Leviticus 27:1-34 (Things Vowed and Devoted)

Leviticus 27:1-34
Things Vowed and Devoted

One of my friends takes a different stand on vows than I do. There is actually no real information on making oaths and vows in the New Testament epistles. Christians are supposed to say what they mean, and mean what they say.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:7, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” This was telling Israel that they were not to swear, but to be people of integrity in what they said. This is essentially repeated by Paul for those in the church. James repeats it in his epistle as well. However, this really has nothing to do with making oaths or vows. The Old Testament explicitly speaks of making vows, such as in our passage today.

As the New Testament doesn’t explicitly deal with either oaths or vows, we must use common sense in how we deal with them. In an oath or vow to another person, we are committing to perform based on our words, and in our circumstance of being Christians. Their perception of our integrity, and our allegiance to Christ, is at stake. If we make such a vow, we are to perform it.

Secondly, in making a vow, we are doing so in the name of the Lord. To do so in any other name or capacity, such as “I vow on my mother’s grave…” is idolatry. Because we are vowing in the name of the Lord, we are expected to perform what we say.

Having said this, if we made a vow which is contrary to our life in Christ, before coming to Christ, it cannot be something we are expected to perform. First, it is contrary to our commitment to Christ. It is not to be done. Secondly, we were in a completely different state before we came to Christ. If we made a vow which was inappropriate, the sin of that vow is forgiven in Him.

However, not all vows are abrogated in coming to Christ. A vow of marriage between a man and a woman must stand. It is legal, it is appropriate under the New Covenant, and therefore we are bound to it. If a guy, however, made a vow of marriage to another guy (perish the thought), before coming to Christ, that vow cannot stand. It is illegitimate in the eyes of the Lord, and it must be ended in a legal fashion in the society in which we live. In other words, common sense needs to be used when considering vows which we made before coming to Christ.

Text Verse: “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. 22 But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. 23 That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth.” Deuteronomy 23:22-23

I think, probably, my friend and I would agree on the issue of vows up to this point. However, he mentioned to me one time, “What if someone made a stupid vow to never drink coke again. Would that be binding?” I would say, “Yes.” If you have vowed to the Lord that you will do, or not do something, then it is binding.

He says, that is putting us back under the law. I say, it is submitting to our vow made to the Lord. At what point is our word to be taken as anything less than as we speak? If our Yes is to be Yes, and our No is to be No – even apart from vows – then how much more should our vows be held as sacred!

Understanding this, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5, “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

If this is so; if sin is not being imputed to us, then one’s logic might be that, “I cannot be sinning if I break my stupid vow of not drinking coke again.” In this, there is the assumption that the non-imputation of sin means one is not doing wrong. That is a category mistake. One may not be imputed sin, but one can still do wrong.

The non-imputation of sin means that we will not die. The wages of sin, after all, is death. What this means is that we will never again lose our salvation, because we are not imputed sin for our wrongdoing, and thus we will not die. We have been (past tense) granted eternal life, and that will not change. Sin is no longer imputed. But wrongdoing is still reckoned. This is what then falls under the category of rewards and loss. We will all stand before the Bema seat of Christ and receive our judgment for deeds done in the body, whether good or bad. To vow a stupid vow which one will break because it is stupid is wrongdoing. To vow a vow which will lead to one doing wrong is to then commit wrongdoing. Either way, wrong has been done.

The sanctity of keeping vows is found in the books of wisdom – Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job. These cannot be regulated to merely a part of the Old Covenant. The books of wisdom speak of that which is right on a basic level. They speak of that which is fundamentally right – apart from the law. Let us be wise and circumspect both in making oaths and vows, and in performing them. In the end, sin will not be imputed to you for your failure to perform your vows, but you will be held accountable for failing to perform them nonetheless.

Understanding this, it’s time that we get into our verses of the passage before us. It’s been a wonderful trip through this book, and we are almost at its end as we begin Chapter 27. Great things are to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. That Which is Vowed (verses 1-27)

Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

The words here indicate that an entirely new section of instruction from the Lord lies ahead. It is the standard phrase to indicate this, and so these words are to be taken as a completely separate section within the book. Before closing out this marvelous book called Leviticus, the Lord has one more item to be included in it, and without this chapter, there would be a lack in the book’s content.

“Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them:

The word “appendix” is used by many scholars to describe the contents of this chapter. This is for a few reasons. First, the final words of Chapter 26 appear to close out “the statutes and judgments and laws” which were made between the Lord and the children of Israel there at Sinai. Secondly, it is because this chapter deals with vows, and vows are a free-will expression by an individual who is under no obligation to make the vow in the first place. Thus, they lay outside the law.

Although this is true, calling this chapter an appendix is not the best way to look at it. First, neder, or vows, are referred to five times in Leviticus. These are given in conjunction with the details of other temple sacrifices. The legal acknowledgment of these vows within the sacrificial laws thus requires that commands concerning them be carefully laid out. Secondly, the verses end acknowledging that the chapter details commandments given by the Lord while still at Mount Sinai. Thus, this is not an appendix.

The reason for placing it last in Leviticus, however, is because it deals with voluntary offerings. Though not mandatory to be made, once made, they become mandatory in keeping them. There would be a void without including these directions. As the Lord’s word was considered inviolable, so the words of the people were to be considered as well. The spoken word from the man resulted in a command from the Lord, and a command from the Lord became something which was to be obeyed. This is referred to later –

When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it; for the Lord your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. 22 But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin to you. 23 That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth.” Deuteronomy 23:21-23

Solomon, in both Proverbs and Ecclesiastes speaks of the importance of keeping one’s vows –

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it;
For He has no pleasure in fools.
Pay what you have vowed—
Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.” Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5

(con’t) ‘When a man consecrates by a vow

Here, the verb pala, or wonder, is translated as “consecrates.” The idea is that as a wonder, or miracle, is something out of the normal, so a vow is something out of the normal. It is above and beyond what is considered regular. Even today, when someone does something above and beyond, we will proclaim, “Well, isn’t that wonderful.” This carries the idea being conveyed.

(con’t) certain persons to the Lord, according to your valuation,

There is a debate as to whether the vows concerning people were intended to mean that these people became the property of the Lord unless redeemed, or if the purpose of making the vow was to redeem the person based on the valuation. The scholar Keil says, “This implies clearly enough, that whenever a person was vowed, redemption was to follow according to the valuation. Otherwise what was the object of valuing them? Valuation supposes either redemption or purchase.”

If that is the case, then why vow someone to the Lord? If the purpose is to redeem, then why vow at all? Why not just give the money to the priests? Secondly, the vowing of animals and land will be mentioned next, and they too could be redeemed, but it was not the expectation that they would be.

What seems to be the case is that when a vow is made to consecrate a person to the Lord, that person belonged to the Lord permanently. Unless redeemed, they would be devoted to the service of the sanctuary for the duration of their lives.

We might ask, “Why would someone do this?” But we do it in our own society, even if with different means, the intent would be the same. We give children up for adoption in hopes of them, or us, having a better life. We give ourselves up to employers, even signing work contracts, in order to secure a more positive future. Someone at the sanctuary would be under the care of the sanctuary.

This practice may explain the term nethinim which is used in Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah to describe a class of people who served at the temple, but who were of a lower class than that of the Levites. Nethinim comes from natan, to give, and thus they may be people given over to the temple service, whether those of foreign birth as slaves, or those of Israel who are consecrated by vow.

The purpose of the valuation, then, would be to redeem a person who was devoted to the Lord if their future looked brighter outside the temple. If this was the case, then they could be redeemed to live out their lives as the Lord had prospered them apart from the temple service. Again, this is conjecture, but it makes logical sense.

if your valuation is of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old, then your valuation shall be fifty shekels of silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary.

The valuations of the people to follow are based on ability to serve, and skill in service, not on intrinsic value of the person. Serving the Lord is what is being valued. In the case of a man between twenty and sixty, they are in the prime of life, and the expected service would be considerable. To redeem them then would require a large amount, fifty shekels. It is silver which is specified, and throughout Scripture, redemption is pictured in silver.

If it is a female, then your valuation shall be thirty shekels;

Again, ability to serve, not intrinsic value of the person, is being seen here. Peter calls women the weaker vessel in his first epistle. The amount of physical productivity expected from a woman was a bit more than half of that for a comparable male. This was the value set for a male or a female slave who had been gored by an ox in Exodus 21:32. It was also the value the Lord was priced at when Judas betrayed Him to the chief priests.

and if from five years old up to twenty years old, then your valuation for a male shall be twenty shekels, and for a female ten shekels;

The value set here is less than half that set for those between twenty and sixty. This shows us that skill, knowledge, and ability are all factors which are considered. The age of twenty is when the congregation was considered acceptable for war, as Numbers repeatedly states. Before that, those nineteen and younger were still considered as not ready for the challenges of adult life.

In this one category, the value of the female is exactly one half of the male, rather than 3/5, or 2/3 percent. This indicates that the service of females of this age is not considered to be of the same proportion as at other ages, probably because of the issues females especially face between these ages.

and if from a month old up to five years old, then your valuation for a male shall be five shekels of silver, and for a female your valuation shall be three shekels of silver;

A child of such an age would be almost a liability as one who is considered for service. The prospects would be of a future worker only, and thus the price is very small for redemption value.

and if from sixty years old and above, if it is a male, then your valuation shall be fifteen shekels, and for a female ten shekels.

The value of an elderly man is less than a male between five and twenty. However, the value of an elderly woman is the same as a female between five and twenty. Thus, her proportional value is greater at this age than at the younger age. During the second temple period, they had a proverb concerning this, “An old man in the house is always in the way; an old woman in the house is a treasure; she manages all household affairs.”

‘But if he is too poor to pay your valuation, then he shall present himself before the priest, and the priest shall set a value for him; according to the ability of him who vowed, the priest shall value him.

This verse contains the last use of the word muk, or poor, in the Bible. It signifies someone who has become thin; thus figuratively to be impoverished. Scholars point to this verse and say that this entire section on vows presupposes redemption of the individual, and this is a ceremonial rite, not an actual vow to service. Otherwise, the person would be obligated to service to the Lord.

But I would argue the opposite. Their logic must be that they consider such a vow as permanent. But nothing here says it is. The Nazirite vows of Numbers 6 are made for amounts of time chosen by the one vowing. If a person vowed to serve the Lord, a price for redemption from that service is set. If it is not paid, the service continues. But a person may be so poor that he simply wanted to serve the Lord for a specified time. He could then appeal to the priest for a reduction in his redemption value with the intent of paying his redemption fee when things looked up for him. He is offering himself as a gift of service to the Lord, but doing it from a position of poverty. Paul repeats the sentiment in 2 Corinthians –

For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” 2 Corinthians 8:12

Paul is saying that the disposition of the individual is what makes an offering acceptable or not, regardless of the size of the gift. If one eagerly, and with a right heart, gives just thirty cents, they are doing well. However, if someone gives one million dollars with the wrong intent, why would they be credited with an acceptable gift? The world focuses on the size of the gift, but God focuses on the intent behind it.

Understanding this, we can see that a gift is based on the heart of the giver and it is “according to what one has.” The poor man with little can still give a grand gift. It is accepted then “not according to what he does not have.” If it was, then only the gifts of the wealthy would be acceptable regardless of the amount given in comparison to the amount they possess.

This precept appears to be what is being relayed by the Lord here. A person who consecrated himself by oath to serve the Lord should not be prohibited from doing so because he was too poor. Rather, he should be given the chance to do so, and then to be able to redeem himself based on his state of poverty. If this were merely a way of giving a gift to the Lord, there would be no need to make a vow of consecration. There were other things that could be vowed to the Lord, as we will next see…

‘If it is an animal that men may bring as an offering to the Lord, all that anyone gives to the Lord shall be holy.

These words now refer to any animal that was considered as an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord, as already detailed within the law – bulls, goats, rams, lambs, and so on. Any such animal that was brought to the Lord became holy. This means that it was henceforward set apart for sacred use – either for sacrifice on the altar, or for the maintenance of the priests and sanctuary. It could also be put with the animals intended for later sacrifice.

10 He shall not substitute it or exchange it, good for bad or bad for good;

Anything which had been consecrated to the Lord as an offering became, at that moment, holy. Thus it belonged to the Lord for sacred purposes. Adam Clarke notes that, “to change which was impiety; to withhold it, sacrilege.”

A new word, mur, is brought into the Bible to make the point. It means essentially the same thing as the other verb. Both convey the idea of changing one for another. By using two words, it is giving an emphasis that this would be wholly unacceptable. Further, it might be inferred that one verb is speaking of exchanging one animal for another like animal, whereas the other verb would then mean one animal for a different kind. This seems right because…

10 (con’t) and if he at all exchanges animal for animal, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy.

One might ask, “Why would someone want to exchange what they have vowed?” The reason might be that at first he promised a lamb and decided that he had a better lamb. Or, he might have vowed a lamb and decided that to give an ox would be a better gift. In making such a change, or exchange, both animals became holy. On the other side, the person may have devoted an ox, and then his other ox died. He may say, I need an ox, so I am going to exchange it for a lamb. If he decided to do this, then both animals were holy. He would not receive back his lamb, and he would not receive back the ox either. The lesson is, “One must always be careful when making vows.”

11 If it is an unclean animal which they do not offer as a sacrifice to the Lord, then he shall present the animal before the priest;

There are two possibilities as to what this means. The first is an unclean animal according to sacrificial law, such as a donkey. The second is any clean animal with a defect. The first is probably the case, but either way it is to be presented to the priest…

12 and the priest shall set a value for it, whether it is good or bad; as you, the priest, value it, so it shall be.

It is an obvious verse. The quality of the animal is set by the priest, and from that determination, a price is then set.

13 But if he wants at all to redeem it, then he must add one-fifth to your valuation.

The animal’s price was set at a certain amount, and it is for that amount that it could be sold to another. But the one who brought it forward originally would have to pay 1/5 more for it than anyone else. This was intended to avoid people making rash vows. There would be a penalty imposed for having so dedicated and then decided to have again what was dedicated.

14 ‘And when a man dedicates his house to be holy to the Lord, then the priest shall set a value for it, whether it is good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall stand.

This is probably pertaining to a house in a city. It is not that which is granted by original inheritance of the land. One commentary says that the ordinary practice here is to redeem. That makes no sense. Like the animals of verse 12, if one were to redeem his own house, he would be penalized for doing so…

15 If he who dedicated it wants to redeem his house, then he must add one-fifth of the money of your valuation to it, and it shall be his.

The same penalty for the redemption of an unclean animal is found here. It would make no sense for the usual practice to be the redeeming of the property by the original owner.

16 ‘If a man dedicates to the Lord part of a field of his possession, then your valuation shall be according to the seed for it. A homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.

This speaks of land of original inheritance. It belongs to the family and tribe forever, and so only the produce could be dedicated. The amount is set based either on how much barley seed the land would require to seed it, or how much the land was expected to produce, it is debated which is correct. Probably it is for sowing. After that though, then a set value of silver for that amount of seed was set.

17 If he dedicates his field from the Year of Jubilee, according to your valuation it shall stand.

This would be land dedicated immediately after the Jubilee. In such a case, the full valuation applied. This then covered 49 years.

18 But if he dedicates his field after the Jubilee, then the priest shall reckon to him the money due according to the years that remain till the Year of Jubilee, and it shall be deducted from your valuation.

This speaks of the years remaining until the next Jubilee. A standard calculation was to be made based on the number of years left, and then the amount of corresponding seed was then to be converted into silver, and that would be the set value.

19 And if he who dedicates the field ever wishes to redeem it, then he must add one-fifth of the money of your valuation to it, and it shall belong to him.

Again, the same 1/5 penalty is imposed upon anyone who desired to receive back his vowed offering. It would be a lesson that would be remembered by the one who vowed and then reconsidered.

20 But if he does not want to redeem the field, or if he has sold the field to another man, it shall not be redeemed anymore;

This is an exceedingly complicated verse. What it probably means, is that the man has done one of two things. He 1) vowed the land which he owns, as an offering to the Lord, and he has not redeemed it before the Jubilee, or 2) he had sold the land to someone else and decided after selling it that he vowed that it should be the Lord’s. As the land is his in perpetuity by landed inheritance, it should revert to him, but because he vowed it to the Lord after selling it, then his intention is that it should revert not to him, but to the Lord. Either way he is making an absolute claim that He wished the land to be the Lord’s forever, which will now happen…

21 but the field, when it is released in the Jubilee, shall be holy to the Lord, as a devoted field; it shall be the possession of the priest.

The intent of the man, with his landed inheritance, was that it would forever be the Lord’s. It would never return to the land of the tribe from which he came. We might think this odd, until we see what people do with land they once possessed, giving it to the state or county in which they live as a memorial park, arboretum, etc. It is taking the land out of the family’s possession, and it is taking it out of the possession of anyone else as well. Thus it becomes a testimony of love by the one who has parted with it.

22 ‘And if a man dedicates to the Lord a field which he has bought, which is not the field of his possession,

This would be landed property purchased by someone from its permanent owner as described in Chapter 25. The individual has actually not bought the land, but the crops of the land.

23 then the priest shall reckon to him the worth of your valuation, up to the Year of Jubilee, and he shall give your valuation on that day as a holy offering to the Lord.

The priest was to then make an evaluation of the seed of the land which would occur till the year of Jubilee, and when that amount was set, the one vowing was to give the money to the priest for the care and maintenance of the sanctuary. But no 1/5 would be added to it as it was not his landed property to be redeemed, and so only the money of the vow would ever be exchanged.

24 In the Year of Jubilee the field shall return to him from whom it was bought, to the one who owned the land as a possession.

As it wasn’t the buyer’s actual property, he had no right to sell it, or have it transferred out of the possession of the landed owner. Thus it went back to the landed owner at the Jubilee.

