Leviticus 25:23-38 (The Year of Jubilee, Part II)

Leviticus 25:23-38
The Year of Jubilee, Part II

The many systems set in place in Israel for land, property, the produce of the land, and the like, and which are set up for the care of the people are amazing. In studying these laws in order, and one at a time, we learn all kinds of intricate details about how things operated. But it’s hard to actually place ourselves into the story and really see how it all fits together. The people of Israel, though, would have lived them out, not one at a time, but all the time.

The feasts of Israel were lived out in a continuous fashion each year. The seventh Sabbath year would be a regular part of this cycle. Within that cycle, there would also be the annual tithe which the people set aside year by year. And from that, the tithe would be given away once every third year. This means that there would be two such tithe-years for each seven Sabbath year cycle, or even a third if the tithe-year fell on a Sabbath year.

But… if the two happened on the same year, then there would be no reaping of the land, and so how the tithe was collected is rather difficult to determine. And yet, the Lord set each one of these things down as a precept for the people to follow. If they simply followed what was required, and did as they were instructed, the amount of blessing that would come upon them would have been truly remarkable.

We can’t place our society into what the Lord mandated for Israel, and we cannot take the precepts of Chapter 25 and apply them to the functioning of our lives today. But it is such a unique system of ensuring stability that it is hard to simply ignore without giving a great breath of awe at what the Lord did for them.

In Israel, anyone who became poor had numerous ways of at least staying at a basic level, and even the ability to slowly work himself out of his pit if he was industrious enough. And eventually, even if that was just not possible, at the Year of Jubilee, he could once again reclaim his land and make a clean start of life all over again.

The laws of Israel found here would help considerably in relieving highs and lows of economic issues. Everything would be kept on a much more even keel because of the ingenious laws which are presented here. And someday, an even more perfect system will be introduced for the redeemed of the Lord. How good that will be.

In today’s world, we are all just one economic collapse away from disaster, and there is no true security to be found. Wealth is a house of cards that could come tumbling down with the next major correction. So let us not put our hope in a failed system of digital readouts and shaky land deals.

Text Verse: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints… Ephesians 1:17, 18

Israel is being told what they are to do with their inheritance once again in today’s verses. There are all kinds of interesting provisions to be looked into, and these are the laws that the people were bound to all their days. It was a regular part of life for them, just as it is for us when we go to buy a house. We don’t think of it, we just do as the law requires and that’s that.

But, if we consider buying land in another country, there is a lot of checking on what can and cannot be done. Failure to understand what one is getting into could end with a rather sad result. But such is not the case with the inheritance of the saints. There will be no catches, no hidden deals, and nothing that will bring about buyer’s remorse. When we receive our inheritance, we will be eternally grateful for the unmerited grace which has been poured out on us through the work of Another, through the work of the Lord.

How Israel could complain about the deal they got is a bit hard to imagine. They were given land, they were given it forever, and they need do nothing to keep it. If they sold it off, it would eventually come back to them. There was never a permanent lack for those in the land.

And so how much greater is our eternal inheritance! The possibilities of the universe itself are awaiting us. So don’t have fear that the future won’t be bright. It will, in fact, be dazzling. Until then, we are here, and we can look at what God did for Israel as an ingenious hint into what lies ahead for us. Let us be confident of our inheritance, grateful to our Lord, and willing to be attentive to the many lessons about such things which are 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. Redemption of Property (verses 23-34)

23 ‘The land shall not be sold permanently,

The Lord now reverts to the instructions from verses 14-17. He had explained that the exchange of property was based upon the number of crops to be expected until the next year of Jubilee. This counting was exclusive of any Sabbath years where crops could not be harvested for profit. To ensure that this was an understood precept, the laws of the Sabbath year were then expanded on in verses 18-22. Now the property laws continue to be explained.

Here, a special word is given which is translated as “permanently,” tsemithuth. It will only be used here and in verse 30 in the whole Bible. It comes from a root meaning “to destroy.” The idea then is that the people are not to excise themselves from what has been ordained in the original granting of land. In so doing, there would be a destruction of what was originally intended. In both uses of the word, it is prefixed by “to.” In other words, “The land shall not be sold to extinction.” And this is not without reason…

23 (con’t) for the land is Mine;

ki li ha’arets – “for to Me the land.” This sets the basis for all of the dealings with Israel, and any other group of people who would enter into the land. The Lord claims sovereign ownership over the land, and therefore, they have no right to permanently sell what is not theirs. They only have the rights to deal with the land as He lays out, but their rights go no further.

The words being placed here are a logical and necessary step in order for the next chapter to be introduced – that of the blessings and curses. The people had already bound themselves under the law, to include all such blessing and curses, but the issue of exile from the land becomes clear and understandable because of the placement of this chapter, and this statement – “for the land is Mine.” Israel is granted the land, but only so far as the Lord allows them to live in it. He is the Lord of the soil, and therefore, all land dealings are ultimately at His will, not Israel’s.

A beautiful example of fundamentally misunderstanding this precept by the people is found in Ezekiel. The only time Abraham is mentioned in the entire book, it is in connection with the land –

Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 24 “Son of man, they who inhabit those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one, and he inherited the land. But we are many; the land has been given to us as a possession.’ Ezekiel 33:23, 24

They remembered that their father, Abraham, had possessed the land despite being just one man. How much more then did they figure they had a right to possess it when there were many of them who had inherited the right to the land! But they failed to accept the whole scope of this tapestry. The land was given to Israel. When they were obedient, it was theirs and they could live in it. When they were disobedient, the land was theirs and they could not. It was theirs to possess, but not as an unconditional right.

23 (con’t) for you are strangers and sojourners with Me.

As Lord of the soil, Israel was (and is) a group of tenants at will. In failure to meet the requirements of this state, they gave up their right to dwell in their allotment. Again, all of this was with the intent of securing a set, and continuing, inheritance which would someday lead the people to the Messiah. It is a giant fabric of intricate weavings intended for that one, ultimate purpose.

24 And in all the land of your possession you shall grant redemption of the land.

With the things already addressed in mind, the concept of geullah, or redemption, is now introduced. It is a word which will be seen 14 times, but 9 of them will be in this chapter. To see the practice in action, the Lord will provide two examples of it – one in Ruth 4, and one in Jeremiah 32. Because the land is the Lord’s, and because the people are but temporary dwellers with right of use, redemption of the property was expected. This then works into the greater theme of redemption as is found in Christ Jesus. Here in Leviticus, truths are being relayed which go backward to the fall of man, and forward to the work of Christ.

25 ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor,

One of the very purposes of the land return in the Year of Jubilee was to avoid a permanent state of exactly what is detailed here, which is that a fellow Israelite become muk, or poor. This is a unique word, found only four times in this chapter, and once in Chapter 27. It comes from a root meaning “to become thin,” and thus it signifies being impoverished. By having a return of the land, it would balance out extremes of poverty and wealth. However, poverty could come between the Jubilees, and so provisions are made for such times.

25 (con’t) and has sold some of his possession,

When times of thinness arise, a man could sell some, or all, of his possession in order to alleviate his plight. In fact, it is the only reason given for actually doing so. Outside of poverty, the law presumes that each would retain his land. However, in such a case, it was not automatically lost until the Jubilee. Instead, the provision of geullah, or redemption, was to be adhered to by the new owner…

25 (con’t) and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it,

A relative of the poor man had the full right to redeem the land which was sold. This wasn’t optional, as if the new owner could say, “No, I want to hold onto it.” Rather, when a near relative presented the fee, the present owner was under obligation to sell back that which he held. This is the meaning of verse 24, “you shall grant redemption of the land.”

25 (con’t) then he may redeem what his brother sold.

The near relative had full right to reacquire that which had been sold away. In this is seen the germ of what is later explained by Paul concerning the work of Christ. Dominion over the earth had been granted to Adam, but he had lost his right. But Christ came, taking on flesh and becoming our near relative in humanity, in order to perform the redemption for us. In Luke 4 the devil said to Jesus –

All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” Luke 24:7

Jesus didn’t question the truth of the devil’s claim. Instead, He went about, using this very law given to Israel, to reclaim what had been lost. In the end, He prevailed –

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Matthew 28:18

The heavenly scene itself is found in the book of Revelation –

And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it.

So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” Revelation 5:1-5

26 Or if the man has no one to redeem it, but he himself becomes able to redeem it,

If a man found sufficiency to redeem the property on his own, then the law gave provision for that as well. This verse here presupposes that any human could have potentially reclaimed the title to what Adam lost, but the sad words of Revelation 5 show that such was not actually to be. No one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. The law gave the option nonetheless.

27 then let him count the years since its sale, and restore the remainder to the man to whom he sold it, that he may return to his possession.

The idea here is one of simple mathematics. How many years had passed since the sale, how many had it been in the purchaser’s hands, and how many years of crops were yet ahead until the Jubilee. In figuring these in, the mandatory sale price could be determined. There was no haggling, and there was no actual dispute. The rightful owner would receive the property back based on the law itself, and his ability to meet his requirements under it.

28 But if he is not able to have it restored to himself, then what was sold shall remain in the hand of him who bought it until the Year of Jubilee; and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession.

The words are obvious, but the beauty of them may be missed. The buyer of the land lost nothing. He paid for the crops which lay ahead, and nothing more. Therefore, he had received full for his purchase – be it five years or forty-five. And the one who had sold the land had received full compensation for the use of the land which he lost his right to during the time of absence.

However, with the coming of the Jubilee, meaning the sounding of the ram’s horn, the land returned to his hand once again. The playing field was level, and any time of poverty was potentially gone forever. Nobody became overly wealthy, nobody was permanently poor, and the government could not usurp the rights of the people because the law held final say over the entire matter.

29 ‘If a man sells a house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year he may redeem it.

As all Israel was given an inheritance of land, those who either built or purchased a house within a walled city had merited the right to that property. Human effort was involved in the process, apart from the grace of an inheritance. This is true with a house built on inherited land, but it is the land, not the house, which the Lord considers.

A city with walls was a place specifically designed to promote a different type of industry than that of agriculture. There are artisans, business dealers, smiths, and all of the other things life in such a city included. The walls are man made protection, and it is a place of human effort and endeavor. If a person owned a house within such a place, a set time of redemption could take place; one year. After that, the property would be forever transferred to the new owner without further encumbrance.

