Various Levitical Laws
and ceremonies
Chapter 36 in "The Cross and It's Shadow"

by Stephen Haskell

THE Christian can have no life apart from Christ. (John 15:4,5) Every detail of his life is directed by the great Master. This was made very clear by the old Levitical rites and ceremonies.

The details of the every-day life of the ancient Israelite were under the direction of God. His food, his dress, his planting and building, his buying and selling, were all regulated by the laws of Moses. To the careless reader these requirements may seem but a collection of meaningless forms and ceremonies; but to the student of Scripture, who is watching for the steps of his Master, each Levitical law is a reflector, giving him precious rays of light from the Sun of Righteousness.


We read:"Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together." (Deut. 22:11)

The question is often asked, Why was this requirement given? One of the first things God did for Adam and Eve after they had sinned, was to make clothes for them. (Gen. 3:21)
Artist: Russell Harlen (adapt)
Garments are a type of Christ's righteousness, with which He clothes every one whose sins are forgiven. (Is. 61:10) Before man sinned, he was clothed with a garment of light and glory, and God designs that our garments should remind us of the heavenly dress with which He will finally clothe the redeemed. (Rev. 3:5; 19:8)

God says, "I am the first, and I am the last; and beside Me there is no God." "My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images." (Isa. 44:6; 42;8)

Part of our life can not be clothed with the "filthy rags" of our own righteousness, (Is. 64:6) and the remainder with the pure, spotless robe of Christ's righteousness. We can not serve God in our home and church life, and serve mammon if our daily business life. The one who continues doing it will never enter the kingdom of heaven. "Ye can not serve God and mammon."

The Saviour taught the lesson that we can not patch our own filthy robes of self-righteousness with the righteousness of Christ. "No man putteth a piece of a new garment upon an old; if otherwise, then both the new maketh a rent, and the piece that was taken out of the new agreeth not with the old." (Luke 5:36)

The Israelite who conscientiously refused to mingle woolen and linen in his daily garments, and saw in it the lesson God designed to teach, would also refrain from sin. His entire dress, made of but one kind of cloth, would constantly remind him of the perfect robe of Christ's righteousness, given to the faithful.


As the Israelite started out each morning to assume his daily tasks, another command constrained him:"Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together." (Duet. 22:10) The ox was a clean animal; the ass, or donkey, was unclean. (Lev. 11:3,4) While each was useful, yet they were not to be yoked up together.

The Saviour prayed, not that we should be taken out of the world, but that we might be kept from the evil in the world. (John 17:15) While we may use the world as the Israelites used the unclean ass, yet we are not to yoke ourselves up with any of the evil of the world.

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" (2 Cor. 6:14-17)

This command includes the marriage relation and every business connection. Ungodly business men often use methods in conducting their business that a Christian could not use without compromising his Christian integrity.

The Christian is to bear Christ's yoke, and engage in no business in which Christ can not help him carry the burden of cares and perplexities connected therewith. The Saviour says to all,

"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matt. 11:29)


All the precepts of the Old Testament are irradiated with the glory of the Son of God. Especially is this true of the command, "Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds; lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled." (Duet. 22:9)

Horticulturists know the value of this command. Sowing together wheat and oats ruins the oats and injures the wheat. This, like the other Levitical laws, referred to more than the temporal prosperity of the Israelites. It taught them that if they would remain true to God, they must not associate with evil companions. "Be not deceived:evil communications corrupt good manners." (1 Cor. 15:33)

The Revised Version of the New Testament reads, "Evil company doth corrupt good manners." The Twentieth Century New Testament makes it stronger, showing that the contamination of evil association affects more than the outward manners. It says, "Do not be deceived; good character is marred by evil company."

The Syriac New Testament gives us a side-light on what is included in the term "evil company" or "evil communication," as follows:"Be not deceived. Evil stories corrupt well-disposed minds." It matters not how they may be received, whether orally, or through the fashionable novels, or in the columns of the daily paper, the truth remains the same,– well-disposed minds are corrupted by them.

Just as truly as wheat, which furnishes us our daily bread, is injured by being mixed with other seed in the field; so the most spiritual-minded may be led astray by associating with evil persons, for "their word will eat as doth a canker." (2 Tim. 2:17)

"Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things?. yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin."(Neh. 13:23-26)

"By beholding we become changed," is a law of our being. If we behold with open face the glory of the Lord, we are changed into His image. (2 Cor. 3:18) If we let our minds dwell upon evil things, we become evil. Like David, we need to pray, "Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken Thou me in Thy way." (Ps. 119:37)


To the individual building a house the command was given, "When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence." (Duet. 22:8) The houses in Palestine generally have flat roofs, and on them men walk to enjoy the fresh air, converse together, sleep, etc. The need of the battlement is quite evident.

