7). No one with any physical defect may serve as priest, though he may share in eating the offerings. Only the best we can give - whether in the priesthood or sacrificial offerings - is in any measure worthy of God.

 

23

THE SET FEASTS

Israel’s special festivals, like the weekly sabbath, reflect a pattern of sevens ­ pointing back to God setting the seventh day apart as a special day at creation.

 

The sabbath: one day of rest in seven.

Passover, followed by the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (March/April).

Firstfruits (April), followed seven weeks later by

The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) harvest festival (June).

The Feast of Trumpets: the New Year Festival and first of three festivals in the seventh month (September/October); the others being

The Day of Atonement; and

The Feast of Tabernacles or perpetual reminder of the nation’s tent-dwelling days following the deliverance from Egypt.

 

24

THE LAMP, BREAD OFFERED TO GOD, AND THE SIN OF BLASPHEMY

Chapter 24 turns from special festivals to two regular duties: the lamp must be kept burning, and the weekly offering of 12 loaves. The loaves remind the tribes of their complete dependence on God’s provision. They are not put there for God to eat (as in pagan religions). Aaron and the priests are openly instructed to eat the bread themselves.

Verses 10-23 record the ruling about a breach of the third commandment. The emphasis is on one law for Israelite and resident foreigner alike.

The law of retaliation (lex talionis, verses 15ff.): the principle this law expresses of exact public justice, as opposed to individual revenge. In the event, compensation for injury often took the form of fine (as the exception made in the case of murder implies - Numbers 35:3lff.). The fact that literal retaliation by bodily mutilation was legally allowed does not necessarily mean it was practised. It was a strict, legal statement against such practices as family blood-feuds (the evils of which are shown, for instance, in Greek drama).

 

25

THE SEVENTH AND FIFTIETH YEARS SABBATH AND JUBILEE

The pattern of sevens reflected in the festivals (chapter 23) is now extended to the land. One year in seven is to lie fallow: a year in which the people, freed from much of their ordinary work, are to be taught and trained in God’s law (Deuteronomy 31:10ff.). The fiftieth year, following the seventh seven, is an extra fallow year for the land, which reverts to its original owner. It is a time when those who have fallen on bad times have their freedom and restored. Jubilee, the year of restoration, serves a dual purpose. It reminds the people that the land belongs to God; and it prevents the wealthy from amassing land.

 

26

PROMISE AND WARNING BLESSING AND CURSING

The reward of obedience is pictured as an idyll of peace and plenty. Best of all, God will walk amongst his people, as he walked in the garden with the first man and woman. This is Eden restored. Disobedience, on the other hand, will bring calamity on the nation: fatal disease, famine, wild beasts ravaging the land, and war leading to exile. The cursings are more detailed than the blessings: human nature being what it is, fear brings a readier response than love. Yet even after all the disobedience, God still promises to respond to the call of genuine repentance.

 

27

VOWS AND TITHES

Firstborn sons, the firstlings of flocks and herds, and firstfruits of the field are God’s by right (he accepts part for the whole). One-tenth of all cattle and produce are also his due. Over and above this, men might vow individuals or possessions to God as a dedication or thank-offering. Normally these would be redeemed for their set valuation, plus one-fifth.

‘Devoted’ to the Lord (28): deliberately dedicated and set apart for God and therefore no longer available to man. Verse 29 presumably refers to someone ‘set apart’ under a death sentence.

Verse 34 brings us back to the source of authority for these and all the laws in Leviticus. The commands are God’s, given through Moses, at Sinai.[3]

 

Next, HOW LEVITICUS PREPARED THE JEWISH PEOPLE FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE 

Leviticus is divided into four parts. Seven chapters are focused on the various offerings. Three chapters are focused on matters pertaining to the priesthood. Six chapters address issues of cleanness and uncleanness. And the final eleven chapters contain the holiness code. Leviticus continues the project implemented by God in the book of Exodus of building His chosen covenant nation.

For the people to thrive as a nation, they must be trained to worship God. Any individual’s vertical relationship with God is crucial to the horizontal relationships one hopes to enjoy with others. Thus, the instructions about worshiping God with offerings chapters one through seven. Leadership in worshiping God was to be provided by the priesthood, chapters eight through ten. Developing a sense of right and wrong, learning to discern the clean from the unclean, and the Day of Atonement as an annual provision to remind the people of their sinfulness and the need for sin to be dealt with is the object of chapters eleven through sixteen.

It should be no surprise that the final of the four parts of Leviticus, chapters seventeen through twenty-seven, addressing the primarily outward matters related to personal holiness, deal directly with preparing the people for spiritual warfare. Chapter seventeen deals with the sanctity of blood. Chapters eighteen, nineteen, and twenty address moral laws. Chapter twenty-one and twenty-two focus once more on priests. Chapter twenty-three regulates the nation’s worship calendar. Chapter twenty-four, which speaks of oil and bread at the outset of the chapter, but records a blasphemy case and the stoning ordered for that blasphemy, is a chapter about the demand for reverence of God. Chapter twenty-five deals with the Sabbath Year and Jubilee. Chapter twenty-six concentrates on rewards and punishments. The final chapter of Leviticus deals with vows and tithes.

With the time that remains, let us look to chapters 17, 18, 19, 20, and 26: 

Leviticus chapter seventeen. 