25 And all your valuations shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary: twenty gerahs to the shekel.

The shekel is defined as twenty gerahs. It comes from garar which means “to drag away.” The gerah literally means “a bean” or “a kernel” which is round as if scraped. Thus it is a portion of a shekel which has been taken away. This is the same idea as our use of “grain” when speaking of money, gun powder, etc.

The reason for including this statement is to ensure that the sanctuary shekel, which was the standard, was to be used, and the silver was to be according to that 20-gerah standard. The number 20 in Scripture signifies “expectancy.” There was to always to be the expectancy that the shekel used was appropriate to the standard.

26 ‘But the firstborn of the animals, which should be the Lord’s firstborn, no man shall dedicate; whether it is an ox or sheep, it is the Lord’s.

Exodus 13:2 expressly stated that all firstborn belonged to the Lord. Because of this, they could not be used as a vow of offering. They were already His to begin with. A firstborn man could be vowed though because they were redeemed when the Lord took the Levites as His in place of the firstborn.

27 And if it is an unclean animal, then he shall redeem it according to your valuation, and shall add one-fifth to it; or if it is not redeemed, then it shall be sold according to your valuation.

The subject of this verse is very hard to pin down. Is it a clean animal with a defect that cannot be presented to the Lord? Is it an unclean animal according to sacrificial laws? Is it even still speaking of the firstborn of animals referred to in verse 26? It has already been prescribed in Exodus 13 that the firstborn of a donkey was to be redeemed with a lamb or have its neck broken. Does that principle apply to all unclean beasts, or only donkeys?

Probably, this is speaking of the firstborn of an unclean animal other than a donkey, but being dogmatic here, especially when dogs are unclean animals, is probably the wrong course of action. The price of a dog is forbidden to be brought to the house of the Lord for any vowed offering according to Deuteronomy 23:18.

I have spoken with my lips and made a vow
I shall not delay in keeping what I have said
To the sanctuary! I am headed there now
My heart was prompted, and so I shall go where my heart has led

My praise shall be of You in the great assembly
I will pay my vows before those who fear Him, this I shall do
The Lord will be pleased, so it shall certainly be
To the Lord I will be faithful and true

Following in the footsteps of Christ my Lord
Who paid His vows to the Lord; those He had spoken
As the psalm has said, in His sacred word
And like Jesus, my vows shall never be broken

II. That Which May Not Be Vowed (verses 28-34)

28 ‘Nevertheless no devoted offering that a man may devote to the Lord of all that he has, both man and beast, or the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted offering is most holy to the Lord.

A new word, with an awesome and terrifying meaning, is introduced into Scripture here, kherem. The word is also translated as a net. The idea is that as a net closes and drags away its catch, so it is to be with something devoted to the Lord. Kherem signifies something placed under a ban and devoted to destruction.

A man had the right to devote anything under his possession to be dedicated to the Lord. He would do this with a curse upon himself if not obeyed. This included property, slaves, and even children. No reason is given, and no further explanatory details come later. All we have is that if such a pronouncement was made, the thing could not be sold or redeemed. Instead, it became devoted and most holy to the Lord. For property and assets, they become solely the property of the priests. For people…

29 No person under the ban, who may become doomed to destruction among men, shall be redeemed, but shall surely be put to death.

Though scholars attempt to separate the words of verse 29 from verse 28, it is hard to see how they can justify this. Verse 28 explicitly gives a person the power to declare a man under his possession kherem. Verse 29 immediately follows and says that all kherem who are devoted as kherem shall be put to death. As melancholy as the passage is, this verse seems to explain the intent of the account of Jephthah’s daughter in Judges 11, and it shows the severity of speaking rashly. Though that was a vow and not a kherem, the result was the same as if it was. Further, it shows the disobedience of Saul who made a similar vow in 1 Samuel 14 which his son was implicated in, and which he did not carry out.

30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord.

Everything which came from the agricultural work of the people was to have a tithe, or a tenth portion of it, removed. This was to be considered “holy to the Lord.” At this point, what that means is not explained, but that is coming later in the law. For now, one tenth of the land’s produce was considered as holy.

31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it.

The tithes were excluded from vows because they already belonged to the Lord, but they could be redeemed by adding a fifth of the value to them.

32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.

What this means is explained in more detail later, but for now, the animals would pass under a rod. As each passed, it would be counted. Each tenth would be set aside as qodesh l’Yehovah, or holy to the Lord. That animal could not be sold or kept for working or for anything else. It was set apart to the Lord.

33 He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.’”

When the tenth animal passed under the rod, its fate was sealed. It was not to be exchanged for a better or worse animal. If an exchange was attempted, then both were to be considered holy. What can be inferred from the words, “It shall not be redeemed,” is that they could neither be bought nor sold. They were set to be dedicated to the Lord, and that was their purpose henceforth.

As an additional note: The tithe will continue to be explained and defined after this point, and throughout the law. Some scholars will point to those clarifications as being “second” and even “third” tithes. There is no such thing. The subject of tithing is one of the most misunderstood, and most abused principles in the church. The tithe, or tenth, is a precept found in the law, and it is never repeated under the New Covenant. Further, what is done with the tithes, even under the Mosaic Covenant, is wholly ignored by preachers.

This precept, now named here, is the first time that tithing is mandated under the law. Two other times, the setting aside of tenths are mentioned before this. Both are in descriptive passages, and they mandate nothing. Some, however, will point to those two passages and claim that because they precede the law, the tithe is an eternal standard for man. They claim that it falls under the “law of first mention,” meaning that something mentioned for the first time is to be upheld after that.

There is no such law in Scripture. If there were, anyone could have multiple wives and concubines, we would have to marry our oldest daughters off before our younger ones could marry, and if our son died, we would be giving his widow to our next son to raise up children in the first son’s name, we would be paying dowry’s for our wives, giving our firstborn a double portion of the inheritance, observing the weekly Sabbath, and the seventh-year Sabbath. We would also be observing those pilgrim feasts mentioned in Exodus. On and on and on it would go.

Understand now that the tithe is not a New Testament principle, and even when preachers teach tithing, they don’t do it according to the standard of the law. Remember this simple rule: No tithing. There is one precept in the New Testament for giving, and that is to give as one may prosper. That is it. Out of that prospering, Paul then says to share in all good things with the one who teaches you.

*34 These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai.

The words here simply and elegantly close out the book of Leviticus. They immediately speak of the contents of this chapter, but they are an overall summary of the entire book. And though this chapter has lacked much of the Christological symbolism that most of the book of Leviticus has shown us, it is an important ending to the book. Without it, there would have been a void in several important aspects of the lives of the Israelites.

What would be the result of making vows? What would have been the consequences for reneging on those made? Who was to be the deciding voice in such things? And so on. It was necessary to put these here, to ensure a smooth transition out of Leviticus. Further, though its placement is often called a mistake, it is more than appropriate. Rather than closing out the general Sinatic laws with blessings and curses, it ended on a more positive note of what could and could not be vowed to the Lord.

And finally, things like the tithe are spoken of here, but what to do with them is not revealed. Thus, it gives an anticipatory taste that more is to come before all is complete in regards to such things. In all, the Chapter serves as a marvelous conclusion to the book of Leviticus.

Before we close out the chapter though, because we are dealing with vows, it is right that we tie this in to a passage from Mark 7. There we read the following words of Jesus to the Pharisees –

All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down.” Mark 7:9-13

The word He uses, Corban, is found in Leviticus 27:9. It is an offering to the Lord. What the people were doing, was getting around the law of tending to their parents by taking what should have been used for their care, and making it a qorban, or offering, to the Lord. By doing this, it meant that it could not be used for any other purpose. And the parents would rather do anything, even perishing, than to interfere with such an offering and rob God.

Eventually, the person could reclaim their offering by adding the standard 1/5 to the value. Thus instead of tending to the parents with a great portion of the asset, they would supposedly be honoring God. The 1/5 value would be a minimal loss compared to spending it all on their care. The priests would profit off the deal, and all would be well with the world. But Jesus knew their deceit and laid it out for all to see and understand.

The law was intended to bless the people, protect the poor and needy, and glorify God all at the same time. It was never intended to be used as the leaders of Israel did. They manipulated its precepts for gain, and they harmed the people in the process, both in the hardening of the hearts of the people, and in the mistreatment of those who should have been cared for.

As we continue through the law, we can see where it constantly failed to do what it was given to do, which is 1) to sanctify the people – “…you shall be holy; for I am holy” (11:44), and 2) to grant them life – “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them” (18:5). The people failed to be sanctified, and the people died. Leviticus shows us that something more was needed than the law itself. This beautiful, marvelous treasure of 27 chapters was given to lead us to a better understanding that we need Jesus. And so, before we depart today, getting ready for a new adventure in another book of the Bible next week, let me tell you about Jesus, and how He is so very important to your life.

Closing Verse: “I will go into Your house with burnt offerings;
I will pay You my vows,
14 Which my lips have uttered
And my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.” Psalm 66:13, 14

Next Week: Esther 1:1-12 Really something to see, and yet quite sad…(Naughty Vashti / A Party Gone Bad) (1st Esther Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if you have a lifetime of sin heaped up behind you, He can wash it away and purify you completely and wholly. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Things Vowed and Devoted

Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying
These are the words He was then relaying

Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them:
When a man consecrates by a vow
Certain persons to the Lord
According to your valuation, then this is how

If your valuation is of a male
From twenty years old up to years old sixty
Then your valuation shall be fifty shekels of silver
According to the shekel of the sanctuary 

If it is a female, so shall it be
Then your valuation shall be shekels thirty

And if from five years old up to twenty years old
Then your valuation for a male, yes for one of the men
Shall be twenty shekels
And for a female shekels ten 

And if from a month old up to five years old
Then your valuation for a male shall be
Five shekels of silver, and for a female
Your valuation shall be shekels of silver three 

And if from sixty years old and above
If it is a male, then your valuation shall be for one of these men
Fifteen shekels
And for a female shekels ten

But if he is too poor to pay your valuation
Then he shall present himself before the priest
———-so he shall do
And the priest shall set a value for him
According to the ability of him who vowed
———-the priest shall him value

If it is an animal that men may bring
As an offering to the Lord
All that anyone gives to the Lord shall be holy
According to this word 

He shall not substitute it or exchange it
Good for bad or bad for good, such it shall not be
And if he at all exchanges animal for animal
Then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy

If it is an unclean animal
Which they do not offer as a sacrifice to the Lord
Then he shall present the animal before the priest
According to this word

And the priest shall set a value for it
Whether it is good or bad, as seen plainly
As you, the priest, value it
So it shall be

But if he wants at all to redeem it, according to my narration
Then he must add one-fifth to your valuation

And when a man dedicates his house to be holy to the Lord
Then the priest shall set a value for it
Whether it is good or bad; as the priest values it
So it shall stand; just as he does submit 

If he who dedicated it wants to redeem his house
Then he must one-fifth of the money add
Of your valuation to it
And it shall be his; if that is what makes him glad

If a man dedicates to the Lord
Part of a field of his possession, so he does do
Then your valuation shall be according to the seed for it
A homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver
———-as I am now instructing you 

If he dedicates his field from the Year of Jubilee, yes this land
According to your valuation it shall stand 

But if he dedicates his field after the Jubilee
Then the priest shall reckon to him the money
Due according to the years that remain till the Year of Jubilee
And it shall be deducted from your valuation, so shall it be 

And if he who dedicates the field
Ever wishes to redeem it
Then he must add one-fifth of the money of your valuation to it
And it shall belong to him, as to you I submit 

But if he does not want to redeem the field
Or if he has sold to another man the field
It shall not be redeemed anymore
His rights to it he did yield 

But the field, when it is released in the Jubilee
Shall be holy to the Lord; its commons status has ceased
As a devoted field
It shall be the possession of the priest

And if a man dedicates to the Lord
A field which he has bought
Which is not the field of his possession
 It was not his inherited plot

Then the priest shall reckon to him
The worth of your valuation, up to the Year of Jubilee
And he shall give your valuation on that day
As a holy offering to the Lord, so shall it be 

In the Year of Jubilee
The field shall return to him, please understand
From whom it was bought
To the one who as a possession owned the land 

And all your valuations shall be
According to the shekel of the sanctuary:
Twenty gerahs to the shekel, as prescribed by Me

But the firstborn of the animals
Which the Lord’s firstborn should be
No man shall dedicate; whether it is an ox or sheep
It is the Lord’s; it belongs to Me

And if it is an unclean animal
Then he shall redeem it according to your valuation, as you set
And shall add one-fifth to it
Or if it is not redeemed, then it shall be sold
———-according to your valuation, so the price shall be met

Nevertheless no devoted offering
That a man may devote of all that he has to the Lord
Both man and beast, or the field of his possession
Shall be sold or redeemed, according to this word

Every devoted offering is to the Lord most holy
This is how it is and how it shall be

No person under the ban
Who may become doomed among men to destruction
Shall be redeemed
But shall surely be put to death, according to this instruction 

And all the tithe of the land
Whether of the seed of the land
Or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s
It is holy to the Lord, please understand 

If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, so I submit
He shall add one-fifth to it 

And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock
Of whatever passes under the rod
The tenth one shall be holy to the Lord
Yes, to the Lord your God 

He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad
Nor shall he exchange it; such shall not be
And if he exchanges it at all
Then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy

It shall not be redeemed
It is holy and so it shall be esteemed

These are the commandments
Which the Lord commanded Moses, and which we have heard
For the children of Israel on Mount Sinai
These are the commandments of the Lord

Lord God, thank you for this wonderful book
Leviticus! What a marvel to have studied it
Into every detail possible we took a look
And to You our thanks and praise we now submit!

Hallelujah to Christ our Lord!
Hallelujah for Leviticus, a marvelous part of Your superior word!

Hallelujah and Amen…

Leviticus 26:40-46 (I Will Remember the Covenant)

Leviticus 26:40-46
I Will Remember the Covenant

Who is the Lord referring to in today’s verses? Israel, or the church? Obviously Israel. And yet, the church at large for the most part denies that the people of Israel, who are back in the land of Israel, are entitled to the land that they now possess. Israel is out, and the church has replaced them – that is the thinking. This is the standard thought of the Catholic Church, the Reformed churches, and a host of other churches, sects, and cults in the world today.

In fact, by acknowledging that Israel is entitled to the land, it means that their theology has been wrong for the past many, many centuries. In the early church, which consisted of only Jews, they expected the messianic promises to be fulfilled in Christ and for them. In fact, it was the very last question proposed to Jesus by them before He ascended into heaven.

In Acts, it was with awed surprise that Gentiles were to become a part of the church. At first, it was an exclusively Jewish entity, and it was observant Jews who filled its meeting places. The Samaritans, a mixed race of Jews and outsiders, were brought into the fold. That could be expected. At least they had a copy of the Pentateuch, even if it identified Samaria, not Jerusalem, as their place of worship. That was easy enough to correct. Jesus had come, the plan was now obvious, and they could be brought into the fold with little difficulty.

But Gentiles? They never could have imagined such a thing. Any Gentile would have to first become an observant Jew, right? But then came Acts 10. Wrong! Gentiles received the same gift of the Spirit as did the Jews, without converting, and without giving up their baconly delicious diets. They simply believed and received. It was so incredible to imagine, that Acts 11 finds the Jews accusing Peter of wrongdoing for going into a Gentile home to speak with them.

But by the end of the passage, they exclaimed, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” If you notice, here and throughout the New Testament, even to the book of Revelation, the term “Gentile” is used. The difference remains, even if there is no distinction in Christ. A Gentile is no less a Gentile when coming to Christ than a woman is no less a woman when doing so. Positionally, we are all one in Christ, but as to nature, we remain Jew and Gentile, male and female.

Text Verse: Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.” Acts 1:6, 7

What was the very last thing that these men asked the Lord? “Will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” They had no idea, at all, that there was a “church age” coming. They had no idea that this church would include Gentiles, and that eventually it would become a Gentile-led church. They had no idea, because Jesus never spoke of such things. All they knew is that a New Covenant had been initiated through His shed blood, and in the book of Jeremiah, that New Covenant was to Israel and the Jewish people. They didn’t even understand at this point that the Old Covenant, meaning the Law of Moses, was annulled through this act.

And what was Christ’s response to these Jewish men? He didn’t say, “You have misunderstood all of the promises through the prophets. There will be no kingdom age. There will be no return to the Davidic throne. There will be no literal fulfillment of any of those things. Rather, they are spiritually fulfilled in the church, which will be led by Gentiles.” No, Christ Jesus, the Lord, didn’t say those things. He simply told them to get about His business of sharing the gospel, something which they did… to their own people. It took divine intervention for them to go outside of their own people Israel and tell the Gentiles about Jesus. Philip was told by an angel of the Lord to speak to the Ethiopian. Peter was told in a vision to go to the house of Cornelius. And Paul, Paul had to be first called out of what he believed, and then he was instructed to go out to the Gentiles in particular, in order to get things going.

Not a single Jew anticipated anything that occurred. And how could they? It was all about them. This was true, but with an exceedingly long exile ahead, the Lord would not waste a moment of the precious time man has been granted on this earth. And so during Israel’s time of calamity – self-inflicted calamity – the Lord did something wonderful among the Gentiles. It is still on-going today, but that time is drawing to a close. Leviticus 26 is given to us to understand this.

And yet, we have – like Israel – failed to understand. The word is written. All we need to do is keep it in context, not mix dispensations, and simply pay attention to the world around us. If we do these things, we may still have some marvelous surprises, but the overall picture should not escape our attention. Israel. It is Israel who is being addressed, and it is Israel to whom the Lord will return to set up His millennial kingdom. This is a certain truth which is to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Prayer of Daniel (verses 40-43)

When seventy years for the punishment of Israel had been accomplished, Daniel prayed for the restoration of Israel. He knew this was undeserved, but he also knew that the Lord had promised, in advance, that they would be returned to the land after seventy years. Daniel was just one man, but he prayed for the Lord to act, and he did so in accord with what is stated here in Leviticus 26. Israel as a nation has not yet repeated Daniel’s prayer, acknowledging their guilt in the rejection of Christ Jesus, but they will someday. For now, we will use Daniel’s prayer to see the pattern of what the Lord promised here in Leviticus. Daniel prayed, “O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You” (Daniel 9:8).