30 But if it is not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house in the walled city shall belong permanently to him who bought it, throughout his generations. It shall not be released in the Jubilee.

As the dwelling was never a gift of God in the first place, then it did not bear the mark of a permanent inheritance. Further, there was no danger in the confusion of tribes or families in the ownership of houses in walled cities. Because of this, such a transfer was given a set period of time to be reclaimed by the seller, but not a day beyond that. If after one year it was not bought back, the matter was settled forever. This verse has the Bible’s last use of tsemithuth, introduced in verse 23. Its use is permanently ended, and so with finality, we can bid it adieu.

31 However the houses of villages which have no wall around them shall be counted as the fields of the country.

A village without walls presupposes that the houses would be connected to the surrounding land for the purpose of agriculture. Instead of building a house on each piece of land like often occurs, some villages are started with the set purpose of community where the inhabitants daily went out to work the land of one’s inheritance. It is generally accepted that the later addition of walls, for protection or for some other reason, would not change the nature of the tie between the house and it’s acreage.

31 (con’t) They may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the Jubilee.

Such houses were a part of the landed property which was given as grace at the original inheritance, they were necessary for reasonable cultivation of the land, and they were therefore released along with the land at the Jubilee, reverting to the original owner.

32 Nevertheless the cities of the Levites, and the houses in the cities of their possession, the Levites may redeem at any time.

Despite the book bearing the name of Levi, the only time that the tribe is mentioned by name in the entire book of Leviticus is here in verses 32 & 33. Their homes, even in walled cities, are a special exception to the rule for the redemption of houses. The reason for this is because the Levites were to have no inheritance of land among the people.

They were given forty-eight cities, scattered around Israel, as their dwellings. And instead of land to work, they were to be given the tithes of the common people as their inheritance. Thus their livelihood was far from being a guaranteed abundance. Instead, it was one which depended on the obedience of the people to the precept of the law which mandated the tithe. Further, if the crops of the land failed, the Levites would bear the weight of that loss as heavily as anyone, maybe more so.

As these things were true, this was as much a protection from permanent poverty as is the redemption/release of land for the common people in Israel. The Levite’s homes, despite being in walled cities, were considered just as landed property to all others. They possessed the full right of redemption at any time.

33 And if a man purchases a house from the Levites, then the house that was sold in the city of his possession shall be released in the Jubilee; for the houses in the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel.

Talk about a complicated verse – both in Hebrew, and in scholarly commentary. The Hebrew of this verse is so difficult, that the variety of translations which come from it are numerous. The first clause is not speaking of a purchase, but of the ability to redeem. It’s hard to be dogmatic, but of all of the translations, the Holman Christian Standard appears to have caught the intent –

Whatever property one of the Levites can redeem–a house sold in a city they possess–must be released at the Jubilee, because the houses in the Levitical cities are their possession among the Israelites.” HCSB

The sale of land in Israel is tied to the produce of the land. Because the houses of the Levites are tied to the produce of the land, meaning the reception of tithes, then for the Levite the house itself is what possesses the value. It might logically follow that the sale of the house of a Levite would be based on the same criteria as for that of land – how many years until the Jubilee, how many Sabbath years should be deducted, and so on.

The division of the tithes among the Levites would be according to the amount received from the surrounding farms of the Israelites. Remember, the Lord is their inheritance, and all land belongs to the Lord. We must always consider how verses point to Jesus.

34 But the field of the common-land of their cities may not be sold, for it is their perpetual possession.

Here comes a new word migrash, or common-land, which will henceforward be quite common. It signifies pasture land. Numbers 35 will detail the measurement of land reserved outside of every city of the Levites to be used as common land. This land belonged to the city and its inhabitants in perpetuity.

Because it belonged to all within, no individual had the right to sell a portion of it. Nor could the city as a whole opt to sell any or all of it, because it didn’t belong to them any more than it belonged to their posterity. Therefore, it could not be sold in part or in whole. The word migrash comes from another word, signifying driving, or casting, something out. Therefore, this land was for the driving of herds which belonged to the Levites within.

The land is mine, and I give it to you
It is for your use, for life and prosperity
In following My laws, you are to remain true
You are to deal with this land in all sincerity

Each precept given is done so with intent
You are to adhere to My word in all dealings of the land
Under My care is found this special arrangement
Each precept is pure, and so follow each command

In the redemption of the land there is much more
There are hints of the Messiah promised long ago
What He will do has been anticipated since ages before
But in the days yet ahead, through Him, redemption I will bestow

II. Care for the Poor Brother (verses 35-38)

35 ‘If one of your brethren becomes poor,

The law of slavery, including Hebrew servitude, follows on to the end of the chapter, but before the commands concerning that are given, we have these four verses which are provided to preclude that from being necessary if at all possible. The words are speaking of Hebrews only, and if following this verse in the KJV, a pen and ink correction of their translation is required.

In this first clause, the individual is identified as “one of your brethren.” It is referring to the redeemed people of Israel. If one of them becomes poor, the Lord would desire that they have their plight corrected. He further defines what this means…

35 (con’t) and falls into poverty among you,

The Hebrew here is idiomatic, bringing in a new word, mot, or “waver.” A literal rendering would be, “and wavers his hand with you.” It gives the pitiful sense of someone who has lost the strength of his hand to simply support himself. Everything he touches falls into ruin. It seems obvious that such a person would have already attempted to rectify his lot by selling his inheritance until the time of redemption in the Year of Jubilee, but even that didn’t pan out.

Such a person is a perfect candidate for next selling himself into servitude in order to simply survive. If such occurred, he would be in that position until the time of release as well. In hopes of avoiding such misfortune and loss, a different course is sought out by directing the Israelites to be merciful to him…

35 (con’t) then you shall help him,

The Hebrew reads, “then you shall strengthen in him.” His hand has wavered without strength, and that is to be corrected by strengthening him with one’s own hand – building him up and meeting his needs. It is a verse of expected mercy towards the poor, wavering soul.

35 (con’t) like a stranger or a sojourner,

ger v’toshav – “stranger and sojourner.” The KJV incorrectly inserts the words, “though he be a stranger or sojourner.” The first clause has identified him as brother, meaning an Israelite. It should only say, “as a stranger and a sojourner.” In other words, in Leviticus 19 it said –

And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. 34 The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:33, 34

The law has already shown that Israel was to provide for the stranger or sojourner among the people. How much more willing then, should the people be to help out a brother who has fallen on great misfortune. His loss of land has put him in the same state as any stranger among the people, and maybe even in a worse state. Israel is being instructed to open their hand to such a person. To fail to do so would be a flagrant disregard for the high moral principles of the law towards one’s fellow man.

35 (con’t) that he may live with you.

To keep him from unnecessary servitude, and to ensure that he could live among the people and be a productive citizen, every means of help possible should be made available.

36 Take no usury or interest from him;

Two words are used in this clause – neshek and tarbuth. Neshek has already been seen in Exodus 22:25. It indicates interest on money, and literally means “to bite.” Just as a snake bites, causing pain, so interest is something which bites at another. This was forbidden in any amount on money lent to a fellow Israelite, and it was allowed in any amount when lent to a non-Israelite.

The second word, tarbuth, is introduced here and will only be seen one more time. It signifies “increase.” It comes from ravah, which means “to multiply.” Hence this is a multiplication of something. What is generally believed is that unlike usury which is interest on money, this is a type of interest on goods. In essence, “I will give you a bushel of wheat, but you must return one and one half to me when return payment is made.”

A passage which deals with exactly what is forbidden here is found in Nehemiah 5:1-13. The people mistreated one another, charged usury, and caused great consternation to arise in those who returned from exile, and who had hoped to start anew in the land of Israel.

36 (con’t) but fear your God,

v’yareta me-eloheka – “and fear your God.” The meaning of this phrase should be obvious, but because of the fallen world, we all have misconceptions about father figures, we all have misconceptions about our relationship with the Creator, and we all have misunderstandings about what it means to have a reverential fear of something.

An electrician, from the first day of training, is taught to fear electricity. And yet, from the first day of training, he is told that electricity is our friend. Both are true at the same time. It all depends on how one treats their friend. As an enemy, a guy here in Sarasota was working close to a high tension wire with a hammer. He lifted his arm back in order to make a strike and touched the wire with the hammer. The electricity went through him, and blew off his opposite hand.

As a friend, electricity gives us light, heat, cooling, fun on the internet, and a million other helpful things which make life convenient and more productive. And yet, if one lets his guard down, electricity can bring a quick end to it all. Had the electricity not blown that guy’s opposite hand off, it would have destroyed his internal organs and killed him.

The Lord is God. He redeemed Israel in order to show them good. He set them apart with many glorious promises and assurances. He also gave Israel these laws and precepts, to ensure they pay heed to what is right and good. The Lord is a friend to Israel, but the Lord is to be feared by Israel. To fear one’s God then, is to admit that He is in control, that He works by certain laws, and when those laws are violated, only disaster can be the expected result.

Even to this day, Israel has failed to see the significance of this truth. The simple lesson of electricity which they seem to understand and apply with all care, is held in higher esteem than the far weightier lesson of fearing God and holding reverence to His being. But not to be too down on Israel, the same is true with the church at large as well. Our lack of respect for the Lord, and His word, places us in a very scary position as a group of people.

36 (con’t) that your brother may live with you.

The words of verse 35 are repeated here again. The intent is that Israel would care for their financially weakened brother so that he could continue to live among them, and not under them. Should this course of action not be taken, the Lord would be displeased, and the man would become subject to the humiliating state of Hebrew servitude. For this reason…

37 You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit.

The two areas of increase which are explicitly forbidden are again noted. Neshek, or usury, and a new word which is very similar to tarbuth of the previous verse, marbith, again meaning “increase,” are both forbidden. No profit was to be made off silver or other commodities when helping out one’s neighbor. Instead, the people were to lend freely, and expect nothing extra upon return of the principle. And so, with a clear and precise statement as to why this was to be, the Lord closes out this short set of verses with a statement of perfect justification, beginning with…

38 am the Lord your God,

In all of our verses today, the only time that the word “God” has been seen is in these four verses about the poor, three times. And the name Yehovah, or “Lord,” likewise is only seen here. It is a clear indication that the Lord is tying in respect for His sovereignty over the people with tending to the poor among them. He begins this verse with ani Yehovah elohekem. He is Yehovah, and He is their God. They had agreed to this some time earlier when He appeared while giving the law. They had continued to agree to this at several times and in several ways. They had placed themselves under His authority and agreed to comply with His will for them – even in advance of all that would be said.

