Leviticus 21:16-24

Key Verse(s):

Leviticus 21:17 (HCSB)

17 “Tell Aaron: None of your descendants throughout your generations who has a physical defect is to come near to present the food of his God.


This pericope continues the requirements of Aaron’s descendants in order to serve as priests. Here we are presented with the concept that a physical deformity excludes one from being a priest. This, on the surface, seems flat out wrong to our modern sensibilities, but let’s examine this a bit closer.

  1. We must realize that a physical defect does not preclude one from being a child of God, one of His chosen people. That is absolutely critical to understand and come to grips with. Lev 21:17 says, in reference to the person with a defect, “his God.” He is still one of God’s people. And the other thing to come to grips with is that love and acceptance does not equal allowance to do everything. In other words, God can love and accept me, but not allow me to be an NBA superstar due to my lack of height, overabundance of weight, and absence of coordination. Some of these can be worked on, sure, but some are simply gifts of God that I do not have to the extent that would allow me to be an NBA superstar. This by no means suggests God does not love or accept me, it simply means He has a different role for me. Likewise, one with a physical defect is not an outcast from God’s family just because he cannot be a priest, he simply has a different role to fill in God’s kingdom.
  2. The physical defect requirement points to the animal sacrifice. After all, that is the food that is spoken of in the passage. Just like the animal, the priest is to exhibit a similar physical appearance: without blemish. Again, God deserves perfection, and this is a physical representation of such.
  3. The physical defect requirement also points forward to Christ! Christ was, and is, perfect! Was He physically perfect? I don’t know, probably not, I suppose, by our worldly standards of perfection. But He must have been without blemish!


Lord, thank You for the perfect sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus. The One who paid our debt, assures our salvation. I pray that we would be able to recognize the role You have for us, and not be consumed with what we are not designed for. Amen.


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