40 But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers,

There is no “if” in the Hebrew here. Some scholars, and obviously translators also, say that it is implied in the words. But this is not correct. The Hebrew reads, “And they shall confess their iniquity.” There is nothing conditional about this. The entire point of all of the horrifying curses which came upon Israel was to correct them. Until that occurred, and it would certainly occur, the punishments were given and would continue.

However, the severity of the punishments would finally break the stubborn rebellion of Israel, and it would further lead them to confession. Although we are not at verse 44 yet, the Lord says there that He would remain faithful to the covenant despite their rebellions, and He would not utterly destroy them in order to remain faithful to His word.

As He would ensure they were not utterly destroyed, then it shows that those who were not destroyed would continue to suffer, but not be wiped out completely, until they were completely broken, with no one but the Lord Himself to turn to. Again, we have to go back to the personal nature of the words in this chapter. “I will,” “I will,” “I will.” The words are in the first person, and it is the Lord who is speaking.

The Lord would continue to doggedly pursue the living, even to the ends of the earth, not to destroy them, but to bring them back to Himself. This is the entire intent and purpose of what is being relayed here. He began the chapter with commands intended to maintain the relationship between Himself and Israel. He then immediately told what the blessings for adhering to these commands would be. It is a promise of care, concern, love, and affection. “This is what I offer, if you are faithful to Me.”

After that came the assured curses. “This is what you will bring on yourself if you are unfaithful to Me. All of this will be self-inflicted, and all of it will cause you to confess your unfaithfulness.”

Let us step back and put ourselves into the picture for a minute. Verse 29 said that, “You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.” Would anyone here consider it evil that we would be forced to eat our own children in order to survive? If we saw someone else doing that, would we call it evil? But the passage is in the first person – “I will.”

Can we then ascribe this evil to the Lord? No! Israel brought these curses upon themselves. The Lord simply told them what would occur, and He followed through with His promises, but it is Israel, not the Lord, who has done iniquity. That is why He begins with, “And they shall confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers.”

He includes the “fathers” here to indicate to them that this is an on-going, corporate punishment. Each Israelite is not a stand-alone unit who can separate himself and his actions from the corporate body. The same is true with man. We cannot say, “I am separating myself from the sins of Adam.” We are in Adam, and we are corporately guilty before the Lord. Without the Lord’s intervention, we cannot become a new species and say, “I don’t bear Adam’s guilt.” Nor can Israel remain in Israel and say, “I don’t bear the guilt of my fathers.” They are a corporate body.

It is Israel who will confess. The evil they face is because of the evil they have wrought. It is they who have broken the covenant, and they will be pursued until they confess what they have done. This is then made explicit with the next words which reflect the words of Daniel 9:7, “because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against you” …

40 (con’t) with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me,

Israel had committed avon, or iniquity, as the first clause noted. But who is the offended in their actions? The Lord now tells them that it is He. The Hebrew word maal used in this clause, translated as “unfaithfulness,” gives the sense of inflicting on the rights of another. Avon is a transgression against the divine law, and it is an act of unfaithfulness to the divine Lawgiver. He takes their transgressions of His law as a personal offense. Daniel understood this when he said, “We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets” (Daniel 9:10). This repeats the Lord’s words…

40 (con’t) and that they also have walked contrary to Me,

v’aph asher haleku immi beqeri, or “and also which they have walked to Me contrary.” This is in contrast to verse 3 where the Lord said, “If you walk in My statutes and keep my commandments and perform them.” They failed to do as stated. The people Israel are the offenders; The Lord is the offended; He acts to correct the offenses. There is no wrongdoing in the Lord. But such is the case with Israel, and such is the case with us today.

We cannot impute wrongdoing to the Lord. We humans are the offenders; He is the offended; and He will act to correct the offenses. If it must be accomplished on a global scale against the sons of Adam, then that is His right. Man looks to find fault in God when calamity strikes, but as humans, we should rather pull out a mirror and look closely at those who are reflected in it. For Israel, Daniel understood this and said, “…therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God has been poured out on us” (Daniel 9:11). The Lord promised it would occur…

41 and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies;

These word are given in fulfillment of verses 27, 28, and 33. Taken together they would say, “And after all of this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I will also walk contrary to you in fury … I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you.” The Lord said He would do this, and now He is saying that it would occur, and yet even in the occasion, He would still be watching for the sure change in them.

His punishments were intended to bring it about. They were not to destroy them completely, they were not to disband them as a people, they were not merely to show the church a lesson in Israel that was to be avoided by us. All of the years of punishment were intended to bring them to the day when there would be a change in them. It would be an internal change, meant for restoration. Daniel led that prayer for His people with the words, “…we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled” (Daniel 9:5). This is what the Lord’s punishment was intended to accomplish…

41 (con’t) if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled,

The change that the Lord had directed Israel to is a humbling of their “uncircumcised hearts.” The word kana, or “to humble” is introduced here. What this then implies is two things. The first is that Israel was prideful in their hearts, and the second is that their hearts were not circumcised to the Lord. One leads naturally to the other. If one has a circumcised heart, they will not be prideful. This is reflected in Paul’s words of Romans 2 –

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” Romans 2:28, 29

A true Jew is one whose heart is circumcised, meaning humble before the Lord, and obedient to what He commands. This does not mean that a Gentile who is circumcised in the heart becomes a Jew – a category mistake made by replacement theologians. It means that only a Jew who is circumcised in the heart is a true Jew. We need to recognize this giant error in replacement theology.

The Israelite looked at the circumcision of their flesh as that which made them special, but here in Leviticus, they are given the first of such hints that this is not so. Circumcision of the heart is noted twice in Deuteronomy, and it is noted in Jeremiah 4:4 as well. Uncircumcision of the heart in Israel is mentioned in Jeremiah 9, Ezekiel 44, and Acts 7.

The theme is repeated often enough in Scripture that it was commonly known among the people. The last instance, that in Acts, was spoken by Stephen to the leaders of Israel. Thus, it is seen that Israel was without excuse. Circumcision of the flesh profits nothing. Circumcision of the heart must accompany it. That was what the punishment was intended to bring about, and that is what is effected in the people. And that, in turn, leads them to what Daniel knew was required. He thus prayed, “O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face” (Daniel 9:7) He had admitted the nation’s guilt, as the Lord expected…

41 (con’t) and they accept their guilt—

The word translated as “accept” here, ratsah, is the same as “enjoy” in verse 43, and that is how it is more correctly translated. It is how the Greek translation of this passage reads – kai tote eudokesousai ta amartias auton, “and then they will rejoice in the (punishment of) their sins.” It is reflective of the words of Psalm 119:71 – “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.” Although the concept doesn’t translate well into our idea of rejoicing, what is being said is that the repentant Israelites will take it joyfully when they realize that the punishment they have received is less than what was deserved.

Daniel fully understood this and petitioned the Lord based on mercy, knowing that they deserved much more punishment than they had received – “…for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies” (Daniel 9:18).

In understanding these things, Daniel departs from what will next be said in verse 42. Instead of directly appealing to the covenant which the Lord mentions, he appeals to the honor of the One who established the covenant by saying, “O Lord, hear! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, listen and act! Do not delay for Your own sake, my God, for Your city and Your people are called by Your name” (Daniel 9:19).

Instead of saying, “You owe us because of the covenant You made with our fathers,” Daniel appeals to the fact that His name is at stake, and that Name is tied in to both His city (Jerusalem) and His people (Israel). Understanding this, does anyone here think that this has somehow changed in today’s world? Is the Lord’s name any less at stake of being profaned now if He were to not defend Jerusalem and Israel? Of course not! Regardless of Israel’s actions, the name of the Lord, and His honor, demand He uphold His covenant with them.

42 then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember;

Pay heed, O Replacement Theologian! The Lord does not appeal to the Mosaic Covenant at all here. The words of this verse are a part of the Mosaic Covenant as it is being compiled. Instead, the Lord appeals to His promises to the patriarchs. And yet, it is in the Mosaic Covenant that the promised remembrance of the covenant to the patriarchs is recorded. Let us again think logically about this. Is the church under the Mosaic Covenant? No!

But, it is the Mosaic Covenant which is given to provide the blessings and the curses upon Israel. If the church is not under that covenant, then the blessings and curses are not directed to the church at all! And further, the appeal to the covenant with the fathers, which is recorded in the Mosaic Covenant, is not intended for the church. Though those in the church are sons of Abraham by faith, they are not included in what is stated here. The boxes are set and defined. Let us not mix up the boxes.

42 (con’t) I will remember the land.

The land, desolate during Israel’s first and second exiles – forgotten by the world, neglected of any care, despised by the surrounding nations, but longed for by Israel, and seemingly rejected by the Lord – is called to remembrance by Him. It is as if He has awoken from a slumber, calling it to mind once again.

Here, the land is tied into the covenant with the patriarchs. The covenant with the patriarchs, including the land which is now being remembered, is included as a promise to Israel in the Mosaic Covenant. The church is not a part of the Mosaic covenant – we have established that. The land is the Lord’s and He has given it to Israel as an everlasting possession. The boxes are set and defined. Let us not mix up the boxes.

43 The land also shall be left empty by them,

Bible scholar John Gill, born 1697 and died 1771, long before the modern dispensationalist and Zionist movements began, said the following about this verse –

This seems to refer to a second time, when this should be the case of the land of Judea again, as it was when subdued by the Romans, and the Jews were carried captive from it, and so it was left by them, as it has been ever since: … and thus the land of Canaan, though once so very fruitful, is now desolate and barren, being without its former inhabitants, and so it is like to be until it is restored to them again.” John Gill

Oh, unbelieving world! Even in antiquity before it could have been dreamed possible, a man knew and understood. A man wrote what has been ridiculed and mocked by those who reject the surety of the covenants, and the word of the Lord. Thank God for such a faithful soul, and such a lone voice among his colleagues.

43 (con’t) and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; they will accept their guilt,

The same phrase as in verse 41 is given again, “and they will rejoice in the (punishment of) their sins.” The two ideas are not disconnected. The land would enjoy its sabbaths, being readied for the people’s return. Year by year, the land would enjoy rest in desolation, as if desiring the day it would be productive again. At the same time, the people would rejoice in knowing that they had been punished less than they deserved. Their return to the land would mean the land would again yield for their efforts. Both lead to the same good end, the productivity of the land of Israel at the hand of Israel. Sounds like the world we today live in, does it not!

43 (con’t) because they despised My judgments and because their soul abhorred My statutes.

The words begin with yaan u-b’yaan – “because and even because.” The stress tells us that the people were punished because they had despised the Lord’s judgments, and their souls had abhorred His statutes, for which they were deserving of being completely cut off. And yet, the Lord was faithful to His word and spared them.

Thus, they could rejoice in the punishment of their iniquity, knowing that it was far less than deserved. To think of what has occurred to Israel in the past 100 years or so with the pogroms and the holocaust, one might think that impossible, but in understanding that what they received is less than what they deserved, we can begin then to contemplate the absolute holiness of the Lord. And yet, in this passage, we can also see the great mercy of the Lord, and the fidelity He has toward His word. We will see that after a short poetic break…

We have set our face before the Lord our God
To make request by prayer for what we do not deserve
We have sinned in our walk that we have trod
And the Lord our God we have failed to serve

O Lord, righteousness belongs to You
But to us belongs only shame of face
We have acted wickedly in all that we do
And upon Your glorious name, we have brought disgrace

And so the curse and the oath has come upon us
But now we turn our hearts back to You
We call out for mercy through the Lord Jesus
And He will respond, because He is faithful and true

II. The Faithfulness of the Lord (verses 44-46)

44 Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them;

The Lord speaks through His word, and His word becomes His signature of assurance. Does this passage speak of one exile and then all hope is lost? Does this passage speak of accepting or rejecting Christ, who is their Lord as a justification for His breaking the covenant? Is not Christ Jesus the Lord Yehovah come in human flesh? And so, if Israel rejected Jesus, is that at all different than of their having rejected Yehovah? Absolutely not. None of these things apply. The Lord made a covenant and it must stand. Again, the appeal is to the patriarchs, and it is then noted in the Mosaic Covenant. It has nothing (zip, zero, nada) to do with the church age, except that we have been grafted into the promised salvation by faith. O! Faithless Replacement Theologian!

Should I speak of dispensationalism without scholarly support? Have I not cited John Gill who could never have fathomed what occurred in modern times concerning Israel? But should I leave him as a sole voice of lunacy. No, not at all. Of verse 44, Adam Clarke, born 1760 and died 1832, still years before the modern dispensationalist and Zionist movements, says this –

Though God has literally fulfilled all his threatenings upon this people in dispossessing them of their land, destroying their polity, overturning their city, demolishing their temple, and scattering themselves over the face of the whole earth; yet he has, in his providence, strangely preserved them as a distinct people, and in very considerable numbers also. He still remembers the covenant of their ancestors, and in his providence and grace he has some very important design in their favor. All Israel shall yet be saved, and, with the Gentiles, they shall all be restored to his favor; and under Christ Jesus, the great Shepherd; become, with them, one grand everlasting fold.”

While the land laid utterly desolate so that Mark Twain stood shocked at the curse which befell it, while the people of Israel were so scattered and so diminished that the world almost entirely ignored them as anything other than a nuisance, and while the Lord seemed completely absorbed with blessing the church and cursing the few remaining and scattered Jews, the word of God still remained the word of God, and it has stood while the faith of those who read it faltered. The disbelieving Christian spiritualized its content and neglected its intent, but the word remained nonetheless. And why should it be otherwise when the word bears the mark of a Divine Signatory…

44  (con’t) for I am the Lord their God.

ki ani Yehovah elohehem – “for I (am) Yehovah their God.” Who is speaking? Yehovah, the God of Israel. He is the covenant keeping God. Their faithlessness does not in any way negate His faithfulness. His word is unconditional to the patriarchs, and it cannot be violated. His words of verse 44 are unconditional in what they proclaim. And yet, let us cast them to the wind. Let us spiritualize them. Let us reject the sure and everlasting promises of Yehovah – because we are faithless Replacement Theologians. Let us accept the words of those who waffle in the Sea of Scripture instead. From the Pulpit Commentary of the 1800s –

God’s pardon will, even yet, as always, follow upon confession of sin and genuine repentance. They must recognize not only that they have sinned, but that their sufferings have been a punishment for those sins at God’s hand. This will work in them humble acquiescence in God’s doings, and then he will remember his covenant with Jacob, and also his covenant with Isaac, and also his covenant with Abraham, and for the sake of the covenant of their ancestors, he will not cast them away, neither will he abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break his covenant with them. Whether Jewish repentance has been or ever will be so full as to obtain this blessing, cannot be decided now. Perhaps it may be the case that all the blessings promised by Moses and by future prophets to repentant and restored Israel are to find their accomplishment in the spiritual Israel, the children of Abraham who is “the father of all them that believe” … seeing that “God is able of stones to raise up children unto Abraham” … Pulpit Commentary

How stupid. This commentary, which is somewhat reflective of replacement theology, with a minor caveat questioning if this could still apply to the Jews, mixes four dispensations in one. They started with God’s pardon being based on repentance. That is speaking of the verses we are looking at now; the dispensation of the law.

It then defers back to the dispensation of promise which was given first to Abraham, and then to Isaac, and then to Jacob. In that dispensation, of which we participate in the spiritual blessings, was the land promise – a promise meant for Israel, not for the church. They then refer back to the law – given to Israel, not the church – while mixing in the dispensation of grace, by saying, “Perhaps it may be the case that all the blessings promised by Moses and by future prophets to repentant and restored Israel are to find their accomplishment in the spiritual Israel,” meaning the church and speaking of the dispensation of the millennium at the same time.

The covenant promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is truly what the Lord is referring to. But adherence to, or violation of, the Mosaic Covenant is what brought about the promises of blessings, and the promises of punishment. These had nothing to do with the covenant spoken to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And more, they have nothing to do with the church.

Are we under the law, or are we under grace? We are under grace! And further, Paul says to those in Christ, “that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). How can what is in Leviticus 26, which is the Law of Moses, be speaking to the church? The church is certainly looking for promised blessing, but are we also looking for assured curses? No!

We aren’t even imputed our trespasses, so how can we be assured of curses based on a violation of the law that we are not even under? Are we in Christ or not? The unthinking nature of the Replacement Theologian, or those who are unsure about exactly what God means when He says, “I will not break My covenant with them,” is almost unimaginable to contemplate.

45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant of their ancestors,

The Lord’s words in this passage are spoken as an accomplished fact. Everything is present in the Lord’s mind – from what was, to what will be. It is as if we are looking at a train leaving a station, arriving at another station, and everything in between, all at the same moment. This verse here is not speaking of the covenant referred to in verse 42. It is speaking of the covenant that is now being given, and which will continue to be given and built upon through Deuteronomy.