38 (con’t) who brought you out of the land of Egypt,

Therefore, after stating His name, He relays to them again the reason for obedience which he has given several times now. He says it is He, “who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” He ties His redemptive act of bringing the people out of bondage in with their need for full compliance on this. They were slaves, and He redeemed them from that slavery.

Now He is petitioning the people to act in a manner which reflects that same goodness through tending to those who have become poor. They were in double distress, and He gave them relief. When a brother among them is facing his own distress, they are to act in a manner which emulates their God. They are to extend to him a hand of relief. This is actually reflected in his next words…

38 (con’t) to give you the land of Canaan

Not only did he redeem them out of slavery, but his did it with a goal in mind. He would lead them from slavery to Canaan. This is the third and last time that Canaan is to be seen in Leviticus.

The name Canaan has several possible meanings. One is “a merchant.” Another is “servant.” But the word itself is derived from the word kana, which signifies to humble. It comes from a primitive root signifying “to bend the knee.” This gives the sense of bringing into subjection. Therefore, at least for the immediate context, we can see that a hint is being given with His mentioning the name of the place here.

A brother been humbled, and the Lord is asking those of His people who see this to act in a humble manner and show him kindness. In humbling themselves, it is a sign of agreement that they were once humbled, and they are now looking favorably upon one who has found himself, once again, in such a lowly state.

They had done nothing to merit redemption from Egypt, and they had done nothing deserving of entering the land promised to them. Each step has been an act of grace, and so they were to acknowledge this, and to display every level of kindness to one another, thus reflecting that which they had been granted.

*38 (fin) and to be your God.

Not only is He their God, but He promised to be their God. His care over them would not end at the border of the land, but it would extend into the land itself, and it would extend for all times from that land. To be their God signifies prosperity, blessing, protection, security, and so much more. The promises of the Lord would all be realized for Israel when they paid heed to His word. In these verses are some of the most fundamental words of what it means to reflect His kind and gracious nature, and this is what He expected of them.

The Lord’s care for the poor of Israel extends today for His attentive care for the people of His beloved church. Though at times, the Lord may appear distant or uninterested in our affairs, that is the furthest thing from the truth. He didn’t come and walk among Israel in order to simply experience what it felt like to walk, talk, and laugh.

God knows all things, and so He already knew what it meant to do those things. He doesn’t need experiential knowledge in order to know, He just knows. Every smell of every flower was designed by Him, because He knows. The reason He came to dwell among us, is because without Him doing so, there would be no redemption of man. It was theologically necessary for Christ to come as a Man in order to redeem us.

And, it was necessary that when He did, that He would need to die as a man in order for the redemption to come about. Otherwise, there would never be access to God’s paradise. Instead, there would be only separation and condemnation. The coming of Christ shows us that God is not at all uninterested in us. Instead, He is minutely interested in us – to the finest detail of our existence.

If you come to Leviticus, and find anything but absolute attention to the plight of fallen man, you have missed the big picture. This chapter on the Year of Jubilee, and every other chapter found in this book as well, keeps showing us the wonderful truth that God is there, that God cares, and that He has it all figured out. Be of good cheer, and know that what Leviticus points to is one very good end for the people of God. But each step is given in order to get us there. The Year of Jubilee and all that it entails is a marvelous part of that walk.

I would hope that if you are out there struggling with theology, burdened with trying to cross every t and dot every i, that you will step back and take a breather. There is one gospel, it is very simple to understand, and its effects in your life are eternal. Let me tell it to you now. Then, you can work on all the t’s and i’s you want. But first, know that the necessary ones have already been handled for you by God. He sent Jesus.

Closing Verse: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”’ Revelation 2:7

Next Week: Leviticus 25:39-55 It’s all about freedom and liberty, you see (The Year of Jubilee, Part III) (48th 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 Property and the Poor

The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine
For you are strangers and sojourners with Me
———-please understand
And in all the land of your possession
You shall grant redemption of the land

If one of your brethren becomes poor
And has sold some of his possession, so you are told
And if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it
Then he may redeem what his brother sold

Or if the man has no one to redeem it
But he himself becomes able to redeem it
———-No longer facing depression
Then let him count the years since its sale
And restore the remainder to the man to whom he sold it
———-that he may return to his possession 

But if he is not able
To have it restored to himself, so you see
Then what was sold shall remain in the hand
Of him who bought it until the Year of Jubilee

And in the Jubilee it shall be released
And he shall return to his possession
———-His time apart from it shall be ceased

If a man sells a house in a walled city
Then he may redeem it, so I submit
Within a whole year after it is sold
Within a full year he may redeem it 

But if it is not redeemed within the space of a full year
Then the house in the walled city shall belong permanently
To him who bought it, throughout his generations
It shall not be released in the Jubilee 

However the houses of villages which have no wall around them
Shall be counted as the fields of the country
They may be redeemed
And they shall be released in the Jubilee

Nevertheless the cities of the Levites
And the houses in the cities of their possession, so I say
The Levites may redeem at any time
It shall always be this way

And if a man purchases a house from the Levites
Then the house that was sold in the city of his possession
———-shall be released in the Jubilee
For the houses in the cities of the Levites
Are their possession among the children of Israel
———-as stated by Me

But the field of the common-land of their cities may not be sold
For it is their perpetual possession; so you have been told

If one of your brethren becomes poor
And falls into poverty among you, sad but true
Then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner
That he may live with you 

Take no usury or interest from him, this you shall not do
But fear your God, that your brother may live with you 

You shall not lend him your money for usury
Nor lend him your food at a profit; such shall not be

I am the Lord your God
Who brought you out of of Egypt the land
To give you the land of Canaan and to be your God
So these things you are to understand

Lord God, in Christ the world has been redeemed
Our faithful Brother came and dwelt among us
When all hope was lost, or so it once seemed
You sent Your Son to purchase us back; thank You for Jesus

And so help us to remember this thing that You have done
Help us stretch forth our own willing hand
Help us to be gracious to each and every one
Soften our heart, and help us to understand

When the need is seen, may we not be slack
But give willing hearts to every one of us
Not because we must pay some debt back
But because of gratitude for our full redemption, found in Christ Jesus

And may this bring You glory now and forevermore
While we praise You here, and also upon that heavenly shore Hallelujah and Amen…

Leviticus 25:8-22 (The Year of Jubilee, Part I)

Leviticus 25:8-22
The Year of Jubilee, Part I

The Year of Jubilee as detailed in this chapter is filled with enough exciting details, and enough references pointing to a fulfillment of its precepts in Christ, that one would think what is detailed here would be sufficient to be a valid and remarkable passage all by itself. For the most part, everything about the year is recorded right in this chapter. There are a few references to it elsewhere, but there is little else about the year than what is found here in Chapter 25.

Unfortunately, like other passages which people manipulate in order to sell books or tickle the ears, the same is true with this passage as well. One of the popular teachings on this is the cycle of Jubilees going back to creation itself. This is based on a book known as The Book of Jubilees, otherwise known as “Little Genesis.” It is a pseudepigraphal book, written about the 2nd century BC, and which claims to follow sets of Jubilees, or periods of 49 years, from creation and which continue throughout history.

From this, modern writers have developed an entire theology on the years of Jubilee in order to predict when things will happen in the future. In other words, they are practicing divination and calling it Christianity. There are a few problems with this. First, among them is that the year of Jubilee was initiated by the Lord, through Moses for when the people entered the land of Israel. The Book of Jubilees has nothing to do with the truth of the Bible.

Secondly, nobody knows when the first Year of Jubilee was observed, or if it actually was ever observed. The Bible says nothing about its observance all through the rest of its pages. Third, as this Year of Jubilee cycle only pertains to the land of Israel, the question is, “Do years of Jubilee continue on during periods of exile?” No. It cannot be. The purpose of the Jubilees is restoration. That can’t occur during exile. For these reasons, it is absurd to try to attempt to guess what year a Year of Jubilee would be. We have no starting year, we have gaps in Israel’s time in the land due to exile, and Israel isn’t observing these cycles now that they are back in the land. If you’re curious about whether the books out there on this subject have even a hint of truth in them, I will tell you – they don’t. Save your money and try reading your Bible.

Forth, the year of Jubilee points to Christ and His work. It is fulfilled in what He has done. Therefore, the prophetic picture of what this year looked forward to is over. There is no expected future fulfillment of it scheduled, just expected results because of His completed work.

Text Verse: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1

Paul says that the law is a yoke of bondage. Its principle sign was that of circumcision. The one thing, above all, that made a person show that he was an adherent to the law was that of circumcision. But in Galatians, Paul eviscerates the argument that we somehow need to be circumcised in order to be pleasing to God. In fact, he argues vehemently against it. In the very next verse he says that for those who get themselves circumcised in order to show off their religiosity, to them Christ profits nothing.

Instead of drawing nearer to God, they fall from grace, become a debtor to the entire law, and stand condemned before the law. In order to avoid that legalistic trap, he tells us to stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free. He has freed us from all bonds and chains. The captives have been set free. Let us trust in this, and learn what it means to observe the Year of Jubilee in Christ, who is our freedom.

These are the things we will hope to accomplish in the next few sermons which comprise the rest of Leviticus 25. It is a great passage waiting to be unwrapped, and that is because it points to a great, great Savior. 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. Restoration – As It Was, So Shall It Be (verses 8-17)

‘And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself,

With these words, a new development is introduced, but it is still following the same overall theme which was initiated in verse 1. There, the Lord spoke to Moses. With no new introductory statement, what will be presented continues the same theme.

Here we have the same type of synecdoche which was found in verse 23:15. The term, shabetot shanim, or “sabbaths of years,” signifies “weeks of years.” The single Sabbath stands for the whole. And so the people are being instructed to build upon what was described concerning the Sabbath years in verses 1-7. There was to be a remembrance of the Sabbath years, because they were to lead to a greater event after the observance of seven of them.

This then finds a parallel in the Feast of Weeks of Leviticus 23. There was a particular Sabbath, after which came the Feast of Firstfruits. From the day after that Sabbath there was a counting of “seven Sabbaths” which would bring the people to another particular day, thus commencing the Feast of Weeks. The same pattern, but in “sabbaths of years,” is to be seen here.

