Leviticus 22:9 (HCSB)
9 They must keep My instruction, or they will be guilty and die because they profane it; I am Yahweh who sets them apart.
This pericope continues from the previous with additional commands for the priests, specifically concerning food. It is no surprise that this issue is addressed, since the food of the priests is generally what has been brought as an offering, and an offering to God is holy, as it is His.
And it should be clear that the issue at hand is not health and well-being, the avoidance of disease and contamination, but this is a spiritual issue. Notice how Lev 22:9 says, “They must keep my instruction, or they will be guilty and die because they profane it.” “It” surely refers to God’s “instruction” mentioned in the first part of the sentence. The issue is, then, keeping God’s instruction: following God’s instruction: following God. The rules provided here are not different than those provided the non-priest, excepting the punishment. But the context is different because these rules concern two things that are to be holy: the offering to God, and God’s priest.
Additionally, there are rules concerning the consumption of holy food by non-priests, and the fact that it should not happen. Again, this is a spiritual issue in that holy food is for holy beings. God’s appointed priests are the “holy” intermediaries here, and therefore the ones designated to consume His food. It is interesting to note that God does provide a way of retribution when one mistakenly eats holy food. But, a priest that does not actively keep the layperson from eating the offerings, else he again is “profaning” the offerings, and placing a burden upon the people. And although there is no explicit punishment listed for doing so, it would seem to me that the use of the same action of “profaning” suggests the penalty for Lev 22:15-16 would be the same as Lev 22:9.
Lord, thank You for providing for us, just as You did for the priests. I pray that we would honor that which is holy, everything dedicated to You, and especially You, and not profane these things. Help us to glorify only You, and not give in to the temptation to feed our own sinful pride. Amen.