Therefore, the “covenant of their ancestors” in this verse is speaking of the Mosaic Covenant, and it is about a people far in the future to Leviticus 26, but looking back to this time. He will execute to them the words of this covenant which was made to their ancestors, meaning that which is being executed with Israel via Moses and those with him. This is certain because of the next words…

45 (con’t) whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations,

It is Israel, now in the wilderness, and now receiving the words of the covenant, who was “brought out of the land of Egypt.” The Lord has appealed to the covenant to the patriarchs, but He has solidified His word, and thus His actions, towards that covenant by bringing them out of Egypt and in initiating this covenant. He had promised to give the land in which the patriarch’s dwelt to their descendants. He is now confirming that, and He is stipulating everything associated with that covenant in this covenant. And there is a specific reason for doing this. It is…

45 (con’t) that I might be their God:

This was stated explicitly in Exodus 6:7, prior to the exodus –

I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” Exodus 6:7

The Lord did bring them out, and then the Lord offered to them the covenant which He is now speaking of. They agreed to its precepts and thus, He is their God. The deal is done. And who is their God? He tells us – meaning all people of the world (including replacement theologians)…

45 (con’t) am the Lord.’”

ani Yehovah – “I (am) Yehovah.” Yehovah is their God. Does this change with Jesus’ incarnation? Is He any less God, or any less Israel’s God? Not at all! Nothing has changed between Israel and the Lord. They remain under His authority – to be punished, or to receive mercy and blessing – according to their acceptance of His statutes and judgments.

And those statutes and judgments include heeding the One He will send to fulfill this covenant and to initiate a new one. They have seven years left to them, under this covenant, in order to accept Christ and be restored to God through Him. This was confirmed to them through the words of Daniel 9:24. The covenant is fulfilled and annulled in Christ, but they have not received Christ. Thus, the covenant is binding on them as a people until they come to Christ.

*46 These are the statutes and judgments and laws which the Lord made between Himself and the children of Israel on Mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.

This verse looks back immediately to verse 26:3 which appealed to the people to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments. But it goes back further, to verse 25:1 which said that “the Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai.” As I said then, it actually reads, b’har sinai, literally “in mount Sinai,” but meaning, “in the region of Sinai.” Because the term “Sinai” has been used, the entire passage has anticipated the cross of Christ. Sinai means, “Bush of the Thorn.” The name of the location is given in connection with the redemptive workings of God in Christ which look forward to the cross.

In other words, the laws have been given, the promised blessings and curses have been identified, and the promises of restoration have been named. Israel failed and was exiled, twice. But God did not neglect His other promises in the meantime. Throughout the Old Testament, the promise of a Messiah is given.

When He came, He fulfilled what Israel had failed at. And in His fulfillment, He offered them a chance to be included in His New Covenant. They rejected that, as He knew they would, and they went into a punishment seven times over for their sins. With the promise of seven more years of the Old Covenant in order to come to Christ, Israel is now again in the land, being prepared for that to occur.

Those seven years will be a time of great trial and tribulation, but they will end with the Lord Jesus returning to them, rescuing them, and setting up the millennial kingdom among them. It is what they had anticipated in Acts 1, and it is what is promised in Revelation 20, but which is described in detail among the prophets of old. While still under the Old Covenant, they foresaw the glory which lay ahead in the New.

Israel has been on a journey which has taken thousands of years to come to its fulfillment, but God, who is ever faithful to His word, is bringing them – His people Israel – back to Himself, slowly but surely, and despite their continued rejection of Him. This is the Lord who is ever faithful and who is ever true.

While He is working towards mending that bridge, He has been tenderly caring for the Gentiles of the world. Israel failed to see the glory of what occurred at the cross of Calvary, but they are starting to see it now each day, more Jews are realizing what they had missed.

Together, Jew and Gentile are offered the same marvelous grace of God. It is that which says, “Come to Me and your sins will be forgiven. I will no more remember them, and I will cast them further than they could ever be brought back to mind.” Each step of what God has done has been for us to see and realize our desperate need for God’s grace and His mercy.

That is the purpose of the cross. Jesus has done the work, and Jesus has paid the penalty. All we need to do is receive that, and all will be well between us and God.

Closing Verse: For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.” Romans 9:25-27

Next Week: Leviticus 27:1-34 This will be the last sermon in Leviticus; I hope you have so noted… (Things Vowed and Things Devoted) (51 Leviticus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if you have a lifetime of sin heaped up behind you, He can wash it away and purify you completely and wholly. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

I Will Remember the Covenant

But if they confess their iniquity
And the iniquity of their fathers, who acted unfaithfully
With their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me
And that they also to Me have walked contrary

And that I also have walked contrary to them
And have brought them into their enemies’ land
If their uncircumcised hearts are humbled
And they accept their guilt; when they understand

Then I will remember My covenant with Jacob
And My covenant with Isaac, by my raised hand
And My covenant with Abraham I will remember
I will remember the land

The land also shall be left empty by them
And will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies without them desolate
They will accept their guilt, because they despised My judgments
And because their soul abhorred My statutes, which they did forget

Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies
I will not cast them away, nor shall I them abhor
To utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them
For I am the Lord their God; yes even forevermore

But for their sake I will remember
The covenant of their ancestors, their early family relations
Whom I brought out of the land of Egypt
In the sight of the nations

That I might be their God, so stands My word
I am the Lord
These are the statutes and judgments and laws
Which the Lord made between Himself, as we now understand
And the children of Israel
On Mount Sinai by Moses’ hand

Lord God, we all like Israel have gone astray
And as a vile cloth we should be cast out
But in Christ, You have granted us a new way
And in Christ there is peace and surety, not strife and doubt

Thank You for bringing us back to Yourself through Jesus
Thank You that there is reconciliation, complete and whole
We praise You for all You have done for us
All is well with the redeemed soul

Hallelujah and Amen…

Leviticus 26:14-39 (Assured Curses)

Leviticus 26:14-39
Assured Curses

Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies. Where Sodom and Gomorrah reared their domes and towers, that solemn sea now floods the plain, in whose bitter waters no living thing exists—over whose waveless surface the blistering air hangs motionless and dead—about whose borders nothing grows but weeds, and scattering tufts of cane, and that treacherous fruit that promises refreshment to parching lips, but turns to ashes at the touch. Nazareth is forlorn; about that ford of Jordan where the hosts of Israel entered the Promised Land with songs of rejoicing, one finds only a squalid camp of fantastic Bedouins of the desert; Jericho the accursed, lies a moldering ruin, to-day, even as Joshua’s miracle left it more than three thousand years ago; Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and their humiliation, have nothing about them now to remind one that they once knew the high honor of the Saviour’s presence; the hallowed spot where the shepherds watched their flocks by night, and where the angels sang Peace on earth, good will to men, is untenanted by any living creature, and unblessed by any feature that is pleasant to the eye. Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village; the riches of Solomon are no longer there to compel the admiration of visiting Oriental queens; the wonderful temple which was the pride and the glory of Israel, is gone, and the Ottoman crescent is lifted above the spot where, on that most memorable day in the annals of the world, they reared the Holy Cross. The noted Sea of Galilee, where Roman fleets once rode at anchor and the disciples of the Saviour sailed in their ships, was long ago deserted by the devotees of war and commerce, and its borders are a silent wilderness; Capernaum is a shapeless ruin; Magdala is the home of beggared Arabs; Bethsaida and Chorazin have vanished from the earth, and the “desert places” round about them where thousands of men once listened to the Saviour’s voice and ate the miraculous bread, sleep in the hush of a solitude that is inhabited only by birds of prey and skulking foxes. Palestine is desolate and unlovely. And why should it be otherwise? Can the curse of the Deity beautify a land? Mark Twain, 1869

Text Verse: “For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.” Romans 4:13-15

Where there is no law, there is no transgression. Thank God for those marvelous words. The law was given, it was agreed upon, and penalties for its violation are clearly stated. Nothing could be more dramatic than reading the words of Leviticus 26, and then comparing them to the words of Mark Twain. It is as if one was penned simply to confirm the other.

I attended a Jewish funeral where the rabbi who spoke mentioned Leviticus 26, and its many punishments. He dismissed what it said as if it was completely irrelevant to the Jewish people, and to the state of the world in which they have lived, and still live. And yet, Leviticus 26 exactingly explains their state now, and what has occurred to them as a people, in every possible detail.

Instead of dismissing what it says, they should be terrified by it, remorseful over how it has been proven true, and repentant in their actions of heart and deed. And even more, they should look to why these things came upon them the second time. It’s been staring them in the face for these past 2000 years. From time to time, one will realize and understand.

That rare soul is mentioned by Paul in Romans 11:5 as one of the “remnant according to the election of grace.” This means, he or she has come to Christ. That soul is now no longer under law, but under grace. For the rest, they are still bound to what has afflicted them all along. And sadly they will be judged by that same law when they stand before their God.

When you say your prayers each day, remember to include Israel. They are back in the land, but they are not right with God. Such truths are to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. If You Do Not Obey Me (verses 14-17)

14 ‘But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments,

Verses 3 through 8 gave the assurances of blessing for obedience to the Lord in keeping His statutes and commandments and performing them according to the law. A contrast to those verses is now given. The horrifying consequences for disobedience are now forthcoming. What will be presented as punishment to be inflicted upon those who stubbornly refuse to comply, is documented as having come about in the remaining pages of Scripture. The Lord promised blessing, and it came upon the people when they complied. The Lord now promises curses, and they have come upon the people when they refused to comply.

15 and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant,

A new word, ma’as is brought in here. It signifies to despise unto rejection. It comes from a root meaning “to spurn.” It will become common in Scripture as the people reject the Lord and His word, and He in turn rejects them, individually (such as in King Saul) or collectively (such as in the people rejecting the law). It is used in the 118th Psalm when speaking of the Stone which the builders rejected, a prophecy of the coming Messiah.

What was a passive indifference noted in verse 14, is now an active attitude here. The words used, ma’as (despise), gaal (abhor), and parar (break) are purposeful and active, but they must be taken in their proper light. Individual sins, although regrettable, are not what is being spoken of here. The law provided for the atonement of such sins. Instead, the state of the people as a collective group is what is being addressed. As the overall attitude of the people came to despise the statutes, abhor the judgments, and willingly fail to perform all of the commandments, thus breaking the covenant, then the anticipated curses would be poured out upon them –

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.” Exodus 24:7

They had agreed to it as a collective group, and thus they would be collectively punished for failure to comply as they had promised. One might ask though how this could be collective when Paul says this in Galatians –

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” Galatians 3:10

The answer is that all who failed to do the things of the law were under a curse, but the Day of Atonement was there to cover those individual sins. As the nation moved away from accepting the need for national atonement for these individual sins, they collectively brought on the national curse. This is why even the individuals who were mournful over their sins were caught up in the national guilt.

16 I also will do this to you:

The word aph, translated as “also,” is not uncommon, but it hasn’t been seen since Genesis 40. Now, it will be used 9 times through the end of the chapter. It indicates addition. One might think of, “This, therefore, that.” The Lord will use this word in the negative six times until verse 41, and then he will use it in the positive three times in verses 42 through 44. There is a sense of increase in punishment due to Israel’s rejection of the covenant, and then an increase in the Lord’s faithfulness in keeping that same covenant.

16 (con’t) I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart.

The word “appoint” is paqad. It comes from a root meaning “to visit.” In the words here, the Lord, in the first person, promises a purposeful, divine visitation upon the people. What will be described is from His hand and He is the Source of the calamity which will be described. The first curse is a new word bahalah, or terror. That is then defined by two more new words, translated as “wasting disease and fever.”

Those two words will be seen again in Deuteronomy 18:22 and then never again in Scripture. But the Lord promises the result will be mekalot enayim u-medivot naphesh, or literally “consume the eyes and pine away the soul.” The idea of this phrase is that the eyes – meaning the light of life – will extinguish, and the soul – meaning life itself – will pine away. Though different Hebrew words are used, these same troubles are recorded as having come upon the people in Lamentations. For those who follow these things, the word doov, or pine away, is found only here.

16 (con’t) And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

This is probably speaking of the people laboring in the field, and others eating what is produced. However, the Hebrew says something that may be more terrifying. It more literally says, “you shall sow your seed to no purpose, and your seed will be eaten by your enemies.” The question is, “Why doesn’t it say “harvest” or “produce” instead of seed?” The other four times that zarakem, or your seed, is used in Scripture, it is speaking of descendants. As the first part of this verse is speaking of the dying of the individual, it makes more sense that this is speaking of one’s posterity, being eaten – either literally or figuratively – by the enemy. This would then be fulfilled in Jeremiah 10:25 –

Pour out Your fury on the Gentiles, who do not know You,
And on the families who do not call on Your name;
For they have eaten up Jacob,
Devoured him and consumed him,
And made his dwelling place desolate.” Jeremiah 10:25

17 I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies.

For the Lord to set His face against Israel, means that He will direct He attention towards them in anger, and that will be poured out on them in indignation. Their enemies, the tool of His anger, will defeat them. The first person shows that the Lord determined and is acting, even if it is really their enemies who accomplish it. The defeat of Israel before her enemies is found throughout the OT.

17 (con’t) Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you.

Israel was subjected to foreign powers on numerous occasions – in both testaments. After the close of Scripture, this continued, even until modern times. An instance of them fleeing when not pursued is found in Jeremiah 43.

The choice is yours, and it is clearly laid out
Will you choose life and walk closely with Me?
No, you will choose another path, there is no doubt
Time will tell, just wait and see

I have spoken in advance, and showed what lies ahead
There could be abundance, mixed with peace and life
But that will not be the case; you have chosen the “instead”
This will lead to nothing but sadness, trouble, and strife

Oh Israel! If you would just pay heed
Oh My people! If you would just cling closely to Me
But your hearts are wicked, lustful, and filled with greed
And great trouble for You is your woeful destiny

II. Seven Times Over (verses 18-39)

18 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.

The Lord now promises a second level of punishment, seven-fold punishment upon the people for failing to pay heed. This will be repeated four times. Each time there will be an increase in severity. Here, the word yasar, to chasten or punish, is used for the first time. It will be used three more times in this chapter.

The seven-fold punishment looks first to the meaning of seven, divine perfection. There will be a perfect execution of the anticipated punishment. As it is the sabbatical number, it is also to be a reminder of the breaking of the covenant by the people.

Also, if the punishments of verses 14-17 are an indication of punishment leading up to, and including, the first exile, then the number seven here would be a seven-times multiplication of punishment leading up to and including a second exile. Though the words of verses 14-17 are not nearly all that is recorded elsewhere as punishment before the first exile, they may simply be given as an all-encompassing thought. Now the terrors of verses 18-39 would reflect the absolute horror of what not obeying after the first exile would mean.

19 I will break the pride of your power;

The term geon uzekem, or “pride of your power,” is found here and in Ezekiel 24:21 where it speaks of the sanctuary of the Lord. It is debated if that is what is being referred to, but there is no reason to assume it is not. In destroying the temple by the Babylonians and then the Romans, the land was also destroyed. This led naturally to the plagues which follow…

19 (con’t) I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.

In the destruction of the cities, which included Jerusalem and the sanctuary there, the Romans built up siege works. In doing so, they cut down the trees of the land. In this, the natural rain cycles of the land were disrupted. If any rains fell, they were not enough to support crops and produce. This continued on until the return of Israel to the land. In their return, they began planting trees, and the cycle of former and latter rains returned to the land.

Two metals are named here, iron and bronze. Iron has only been mentioned once, in Genesis 4:22. It represents strength, be it in binding together, in government, in hard service, in bondage, etc. Bronze represents judgment. What is being said here is that the Lord will firmly fix up the heavens so that they will not rain. From that, judgment will be realized in the unproductive earth. This same punishment is restated in Deuteronomy 28:23, where the metals are reversed. Thus, judgment in the sky, meaning no rain, would lead to an unyielding earth. In the end, the result is the same as seen in…

20 And your strength shall be spent in vain;

The word riyq, or vain, was introduced in verse 16. It means vain, empty, of no purpose. The people would work in the field, but the result would be completely wasted effort.

20 (con’t) for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.

What was promised as a blessing in verse 4, the yield of produce and the yielding of fruit, is now a resulting curse. The land fails to produce, and the trees fail to bear. Exactly the opposite of verse 4 is realized here. This sad state is recorded in Habakkuk 3:17 –

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;” Habakkuk 3:17

21 ‘Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins.

A third level of punishment is now promised. The Lord uses a new word, qeri, translated as “contrary” here. It comes from qarah, meaning “to happen.” And so this gives the sense of people simply allowing life to happen without a care, and thus acting contrary. It will be used seven times; all are found in the verses to come in this chapter. It signifies opposition, and even hostility. If the Lord’s corrective measures are not heeded by the people, He takes it as a hostile act, and thus punishment seven times over is to be expected.

22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number;

The term here is khayat ha’sadeh, or “life of the field,” and thus it is any living creature of the field, be it beasts or vipers. In Deuteronomy 32:24, this is described as “the teeth of beasts” and “the poison of serpents.” In 2 Kings 17, the Lord sent lions among the people. Such words are found elsewhere in Ezekiel. What is more the case though, is that wild animals of all kinds are specifically spoken of as evil people, wicked rulers, and so on. Thus, the wild beasts referred to here are as much to be equated with people as they are actual animals. This then explains…

22 (con’t) and your highways shall be desolate.

The word shamem, meaning to make desolate or astonish is new here. It will become a rather common word after this, but it is notable that it will be seen seven more times in this chapter alone. The emptiness of roads and highways are noted several times in later books such as Judges 5, Isaiah 33, and Zephaniah 3. Such desolate highways are to be attributed more to human foes than actual wild animals.

23 ‘And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me,

If the previous remedial efforts are found ineffective, then a fourth elevation of punishment is needed. Such was the case at Jeremiah’s time. The people were chastened, and they still did not heed –

In vain I have chastened your children;
They received no correction.
Your sword has devoured your prophets
Like a destroying lion.” Jeremiah 2:30

The Lord promises that if such is the case…

24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins.

Now the word qeri, introduced in verse 21, is used as an action by the Lord instead of by the people. If you remember, it comes from a word meaning “to happen,” and thus it seems as if bad, or hostile, things are simply happening – as if God just gave up caring for them. But the truth is that the Lord is attentively punishing the people for their transgressions.

Despite not being a popular view of Jewish history, especially terrors such as the pogroms and the holocaust, Israel has only itself to blame for what has occurred. They have not been obedient to the Lord, and their punishment has come upon them seven times for their sins. Until they come to this realization, there can be no cure for what will continue to come upon them.