(con’t) seven times seven years;

This explains the meaning of the previous words. A “sabbath of years” is a period of seven years. That amount is then to be multiplied by seven of these periods.

(con’t) and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years.

The pattern here follows directly along with that of the Feast of Weeks. But instead of days leading to weeks of days, it is years leading to weeks of years. There was to be a counting of seven sets of sabbatical years, totaling forty-nine. At the end of this period of time, the Lord next directs Moses concerning what is expected…

Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee

The “trumpet” referred to here is the shophar. It signifies a cornet or a curved horn that gives out a clear sound. The word comes from shaphar, which signifies beautiful, as in fair or comely. It was first seen in the sounding of it in Exodus 19 & 20 at the giving of the law, and it has not been seen since. Further, this is the last time it will be seen in the Pentateuch. Curiously then, the shophar ushered in what began the law, and the shophar is used to signify that which reveals the ending of the law as well.

The word translated here as Jubilee is teruah. It was first seen in Leviticus 23:24, and it signifies a shout or blast of war, or of alarm, or of joy. In the case of this sounding, it is to be one of great joy. This in turn is from rua, which gives the idea of splitting the ears with sound, such as in a great shout or sounding. The note was to resound throughout the land. The Hebrew words are literally translated then, “Cause to resound the shophar of loud sound.”

(con’t) to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month;

This time is one-half way through the year of the redemptive calendar which started each year in the springtime. However, it is the first month of the creation, or civil, calendar. It is on the tenth day of the seventh month, which is the same day as…

(con’t) on the Day of Atonement

b’yom ha’kippurim – “in day the atonements.” It is plural. On the most sacred day of the annual calendar, the day which the people’s sins were atoned for, and full restoration with the Lord was granted for their many sins, they were to observe this special sounding of shophars. This rather clearly shows that the true liberty, which this year of liberty looks forward to, could only take place after the atoning sacrifice of the Lord.

(con’t) you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land.

The blast of the shophar was to be heard everywhere, meaning that it was a directive for every locality to be prepared to sound. It may even be that every man would be asked to blow his own shophar if he possessed one. The reason for this will become obvious, but in short, the day would affect everyone, and so everyone should be reminded by hearing it.

10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants.

One of the most difficult aspects of this observance to pin down is the meaning of “the fiftieth year.” Scholars note that it is the forty-ninth year, and therefore some say the cycle is actually only forty-nine years, and is simply rounded up to the number fifty. But that doesn’t square at all with the intent of the passage.

But the fiftieth year, if using the redemption calendar, doesn’t begin until the spring. So how could the freedoms mentioned be proclaimed here, and yet not take effect until the next spring? If the Sabbath year cycle was based on the creation/civil calendar, meaning beginning in this seventh month, then it would make more sense. But why then call it the seventh month? In short, it would be to maintain consistency of what each month was for the standard, redemptive calendar. If you’re confused, don’t worry. For 3500 years, this has confused the reader, and it remains a complicated part of the law.

Regardless, the fiftieth year was to be considered as one consecrated, or set apart, as one of liberty. The word deror is used here. It has only been seen once, in Exodus 30, to describe the liquid myrrh of the holy anointing oil. It means, “free flowing.” The myrrh flowed freely from the plant, rather than it being cut to induce flow. Such is the idea here – spontaneity of outflow, and thus liberty. The word won’t be used again in the books of Moses, but it will be referred to in Isaiah 61, Jeremiah 34, and Ezekiel 46 – all in relation to this chapter’s instructions.

10 (con’t) It shall be a Jubilee for you;

The word translated here as Jubilee is not the same as verse 9. It is yobel. It signifies the ram’s horn as an instrument, and thus the festival which the ram’s horn introduces. Literally, the verse reads, “It shall be a ram’s horn for you.” The horn stands in place of what it accomplishes. Yobel comes from yabal, meaning to bear along, or lead. As the ram’s horn is given a long continuous blast, carrying along its message, so the Jubilee is introduced.

10 (con’t) and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.

Two separate aspects of freedom are given in these words. The first is freedom of land, and the second is freedom of person. This is to demonstrate to the people two fundamental truths: 1) It is the Lord who was the true owner of the land, and 2) that it is the Lord who is the true owner and possessor of their souls. Notwithstanding their temporary ownership of either land or person, in the end, the Lord is ultimately who all were accountable to – from the poorest inhabitant, to the king in Jerusalem.

In a greater regard then, it is a year of restoration. On the Day of Atonement, the people’s sins and uncleanness were covered over, thus restoring them to a right relationship with Him. Likewise, this fiftieth year was intended to undue all of the entanglements of life which come through human interactions. By granting this year, things were brought back to the original state at the beginning of their time in the land. The verses from 11-34 deal with the first half of the equation, the land as the Lord’s possession. From 35-55, the subject of people as the Lord’s possession is then explained.

11 That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you;

It is again clear that this is not a number simply rounded up from forty-nine, but rather it is speaking of the fiftieth year. The forty-ninth year was a sabbatical year without sowing or reaping. That was made explicit in verses 1-7. Now that is to be repeated…

11 (con’t) in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine.

As in verse 5, the two commands are again given. The admonition to not reap what grows of its own accord means to reap for the sake of a harvest, including storage. Rather, they could reap it for individual consumption only. And further, anyone could do so. The land was totally freed up for any and all. Likewise, the grapes of the Nazirite, meaning the untrimmed vines were not to be gathered. Again, this means “gathered as a harvest.” They were to be left as common food for any and for all. Here again we see the truth that Yehovah is the Lord of the land. Its soil, its growth, its harvests, the dwellings, the seasons it enjoys, the roads where people walked – everything ultimately belongs to Him. He has the final say, because He is the ultimate Authority to be deferred to.

12 For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.

This is also a repeat thought as for that of the Sabbath year. As a yobel, or Jubilee, the produce of the ground was consecrated as holy. Therefore, people could go out to the fields and remove what was needed for the day, but they were not to store up the produce as one would in a year of harvest. The Lord had promised to provide, and the people were to trust in His provision, and to confidently gather that which they needed. It is almost a year long reminder of the times when the manna was given. The people were to gather and trust, and on the seventh day, to rest.

If we just stop here for a moment and contemplate what is going on, we can then see why this is so important. There is an amazing and intricate cycle of life which is being presented in these days and years of remembrance. They begin with the Sabbath day which is consistently held as the great reminder of God’s creative and redemptive hand among the people. Each time the Sabbath has been presented since Exodus 16, it has given us one insight after another into the accomplished work of the Lord, and in the coming work of Christ.

From the Sabbath day, came the Sabbath-month, the seventh month, which detailed the three fall feasts. Christ’s birth into humanity, His atoning death, and His dwelling among and in His people were highlighted in these feasts. And then from there came the Sabbath year. It looks forward to a time when the Lord would tend to the people’s needs apart from any work. They could rest in Him and find that He will provide for them apart from their effort.

And those Sabbath years were to accumulate into the great year of Jubilee where debts would be released, properties would be restored, the land would produce on its own, and captives would be set free. A total restoration of all things was prefigured in this great year of Jubilee. It is reflective of the words of Paul concerning our position in Christ now –

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

But our position in Christ now is only an anticipatory taste of what will be realized in its fullness at the restoration of all things. Christ Jesus’ words found in Revelation 21:5 reflect this –

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” 

If we look at the Sabbath year as picturing the Millennium where man rests from his striving with God, we can look at the Year of Jubilee as a step beyond that, where total restoration of all things is realized. Each step of the Sabbath cycle is intended to elevate the people of Israel to an understanding that the Lord has something better awaiting His redeemed. The process must go through to its completion, but when it is accomplished, it will be glorious.

Think it through now with these sevens. The seventh day Sabbath acknowledges the Lord’s Creation and Redemption. The seventh month is an acknowledgment of His incarnation, atoning death, and dwelling in His people. The seventh year Sabbath anticipates His millennial reign. And the year of Jubilee anticipates total restoration of what was lost at the beginning. All of it, every detail looks to the Lord and His work in the grand plan of redemption. From the creation and fall,  each step is fulfilled in Jesus, until we are again in the presence of God.

13 ‘In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession.

Though seemingly a verse about reacquisition of land, the words here point directly to Christ. How so? It is because of this law of entailment that the people’s rights could never be taken away from them. The government or king had no authority to do so, the banks had no authority to do so, and the priests themselves had no authority to do so. The land belonged to the one, or his representative, to whom it originally landed.

The wisdom of the law led to meticulous preservation of the family registers as evidence to establish ancestral lines, and thus rights. And so, both the tribe and family of Christ were readily discernible at His coming. Pick up the scroll, look for the name, check the inheritance… wahlah! A potential for messiah can be confirmed –

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Luke 2:1-7

The ancestral scrolls would be used for many things, but they were maintained most especially because of the exacting and ingenious provisions of Leviticus 25. With these records destroyed along with the temple in AD70, a truth must readily be discerned from that fact… Messiah has come. No other biblical conclusion is possible.

14 And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor’s hand, you shall not oppress one another.

Four times in this chapter, the amith, or “neighbor” will be seen. The term doesn’t literally mean a neighbor, but a fellow of Israel in general. It is used only thirteen times total, and this is the last time it will be used until the book of Zechariah where its final use will be found in a prophecy about the Shepherd Savior, Christ. It is a word which is always used concerning dealings between two people which should be kept fair, and honorable.

To oppress one another would be to over-value the property by the seller, or to undervalue it by the buyer. There was to be only straight dealing between the parties as they agreed to a fair sale of the land. To avoid such a thing as much as possible, the Lord gives clear guidance for such sales…

15 According to the number of years after the Jubilee you shall buy from your neighbor,

When Israel finally gets back to the Land of Promise, they will divide it up by lot, and within territories set apart for each tribe. No land was to pass permanently from one tribe to the next. It was to forever remain a part of the tribe to which it was granted. However, if Al from Asher bought a plot belonging to Ned from Naphtali, unless it went back to its owner at the Jubilee, there would be mixture, and thus confusion in the land.

The possession of each family then was an inalienable right. But it could be sold temporarily. Therefore, the value would begin to be set based on the number of years since the last Jubilee. Thus Al would say, “The Jubilee was 21 years ago, and so I am buying the next 29 years of owner’s rights.

15 (con’t) and according to the number of years of crops he shall sell to you.