But there is also a deep spiritual lesson taught in the command. Every man builds his own character. Paul says, "Ye are God's building," and every building will be tested by the Lord. (1 Cor. 3:9-17)

It is possible to build a character that will pass the test of the judgment, and in this world stand as a beacon light in the moral darkness of sin, guiding others safely into the haven of rest. On the other hand, like the housetop without any battlement, we may be the cause of ruin to many souls. In our character-building, we need to make straight paths for our feet, "lest that which is lame be turned out of the way." (Heb. 12:13)


It is said that the rigid features of a marble statue may be made to vary their expression, so as even to smile, when skilful hands move a bright light before it; in like manner the plain command, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn," (Duet. 25:4) when viewed in the light of the New Testament, contains spiritual lessons for the Christian church.

In writing of the support of the Christian laborer, Paul says:"It is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? or saith He it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written." (1 Cor. 9:9,10)

Then he proceeds to explain that if we receive spiritual help from the Christian workers, we are in turn under obligation to give them of our "carnal" or temporal things. We have no more right to enjoy the spiritual aid derived from Christian workers without giving financial aid to support the work, than the ancient Israelites had to muzzle the ox that was patiently treading out his grain.

Paul closes h is argument by showing that the same system of tithing given by God to sustain His work anciently, is still binding in the Christian church. "Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." (1 Cor. 9:13,14)

"Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn," contains a lesson for the Christian worker as well as for those for whom he labors. The muzzle is not put on the ox "when he treadeth out the grain," but if the ox stands idly by and does not tread out any grain, then it would be all right to muzzle him. The command is far reaching, and requires of the laborer in God's cause, faithful service; at the same time it lays upon others the obligation of faithfully supporting the gospel laborers.

Surely the following words of Tyndale apply to this text, "Similitudes have more virtue and power with them than bare words, and lead a man's understanding further into the pith and marrow and spiritual understanding of the thing, than all the words that can be imagined."


Artist: Harry Anderson

During the forty years' wandering in the wilderness, the children of Israel passed through varied experiences. Like humanity of the present day, they failed to be thankful for the protecting care of God. They did not see that God had shielded them from the poisonous reptiles that had infested their pathway through the desert. God removed His protecting care, and allowed the fiery serpents to come among the people, "and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died." (Num. 21:5,6)

The people confessed that they had sinned and spoken against God, and pleaded with Moses to pray for them. God told Moses to make a serpent of brass and set it up on a pole, and every one that would look upon it should live.

Hope sprang up in many hearts, as they lifted the heads of their dear ones and directed their eyes toward the serpent. As soon as the gaze of those who were bitten rested upon it, life and health came back to them.

The remedy was so simple– only "to look"–that some scoffed at it; but in refusing to look, they refused life.

The introduction to the wonderful words of John 3:16 are, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:14-16)

As the serpent was lifted up on the pole, so Jesus Christ was lifted up on the cross. As the Israelites were to look at the brazen serpent, so sinners must look to Christ for salvation. As God provided no other remedy than this looking for the wounded Israelite, so He has provided no other way of salvation than faith in the blood of His Son. As he who looked at the brazen serpent was cured and did live; so, he that believeth on the Lord Jesus Christ shall not perish, but shall have eternal life.

The fatal effects of sin can be removed in no other way than by the means God has provided. The old serpent, which is the devil, is wounding men and women on every side by his deadly bite; but Christ has shed His blood upon Calvary's cross, and every one who will look to Christ, believing that His blood will cleanse from all sin, will be free from the poison of the serpent's bite. (1 John 1:7-9)


Of the command, "Whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day," (Lev. 22:28)

Andrew A. Bonar gives the following comment:"Some say this was meant simply to discourage cruelty. No doubt it had this effect. But a typical reason lies hid, and is very precious. The Father was to give up His Son; and the Son was to be, as it were, torn from the Father's care by the hands of wicked men. How could this be represented if both the ewe and her young were offered together? This part of the truth must never be obscured, that 'God so loved the world, that He gave His Son.' And the bleatings of the tender lamb in its parent's ears, as it was taken from the fold filling the air with sadness, represented the bleatings of 'the Lamb led to the slaughter,' who so sadly wailed, 'Eli! Eli! lama sabachthani?' . . . We see thus a picture hung up in every house of Israel of that great truth, 'God spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all.'"


Deut. 22:11. "Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together."

Deut. 22:10. "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together."

Deut. 22:9. "Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds; lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vine be defiled."

Deut. 22:8. "Thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house."

Deut. 25:4. "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn."

Num. 21:8, 9. Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, and all that looked upon it, lived.


Isa. 64:6; 61:10. We can not mingle the filthy rags of our righteousness with the robes of Christ's righteousness.

2 Cor. 6:14-17. " Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers."

1 Cor. 15:33. Twentieth Century translation:"Good character is marred by evil company." Syriac Translation: - "Evil stories corrupt well-yard, disposed minds."

Heb. 12:13. "Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way."

1 Cor. 9:11; 1 Tim. 5:18. "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing, if we shall reap your carnal things ?"

John 3:14, 15. "Even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life"

Return to the Contents Page of Haskell's book "Cross and Its Shadow"
Index to Pioneer's Writings