25 And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant;

The sword here is a devouring instrument. This is not merely the sword of the enemy being brought against them, but it is inclusive of it. What is being said here is that for their violation of the covenant, the Lord would bring vengeance on them by first bringing the enemy with their sword to destroy. In this, the people would then retreat into the fortified cities as is seen next…

25 (con’t) when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you;

This is then the second sword, the deber, or pestilence. In 1 Chronicles, this is exactly what the pestilence is called, kherev Yehovah, or the sword of Yehovah.

25 (con’t) and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

Due to the famine and plague which results from a city-besieged, the strength and numbers of the people would finally result in being forced to give up and surrender. This is seen in the fall of Jerusalem in Jeremiah, and it is recorded in detail by Josephus conncering the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans.

26 When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.

b’shivri lakem matteh lekhem – “When I have broken the staff of your bread.” It is a proverbial expression indicating that the supply of bread, represented by the staff which supports man, no longer is enough to feed the people. Instead, the bread of ten families, represented by the women who bake it, would be baked in one oven. From there, the single loaf would be divided by weight, every crumb being precious to those who would share it at home. But what is brought to be eaten by the woman would not satisfy those who received it. This is literally recorded as coming upon Jerusalem in Ezekiel 4:16 and elsewhere.

27 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me,

If after such terrible times as have been described, no change in the people’s contrary walk is noted, then a fifth level of punishment is to be meted out upon them…

28 then I also will walk contrary to you in fury;

In verse 24, when the people continued to walk contrary to the Lord, He said he would also walk contrary to them. Now He says He will do so, but in fury. There is an elevation to His judgment.

28 (con’t) and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.

There is a stress here on the personal nature of the punishment. It is not a by-happenstance thing which would occur to Israel, but rather a purposeful infliction of punishment, directly from the Lord. And the elevation of the punishment is again seven times for their sins.

29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.

The horrifying details of this warning are further described in Deuteronomy 28. And the warning became reality as is seen in the captivity of Samaria in 2 Kings 6, and again in the captivity of Jerusalem in Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Ezekiel. The horrifying practice then occurred again during the Roman siege of Jerusalem.

30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols;

Three actions against the Lord are promised to be corrected. The first is the destruction of their bamah, or high places. People would go to elevated locations to worship deities, including the Lord, even though they were only to worship the Lord in this way at the temple. The Lord promised these would be destroyed.

The next are the khaman, here translated as “incense altars.” The word comes from khamah, meaning “sun,” or chamam, meaning “hot.” Some translations thus call them “sun-pillars,” as if dedicated to the sun; others “incense altars,” because of the heat of burning incense to false gods. Surely they did both.

The third action is to cast their carcasses on the carcasses of their idols. The gilul, or idol is now first seen here. It comes from galal, meaning “to roll,” and so these are probably circular stones or logs. The irony is not to be missed in how the Lord compares the dead bodies of the people to the dead idols they served. The utter contempt of the Lord for both idols and idolaters is to be noted and remembered. Ezekiel 6 describes the Lord’s promise to bring these words about –

Indeed I, even I, will bring a sword against you, and I will destroy your high places. Then your altars shall be desolate, your incense altars shall be broken, and I will cast down your slain men before your idols. And I will lay the corpses of the children of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones all around your altars. In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate, so that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, your idols may be broken and made to cease, your incense altars may be cut down, and your works may be abolished. The slain shall fall in your midst, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 6:3-7

The bodies of the people would be so thoroughly mixed with those of the idols, that it would form one putrid pile of garbage. What is to be especially noted about this verse, is that it presupposes that these things will probably be made. They have not even entered into the land yet, but the Lord identifies what they would make, and how they would prostitute themselves with those things.

30 (con’t) and My soul shall abhor you.

This is exactly the opposite of the words of verse 11, “I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you.” Instead of the tabernacle and fellowship, there are idols and abhorring.

31 I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas.

The Lord promises to bring the cities to khorbah, or waste. It is a new word, indicating desolation or ruin. But the promise is on “your sanctuaries.” The word is plural, which could mean the several sanctuaries within the Lord’s house. It is used this way in Jeremiah 51:51. However, it doesn’t say, “the Lord’s house” or “My sanctuary” here. It says “your sanctuaries.” Thus, it is probably what is referred to in Amos 7 –

Behold, I am setting a plumb line
In the midst of My people Israel;
I will not pass by them anymore.
The high places of Isaac shall be desolate,
And the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste.
I will rise with the sword against the house of Jeroboam.” Amos 7:8, 9

Even though these were false sanctuaries, they still burnt incense to the Lord at such places. Eventually, they would no longer even do this. He would utterly destroy them so that the incense would no longer burn.

32 I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it.

The land itself was to be so completely destroyed that even their enemies who dwelt among them would be utterly astounded at what had occurred. Exact words to match this are found in Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you;

The Lord promises to zarah, or scatter, the people among the nations. This word has only been used so far to describe what Moses did to the golden calf that the people had made. Like that, which was crushed to powder and scattered upon the waters, so Israel would be scattered upon the nations. And there, the Lord promised to continue to draw out His sword against them, further scattering, and further destroying. There could be no turning back as the sword followed closely upon them. These words are the exact opposite of what was said in verse 6, “and the sword will not go through your land.” Instead of safety in the land, there would be terror outside the land. Can anyone not see this as fulfilled these past 2000 years?

33 (con’t) your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.

With the destruction and dispersion would come desolation. The land would be ruined and it would turn to further ruin during its time of being unattended. But in this, there is also good seen…

34 Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land;

The land was to be given a sabbath rest every seventh year and every fiftieth year. It has been calculated by one scholar that from the entry into Canaan by Joshua, until the Babylonian captivity, there were approximately 863 years. In this, there should have been about 123 Sabbath years, and around 17 years of Jubilee. There is no record to say actually how many, or if any, of these were observed or not. But one specific reason for the exile is recorded in 2 Chronicles 36 –

And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, 21 to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.” 2 Chronicles 36:20, 21

Seventy years then may be simply be a multiplication of the sacred number seven, decided upon by God as sufficient for what was lacking in the observance by the people. Regardless, we are told…

34 (con’t) then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths.

This is the second time in the verse this is stated, and it is almost therefore a note of bitter sarcasm. The land was burdened by the people, and now the land would enjoy rest apart from the people. While they were in captivity, the land would rest in freedom.

35 As long as it lies desolate it shall rest—

for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it.

There is a note of patient waiting in these words. The assumption is that the sabbaths would be ignored. And yet, the punishment was delayed. Instead of acting on each failed Sabbath observance, the Lord would make a tally. As the people continued to assume that He would never act, another addition would be made to the ledger, but the promise is that action would come.

An arrears of Sabbath years had accumulated for the land while the greed of the people had led them to work when they should not have. Therefore, the land received its days of rest based on the years it was deprived, and the Israelites were deprived of their work based on the rest they had neglected. Justice was served for the land, and judgment was served upon the people.

36 ‘And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies;

A unique word is given here, morek, or faintness. It comes from a word meaning soft, and thus the heart would either be one which was cowardly, or it would not be able to withstand the pressures which troubled it, so much so that…

36 (con’t) the sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee;

they shall flee as though fleeing from a sword, and they shall fall when no one pursues.

Two more new and rare words are introduced here, nadaph (shaken), and menusah (flight). It is a sign of the horrifying nature of the events that Moses uses words that are wholly unique, or extremely limited in their use, in order to reveal the magnitude of what lay ahead for the people if, and when, they disobeyed.

It is sure that a single driven leaf makes almost no sound at all, and yet it would produce a thunderous, deafening noise in the ears of those who had failed to honor the Lord. That single leaf would be as a sword slashing by the ears, causing them to get up and run as if it would cut them to pieces. And so flee they would…

37 They shall stumble over one another, as it were before a sword, when no one pursues;

The sense here is that when terror strikes, the people would simply run over one another like soldiers breaking ranks in a retreat, or a gathering of people running from an oncoming avalanche. Nobody would care about the next person, one would stumble and others would simply run them over. Such would be the terror, even when nobody was actually pursuing. The faintness of the heart would have each on such edge that they would constantly be in fear. As this was so, how much more fearful when facing a real challenge…

37 (con’t) and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.

The terror of the ordeal would leave few willing to fight, and none able to win. When the Lord stood against Israel, the enemies would have little trouble destroying their target.

38 You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.

The sense here is that either through life or death among the Gentiles, those who were dispersed would remain so. They would be lost among the peoples, and most would either lose their identity there, or they would die there. This is the sense of the term, “the land of your enemies shall eat you up.” It is a phrase used in Numbers 13, when the twelves spies went to search out Canaan, and it is used in Ezekiel 36:13 where the land of Israel is said to devour men. For the majority of the ten northern tribes, this was literally fulfilled. Most were absorbed into the nations and their identity was lost. Eventually, they died in those foreign lands while only a remnant of each tribe was left.

39 And those of you who are left shall waste away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands;

One final new word today is maqaq, meaning to rot or fester. It will be seen twice in this verse and then not again until the Psalms. The idea here is that most of those who go into exile will simply rot away there without ever returning to the land of Israel. In saying they will waste away in their iniquity, it is referring to the punishment of the iniquity. In other words, the same word in Hebrew carries both the idea of sin, and punishment, because sin is its own punishment. As James says, “…when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.” Paul explains this in Romans as well.

*39 (fin) also in their fathers’ iniquities, which are with them, they shall waste away.

As I said earlier, the Lord doesn’t simply punish the people for every missed Sabbath year. Instead, the fathers sinned, and eventually a time came when the people were punished in the sin of their fathers. The cumulative wrath of disobedience eventually has to be punished. This is the idea of the flood of Noah, and it is the idea of the coming time of Jacob’s trouble, or the tribulation period. The world is storing up wrath, but people keep sinning. Nobody thinks, “Oh boy, we really deserve to be punished.” And so the sin continues, and the wrath grows.

If nothing else has shown you this, a short and quick sermon on these 26 verses today should do so. As terrible as the content has been at some points, the magnitude of what was promised to Israel will be poured out on a global scale at some point. It will be wrath leading to punishment, including abundant death. For those who die apart from God’s grace and mercy, there will be the continuing eternal punishment which follows. All debts will be settled at that time.

If one looks at the verses today in a broad way, they can see standing out in the words the very cross of Christ. Though he was without sin, terror was appointed over Him. He suffered, as it were, carrying the diseases of the world, His light was extinguished, and His life wasted away. While on the cross, the Lord’s face was set against Him – against He who never sinned, but who bore our sins. Those who hated Him ruled over Him, judged Him, and sentenced Him.

Wild beasts surrounded Him, the vengeance of the covenant was poured out on Him, He was delivered into the hands of His enemy. He was deprived of bread; He the Bread of life. In Him is rest, and yet He was deprived of rest. We could go on, verse by verse looking at what Israel was promised for disobedience, and what Christ Jesus suffered in place of their (and our) disobedience.

Leviticus 26 shows us the penalties for violation of the covenant which Israel had agreed upon. There is nothing unfair in what occurred to them over the years, and there is nothing unfair which will come upon the world when it is judged for its own wickedness. But there is mercy because Jesus Christ accepted the punishment of the covenant for us. He received the pain, the agony, and the shame that others deserve. And in exchange, He has offered us a New Covenant. It is one of peace, fellowship with God, and forgiveness of sin committed.

Next week we will look at the faithfulness of God in keeping His promises to Israel, even in their guilt. In this, He will remember not the covenant at Sinai when He speaks to them, but this covenant to their ancestors – to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. It is not for the sake of the Law of Moses, but for the sake of the everlasting promises to the patriarchs that He will speak out those verses.

The importance of this is not to be missed. The Law of Moses has a termination point. That termination is in the cross of Christ. We will all be judged by that law. It will either be judged in us and we will be condemned, or it will be judged for us in Christ, and we will be saved. Let us understand this, and let us call out now accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for our misdeeds. By faith, we can once again be restored to God, fully and completely, and without fear of failure.

Closing Verse: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” Romans 3:21, 22

Next Week: Job 19:23-27 After a weary walk in this life that we trod… (In My Flesh I Shall See God – Resurrection Day Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if you have a lifetime of sin heaped up behind you, He can wash it away and purify you completely and wholly. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Assured Curses

But if you do not obey Me
And do not observe all these commandments
And if you despise My statutes
Or if your soul abhors My judgments

So that you do not all My commandments perform
But break My covenant, then hear the words I warn

I also will do this to you:
I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever
———-So I do submit
Which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart
And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it

I will set My face against you
And you shall be defeated by your enemies; My word is true
Those who hate you shall reign over you
And you shall flee when no one pursues you

And after all this, if you do not obey Me
Then I will punish you seven times more for your sins
———-so shall it be

I will break the pride of your power,
thus ending your mirth
I will make your heavens like iron
———-and like bronze shall be your earth

And your strength shall be spent in vain
For your land it produce shall not yield
Nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit
Barren shall be the trees of the field

Then, if you walk contrary to Me
And are not willing to obey Me
I will bring on you seven times more plagues
According to your sins shall it be

I will also send wild beasts among you
Which shall rob you of your children
———-a horrible state
Destroy your livestock, and make you few in number
And your highways shall be desolate

And if by these things you are not reformed by Me
But walk contrary to Me; such are your crimes
Then I also will walk contrary to you
And I will punish you for your sins yet seven times

And I will bring a sword against you
That will execute the vengeance of the covenant
When you are gathered together within your cities
I will send pestilence among you; until you are spent

And you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy
Surely this will come to pass; so shall it be

When I have cut off your supply of bread
Ten women shall bake in one oven your bread
And they shall bring back your bread by weight
And you shall eat and not be satisfi-ed

And after all this, if you do not obey Me
But walk contrary to Me; such are your continued crimes
Then I also will walk contrary to you in fury
And I, even I, will chastise you for your sins seven times

You shall eat the flesh of your sons for your meat
And the flesh of your daughters you shall eat

I will destroy your high places
Cut down your incense altars, so I shall do
And cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols
And My soul shall abhor you

I will lay yours cities waste
And bring your sanctuaries to desolation
And I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas
You who were to be My holy nation

I will bring the land to desolation
And your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it
I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you
Your land shall be desolate and your cities waste
———-for the crimes you did commit

Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths
As long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land
Then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths
Then shall the nations understand

As long as it lies desolate it shall rest, so I submit
For the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it
And as for those of you who are left, so to you I address
I will send into their hearts in the lands of their enemies faintness

The sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee
They shall flee as though fleeing from a sword
And they shall fall when no one pursues
According to My solemn word

They shall stumble over one another
As it were before a sword throughout the land
When no one pursues
And you shall have no power before your enemies to stand

You shall perish among the nations
And the land of your enemies shall eat you up; so shall it be
And those of you who are left shall waste away
In your enemies’ lands in their iniquity

Also in their fathers’ iniquities, which are with them
They shall waste away, like a branch broken at the stem

Lord God, Israel was warned, and yet they did not obey
They received what was just, right, and due
And we too have walked in a contrary way
We have neglected our duty and responsibility to You

But in Christ there is mercy, and in Christ there is grace
Through Him we are freed from the guilt we bore
And through Him we receive a smile from Your face
And that favor will last forever, and evermore

Thank You for Christ, our Lord Jesus!
Thank You for all, through Him, that You have done for us

Hallelujah and Amen…




14 ‘But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments,

15 and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant,

16 I also will do this to you:

I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart.

And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

17 I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies.

Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you.

18 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.

19 I will break the pride of your power;

I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.

20 And your strength shall be spent in vain;

for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.

21 ‘Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins.

22 I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number;

and your highways shall be desolate.

23 ‘And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me,

24 then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins.

25 And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant;

when you are gathered together within your cities I will send pestilence among you;

and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.

26 When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.

27 ‘And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me,

28 then I also will walk contrary to you in fury;

and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.

29 You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.

30 I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols;

and My soul shall abhor you.

31 I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas.

32 I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonished at it.

33 I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you;

your land shall be desolate and your cities waste.

34 Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land;

then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths.

35 As long as it lies desolate it shall rest—

for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it.

36 ‘And as for those of you who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies;

the sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee;

they shall flee as though fleeing from a sword, and they shall fall when no one pursues.

37 They shall stumble over one another, as it were before a sword, when no one pursues;

and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.

38 You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.

39 And those of you who are left shall waste away in their iniquity in your enemies’ lands;

also in their fathers’ iniquities, which are with them, they shall waste away.

Leviticus 26:1-13 (Promised Blessings)

Leviticus 26:1-13
Promised Blessings

Chapter 26 of Leviticus details the blessings and the curses which were to come upon the people of Israel based on obedience or disobedience to the words of law which have been laid down so far, and which will continue to be laid down as the law continues to be relayed to the people.

Because these promises have been so exactingly fulfilled in the later pages of Scripture, objections have been raised by naturalistic and rationalistic critics of the Bible that Moses could not be the author of this chapter. Instead, they claim that the words were written during the times of the kings of Israel, as late as the 8th or the beginning of the 7th century BC.

They have done this, because they do not accept prophetic revelation as something which is possible, and therefore what is presented must have been written at a much, much later date. In other words, to them neither God nor man can tell the future except as far as logical deductions can be made.

For example, we can logically deduce that a team will win tomorrow’s game because their opponents are simply not in the same league as those they will be facing. We can logically deduce that the stock market will crash in X number of months or years based on repeatable patterns which have been documented in the past. And so on.

But, for these scholars the words of Leviticus 26, like many of those of the prophets, are so exact and specific – and the fulfillment of them is so exactingly detailed, and in line with what is written here – that it is simply not possible that they could have been penned by Moses. No amount of logical deduction could bring the two into such absolute harmony.