In turn, Ned would say, “Ok Al, my new friend and pal. There are 29 years left, and so I am going to sell you the land based on that.” But Al, knowing the law says, “Yes, Ned, but I can’t sow and reap on a Sabbath year. You need to first deduct those, I fear.”

The word for “crops” in this verse is tebuah. It signifies the produce of the land. As no produce was harvested on a Sabbath year, it was not to be counted in the reckoning of the sale. That was seen in Exodus 23, where tebuah was used to explain this –

Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.” Exodus 23:10, 11

The amount of expected produce, and the years when produce could be gathered were a part of dealing fairly and not oppressing a neighbor. Ned was looking like he might be taking advantage of things, but Al was not one to be easily misled. Unless Al can overestimate the size of the expected crop each year, the land will go for exactly what it is worth. Al refrains from any such fish stories, and a fair deal is transacted.

16 According to the multitude of years you shall increase its price, and according to the fewer number of years you shall diminish its price; for he sells to you according to the number of the years of the crops.

The sales price is not based on the land, but on what the land produces. Therefore, the number of, and expected size of, crops is what the sale is to be based on. In the end, the land belongs to the Lord. He has given it to a tribe and a family. Therefore, they only have the right to sell it for what it produces, and the buyer may only purchase those years of produce. If each year was worth 10 units, and there were 20 years left after deducting Sabbath years, then the price would be 200 units. If there were 30 left, the price would be 300 units, and so on.

What must be considered then, is that in buying the crops, there is the truth that if the Lord blesses the land, there will be an abundance of crops; a great deal for the buyer. If there is a famine, there will be minimal crops; a loss to the buyer. As it is the Lord who ultimately directs these, then one is actually placing his faith in the provision of the Lord. What is this picturing? Think it through – crops are a harvest. What are you willing to sew into the harvest which the Lord has set before you? How many will come to Christ because of your efforts?

17 Therefore you shall not oppress one another,

A completely different word is used than in verse 14. Rather than “oppress,” it should say “mistreat.” This then shows the gravity of the Lord’s words. In essence, “You have oppressed, and you have mistreated, and Me you did not fear.” The varying of the verb is its own type of warning that there will be consequences for violating a precept which should be held as sacred. And the reason for this is…

17 (con’t) but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.

Despite the rather long chapter, it being 55 verses long, the name of the Lord is used rather sparingly, only six times. And only three of them are in this declaratory form. Therefore, when He declares it, the words He speaks are to be taken to heart and carefully acted upon. This is especially true here where He begins with stating their God was to be feared, and that He is Yehovah their God.

Everything about the sale of the property is based upon the year of release. And the year of release is based upon the sounding of the trumpet on the Day of Atonement. The Lord’s forgiveness and covering is the key to initiate the entire process. Hence, to mistreat one another is to fail to recognize the Lord’s goodness over one’s own wrongdoing.

And yet, we as Christians have the full realization and the complete forgiveness of every debt in our lives in Christ, but we still mistreat one another, and we are unwilling to overlook being mistreated. If there is one truth seen time and time again, it is that Christians do a much better job of oppressing and mistreating one another than the world at large could ever hope to attain.

The Year of Jubilee, when all is restored
A time when things past are brought back again
Come and see, look to the workings of the Lord
What He has done for the sons of men

What was lost is now open for His redeemed
The marvel of Paradise stands before us
We were shut out forever, so it seemed
But then God sent… yes, God sent – His Son Jesus

And in His life and work all is made new
Heaven’s access for us is safely secured
Marvelous things for us God did do
In the sending of His Son, Jesus our Lord

II. Providing for the Sabbath Year (verses 18-22)

18 ‘So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them;

Although these words are certainly inclusive of all of the Lord’s statutes and judgments, they are more specifically intended to refer to everything in this chapter since verse 2. The people have been given specific commands, and the Lord expects them to be adhered to. Having said that, like the Sabbath year observance, there is nothing in Scripture to show that the people ever observed a Year of Jubilee. Like the failure to give the land its Sabbath rest, failing to observe the fifty year Jubilee was probably another of the multitude of reasons for the people’s punishment and exile. This can almost be inferred from the next words…

18 (con’t) and you will dwell in the land in safety.

This is something that rarely occurred. Times of peace are noted, but times of being hemmed in by enemies are as frequent as the next turn of the page. The people failed to heed the Lord, and the land was a very unsafe place. As a major land bridge between great nations, Israel’s only hope of not being entered and crushed was to act in accord with God who carefully placed them there.

When Israel danced, it was always on the edge of a very sharp sword, and this was intentional. There is a price for obedience, and there is a price for disobedience. The Lord need do nothing but withdraw His hand of restraint, and the enemies would come flooding in. And He withdrew His hand frequently over years and generations as a means of bringing them back to their senses, or as a way of punishing them for their failures. But when they were sensible and obedient, the Lord was faithful to perform His end of the bargain…

19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety.

Israel isn’t just dependent on border security. As a land bridge, this is surely true, but it was, and remains to this day, wholly dependent on the favor of the winds and rains as well. Unlike Egypt which received water all year long, and which can be drawn into canals for use during the low flow season, Israel is a mountainous land. When the rains come, they quickly flow down the hills and towards the lowest elevations, eventually heading out to the seas.

For crops to grow, rains would need to be on time and consistent. The obedience of the people implied conditions would be favorable for the land to yield its fruit, even to abundance. The people would eat their fill, and they would be content and safe as they did. In fact, this is one of the promised blessings found in the next chapter for obedience, the very first one in fact. The Lord promises by Himself that this will be true. But when a contrary attitude and a stiff neck was seen, correction came in fields which lay barren and unproductive.

Reading the Bible only from an agricultural aspect, at times one can almost tell when the people were obedient, and when they weren’t. But they could never say they weren’t warned. The law was received, the books were written, and Moses’ writings stood as a witness to them, and against them, that the Lord had spoken through him. What the Lord sought from them was faith leading to faithful obedience…

20 ‘And if you say, “What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?”

Here the Lord, through Moses, anticipates the most obvious question one could imagine. Though it is a question of very little faith, it is a valid one nonetheless for someone who simply had no comprehension of who the Lord really is. Thus, they are surely bound to ask, “What shall we eat in the seventh year?”

If there is no plowing and sowing because the Lord had forbidden these things, then where will the food for all the people come from? And even more, what about the animals, and the eighth year when seed would be so desperately needed for sowing that crop? If the people were restrained from sowing and gathering, how would these needs be met?

21 Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years.

This verse shows either the utterly ridiculous nature of the writings of Moses… or they show that what he wrote was relayed from a Divine source. No other option is even credible to consider. The people were to enter Canaan in just a few week’s time. It would be a short time after that for the first Sabbath-year cycle to begin. In due time, the proverbial proof would be in the pudding.

Really, only a lunatic or a democrat would promise a triple portion of something they had absolutely no control over at all. If this were not true, the result would be selecting a new leader while Moses lay at the bottom of a cliff, and there would not even be one Sabbath year observed. And so to make this claim, the Lord puts His own stamp of credibility on the leader he has selected. The fact that it would actually be forty years before they entered, and without Moses at that, makes no difference at all at this point in time.

The Lord has spoken, He has made the claim, and it was Moses who would have had to face the consequences if things did not progress as was originally assumed that they would. The promise then is actually a step greater than that of the giving of the manna to the people. In that, the people were told they would receive a double portion each Friday. They were further told that it would not fill with worms and stink like that of the other five days.

The miracle of the manna proved reliable, but this would require not just an extra portion. It would require one above that. It would have to be enough to carry the people through the Sabbath year, and into the next as well. To show the exemplary nature of the promise, the Lord says He wouldn’t just provide enough to get them started in the eighth, but it would carry them all the way through the eighth, a true and full triple portion…

*22 And you shall sow in the eighth year, and eat old produce until the ninth year; until its produce comes in, you shall eat of the old harvest.

Throughout the entire eighth year, there would be no need to eat what was harvested during the season. Instead, they would still be eating the grain of year six as the entire harvest of year eight was fully and finally being finished and gathered in. Here in this verse is a new word to close us out, yashan, or old. So, even though it’s a new word, it’s an old one at the same time. It indicates “old things” and it is rather rare, being seen a total of just six times, two of them being in this verse.

The miracle of this promise is so great, that the Lord will use the same precept again in the time of Hezekiah, king of Judah. When Sennacherib, king of Assyria came against Jerusalem, threatening to destroy it, the Lord gave a long and beautiful reply to Hezekiah’s prayers for deliverance. In that reply, He promised to handle the situation, and to give a sign to prove that His word was what accomplished the task. A portion of that reply said –

This shall be a sign to you:
You shall eat this year such as grows of itself,
And in the second year what springs from the same;
Also in the third year sow and reap,
Plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them.
30 And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah
Shall again take root downward,
And bear fruit upward.
31 For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant,
And those who escape from Mount Zion.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.’
2 Kings 19:29-31

Like the crops which had taken root downward, and which would bear fruit upwards for two full years, the people of Israel would likewise not be cut off. They would take root and bear fruit, all for the sake of the Lord’s glory, which Hezekiah had sought in his time of great distress.

And this is the point of the entire body of Scripture – the glory of God. Everything He did in creation and since creation is to proclaim His glory to His creatures, and to invite them to share in that glory as observers of His magnificence. The Year of Jubilee was given to Israel to demonstrate this glory to them, but it was also given to anticipate the coming of Christ who would take the shadow and make it substance.

Christ Jesus did just that. He gave release of the land, and He gave release to those held in captivity. The only bondage that remains is that of time. The redeemed of the Lord are, in fact, set free. But we must still await the time when that is realized. The sounding of that trumpet isn’t far off, and it is the blessed hope of those who eagerly await His appearing. May that day be soon.

The one thing about that Day though, is that there will be some who aren’t going. There is a dividing line in who will hear the sound of the shophar and go, and who will be ignorant of it and be stuck behind. The dividing line is what each individual has done about Jesus. It is, after all, all about Him.

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,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn, Isaiah 61:1, 2

Next Week: Leviticus 25:23-32 More great things about the Jubilee to sort through… (The Year of Jubilee, Part II) (47th 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.

