Love your neighbor — Leviticus 19-21

Today’s reading continues to deal with the sort of behavior expected from the priesthood, both personally and religiously. Wedged in here and there, however, are sections about law for the general nation of Israel. We can learn things from both.

In chapter 19 we can read something that sounds more like something we’d have expected to hear in the New Testament rather than the Old:

“You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:17, 18, NAS95.

But there it is. Love toward a neighbor was not new with Jesus, despite what we may have understood Him to have said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34, NAS95. What Jesus is saying is not merely that we should love one another (as important as it is), but that we should love one another as He loved us. That’s the new part. And that’s food for plenty of thought. It’s one thing that God should tell us to love one another; it’s another to see how that’s done! It’s why Jesus is also called (in the Gospel of John) the Word.

But the Old Testament passage calling for love also lines out for us how we are to respond when we have differences — revenge and grudges were forbidden. Grudges are the condition of the heart from which revenge comes. It continues to think about and ponder and review the offense. It considers “what would teach ’em” or what would “suit them”. And the revenge that wants to emerge from the grudge doesn’t seek justice; it wants justice “plus”. Even in extremis on the cross Jesus kept the law without blemish being the perfect example of this command as He prayed for God’s forgiveness of those who were killing Him.

See you tomorrow, Lord willing.

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About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
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