If one holds to a naturalist view of the world, the prophecies contained here can have no other possible explanation than having been written at a later date. However, the stupidity of this view is all the more evident – even apart from both logic concerning God’s nature, and mere faith itself – when one understands that the words of Chapter 26 presuppose not one, but two or more exiles for the people of Israel. There is no doubt, by anyone in reasonable schools of biblical scholarship, that Leviticus predates the second exile of Israel by many hundreds of years.

Even if it wasn’t penned by Moses, and it was instead penned in the 8th or 7th century BC as claimed by these knuckleheads, their logic breaks down completely in that a second exile did take place. The words of Leviticus 26 continue to describe exactingly what has occurred to Israel during this second exile, and even more, that the return of Israel to their land in 1948 more exactingly reflects the promises of the Lord contained in this chapter.

This is one reason, among others, that the modern state of Israel is considered an aberration by many supposed scholars. Claims are even made that the people occupying the land are not the same people being addressed in Leviticus 26. But if one honestly looks at Israel of today, in the land of Israel today, no other conclusion can be realistically reached except that the prophetic words of Leviticus 26 are, in fact, realized in Israel, and are thus the words of the Lord, given as a prophetic basis for what has come about.

Text Verse: “Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them. 33 And when this comes to pass—surely it will come—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.” Ezekiel 33:32, 33

Prophecy, especially future prophecy, is an exceptionally tricky and complicated thing. Far too often, people claim they know what lies ahead based on what the Bible says about certain issues. However, it is an extremely rare thing that someone in the past would read Scripture and know exactly what would come to pass, and in the way and matter it in fact actually occurred.

Bible prophecy is given normally as a general outline of what lies ahead, and piecing together all of what is given on a future event is certainly both a challenge, and something which will be shown in error most of the time. In other words, the Bible is not intended for divination about what lies ahead. It is given in broad brushstrokes of what is coming, but not in minute detail.

However, when the event comes to pass, one can then look back on what has been prophesied and come to a truly “Aha” moment. All of the verses which pointed to what was coming suddenly come into crystal clear focus. In this, the prophet who relayed the words is seen to have been a true prophet, and the Lord who inspired the prophet, is seen as beyond the realm of the naturalist. Instead, He is the omniscient, sovereign Lord who transcends space and time.

In Leviticus 26, there are explicit prophecies which are obvious on the surface, and which were simply awaiting their obvious fulfillment. There are also portions of this chapter which, when taken together with other portions of Scripture, were only realized as prophetically fulfilled after the events took place.

Understanding this, for us in the church today, there are certain future prophecies which are obvious on the surface. We know they are coming, and we can simply await their fulfillment, fully trusting that they will come about because they are of the same reliable Source as other prophecies which have been exactingly fulfilled already. And then, there are things which are coming which will only be known as fulfilled after the events have taken place. The importance of not mixing the two types of prophecy together cannot be overstated. The Bible is not a tool for divination. Predictions about certain dates, and specific events occurring at specific times, are to be rejected outright. But those things which are said to be ahead, and which are carefully recorded for us to understand the broad outline of the future, are fair game to know that the future is set, and that those things will come about. As one example of hundreds, the Bible says there will be a rapture. That is open, explicit, and guaranteed.

However, the Bible does not tell us when that will occur. Therefore, no amount of study or speculation will ever bring us to an understanding of the timing of the event. Let us be wise in how we handle prophecy, and let us never set ourselves in the position where we claim to know what is reserved to God alone. These truths are to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

Promised Blessings to Israel

This chapter begins with no new introduction, such as, “The Lord spoke to Moses saying.” Thus, what is found here is a continuation of the discourse to Moses which has been ongoing since verse 25:1. Despite this, the chapter division here is appropriate because it will deal with the blessings and the curses which Israel can expect based on obedience to the Lord, or disobedience to Him.

The placement of the first two verses, however, are said by some scholars to be wholly inappropriate for starting this new chapter. Instead, it is claimed that they belong to the previous chapter. Charles Ellicott, in particular, finds this placement to be detrimental to our study of what is occurring. He says –

The first two verses of this chapter are still a part of the previous section in the Hebrew original. By separating them from their proper position, and making them begin a new chapter, both the logical sequence and the import of these two verses are greatly obscured.” Charles Ellicott

He provides his logical reason for the claim by saying that the idolatry of verse 1, and the Sabbath law of verse 2, are tied into being a Hebrew slave in Chapter 25, warning them to abstain from idolatry and to keep the Sabbath, despite their indentured status.

This is a wholly unrealistic analysis. Both idolatry and Sabbath observance laws are given to all the people, regardless of their status as free men or slaves. Rather, the warnings of these two commands set the stage for all that will follow. In Leviticus 19, these same precepts are given at the beginning of the chapter, but the order of them is reversed. It first speaks of keeping the Sabbaths of the Lord in verse 3, and then not turning to idols in verse 4. From there, the rest of the chapter dealt with commands, statutes, and judgments for the people to follow.

The same is true here. The Lord is highlighting these particular commands at the outset of what is to follow, and then He will give the consequences for not following them. In other words, these two commands are being relayed again to call to mind all of the other laws which have been given. As Joseph Benson rightly says, “The substance of their religious laws are here recapitulated in two chief articles, on which all the rest very much depended; and God, by Moses, inculcates upon them.”

These two major precepts, along with reverence for the sanctuary which is also found in verse 3, are given to keep the Israelites from corrupt and superstitious practices. Further, the reversal of the order of these commands – idolatry and Sabbath-keeping between Chapter 19 and here is highlighted in the fact that back in Exodus 20, in the Ten Commandments, the commands are reversed from those in Chapter 19. Like here in Chapter 26, idolatry precedes the observance of the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments.

And so, not to beat the point to death, but so that you understand what is going on, the Lord is giving the first two verses of this chapter as a summary of all of the laws and precepts given to Israel. From this solemn reminder, He will then give them magnificent promises of blessing for obedience, and terrifying promises of curses for disobedience. The words of this chapter are exactingly revealed in the rest of the pages of the Old Testament, and in the second exile of Israel after their rejection of their Messiah, Jesus – just as the Lord promises here in Leviticus 26.

You shall not make idols for yourselves;

lo taasu lakem elilim – “no shall you make to you nothings.” The word elilim comes from the word al, or “no,” and thus it literally means “nothings.” These “nothings” then are set in contrast to that which is of the highest value, Yehovah, the One true God. Paul, understanding this nuance, repeats it in 1 Corinthians 8:4 –

Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one.”

To make a nothing, and then to attribute value to it, reduces the maker of the nothing to the same level as the nothing they have made. In other words, to reverence the name of the Lord, is to bring glory to the Lord, who then returns His favor to that person. But to exalt a nothing will result in exactly the opposite. Psalm 115 explains that those who do such things hold the same value as what they produce. They become nothings –

But our God is in heaven;
He does whatever He pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
The work of men’s hands.
They have mouths, but they do not speak;
Eyes they have, but they do not see;
They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell;
They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk;
Nor do they mutter through their throat.
Those who make them are like them;
So is everyone who trusts in them.” Psalm 118:3-8

1 (con’t) neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves;

The pesel, or image was first mentioned in the giving of the Ten Commandments, and it has not been seen since. It comes from pasal which means “to cut or hew into shape.” Thus, this is specifically a carved image. Such an image could be of either a false god, or an attempt to represent the true God. Both of these were forbidden. A false god would be a challenge to Yehovah, and an image claiming to be His likeness would be an affront to Him. Nothing in creation could represent His infinite glory and being.

The pillar, or matstsebah, was first seen when Jacob set up such a pillar when he had his dream of a stairway rising to heaven in Genesis 28. In this case, it is any sacred pillar which is used for worship and/or fertility rites. Such pillars will be seen throughout the times of the kings of Israel, including those to Baal.

1 (con’t) nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it;

Here is a new word which will be seen six times in the Bible, maskith, or imagination. It is from sekvi which signifies the mind, and thus it is speaking of the imaginations of the mind in forming a carved image. Any carved stone image formed by a man’s mind, whether of something real like a bear, or something imagined, like a unicorn or a Sphinx, is surely included in this concept. This would be inclusive of images carved into stone as well, such as depictions in walls and the like. To have such images could, and would, inevitably lead the people to idolatry. This is made explicit with the words, “to bow down to it.”

1 (con’t) for I am the Lord your God.

The reason for the commands concerning the conduct of the people, which has been given to them countless times already, is that Yehovah is their God, they committed to this fact, and they are accountable to Him as such. This remains unchanged to this day. Though the law is set aside in Christ, they have – as a collective group of people – not come to Christ. They are thus as accountable today to this law as they were when these words were spoken.

This precept is not to be missed. What is said in this chapter concerning His anticipated treatment of them did not end with the coming of Christ. The blessing and the burden remains. This is revealed explicitly in Daniel 9 where seven more years are given to Israel, under this law, to come to Christ as the fulfillment of it. In the meantime, the words of Leviticus 26 have continued to be revealed in and through Israel, even for the last 2000 years.

You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary:

am the Lord.

These words are an exact repetition of Leviticus 19:30, word for word, and even letter for letter. These two laws were given to draw the people near to Him. The intent was that in especially following these precepts, they would be more likely to guard against idol worship, and instead focus on the Lord.

Unfortunately, Sabbath observance, and even the honor of having the Lord’s sanctuary among them became markers of perceived self-goodness and acceptability because of who they were, not because of who the Lord is. Ezekiel shows that this is true, even from their inception as a people. He says that they profaned the Lord’s sabbath from the start, and they did it by allowing their hearts to go after idols, a thing which profaned the very reason for the giving of the Sabbath –

So I also raised My hand in an oath to them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, ‘flowing with milk and honey,’ the glory of all lands, 16 because they despised My judgments and did not walk in My statutes, but profaned My Sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols. Ezekiel 20:15, 16

Likewise, the prophet Jeremiah makes this perfectly clear to the people concerning their regard of the Lord’s sanctuary –

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Do not trust in these lying words, saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.’

“For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. Jeremiah 7:3-7

If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them,

Verse 3 now begins what verses 1 & 2 prepared the people’s ears to hear. They were given the instructions on what to do in those verses as a summary of all of the laws they have thus far been presented, and of all the laws that are yet to be proclaimed. With that behind them, and yet as a reference for each section of what the Lord will now proclaim, the conditional statements of Leviticus 26 now begin with, “If you walk…” The Pulpit Commentary rightly says of these words, “The free will of man is recognized equally with God’s controlling power.” The statement is conditional – “IF.” It presupposes free will among the people. However, what follows will demonstrate that God will take those choices, and He will control the outcome of the people based on what they chose to do.

In this verse, the words are spoken to all of the people. In other words, the subject of the matter is not what individuals would do concerning their conduct, but what the people collectively would do in keeping the words of the covenant and adhering to the precepts of the Lord. If a miscreant was found among the people, would the people handle him in accord with the given law? It is the collective group to which these words are given.

The Lord will begin with explaining the blessings of what lay ahead if the choice was obedience to Him and to His word. The germ of this blessing was initially promised in the giving of the Ten Commandments. In Exodus 20:6 and 20:12 He gave promises of blessing for obedience to His word.

In Exodus 23, He continued with promises of what He would do for the people if they remained faithful and obedient to Him. These early references will now be fully developed and explained to the people. They are words of surety, they are words of encouragement, and they are words of warning. Israel must pay heed, or Israel will discover what it means to fail to pay heed.

then I

An important point right here at the giving of the first promise is that it is stated in the first person. This will continue all the way through the chapter. The Lord personally claims that He will fulfill His word in and towards the people – “I will do this,” and “I will do that.” This is in contrast to the comparable passage of blessings and curses noted in Deuteronomy 28. There Moses reiterates the main idea of what is stated here, but he does it in the third person – “The Lord will do this, and the Lord will do that.”

4 (con’t) will give you rain in its season,

Beginning the blessings with geshem, or rain, is not a word to be taken lightly. Without rain, everything else in the land would come to ruin. With rain, there would be the possibility of abundance and satisfaction. Unlike Egypt where they had left, the land of Israel did not have a massive river running through it which could then be diverted onto the flat surrounding countryside. Instead, it is a land of hills and valleys. Without rain, it would be a barren waste.

But in obedience to Him, and to His word, He promises the rain to come in its season. For Israel under ideal conditions, there are two major rains – the former and the latter rains which are noted in Deuteronomy 11:14. The former rains are those which come at the time after the autumnal equinox, normally around late October to early November. That is when the winter crops of wheat and barley would be sown. After this, heavier showers would fall in November and December.

The latter rains begin to fall in March, before the winter crops are harvested, but at the time when the summer seed is sown. These rains last a few days, or even a period of hours. The clouds which told of the coming of this latter rain were so welcomed to the people, that Solomon equates it to the favor of the king –

In the light of the king’s face is life,
And his favor is like a cloud of the latter rain.” Proverbs 16:15

Joel 2 speaks of both of these rains, and the blessing of them –

Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God;
For He has given you the former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you—
The former rain,
And the latter rain in the first 
24 The threshing floors shall be full of wheat,
And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.”
Joel 2:23, 24

James, in the New Testament, does so as well. He equates the coming of the former and latter rains in the land of Israel to the return of the Lord. As the cycle of rains in Israel was disrupted for 2000 years during their exile, and as these rains have returned to their normal cycle since their return in 1948, we find in the words of James comfort. The return of Christ is, in fact, near –

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” James 5:7, 8

4 (con’t) the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

Here the word yebul, or produce is introduced. It signifies that which is brought forth out of the land, and thus we would say “produce.” Along with such things, the Lord promises that the trees would likewise be fruitful. One can see in this fields of tomatoes, rows of apple trees, and every type of abundance in every field. The words of all of verse 4 closely match Ezekiel 34:26, 27 –

I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing. 27 Then the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase.” Ezekiel 34:26, 27

Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing;

Here is a unique word in Scripture, dayish, or “threshing time.” That is derived from dush, or the act of threshing. Another new word, batsir, or vintage is introduced. That signifies the clipping off of clusters of grapes, and thus the time of vintage. The idea here is that there will be such abundance that the productivity of the field will simply go on and on. There will always be work, and it will always be abundantly productive and fruitful. This will be so much the case that while they are still tending to one harvest, the next would be calling out for their attention to tend to it.

These words closely match Amos 9:13. But even more than matching, just after that, in verse 9:15 as the book comes to a close, is a passage which is predictive prophecy, and which has never been fulfilled in history. Thus, it is something which belongs to our future, and which points to Israel’s return to their land in 1948 –

Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,
When the plowman shall overtake the reaper,
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed
The mountains shall drip with sweet wine,
And all the hills shall flow with it.
14 I will bring back the captives of My people Israel;
They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them;
They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them.
15 I will plant them in their land,
And no longer shall they be pulled up
From the land I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God
. Amos 9:13-15

There has never been a time which Israel was planted and not pulled up. But the restoration of Israel in 1948 has made this prophecy possible. Other prophecies show us that before these promised blessings come about, many troubles and much loss of life will come to Israel, but the word of God states that they shall never again be uprooted. The word is faithful, and Israel will stand.

(con’t) you shall eat your bread to the full,

These words correspond to Ezekiel 34:29, “I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land.” Again and again Ezekiel promises that which was promised by Moses. The people had rebelled, but the people would receive grace. For those at the time of Moses, however, when they left Egypt and were still on their way to Sinai, they complained against the Lord saying that in Egypt they ate bread to the full. It was at that time that the Lord gave them manna to sustain them. The Lord promises that in Israel, and in their obedience to His precepts, the people would be filled with bread, just as they were in Egypt. But they would be free, and they would be cared for in a better way. This is seen in the next words…

(con’t) and dwell in your land safely.

These words are again reflected in Ezekiel 34. There the prophet says, “They shall be safe in their land;” (v 27). As Israel was delivered from the bondage of Egypt, the Lord sent them into bondage again for their transgressions, but he promised that like Egypt, their time for this would also end.

I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid;

Once again, Ezekiel 34 repeats the beautiful promises of Leviticus 26 to the downtrodden of his day with, “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods” (v. 25). For obedient Israel, there was, and there is, the promise of safety in the land. Even with the immense abundance which overflows from the harvests, the Lord promises them safety. There was to be no terror at night that someone would come and steal their efforts away, or harm them as they peacefully lay sleeping.

(con’t) I will rid the land of evil beasts,

And again from the same verse as before, Ezekiel’s words are a restatement of the original promises of Leviticus 26. There we read, “I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land” (v. 25). The promise here is one of security, but the term “evil beasts,” means more than simply lions, bears, and jackals. Rather, the term khayah, or living, is used to describe the formation of man in Genesis 2:7. Therefore, this promise to Israel is to be taken euphemistically to include wicked men of the land who form plans and schemes against Israel.

The reference to Ezekiel’s prophecy of the future seems obvious when considering the many factions who are intent on Israel’s destruction, and who make them live in fear today – be they Fatah, Hamas, Hezbollah, or countless others who invade their land, terrify their souls, and swallow up the Lord’s people. Until Israel has set its heart on the Lord, meaning Jesus, this will not cease.

(con’t) and the sword will not go through your land.

The words of this clause are seen substantially repeated in Ezekiel 34 as well. There in verse 28 he says, “And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them.” The Lord has tied the “evil beasts” in with “the sword” going through the land. Thus, Ezekiel’s words concerning the “beasts of the land” is speaking of the enemies of Israel euphemistically. They are as evil beasts, come to destroy the flock of the Lord.

But the flock of the Lord can only be considered as such when they are right with the Lord. Today, the evil beasts within the land, and the evil beasts of the surrounding lands, do come and destroy. A day lies ahead when this will no longer be the case. Israel was the Lord’s, and they betrayed Him. They have now received grace and have been returned to their ancient land, but their lot for the immediate future is one of uncertainty and sure grief. When they return to Him, He will be waiting with open arms.

You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you.

