“Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell Aharon, ‘None of your descendants who has a defect may approach to offer the bread of his God. No one with a defect may approach — no one blind, lame, with a mutilated face or a limb too long, a broken foot or a broken arm, a hunched back, stunted growth, a cataract in his eye, festering or running sores, or damaged testicles — no one descended from Aharon the cohen who has such a defect may approach to present the offerings for Adonai made by fire; he has a defect and is not to approach to offer the bread of his God.”-Leviticus 21:17-21
Following on the heels of the many stringent requirements the Lord is laying down for His Priesthood, from verse 16 He continues to add even more.
God now says that no priest with a “defect” is permitted to offer a sacrificial offering.
The Hebrew word for “blemish” or “defect” is MUM.
Hence, priests who have something wrong with their physical bodies are NOT allowed to present offerings God.
Having said that, priests with physical defects did remain as part of the priesthood.
They were provided with their normal portion of the food and money taken in from the sacrifices.
It wasn’t like they were outcast or forced to live a poverty-stricken lifestyle.
A quick clarification about the terms “blind” and “lame”.
“Blind” and “lame” did not actually mean totally blind or totally unable to walk.
In this context, “blind” could have meant only one eye was defective.
It could also have meant that the priest in question had cataracts.
The idea is that one had a severe vision impairment not limited to complete blindness.
Being “lame” can mean one has a bad limp or a foot is missing.
The person didn’t have to be a total cripple, though it could also mean that.
Keep in mind that if someone broke a leg or an arm in those days, they probably weren’t able to do a very good job of setting the bones.
Hence, a difficult break usually resulted in a life-long deformity.
These strict requirements governing blemishes, defects, and deformities continues to develop the principle that HOLINESS equals “wholeness” and “perfection”.
The Lord is communicating to us that if we’re going to serve Him, we cannot be blemished or carry any deformities.
Even one defect would disqualify one from approaching God because the required standard is perfection.
What’s interesting is we’re going to find that the requirements for acceptable sacrificial animal offerings are almost a precise parallel of what is required of priests.
Again, the idea being brought forth is that NOTHING BUT PERFECTION CAN BE OFFERED TO YHVH.
Whether priest, animal, or common citizen, if one of these has a defect or blemish, He is NOT allowed in God’s presence.
The HOLINESS of God is so transcendent that even one hint or sliver of imperfection would defile His HOLINESS, and God would NEVER allow that happen.
All of this, of course, leads us to Yeshua, the Messiah.
Understand that these stringent laws established here in Leviticus have NOT been done away with.
If one is to approach God and find favor with Him, somehow we have to be made perfect.
Hence, the reason for Yeshua’s sacrifice.
As our High Priest, He has atoned for our defects so completely that our blemishes are gone and our sins have been forgiven.
His Living Water has washed us so clean, that from God’s perspective, we are now declared perfect and spotless.
The priests of Israel learned that a proper response to the unfathomable privilege of serving the Creator of the Universe was to love Him all of their mind, soul, and strength.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“But if we walk in the light,
as he is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Yeshua, his Son,
purifies us from all sin.”
-1 John 1:7
NEXT TIME WE BEGIN LEVITICUS CHAPTER 22