The Year of Jubilee

And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself
Seven times seven years
———-just think of all the good times and tears!
And the time of the seven sabbaths of years
Shall be to you forty-nine years

Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee
To sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, let it resound!
On the Day of Atonement you shall make
The trumpet throughout all your land to sound

And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year
And proclaim liberty
Throughout all the land to all its inhabitants
It shall be for you a Jubilee

And each of you shall return to his possession, so shall it be
And each of you shall return to his family

That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you
In it you shall neither sow nor reap
What grows of its own accord
Nor gather the grapes of your untended vine
———-Whether just a few, or a whole whopping heap

For it is the Jubilee
It shall be holy to you
You shall eat its produce from the field
This is what you are to do

In this Year of Jubilee, please do heed and learn
Each of you shall to his possession return

And if you sell anything to your neighbor
Or buy from your neighbor’s hand
You shall not oppress one another
Rather in peace with him you shall stand

According to the number of years
After the Jubilee you shall from your neighbor buy
And according to the number of years of crops he shall sell to you
By the number of crops you shall classify

According to the multitude of years you shall increase its price
And according to the fewer number of years
———-you shall its price diminish
For he sells to you according to the number
Of the years of the crops, until they finish 

Therefore you shall not oppress one another
But you shall fear your God
For I am the Lord your God
Walk circumspectly therefore on this land that you trod

So you shall observe My statutes
And keep My judgments, so you are to understand
And perform them
And you will dwell in safety in the land 

Then the land will yield its fruit, so to you I tell
And you will eat your fill, and there in safety dwell

And if you say
What shall we eat in the seventh year…
Since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?
Pshaw, I am the Lord, so have no fear

Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year
———-despite your fears
And it will bring forth produce enough for three years

And you shall sow in the eighth year
And eat old produce until the ninth year, so I attest
Until its produce comes in
You shall eat of the old harvest

Lord God, we look ahead as yet
To the day when Christ comes for those already released
The moment is ahead, the hour is set
And we wait until the ticking clock has ceased

Until then, we thank You for our Lord Jesus
Who has restored the land and opened heaven’s door
Great things through Him, O God, You have done for us
And we shall exalt and praise You forevermore

Hallelujah and Amen…

Leviticus 25:1-7 (The Sabbath of the Land)

Leviticus 25:1-7
The Sabbath of the Land

The verses we will look at today are verses which require trust in the people of the land. They are being asked, even before entering into Canaan, to set aside one out of every seven years and not plant or reap anything at all. It sounds impossible to even consider.

It would be like the Lord telling any one of us that we were going to work six days and take off the seventh every single week. And then, we are expected to take off the entire seventh year as well. In essence, that comes out to almost two sevenths of one’s productive life not being dedicated to any work at all. Throw in the three mandatory pilgrim feasts, and more productive time is removed from the ability to earn. This would require real trust. It fits well with something a friend emailed me a while ago, and which he said I could use to open a sermon. He said –

A long time ago (no, not in a galaxy far far away) I decided to go for a walk to the store and thought I’d take my sweet little niece along. 7-11 was only about a quarter mile away, so not too far for a 3 year old. She put her little hand in mine and off we went. We began walking and got about a house or two from home and she points to the neighbor’s house saying, “Is that the store?” I say “No, no honey. The store’s way over that way,” pointing to where the store was. We get a few more houses along our way and again she points to the house we’re passing by and says again, “Is that the store?” Again I tell her that the store’s way over that way, pointing in the direction of the store. Instantly this VERY clear thought comes into my mind – It doesn’t matter at all that she doesn’t know where the store is. I do know where the store is. And due to love for her and a sense of responsibility I’m going to make sure she gets there. Also what occurred to me was that my grip on her hand is so much stronger and more committed to getting us there, that I could have dragged her there if need be. What came to me next was that God knows where I am, and His love for me is going to get me where He wants me. … He knows where “the store” is. I’ve felt so terribly lost in life and couldn’t understand why. With my best efforts I kept ending up with ashes. Frequently, a whole lot. I’ve simply prayed “God, please get me to the store.” It wasn’t like some sort of magic wand that suddenly made the sun come up but it was a bit of comfort IN the storm. I hope this will bring hope and comfort to someone feeling as lost as I have. Lastly, always remember that you can get a real good root beer Slurpee at 7-11 for about a buck.”

Text Verse: “My righteousness is near,
My salvation has gone forth,
And My arms will judge the peoples;
The coastlands will wait upon Me,
And on My arm they will trust.” Isaiah 51:4

Israel was being asked to trust the Lord. As you will see, they failed at this, but had they simply trusted, all would have gone well with them. The Lord doesn’t make idle promises, nor does He impose impossible standards. He is ever-faithful, and He will do right to those who trust Him as they should.

But more than just a set of odd laws which hardly seem relevant to anything that would concern us today, the laws of Leviticus 25 point to the Person and work of Jesus, and to His future kingdom. Because they do, we can look at these verses and see that the purpose of Israel was more than just following the rules of a now obsolete law. They were being used to show us that even better things lay ahead.

Like the Feasts of the Lord, and like so many other things which have been detailed thus far in the Bible, there is a greater meaning in the words and verses which we so often too quickly skim over. Rather, as always, wonderful 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.

The Sabbath of the Seventh Year

And the Lord spoke to Moses

The words, “And the Lord spoke to Moses,” indicate a new train of thought will now be introduced. It is a separate set of instructions entirely than that which has been previously presented. That whole section included the care of the Menorah and the Bread of the Presence, and it was followed up with the incident of blasphemy resulting in stoning to death the one who cursed.

Now, the Lord begins directions on the Sabbath of the seventh year, the Year of Jubilee, the redemption of property, and so on. Some scholars have commented on the error of placing this chapter here instead of placing it after the Feasts of the Lord. This is because the Sabbath of the seventh year, and the year of Jubilee are closely connected with the laws concerning the feast days.

But that is an illogical argument when considering how many things in the law correspond to other passages within the law, and which are not placed side by side. To attempt to align the law in this manner would completely destroy the harmonious flow which is revealed in a slow and methodical trip through it. We saw how well-placed chapter 24 actually was as we went through it.

Leviticus 25:1 begins a new Parashah, or reading of the law. In the synagogue, the Parashah is a weekly portion of Scripture which is read and commented on. Each Parashah has a corresponding passage from the prophets, known as a Haftarah. This Parashah’s corresponding passage is from Jeremiah 32:6-37. It is a passage which deals with the redemption of property, something which is described in this chapter of Leviticus.

1 (con’t) on Mount Sinai, saying,

The Hebrew is b’har sinai, literally “in mount Sinai,” but meaning, “in the region of Sinai.” The tabernacle has already been raised, and it is from the Most Holy Place, not from on Mount Sinai, that the Lord speaks to Moses. This was explained in Leviticus 1:1 with the words, “Now the Lord called to Moses, and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying…” Moses would receive instruction from the mouth of the Lord who dwelt between the cherubim.

Mount Sinai is the same place as Mount Horeb, but the name Sinai is used because it is given in anticipation of 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. As the things which will now be relayed to the people look forward to His sacrifice, the name Sinai is specifically given. Christ is the anticipation of everything we will see in the laws to follow.

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

The instructions are not given only to Aaron, which would indicate words of priestly law. Nor are they given to the congregation in general, as if they were to be conveyed only to the elders who would then act upon them on behalf of the people. Instead, as is often seen, Moses is to speak to bene Yisrael, or “the children of Israel.” They are words of law, and they are words intended for all of the people to know and carry with them.

In America, the laws for the transfer of property are maintained by the government, but they are generally known to all of the people. If the details need to be looked into, they are ready, available, and awaiting anyone who desires to view them. This is the idea of saying, “Speak to the children of Israel.” Further, as they are under the Law of Moses, the term “children” is appropriate. With the coming of Christ, the law is fulfilled and annulled. Those in Christ are termed not children, but sons. We have the full rights and inheritances that Israel did not possess. It is for this reason that the instructions of this chapter are so carefully recorded.

Children need direction in the matters contained here. Sons, because of the reception of their inheritance, have no such need for these earthly instructions which only anticipated Christ’s completion of what they picture. This begins to be seen with the next words…

(con’t) ‘When you come into the land which I give you,

The words here do not yet apply to the people. It is the fourth and last instance in the book of Leviticus where a law anticipates entry into the land. It will come into effect only at that time. However, they are words of guarantee. The Lord does not make this a conditional statement, “If I bring you into the land which I am thinking about giving you…” Instead, the Lord will bring them in, and He has given it to them.

And yet, of the adults who are alive at this time, only two of them will actually come into the land. All of the others will die in the wilderness. The actual intent is that they will continue to receive the law until the Lord has finished speaking, and then they will immediately journey towards the land. Their arrival should be marked in weeks, not years.

However, such will not be the case. Therefore, the words, “the land which I give to you,” speak of the nation of Israel, not merely the people whose ears happen to hear the promise. The land has been granted to Israel as a people unconditionally, but actually dwelling in it is conditional.

(con’t) then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord.

v’shabetah ha’arets shabbath l’Yehovah – “and shall Sabbath the land, Sabbath to Yehovah.” The Sabbath, or “rest,” every seven years is for the land, just as the weekly Sabbath is for the people. The weekly Sabbath reminded Israel that they were the Lord’s people, and were to rest in honor of Him, trusting in His provision from the week’s productivity. The seventh year Sabbath of the land was to remind the people that the Lord is the owner of the land, and they were to trust in His provision from the land. This Sabbath rest of the land was first mentioned to the people in Exodus 23 –

Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, 11 but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.” Exodus 23:10, 11

There are no special sacrifices or convocations designated for these Sabbath years, but it could actually be considered that the entire year would be a sacrifice. To not cultivate the land for an entire year would be an incredible leap of faith in the provision of God. The entire system to be announced is theocratic in nature. God is God, and the people were to trust Him as their Sovereign.

Because of this, He has directed each seventh year as a Sabbath to the Lord. As far as entry into the land, it is recorded in Joshua that the nation engaged in war for seven years before they were at peace. Therefore, this law now probably did not include those seven years. Further, it was another seven years before the land was wholly divided among the tribes. It is believed those seven years were also excluded. Therefore, if Jewish tradition is right, it was not until the 21st year after their arrival that this law would have been fully enacted, if it ever was actually enacted.