The words here are fulfilled throughout the times of the judges and kings. When Israel was in favor with the Lord, they fell upon their enemies and destroyed them mightily. At one time, the power of Israel was so great that the Bible records this in 1 Kings –

So Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.” 1 Kings 4:21

This had come about by the great battles won by Saul, and then his own father David. By the time Solomon reigned, there was peace on all sides because the enemies of Israel had been chased and destroyed by the hungry sword of Israel.

Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight;

your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.

The words here are proverbial and signify that a small number would be able to defeat a large multitude. The Hebrew word is revavah. It means a multitude. The Greek translation of the OT says murias, or a myriad. It is an unspecified number. At other times, different numbers are used to express the same thought. Further, they are given in relation to Israel defeating their enemies, and in Israel being defeated by their enemies. However, the precept, though proverbial, is found realized several times in Scripture. In Joshua 23:10, Joshua cites this precept as an assured promise of the Lord in order to spur on his people to battle. He says there that one could chase a thousand.

In Judges 3:31, Shamgar, the son of Anath had killed six hundred men of the Philistines with an ox goad. In Judges 15:15, Samson is said to have killed a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey. In 1 Samuel 14, Jonathan and his armor bearer came against a Philistine garrison, killed many, and this led to Israel seizing the initiative and wiping out many Philistines. In 2 Samuel 23:8, Josheb-Basshebeth is said to have raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed in one encounter.

Finally, when Gideon and 300 men came against a camp of 135,000, they led the enemy into such panic that they killed one another while Gideon pursued them, encouraging other Israelites to join them, and killing as they went. It says that at the end of the battle, over 120,000 warriors had fallen. These and other stories show that while this is a proverbial saying, it is also one which holds more than a grain, but a bucketful, of truth.

‘For I will look on you favorably

The words literally say “And I will turn unto you.” It signifies a sign of grace from the Lord. This sentiment is seen in Psalm 25 –

Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me,
For I am desolate and afflicted.” Psalm 25:16

In turning to them, he promises three positive things. The first is…

9 (con’t) and make you fruitful,

This is not merely multiplication, but abundant health, continuance, brilliance, renown, etc. It is one thing to have a whole brood of regular children, but another to have children who are warriors, kings, and the like. One cannot be considered a curse, but the other can be considered a blessing. This is the intent of these words.

9 (con’t) multiply you

In addition to being fruitful comes the second promise, that of multiplication. Not only would Israel flourish in brilliance, renown, and so on, but these would be many in number. When people came to the land, they would say, “Every man is a giant among men.” Such is the intent here. But these first two merely lead to the third…

9 (con’t) and confirm My covenant with you.

The Lord’s word to Israel refers back to His promises to Abraham. In Genesis 15:18, the first of such terminology is used –

On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying:

To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.” Genesis 15:18

After that, the covenant was solidified with the sign of circumcision, and the promises which went along with it. That was recorded in Genesis 17:4-8 –

As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

The scholar Keil notes rightly that the words now in Leviticus are not merely the preservation of this covenant, “but the continual realization of the covenant grace, by which the covenant itself was carried on further and further towards its completion.” The promises are intended to keep the people in the land and increase them as they continued toward the coming of Messiah. The curses, though negative in nature, are intended for the same purpose. Israel would be controlled by God, but it would be a controlling of their own making, for good or evil, as they moved into a future where Christ would someday be revealed.

10 You shall eat the old harvest, and clear out the old because of the new.

The words here are necessary. He has already promised this type of blessing, but after doing so, He said that He would multiply the people. At what point would that turn south and mean lack? The answer is, “At no point.” As they multiplied, the Lord would continue to provide. There would be no lack, even in great multiplication of the people.

This would be so much so, that even as they ate the old store of food, they would eventually have to remove the old on account of the new. One can imagine great stores of older grain being carried over to the herds and given to them. The food of kings would become fodder for the beasts because of the abundance.

11 I will set My tabernacle among you,

Two promises are made in this verse. The first is that the Lord will set His mishkan, or tabernacle, among the people. This is the greatest promise of all, and it is one which gives the idea of reposing. He will dwell among the people. The Greek translation of this word is used in the New Testament when speaking of Jesus –

And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of an only begotten of a father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (YLT)

The coming of Christ was to be the fulfillment of this for Israel, but they rejected Him. From there, Christ went to the Gentiles and has dwelt among them for 2000 years, dwelling in those who have called out to Him for salvation. The second promise is that…

11 (con’t) and My soul shall not abhor you.

The word gaal, or abhor, is introduced here. It is only used ten times in the Bible, but five of them are in this chapter. Four of those show an action by Israel, and a response by the Lord. If the people abhor His laws, He in turn will abhor them. The Lord, right at the beginning gave them the choice, and that choice is first given in the positive – “Obey Me, and I shall not abhor you.” Instead…

12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.

To abhor is to take that which is vile and cast it away. But the Lord promised Israel that if they obeyed His precepts, He would do just the opposite. He would set up His dwelling place among them, and He would walk among them and be their God. To walk with someone is to be in agreement with them. This is seen in Amos 3:3 where the question is asked, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” The answer is, “No.”

The Lord did walk with Israel while they were obedient, and they were His people when this was true. However, in exile, the Lord was not among them, and they were separated from Him as His people. Instead, the promises given to Israel went to the Gentiles. In 2 Corinthians 6, we read this coming to pass –

For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
2 Corinthians 6:16

Paul cites Hosea with this same sentiment in Romans 9:25 to show that the Gentiles would replace Israel during their time of exile and punishment. However, Peter picks up on Paul’s words for the Jews of the end times, and he reapplies them to Israel saying that they were once “not a people, but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:10). A time lies ahead when the favor of God will turn from Gentile to Jew once again. The rapture will occur, and then His eyes will be fully and entirely on completing His redemptive plans for them, and for the world at large.

13 am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves;

The Lord has, on several occasions thus far, reminded Israel that He has brought them out of Egypt. They were brought from slavery to freedom, leaving a land of distress and heading to a land of peace and security. They had lived the former life and cried out in anguish because of it. Now they would be given a new direction and were admonished to take heed to the Lord’s word and live in that freedom; not return to bondage.

*13 (fin) I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright.

Here we have terminology which shows how highly oppressive life in Egypt was. The Lord uses a new term, motah, or bands, of a yoke to describe their previous plight. These were poles or rods which were laid upon the necks of animals as a type of yoke, or inserted into a yoke, to fasten their heads together to keep them level. In this, they would render the animal completely helpless to resist, and they would be incapable of straightening up.

The idea is that Israel was so oppressed with labor, that it was a yoke which bent their backs, and kept them from upright freedom of movement. The Lord had broken those yokes from the people, and this allowed them to walk in freedom. Our verses today finish with a word which is used only here in the Bible, qomemiyyuth, or upright. Where there was bondage, there was now to be freedom. Where there was affliction, there would now be blessing.

Israel has been given the choice, and the promises based on obedience are magnificent in the extreme. Unfortunately, as we see in the rest of Scripture, they failed to obey. Eventually, they went back under a yoke, and they have continued under it for millennia. But returning one more time to Ezekiel 34:27, we see that someday that will change –

and they shall know that I am the Lord, when I have broken the bands of their yoke and delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them.”

Their time of freedom lies ahead, and as always, these physical truths, which really occurred, have a greater spiritual meaning in Christ. Israel being brought out of Egypt pictures man’s being brought out from the power of sin and the devil. The yoke upon their necks is that which bound us. Some of us had afflictions of drugs, sex, or alcohol. Some have been addicted to work.

Anything we put above God is a source of idolatry, and it is a source of separation from God. But Christ can and does free us when we come to Him. He resolves the sin problem the moment He redeems us. From there, if we will allow Him to work in us, He resolves the other issues in our lives as well. The yoke is already broken, but too many of us continue to carry it.

And there is another yoke which many Christians continue to carry as well. It is the yoke of the law. Paul warns us to not get entangled again with a yoke of bondage, meaning the Law of Moses. Christ has fulfilled it, and thus He is the end of the law for all who believe. Instead, we are to put our faith, our trust, and our hope in the completed work of Christ.

Let us keep ourselves from falling back into sin, pictured by Egypt, which Christ has redeemed us from, and let us keep ourselves from falling back into bondage to the law which Christ has fulfilled for us. Instead, we are to now live our lives in holiness and in intimate fellowship with God, through Christ our Lord. If you have never been freed from the yokes of this world, today is the day, good friend. Call on Christ, and live in Him, for Him, and in anticipation of Him always.

Closing Verse: “ Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Next Week: Leviticus 26:14-39 Surely worse than needle-poking nurses… (Assured Curses) (49th Leviticus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if you have a lifetime of sin heaped up behind you, He can wash it away and purify you completely and wholly. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Promised Blessings

You shall not make idols for yourselves
Not even of your favorite pup
Neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar
Shall you for yourselves rear up

Nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land
To bow down to it
For I am the Lord your God
And so to you this rule I do submit

You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary
I am the Lord; so shall it be

If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments
———-and perform them
Then I will give you rain in its season, the right amount to suit
The land shall yield its produce
And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit

Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage
And the vintage till the time of sowing shall last
You shall eat your bread to the full
And dwell in your land safely, nor shall you be downcast

I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down
And none will make you afraid, so understand
I will rid the land of evil beasts
And the sword will not go through your land

You will chase your enemies; so you shall do
And they shall fall by the sword before you

Five of you shall chase a hundred
And a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight
Your enemies shall fall by the sword before you
Such shall be your might

For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful
Multiply you and confirm My covenant with you
You shall eat the old harvest
And clear out the old because of the new

I will set My tabernacle among you
And My soul shall not abhor you
I will walk among you and be your God
And you shall be My people; to this word I will be true

I am the Lord your God
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; that marvelous sight
That you should not be their slaves
I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright

Lord God, surely you have broken our yoke and set us free
And now You dwell in us and walk among us too
Such marvelous love! How can it be?
That we have received such blessing from You!

Thank You that You are our God because of Jesus
Thank You that we are now your people also
Such marvelous things You have done for us
Such gifts of love and mercy upon us You bestow

Hallelujah to You for Your kind and gracious hand upon us
Hallelujah to You, O God, for our King! Our glorious Lord Jesus!

Hallelujah and Amen…

Leviticus 25:39-55 (The Year of Jubilee, Part III)

Leviticus 25:39-55
The Year of Jubilee, Part III

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, 2 to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.

Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ— 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me.

12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. 14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary.

15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

17 If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. 18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay—not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides. 20 Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord.

21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.

25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Text Verse: “For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” 1 Corinthians 7:22, 23

In last week’s sermon, we ended with a passage on lending to a poor brother Israelite. No interest was to be levied on him, and he was to be treated properly in the Lord’s eyes. The Lord had redeemed them, and they were thus the Lord’s possession. It was therefore ultimately a self-defeating prospect to harm another of the Lord’s redeemed. The law would be violated, the Lord would be displeased, and the loss would ultimately outweigh any gain.

Further, in causing greater trouble to the poor, he would ultimately have to sell himself off as a slave to another. In such a situation, the law would again require certain things to be done in order to ensure proper treatment of this poor soul. To not follow through with those things would then lead to the law being further violated, to the Lord being more displeased, and thus only greater trouble would arise for those who so conducted their affairs.

The Lord wasn’t just breathing hot air when He gave these laws, and He eventually followed through with judgment on the people because of not heeding them. Jeremiah 34:17-20 specifically deals with the issue of the inappropriate treatment of fellow Israelite slaves. The details of what He promised to do are not pretty.

Paul, writing to Philemon on behalf of the slave Onesimus, did not appeal to the law, but he appealed to the spirit of the law. What is mandated for Israel was given to show us hints of the greater work of Christ, our Redeemer. The Year of Jubilee in Israel points ahead to the full, final, and forever redemption which is guaranteed to us because of what He has done. In the meantime, though redeemed, we are asked to act in a way which is honoring of the Lord who has accomplished the redemption. Such will be seen again as we finish up this beautiful chapter on the Year of Jubilee. It’s all to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Israelites as Masters (verses 39-46)

39 ‘And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor,

For the third time in one chapter, the word muk, or poor, is brought to our attention by the Lord. It was first seen in verse 25, and the context remains the same. It is speaking of a fellow Israelite who becomes poor. The word comes from a root meaning to be thin, and thus it is figuratively applied to one who becomes impoverished.

The Lord’s attention is on such a person, and it completely dispels the notion that He favors a person because of his wealth, status, or position. How important this is to remember as we sit in church, having come in a nice car, from a nice house filled with our life’s treasures, and after having eaten all we needed before we came. There is a feeling of satisfaction in such a state that “God must really favor me.” This is a dangerous mental trap which belies the truth of biblical favor. The Lord’s attention is carefully directed to all of His people, even the poorest, and His favor upon our physical prosperity cannot be equated to His favor on us as humans living in His presence. How evident this is from the next words…

39 (con’t) and sells himself to you,

There are several ways this could happen. Exodus 22:3 showed that a person could steal, and if he could not repay according to the law, he could be sold for his theft. In 1 Kings 4, is another example –

A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.” 2 Kings 4:1

Other passages give more details on Israelites who had been sold into bondage. For them, the law has specific guidelines…

39 (con’t) you shall not compel him to serve as a slave.

lo ta’avod bo avodat aved – “no shall you compel in him to serve as a bondservant.” These words follow after verses 35-38 where the Israelite has already been instructed to aid and assist one who has become muk, or poor. There should have already been an effort to stem his poverty, including loans without interest of any kind. Nothing more than what was given – be it money or goods – was to be expected in return.

Now, this impoverished person, who obviously couldn’t even pay back the principle, is obliged to sell himself to simply survive. The Lord specifically commands that if it is an Israelite, he is not to be taken on as a bondservant, meaning a slave or a servant who works for nothing. The onus is on the richer of the two. If he fails to act as the law requires, then who is it who is out of favor with God? Wealth is not a protection for the wealthy because of God’s favor, it is a responsibility intended for the poor, upon whom God favors.

As the Pulpit Commentary says about this state, “All alike, master and bondsman, were the slaves of God, and therefore not only were they, so far, on an equality one with another, but the master would be encroaching on the right of God if he claimed God’s slaves for his own inalienably.”

40 As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, 

The hired servant’s rights have already been outlined, such as the Lord instructing the people to not withhold the wages of a hired servant. The sojourner’s protections have likewise been detailed. The Lord expected the treatment of such to be exemplary by the covenant people. In like manner, the bonded Hebrew was to also be treated. He was to be cared for, rather than manipulated. He was to be recompensed for his labors, not subjugated and oppressed. In this, the scholar Oehler rightly states that, “Through this principle slavery was completely abolished, so far as the people of the theocracy were concerned.”

40 (con’t) and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee.

Those who attack and challenge the Bible at every word come to these words and claim the Bible contradicts itself. It has already been seen in Exodus 21:2 that a Hebrew servant was to be released after six years of service. This is repeated in Deuteronomy 15. However, this verse says that he shall serve until the Year of Jubilee, an occurrence only once every fiftieth year. There is no contradiction at all here.

A bonded Hebrew could serve no more than six years, ever. If the Year of Jubilee occurred before that, he was to be released, even if it was but one year. The Year of Jubilee, which is the highlight of this chapter, was to take precedence over all other such laws. Total freedom was to be proclaimed, and total freedom was to be given, regardless of any other set times. The land was to revert to its original owners. It would thus require the care of that owner, even if he were serving as a bonded servant. With the reacquisition of his land, he would then be able to work towards the future on an even level with every other person in the society.

41 And then he shall depart from you—he and his children with him—and shall return to his own family.

The family of the bonded Hebrew was his, and could not be deprived him. However, Exodus 21 clarifies this law. If the master gave him a wife during his time of servitude, she was not to go out with him, and any children born to the union were likewise not to go out with him. To understand why this was, you can refer back to that sermon. It is just, fair, and proper when rightly considered.

In that passage, the bonded Hebrew could renounce his right to freedom and remain a permanently bonded servant. As a sign of this allegiance to his master, he was to be brought to the judges, and then taken to a door or doorpost and the master was to pierce his ear with an awl. In that act, he was bonded forever. The year of Jubilee would not override this sign of allegiance. Every detail of that points to Christ. If you don’t remember it, go brush up. Other than that exception, however…

41 (con’t) He shall return to the possession of his fathers.

In sh’nat ha’yobel, or “Year the Jubilee,” the bonded Hebrew was to be released, and he was to be granted full rights, including his father’s land, once again. No government law, no edict of man, and no other arrangement under the Mosaic law could override this.

42 For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves.

This verse corresponds directly to verse 23 which said, “The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine.” These two verses form a link and are clues to the intent of the entire passage. The land is the Lord’s, and therefore it could not be considered as a weapon against another Hebrew. Likewise, the people were the Lord’s, and therefore they could not be mistreated. He delivered all of Israel, and therefore all of Israel was on an equal footing in His eyes. In this Adam Clarke rightly states, “It was in being his servants, and devoted to his work, that both their religious and political service consisted. And although their political liberty might be lost, they knew that their spiritual liberty never could be forfeited except by an utter alienation from God.” Therefore…

43 You shall not rule over him with rigor,

Here, a word is given that has not been seen since the first chapter of the Bible, radah, or rule. It comes from a root meaning “to tread down.” Thus it is to subjugate another. Man was given dominion over all the fish, birds, and land creatures. He is also, to a point, given dominion over other men. But the Lord specifically says that it is not to be with perek, or rigor.

This is the same word seen only so far in Exodus 1. There it said that the Egyptians ruled over the people of Israel with perek, or rigor. As Egypt is symbolic of the world of sin, and thus bondage to the devil, we are being asked to look deeper than just a surface mistreatment of one Hebrew over another.

In what should point us to the Lord Himself, this word, perek, is the root of the word paroketh, meaning the veil which hung between the holy place and the most holy place. The veil thus signified that on one side there is cruelty and rigor of life, and on the other side there is peace with God. The veil was that point of division. That veil is the body of Christ which was torn for our transgressions. In His redemptive act, the rigor of His earthly life was fulfilled. Because of this, no servant of His was to be treated in that way. He took upon Himself what we are to be exempted from.

