IT’S INTERESTING to note that these chapters of the Old Testament, which we often skim through when reading them alone, are so full of meaning that we’re spending more time on them than we have on some of the exciting chapters of Genesis and Exodus.
This week, we read and discuss God’s statutes for holiness relating to sexual immorality, contacting the supernatural realm, and child sacrifice. The Israelites haven’t entered Canaan yet, and already God is warning them to avoid worshipping the evil god of the Ammonites, Molech.
GOD TAKES His sanctity, His holiness, very seriously. The statutes given to Moses by Yahweh governing sexual behavior and bodily discharges had some health benefits, but they were mainly intended to set standards of moral purity — especially for those who served in the tabernacle — that contrasted sharply with Canaanite morality (which was, in fact, an oxymoron).
We also discuss the first Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), which required two goats. One was a sin offering, sacrificed to Yahweh; the other had the sins of the people transferred to it by the priest laying his hands on the goat’s head and confessing the sins of the people before it was led into the wilderness and turned loose. This goat was for Azazel.
We discuss the identity of Azazel and why was he considered the embodiment of sin in this ritual of atonement, the nature of the goat-demons (rendered “satyrs” in the KJV) the Israelites had begun to worship in the wilderness, and why God insisted that animals be sacrificed only at the Tent of Meeting.