One of the reasons for exile of the people, is that they failed to honor their Sabbaths, including this Sabbath of the land. Jeremiah 25:11 & 12 said that the people would be exiled for seventy years to Babylon. This is then repeated in Jeremiah 29:10, and then Daniel refers to it in Daniel 9. This reason for these seventy years of exile is explicitly stated 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

Seventy years of Sabbaths comprises 490 years. Whether this is to be taken as literally that many missed Sabbath years, or whether it is cumulative for any and all that were missed, the one thing we do know is that no Sabbath-year observance is actually recorded in the Old Testament except in Nehemiah 10:31, a time after the return from Babylon. And that verse only promises that the Sabbath year would be observed henceforward. Nothing in Scripture after that is recorded as to whether it actually was observed or not. However, there are some extra-biblical references to this being conducted after the time of the return of the people from Babylon.

Six years you shall sow your field,

There was to be planting of crops for six years. The word “sow” here is zara, literally it is the sowing of seed. It is used when speaking of conceiving children as well, and so the sowing is in anticipation of a crop. A crop is in anticipation of a harvest. And a harvest is in anticipation of one’s daily bread. This cycle of sowing in order to have grain for bread was to be practiced for six years.

3 (con’t) and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit;

Here is a new word, zamar, or “prune.” It will be seen just twice in verses 3 and 4 and only once more in Isaiah 5:6. It is identical in form to the word zamar which is used many times in Scripture, especially in the psalms, to indicate singing praises. The words probably meet in the thought of how it is used in Psalm 33 –

Praise the Lord with the harp;
Make melody to Him with an instrument of ten strings.” Psalm 33:2

There the words, “make melody,” are translated from zamar. The idea then is that as one plays, striking the instrument with his hands, so the hand also strikes at the vine with a sort of clipping motion. It can be assumed then, that when the psalms speak elsewhere of singing praises to the Lord, it is normally inclusive of the playing of instruments.

In the words of this verse, there is the prescription that work is to be done – “You shall sow your field; you shall prune your vineyard and gather its fruit.” This is to be accomplished for six years. It is a positive mandate to actively work the land, sowing and reaping, as it produces. The word “fruit” here is intended to include anything which the land produces, whether it is grains, fruits, or vegetables. The people were to work towards their rest.

It is, like the week leading to the Sabbath, a picture of man working six thousand years towards his rest during the millennium. It was to be a time of productivity and diligence while waiting for a time of change in what is to be done. The land was given to them and it was to be used as they pleased, and with the intent of producing wealth and prosperity.

but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land,

This is the sixth and last time that the term shabath shabathon, or Sabbath of solemn rest is used in the Bible. Four times it speaks of the weekly Sabbath, once for the Day of Atonement, and now here concerning the seventh year of Sabbath rest.

The land was to be left completely at rest every seventh year, just as the people were to be completely at rest every seventh day. According to Exodus 23:11, the reason given says, “but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.”

No work of any kind was to be conducted in an agricultural sense for the entire year. Instead it was…

(con’t) a sabbath to the Lord.

shabath l’Yehovah – “Sabbath to Yehovah.” Although it goes unstated here exactly when this year of Sabbath rest commenced, it would have been during the seventh month around the same time as the year of Jubilee would commence each 50th year. That will be seen in verse 9. Some traditions say the Sabbath year began on the first day of the month. Remembering that there are two calendars – the Creation and the Redemption calendar, this would mean it is aligned with the first day of the first month of the civil, or creation, calendar.

No matter what, the entire year was dedicated as a Sabbath to Yehovah. At then ending of this special year, the law was to be read to all of the people during the Feast of Tabernacles. This is noted in Deuteronomy –

And Moses commanded them, saying: ‘At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, 13 and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.’” Deuteronomy 31:10-13

What we are seeing here is a marvelous reflection of the history of man’s time on earth as he works towards the millennium. Each of the redeemed of the Lord has his own responsibility of sharing Christ – sowing and reaping. The care of the person and the field they minister in will reap according to their efforts. But, in the millennium – meaning the last thousand-year period where Christ reigns, there will be no need to labor in this fashion as in the past.

Rather, like the people of Israel ceasing their labors, the world will rest in the Lord and what He provides for the people throughout that final dispensation. And instead of hearing the words of the law, the people will have the law issue forth to them, directly from the throne of Christ from Jerusalem. Isaiah describes it

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the Lord’s house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
And we shall walk in His paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
And rebuke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.” Isaiah 2:2-4

In type, this “Sabbath to the Lord” is an anticipatory look ahead to the rest which is coming after the first six thousand years of man’s history on earth. In the final thousand years, often called the millennium, there will be a different order of things. Again, Isaiah prophesies concerning this millennial reign of Christ –

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

His delight is in the fear of the Lord,
And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes,
Nor decide by the hearing of His ears;
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist.

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.

10 “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.” Isaiah 11:1-10

This millennial reign of Christ is also mentioned six times in Revelation 20. It will be a time when Satan is bound and the people of God will reign with Christ for a thousand years.

(con’t) You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.

The words here, as explained already, include all cultivation of any kind, including fruit trees, vineyards, crops, and etc. No such work was to be done during this entire seventh-year period. And in the millennium, there will be rest on earth as Christ provides all that is spiritually necessary for His people.

What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap,

A new word, saphiyakh, is found here. It will be seen just five times. It comes from the word saphakh, which gives the sense of attachment, or cleaving to. Here is signifies that which fell out by itself, and then roots and grows of itself. Any such plant was not to be reaped by the owner of the land. In essence, the very soil of the earth was not really considered his own property, but it is the Lord’s, and its produce was left for any and all to benefit from.

The same word is used in the memorable passage when the Lord spoke to Hezekiah. Jerusalem was hemmed in by Sennacherib, king of Assyria, and in order to reassure Hezekiah that he would be delivered, a portion of the Lord’s words said –

This shall be a sign to you:

You shall eat this year such as grows of itself,
And the second year what springs from the same;
Also in the third year sow and reap,
Plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them.
31 And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah
Shall again take root downward,
And bear fruit upward.
32 For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant,
And those who escape from Mount Zion.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 37:30-32

The idea there is one of Hezekiah trusting the Lord’s word and accepting that His provision would be sufficient for the people. It is the same idea found here in Leviticus. The people were expected to trust the Lord and to not violate the precepts being laid down now.

(con’t) nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, 

v’eth inebe nezirekha – literally it says, “and (the) grapes of your Nazirite,” and thus, “the grapes of your consecration.” It is the same word used to describe the Nazirite in Numbers 6. Just as the Nazirite was set apart, or consecrated to God with the sign of his consecration being hair which was uncut, so the vines were consecrated to the Lord, and remained uncut throughout the seventh year. Instead of being cut, all of the productive power of the hair, or the vine, was consecrated solely to the Lord.

(con’t) for it is a year of rest for the land.

Rest means “cessation from labor.” This is the intent of the passage. The land was to be at rest, and no works were to be employed to bring about the produce of the land. Rather, the land would yield naturally apart from man’s efforts.

Everything about this seventh year is emblematic of the coming millennial reign of Christ. The, saphiyakh, or grain which falls and grows of its own accord is the natural growth of humanity who are spiritually nourished by the Lord, directly and without the need of man’s intervention.

The Nazirite, or consecrated vine, is one which has been left to produce on its own. It is set apart to God, and what it bears is solely the produce of the Lord. Again, man’s efforts are excluded. So it will be in the millennium. It is the Lord who alone will plant, water, and give the increase in that wondrous age to come.

And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you:

What this means is that whatever is produced of itself during the seventh, Sabbath, year was to be food for all the people. This seems contradictory to verse 5 which said, “What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap.” However, what that was saying is that no owner was to go out and actively harvest his land, reaping as they would on any regular year, as if the land was especially his own.

Instead, anyone – owner or stranger – could use the land without consideration of ownership. All had rights to the produce which grew of itself, rich or poor, native or stranger. The owner had done nothing to cause the produce to grow, and therefore, the owner did not have the sole right to reap it as a harvest.

In what is one of several anomalies found in the grammar of this chapter, not all of which I will highlight, the verses have been consistently speaking in the second person, singular. Suddenly, and for just one word, it switches to the second person, plural. That now immediately changes back to the second person, singular…

(con’t) for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you,

Taken with the previous clause, they together would read, “And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you (all): for you (singular), your (singular) hired man, and your stranger (singular) who dwells with you (singular).”

This could be dismissed as simply going from the general to the specific. In other words, first it is speaking of the general populace, and then the words are directed to the individual who is in a specific relation to what is being spoken of. But if we back up to verse 2, it is speaks to the people in the plural. From verse 3 until now, it is in the singular. And then suddenly it goes to the plural for one word, and then back to the singular.

This isn’t unique in the chapter, and there are several such anomalies. In the next verse, it will say b’artsekha, “in your (singular) land.” But in verse 9, it will say b’kal artsekem, “in all your (plural) land.” As I said, I won’t go through every such instance, but rather than dismiss this, I would personally find that it is referring to a prophetic look to the Lord’s millennial reign, and His authority, rights, and responsibilities during that time.

If you look at the words in this light, it does appear to show that distinction as one would think of what will occur during the millennium. Until the work of Christ was (or even now is) understood, the grammatical changes require a lot of guesswork as to why they are made. But in understanding the dispensational model, and what Christ will mean to the world in the future, the changes seem to take on their proper sense.

Whether this is correct or not, the words are not well followed through with in most translations. Because of this, unless you study the Hebrew, there is no way to see that this is occurring, and a lot is missed that would otherwise excite the mind which longs for the secrets of this marvelous gift, given to us by God.

*for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land—all its produce shall be for food.

The livestock are animals that are generally those tamed by man, and which are kept by man. The beasts are more specifically referring to the wild animals of the land. Not only was the produce to be the property of any person, it was also to be left for any animal. No person or beast was to be restricted from gathering or foraging from the Sabbath produce. What the Lord provided was to be for all alike.

That was already seen in the prophecy by Isaiah where he mentioned the wild and the tame beasts dwelling together and eating together. It will be a time of peace on the earth where there will be abundance, and none will be afraid of what was once a source of fear.

Verse 7 ends our verses for today, but before we close, one point that should be considered is that the things we have been looking at, and the words used to detail this special Sabbath year, have been given to show us hints of what lie ahead in Christ’s future reign on earth. However, Israel was actually asked to live this out year by year. As I said earlier, there is no record in Scripture that this was even done one time, but it appears to be implicitly stated in Joshua 24. There it says –

Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had known all the works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.” Joshua 24:31

There is no rebuke of Joshua for not meeting the law’s requirements, and so it is likely that he was faithful to ensure the Sabbath years were observed. At other times words similar to this are stated, and so it is likely that, even if temporarily, Israel would have observed this special Sabbath year, but due to the words given as the reason for Israel’s exile, it is certain that adherence to this would have been the exception rather than the rule.