43 (con’t) but you shall fear your God.

To fear God is to respect His position as Sovereign, and to acknowledge both His work for the people with gratitude, and His right to judge the people with justice. Considering the picture of the veil signifying the rigor which is prohibited to be laid upon the bonded Hebrew because Christ has taken that from us, the words of Ephesians 6 show that the precept of verse 43 only looked forward to Christ and His work –

Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.

And you, masters, do the same things to them, giving up threatening, knowing that your own Master also is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” Ephesians 6:5-9

44 And as for your male and female slaves whom you may have—from the nations that are around you, from them you may buy male and female slaves.

Permanent slaves could be obtained from the surrounding nations. This could be through regular transactions, conquering them in war, and the like. These would not be released after a set time, nor even in the Year of Jubilee. Instead, they became a part of the property of the Hebrew owner. The term, “the nations that are around you” excludes any of the nations who were devoted to destruction who are named in Deuteronomy 20:16-18, with the reason for their being destroyed. The Lord had been patient with the inhabitants of Canaan for 400 years, their wickedness had reached its fullness, and they were to be destroyed.

However, in the conquest of Canaan, some of those devoted to destruction did become slaves of the Israelites anyway. The most noted example is that of Joshua 9 concerning the Gibeonites.

45 Moreover you may buy the children of the strangers who dwell among you, and their families who are with you, which they beget in your land; and they shall become your property.

The toshav, or stranger, among Israel would be someone who had taken up residence in the land. They were among the Hebrew people, and they had submitted to various requirements, but had not been circumcised or embraced the faith of Israel. They could be bought and sold as property, with no chance of release unlike the bonded Hebrews. However, if they were bought as slaves, they were then required to be circumcised according to the law given to Abraham in Genesis 17 which said –

…every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.” Genesis 17:12, 13

And so in a unique way, the slaves of the Hebrews were given this unique sign as a way of identifying them permanently with the covenant people.

46 And you may take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a possession; they shall be your permanent slaves.

The purpose of these words is to show, without any debate, that these non-Hebrews were not provided with the rights of the Jubilee. Instead, they were permanent possessions of the Hebrews, even to bequeathing them as an inheritance to the next generation. Their status as slaves was permanent.

Within this seemingly unfair standard, there are still provisions for the slaves, including freedom itself. The slaves were to be treated without excessive force. If this was violated, they could demand their freedom. In Exodus 21 it said –

If a man strikes the eye of his male or female servant, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for the sake of his eye. 27 And if he knocks out the tooth of his male or female servant, he shall let him go free for the sake of his tooth.” Exodus 21:26, 27

Further, it is implied in Exodus 12 that if any person were to assume the requirements of joining the people of Israel, they were to be treated henceforth as natives of the land. This must apply to the slave as well as the free man. Great allowances for these slaves are seen, and are made explicit in the law itself.

46 (con’t) But regarding your brethren, the children of Israel, you shall not rule over one another with rigor.

These words seem to imply that a non-Israelite could be ruled over with rigor, but we have seen that this went only so far, and no further. And more, the same words, radah and perek, of verse 43 are seen in this verse. We are being shown pictures of the Hebrew’s rights and privileges that are reflective of the rights and privileges of those who have been redeemed by Christ. He is our Sovereign and the One who has dominion over us. We have been brought out of bondage to sin, and we are given an exalted status because of it.

These people whom you see, each is My servant
Whom I brought out of Egypt the land
And so to My word concerning them, you shall be observant
Yes, you shall pay heed and understand

It is I who have redeemed, and I to whom they belong
With rigor you shall not over them rule
You shall not mistreat them, nor do them wrong
Surely over them you shall be kind, never shall you misrule

And on the Year of Jubilee
There shall be a release, final and forevermore
On that day, the riches of heaven you shall see
When at last you are conducted through heaven’s door

II. Israelites as Slaves (verses 47-55)

47 ‘Now if a sojourner or stranger close to you becomes rich, and one of your brethren who dwells by him becomes poor, and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner close to you, or to a member of the stranger’s family,

Every possible case of servitude is covered in the law, including what is now proposed. The Hebrew here is idiomatic. It literally says, “And if becomes sufficient the hand of a foreigner settled among you, and becomes poor your brother with him.” There is then the sense of the one reaching up to wealth while the Israelite becomes low and depressed.

In such a case, the Israelite might decide to sell himself off to this non-Israelite, figuring his lot will be better under the stranger’s wealth than he will be in his own poverty. Or, he may even sell himself off to someone in the foreigner’s family. The word used is found only here in Scripture, eqer, or literally, an offshoot. In this case it is a non-Israelite related to another non-native in the land. He has rooted himself in the land, and possibly even among the people of God, having been incorporated into the commonwealth. Regardless of the status of the buyer, if a native Israelite were to take this course of action and sell himself off, then…

48 after he is sold he may be redeemed again. One of his brothers may redeem him;

Regardless as to what the non-native desired in this matter, or even his status in regards to the Israelites, if he dwelt in the land, he had no say in this law. The law of a non-Israelite being sold to an Israelite is reversed here. The Israelite slave, like the land of original possession in Israel, was always redeemable. The Lord ultimately is the Owner of both, and therefore, there was no authority higher than the law which covers such redemption.

In this is seen the continued germination of the idea of what Messiah would come to do. Israel had been redeemed. They belonged to the Lord, but they could be sold off temporarily. However, it was never a permanent arrangement. The people could be redeemed at anytime by a redeemer. And even if that did not occur, the once-redeemed Israelite was to still be given total freedom in the Year of Jubilee.

This forms a picture of the absolute and eternal salvation found in Christ. We may be sold off to whatever possesses us, be it drugs or some other addiction, but there is no time that we cannot be bought back from that. And further, even if we are not bought back, in what is the true Jubilee, we shall be forever set free in our final release in Christ. The brother ere in this verse points directly to Christ Jesus where in Hebrews 2:11, it says, He is not ashamed to call us brothers.

The temporary ownership of our bodies by the world cannot negate the eternal ownership of our souls in Christ. Because Christ assumed a human nature, we are as brothers in humanity to Him, thus the brother is mentioned first as a possible redeemer. For now, and in the immediate context, any Israelite could be redeemed by his brother…

49 or his uncle or his uncle’s son may redeem him;

The brother has already been mentioned, but then it curiously goes to the uncle in this verse. The Hebrew word for “uncle” is dod, literally meaning “beloved.” Then it says ben dodo, or “son of his uncle.” The letters used here form an anagram of ben David, or “Son of David.” Thus, we have hidden references to Messiah.


Christ is called the Beloved by Paul in Ephesians 1:6, in a passage where he speaks in detail of our redemption in Christ, thus connecting Him to one who can redeem here in Leviticus. He is also called the Son of David countless times in the gospels and epistles. In this, Christ Jesus is again the Redeemer. He is the Son of David, descending from Judah. He is the One who is qualified to provide the eternal redemption of the people of God. As John Gill notes –

“…they through the fall, and in a state of nature, are become poor and helpless, and in a spiritual sense have neither bread to eat, nor clothes to wear, nor money to buy either; and are in debt, owe ten thousand talents, and have nothing to pay, and so are brought into bondage to sin, Satan, and the law; nor can they redeem themselves from these by power or price; nor can a brother, or the nearest relation redeem them, or give to God a ransom for them; none but Christ could do this for them, who through his incarnation, whereby he became of the same nature, of the same flesh and blood with them, and in all things like unto them, is their ‘goel’, and so their Redeemer, and has obtained eternal redemption for them, not with silver and gold, but by his own precious blood.” John Gill

49 (con’t) or anyone who is near of kin to him in his family may redeem him;

The Hebrew uses two words which essentially both mean “flesh.” It speaks of anyone who is mi’sheer besaro, or “from flesh of his flesh.” Although nearly synonyms, the first is flesh as in nearness – “I am of the same flesh as my father.” The second is flesh in substance – “We are all made of human flesh.” The catchall phrase here again speaks of Christ, who took on the substance of humanity, and likewise through that act also came into a family nearness with us in order to redeem us. And finally there is one more option for this Hebrew slave…

49 (con’t) or if he is able he may redeem himself.

The question is, how could a person so poor that he had to offer himself as a slave in the first place find sufficiency at hand to redeem himself? The answer is certainly, “Through an inheritance.” Therefore, the person hasn’t directly redeemed himself, but it has happened through a granted inheritance. This again looks to the work of Christ. Paul in Ephesians 1 carefully writes out what is the inheritance of the saints. In particular, he says of Christ, “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (v. 11). It is Christ who works, and it is because of His works that we can receive the inheritance. The law, again, has pointed us to a greater spiritual truth for the redeemed of the Lord in Christ.

50 Thus he shall reckon with him who bought him: The price of his release shall be according to the number of years, from the year that he was sold to him until the Year of Jubilee; it shall be according to the time of a hired servant for him.

What we have here is a calculation comparable to the redemption of property in verses 15 & 16. As the sale and redemption of the land is based not on the actual land, but on the number of crops available until the Jubilee, so the sale and redemption of an Israelite is based not on his person, but on his work and productivity. This does not take into account any speculation. For example, one cannot say, “Hey our brother here is 62 years old, and the Jubilee is 40 years away. We will pay only until the average age of death which is 70, and so we will pay you for 8 years.”

Instead, the payment is made solely based on the year of Jubilee, regardless of any extenuating circumstances. The favor of the deal goes to the owner of the slave, giving the greatest regard that it was handled in a perfectly fair manner.

And isn’t this what has happened in our redemption? Christ now possesses us. He has given us the guarantee of that redemption in the sealing of the Spirit. And yet, the payment rendered for our redemption, the blood of Christ, was the full amount required, meaning even to His death, to carry us through until the final time of release. We are not partially redeemed, but fully redeemed. No further claim can be laid upon us ever again. So much for “loss of salvation.” This continues to be explained…

51 If there are still many years remaining, according to them he shall repay the price of his redemption from the money with which he was bought.

The calculation is given in a standard form. If he sold himself for thirty pieces of keseph, or silver, and there were 20 years until the Jubilee when he did so, then if he is to be redeemed after 10 years, the master was to be paid fifteen pieces of keseph. More years till the Jubilee would mean a higher proportion to be paid, and less would mean a smaller proportion. This is seen in the next words…

52 And if there remain but a few years until the Year of Jubilee, then he shall reckon with him, and according to his years he shall repay him the price of his redemption.

Everything is based on the original sale, and the years until the Jubilee. That is the entire basis for redemption. Nothing is said here, however, concerning seventh-year Sabbath years. As a slave is not limited to agricultural work, one would logically not deduct those years which are deducted for land-rest each seventh year in the sale of property.

Further, nothing is said about the slave being released after six years, which would be the case if he had sold himself to another Israelite. That law of Exodus 21 does not apply to foreign masters, and thus it would be a very strong inducement for an Israelite to sell himself not to an outsider, but to another Israelite. The entire tenor of these laws is given to avoid, as much as possible, becoming entangled with non-Israelites in such matters.

53 He shall be with him as a yearly hired servant,

What this means is that he is to be reckoned as a servant who could obtain his freedom at any time, and that his time of bondage was for a specified time, even if not sooner. He was never to be counted as a personal, permanent slave whom he could mistreat at will. And to ensure that this precept was held as absolute…

53 (con’t) and he shall not rule with rigor over him in your sight.

The people of Israel were to individually keep watch over such an arrangement, carefully observing that the sacred care of one Israelite over another was not violated by a foreigner over an Israelite. The same high standard of care for him was to be maintained regardless as to whom he had sold himself to. This was a specific obligation, carefully recorded to avoid any chance of it being dismissed by the people.

This is now the last time that this word, perek, or rigor, will be seen until the book of Ezekiel where it will be seen just once more. As the Israelite had been redeemed by the Lord, the cruelty which the Lord would face for man’s full redemption is to be excluded from the treatment of the enslaved Israelite. The Lord took upon Himself what He will not allow in those He has redeemed in the process.

54 And if he is not redeemed in these years, then he shall be released in the Year of Jubilee—he and his children with him.

The word “years” is not in the original. It simply says, “And if he is not redeemed in these.” It is not referring only to the years before the Jubilee, but of the process of being redeemed by another as well. Regardless as to whether he was redeemed by man, or in a set period, he had been redeemed by the Lord, and he was to be released as the Lord’s property in the Year of Jubilee. And then it adds in a note of exceptional grace, “he and his children with him.”

The Israelite belonged to the Lord, and those who issued from him did as well. The master could not claim that because they may have been born in his house, that they were his property. Rather, they were by blood, and thus by right, children of Israel and therefore by extension children of the Lord.

55 For the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt:

In type, we are to look at these words, and we are to insert ourselves into what they merely picture. The Lord redeemed Israel out of Egypt; Christ Jesus redeemed us out of the bondage of sin and the yoke of the devil. In this, we belong to Christ, and we are now His servants. He did the work, we are to be obedient to the calling. To mistreat another Christian is a self-defeating prospect.

The Lord has given us our instructions, and to not pay heed is to only violate His word, and to grieve His Spirit. Paul explains this for us in Ephesians –

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:30-32

As with Israel, so with the church. And the reason for these things centers on one over-arching concept…

*55 (fin) am the Lord your God.

ani Yehovah elohekem – “I am Yehovah your God.” The Lord proclaims His name and position. In essence, what we are being told with these words is, “I am the self-existent Creator, and I am your Redeemer. You are my possession, and I am Your God. I am Yehovah your God; you are My redeemed. Treat one another well, watch out for one another, and do so with zeal as you await the final blast of the trumpet on that great day of Jubilee.”

In the final analysis of what has been seen in Leviticus 25, the highest and greatest significance of the Year of Jubilee is to be found in the restoration of all things which Peter refers to in Acts 3. It is the restoration of the kingdom of God which has been, through man’s disobedience and fall, left unrealized to this day. Israel’s fifty-year Jubilee was a call to restore to what was originally given, to level the playing field, to encourage and lift up the downtrodden, to free the captive, and to reflect that which was originally established and blessed.

We live now in anticipation of what that only pictured. We have been redeemed from spiritual Egypt, and all things have been restored in guarantee, but not yet in reality. Eden was lost, but in Christ it is, and it shall be, found. Our bodies grow old and die, but they shall be remade to last forever. Our wealth can be diminished or lost, but eternal gain lies just ahead. Brothers and sisters in Christ are held captive, but they shall be released. God fellowshipped with man, and soon enough He will do so again.

The Kingdom of God and of His Christ is prepared, the table is set, and the final day of Jubilee is just around the corner. Let us not be discouraged with the temporary woes we face, but let us rejoice and exult in the magnificent guarantee that we hope for. Christ has come among us, and through His work, our redemption is secured. Let the trumpet sound loudly, and let the people proclaim liberty throughout the land. May it be so, and may it be soon.

Closing Verse: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Isaiah 61:1, 2

Next Week: Leviticus 26:1-13 Good things will come. They are written down, so no need for guessings… (Promised Blessings) (49th Leviticus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if you have a lifetime of sin heaped up behind you, He can wash it away and purify you completely and wholly. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Of Masters and Slaves

And if one of your brethren who dwells
By you becomes poor, his riches he does not preserve
And sells himself to you
You shall not compel him as a slave to serve 

As a hired servant and a sojourner with you he shall be
And shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee 

And then he shall depart from you
He and his children with him as well
And shall return to his own family
He shall return to the possession of his fathers; so to you I tell 

For they are My servants
Whom I brought out of Egypt the land
They shall not be sold as slaves
In this you shall pay heed and understand 

You shall not with rigor over him rule
But you shall fear your God; to him you shall not be cruel 

And as for your male and female slaves
Whom you may have, this I will not deny
From the nations that are around you
From them you may male and female slaves buy 

Moreover you may buy the children
Of the strangers who dwell among you, this is allowed to be
And their families who are with you, which they beget in your land
And they shall become your property 

And you may take them as an inheritance
For your children after you, it may be this way
To inherit them as a possession
They shall be your permanent slaves, as I tell you today

But regarding your brethren
The children of Israel
You shall not rule over one another with rigor
In tender care of them you shall dwell

Now if a sojourner or stranger close to you becomes rich
And one of your brethren who dwells by him, so you construe
Becomes poor, and sells himself
To the stranger or sojourner close to you

Or to a member of the stranger’s family
After he is sold he may be again redeemed
One of his brothers may redeem him
If in his eyes he is esteemed

Or his uncle or his uncle’s son may redeem him
Or anyone who is to him near of kin
In his family may redeem him
Or if he is able he may redeem himself again 

Thus he shall reckon with him who bought him:
The price of his release shall be
According to the number of years
From the year that he was sold to him until the Year of Jubilee 

It shall be for him according to the time of a hired servant
In this matter all shall be observant

If there are still many years remaining
According to them he shall repay
The price of his redemption from the money
With which he was bought on his redemption day 

And if there remain but a few years
Until the Year of Jubilee, on that day
Then he shall reckon with him
And according to his years the price of his redemption him he shall repay 

He shall be with him as a yearly hired servant, as is right
And he shall not rule with rigor over him in your sight 

And if he is not redeemed in these years
Then he shall be released in the Year of Jubilee—
He and his children with him
For the children of Israel are servants to Me

They are My servants whom I brought out of Egypt the land
I am the Lord your God, and so these things you shall understand

Heavenly Father, through Christ we have been redeemed
We are Your possession, and to You we belong
Our times of bondage now are to be lightly esteemed
As we sing in our hearts our final redemption song

Restoration is sure to come, and all will be restored
No longer will access to heaven be inhibited
The truth of this is recorded in Your word
And in the life of Christ, this certainty is exhibited

And so, our King, we give joyful shouts to You
As we await the trumpet blast, to receive our heavenly due

Hallelujah, we shall say it once again!
Hallelujah and Amen…