This chapter deals with the proper way of offering a burnt offering or a sacrifice, with two comments that seem to bear upon preparation for spiritual warfare by guarding against conduct that would leave someone vulnerable to inappropriate spiritual influences: 

Leviticus 17.7: 

“And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.” 

Every time an animal was slain, it was brought to the Tabernacle for a priest to sprinkle blood on the altar and burn the fat. Thus, the people were trained to honor God, trained to think about God, and this training was ingrained to prevent offering sacrifices to demons. 

Leviticus 17.10:

“And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.” 

This verse follows the passage that addresses proper offerings at the Tabernacle preventing sacrifices to demons. It is also the third time in Leviticus that the consumption of blood is prohibited.5 And when you consider Genesis 9.4, 

“But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat,” 

can it be maintained that the prohibition against consuming blood is isolated to the Law of Moses? These two passages in close proximity suggest a connection between vulnerability to demonic influence and the consuming of blood that needs to be considered. 

Leviticus chapter eighteen. 

This chapter is devoted to sexual conduct, especially the prohibition of sexual interaction between those closely related by blood and marriage, as well as homosexual activity. Key to this chapter is Leviticus 18.3: 

“After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.” 

Verses 27 and 29 make mention of “these abominations.” Further, it was under the influence of demons and their associated idolatry that the Egyptians engaged in incestuous marriages. It is not unreasonable to associate sinful sexual activity with demonic influence at some level. 

Chapter nineteen. 

Think there is no correlation between personal holiness, honoring your parents, the worship of God, and idolatry? I am also persuaded parents who raise their children to honor them are providing a foundation against susceptibility to demonic influence. They are interconnected spiritual realities. 

Leviticus 19.1-4:

1  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2  Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.

3  Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God.

4  Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the LORD your God. 

Chapter twenty. 

I suggest you read the entire chapter. As you read, note the connection offering children to the Amorite god, Molech, has with familiar spirits and wizards, adultery, incest, bestiality, and homosexuality. Remember what I mentioned earlier, those metallic statues of Molech were heated, after which infants were placed upon Molech’s outstretched and red hot hands and arms to be burned to death? That was how Molech was worshiped. This reminds me of chemical abortions without the statue. These wicked practices are lumped together in the Law of Moses as capital offenses, punishable by death. Where demons are involved, idolatry is found, inconvenient human life is cheap and disposable even if it is your child, and the pursuit of personal pleasure is all that matters. 

Chapters twenty-one through twenty-five deal with priests, reverence for God, the worship calendar, the Sabbath Year and Jubilee, so we will conclude with chapter twenty-six. 

Leviticus 26. 1-4:

1  Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.

2  Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

3  If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;

4  Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. 

The Mosaic Law requirements imposed upon the children of Israel resulted from the Mosaic Covenant, something of a contract established between the God of Israel and the nation of Israel.6 It is a conditional covenant, meaning that the blessings bestowed by God require obedience by God’s people. This is in contrast to the Abrahamic Covenant, an unconditional covenant that God has promised to fulfill no matter what.

The Mosaic Covenant’s essence is seen in this passage, with God indicating that He will bless, verse 4 if the covenant people comply with His wishes and directives, verses 1-3. No images of any kind and no bowing down to anything. Only God is to be worshiped. Only God is to be obeyed. Walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, and things will go well, with God blessing abundantly.

The rest of the chapter informs the people what will happen if they do not honor God, worship God, obey God, and practice idolatry, verse 30. God will punish them so severely for their disobedience, for their idolatry, for choosing false gods and the demons behind them over Him, that they will end up resorting to cannibalism, eating their children, verse 29.

If the people of Israel repent, 

“Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land,” 

verse 42. Notice that the covenant to which this verse refers is not the Mosaic Covenant. If the people repent of the sins they committed in violation of the requirements of the Mosaic Covenant, God will remember the Abrahamic Covenant, which was restated to Isaac and later to Jacob. 

We know Jewish history well enough to know that the people of Israel did not comply with the Mosaic Covenant requirements. Throughout their history, they flaunted their relationship with God and violated the reasonable guidelines for enjoying a relationship with the one true and living God.

God demonstrated before the Exodus that He was superior in every way to the Egyptians’ false gods and therefore superior to the demons behind them. In Leviticus, measures were incorporated to prevent the ongoing influencing of their lives by demons seducing them into committing terrible sins, which were likened to spiritual counterparts.

Fornication, adultery, homosexuality, incest, and bestiality are the physical counterparts to idolatry, the pursuit of false gods, the adoration and worship of false gods, and even the crafting from wood, stone, and metal of false gods. And what lies back of it all? Demons. Foul spirits. With the Devil, the mastermind behind it all.

What do we begin to observe in Leviticus concerning the spiritual assault that was taking place in the lives of the Jewish people, as their fabrication of a golden calf while Moses was receiving the Law from God on Mount Sinai illustrates? While he is receiving the Ten Commandments, they are breaking the Ten Commandments. It made him so angry he threw the tablets to the ground, breaking them. We begin to learn from what happens to Israel, even through Leviticus, that one’s best practices, even if God gives those practices, ultimately prove unsuccessful in resisting a spiritual assault.

__________

[1] Baruch A. Levine, Leviticus - The JPS Torah Commentary, (Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989), page xii.

[2] The Lion Handbook to the Bible, (Oxford, England: Lion Publishing plc, 1983), page 172.

[3] Ibid., pages 172-182.

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