Maybe the people simply distrusted the word of the Lord and couldn’t imagine that things would be as He said. Maybe at times they simply forgot or neglected the word of the Lord. But for whatever reason, they failed to obey this marvelous precept which He had given them.

And the funny thing is that on any year that they did obey, the Lord certainly would have kept his end of the bargain. They would have had plenty as promised, and they could have done other things at the same time. There are no restrictions on any other activities. If they wanted to take up basket weaving or learning to build houses, they could do so. In the Sabbath year, there could have been an explosion of technology as people were freed from the labors of the field and given the chance to invent, develop, and produce.

What I am saying is that it is the Lord who created us, and it is He who knows what is best for us. In taking one thing away, He will always provide something else. There will never be a gap when we trust in His provision. Rather, there will be something even better. It may not seem so at first, but through faithful obedience, each step will show us this, even to our final step. He will someday even take away our life itself. But in that, He will provide a life which is truly life. There are no lacks in God, except the lacks which we make when we fail to trust Him.

Faith in the Lord, means faith in His word. The two cannot be separated. We cannot say, “I have faith in Jesus,” and then logically say, “I don’t agree with that part of the Bible.” It is the Bible, and no other source, that reveals the Lord to us. If we refuse to acknowledge His word, we have a complete disconnect from who He is. That is why the word of the Lord is so very important. And that is why, in order to know that we are saved, we absolutely must accept what the word of the Lord says concerning salvation. It’s not difficult, but it is precise. And it is time for that message to be brought to your ears. Listen now, and we’ll be done in a sec…

Closing Verse: “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.” Amos 9:13

Next Week: Leviticus 25:8-22 Great stuff, I’m sure you will agree, my favored one… (The Year of Jubilee, Part I) (46th 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.

The Sabbath of the Land

And the Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying
There on Sinai, these words He was then relaying

Speak to the children of Israel
And say to them: Yes, according to this word
When you come into the land which I give you
Then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord

Six years you shall sow your field
And six years you shall prune
Your vineyard and gather its fruit
You can do this while whistling out a tune

But in the seventh year there shall be
A sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord
You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard
You shall do according to this word

What grows of its own accord
Of your harvest you shall not reap, please understand
Nor gather the grapes of your untended vine
For it is a year of rest for the land 

And the sabbath produce of the land
Shall be food for you:
For you, your male and female servants
Your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you too

For your livestock and the beasts that are in your land
All its produce shall be for food, so tasty and grand

O God, it is so good to come to Your word
To search it out for what You would of us expect
And in so searching we find our precious Lord
And in Him, only grace and mercy can we detect

For those who have trusted in Jesus
We have the surest hope of all
Magnificent, wondrous things He has done for us
Because upon His precious name, we did call

How can such love be, O God?
Surely it is exceeds heaven’s highest height
And so for sending Jesus we joyously applaud
Because through Him, all things are new –
———-Once again all things are right
Hallelujah and Amen…

Leviticus 24:10-23 (Recompense for and Offense)

Leviticus 24:10-23
Recompense for an Offense

Today we come to a story which seems to abruptly appear out of nowhere, and for no logical reason. The Lord has identified a host of things, the last three of which were the Feasts of the Lord, then the care of the lamps, and then the bread in the tabernacle. Now, suddenly, it introduces this passage. This is not unlike a similar account in Numbers 15. There, a person who violates the Sabbath will be introduced, and eventually executed. That appears right in the middle of laws and instructions as well. The placement of these is not arbitrary, but rather intentional.

In this case, feasts being followed by the care for the lamps and the bread, are detailed in order to show attentiveness to the Lord, day in and day out, week in and week out, and even throughout the year. But the name of the Lord is what identifies who He is. To defile the name of the Lord is to bring dishonor to Him. To allow this to be done and not punished on the first recorded offense would make any future punishment arbitrary and vindictive.

Therefore, either His name will now be sanctified among the people, or it would always be open to defilement upon their lips and in their lives. After this will come more calendar events, but this account must precede it in order for those events to be considered in their proper light. The Lord is God, and He is to be regarded as holy – daily, weekly, yearly, and throughout the years to come. Always and forever, the name of the Lord is to be held in the highest sanctity.

Text Verse: “Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek. And as they went through the cities, they delivered to them the decrees to keep, which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.” Acts 16:1-5

Was the Lord’s name only to be kept in honor and esteem by Israel, among those who were Israelites? Or was the honor of the Lord’s name to be sacred among all who dwelt among Israel as well, even if strangers? The answer is today’s lesson. In Acts, Paul saw something new in his young protege Timothy. He saw a person who was in the same category as the person in our sermon verses today, and yet he was to now be a representative to his own people, Israel. How could they ever be expected to respond to an uncircumcised half-breed when they were the possessors of the law, and the defenders of the Name?

And so as an expediency, Paul circumcised Timothy. In this, it would make their ministry for Jesus, the Name above every name, more likely to succeed among the Jews. Such ironic twists flow like rivers of gold through the pages of Scripture, and they together form a marvelous tapestry of God’s unfolding redemption of the people of the world. Jew, Gentile… we are all accountable to the Lord for who we are, for what we do, and for how we conduct our lives in His presence. This is a 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. Out of Egypt, but Not of Israel (verses 10-12)

10 Now the son of an Israelite woman,

Verses 10 & 11 of this account are the only time that the feminine adjective Yisreelith or “Israelite” is used in the Bible. The patronymic adjective Yisreeli, or Israeli, is also used here, and one more time in 1 Samuel. Thus, there is a stress on this connection which is being highlighted. The term is being used in opposition to “Egyptian.” It has been noted that the name of the mother is given, but that of the father is not, demonstrating that the son left Egypt with the mother, but that the father remained in Egypt. There is nothing to substantiate this. The name of the mother is given, as always, because it is relevant to the story. The name of the father isn’t. Further, it is that she is the Israelite, which is being stressed.

Whether the father is back in Egypt, or with the camp now, alive or dead, young or old, or whatever else – those things are irrelevant and are left unstated. Jewish tradition says that the father was the Egyptian slain by Moses in Exodus 2:11. Again, even if that was true, it is irrelevant to the story. The Bible is providing specifics to focus on, and so they are where our thoughts are to be focused.

10 (con’t) whose father was an Egyptian,

v’hu ben ish mitsri – “and who son (of) man Egypt.” The contrast here is made. There is Israel, and there is Egypt. He was of mixed race, but it is through the father that one’s line is reckoned. He was not a circumcised Hebrew, just as Timothy was not circumcised, despite having a Jewish mother. His father was a Greek. Only when he traveled with Paul among the Jews as an adult was he then circumcised. Having said this, what can be inferred is that this person chose to remain identified with Egypt even after the Exodus. How can we know this? Because in Exodus 12, it said –

“And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. 49 One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.” Exodus 12:48, 49

Because of this, it is without a doubt, that the son did not get circumcised, and he did not observe the Passover. He was simply one of the mixed multitude who joined Israel as they departed. Otherwise, he would have here been reckoned as one native of the land. This is further seen with the next words…

10 (con’t) went out among the children of Israel;

b’tok bene Yisrael – “among (the) children of Israel.” There are two different ideas of what is being said here. One is that it means he “went out of Egypt with the children of Israel.” The other is that he “went into the midst of the children of Israel,” meaning as a non-native, he came into an area of the camp where he was not allowed.

Those who were circumcised and accepted as a part of the congregation dwelt separately from the others. The latter seems the more likely. It is obvious that he went out of Egypt with Israel, but the opposition of the use of the terms Israeli and Egyptian seems to show that they were now identified as separate groups.

10 (con’t) and this Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel fought each other in the camp.

The word for “fought” is natsah. It is generally used to indicate contention or strife. When Korah rebels against Moses in Numbers 26, this is the word used. We could think of a loud shouting match with fingers pointed and faces flushed. Again, there are several Jewish traditions about why they came to this point. It is not worth repeating them, because the Lord hasn’t told us.

To insert something extra to the account would only muddy what we have been given. There are times when extra-biblical additions can be helpful, and there are times when they are not. There is nothing from those accounts which helps us to understand the overall intent of the passage. It is simply the case that the two fought. One is only the son of a Yisreelith, and one is a Yisreeli.

There is a contrast between the two, just as there was a contrast between Timothy and those he would have to eventually dispute with. This account perfectly explains why Paul circumcised Timothy even though he argues against such a thing vehemently in Galatians for Gentile believers. The Jews could no more accuse Timothy of being a foreigner after being circumcised, than they could say that the words of Exodus 12 were untrue. If asked if he kept the Passover, he could truthfully say, “Yes,” even if he had never sat down to a Passover meal. He had observed the true Passover found in Christ.

11 And the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the name of the Lord and cursed;

The word translated as “blasphemed” is naqav. It means to bore or pierce. It is used elsewhere to “designate or express by name” – either honorably or by reproach. The word “cursed” is qalal. It signifies to make light, trifling, curse, and so on. The words “of the Lord” are inserted by the translators, but are not in the Hebrew.

All it says is “ha’shem, the name,” not ha’shem Yehovah. The only time that the term ha’shem is seen when speaking of the Lord is in Deuteronomy 25:58 when it is used in conjunction with the Divine name, Yehovah. In verse 16, it will say, shem Yehovah, or “name Yehovah,” not ha’shem Yehovah, or “the name, Yehovah.” And finally, the reason for his stoning, as given in verses 14 & 23 is not blaspheme, but because he had cursed.

And so, there is debate as to whether he blasphemed the name of the Lord, or if he exalted the name of an Egyptian god. Even if the latter, which is actually probably correct, he is fighting with a man of Israel, for whatever reason, and he has sworn by the name of an Egyptian god, and then cursed. It would be a high crime to come into the camp and challenge the Lord by invoking an Egyptian god who had done nothing but suffer disgrace at the hand of the Lord when judgment fell upon Egypt.

11 (con’t) and so they brought him to Moses.

The plural indicates that the people understood that a major infraction had taken place. There may have been a discussion among the elders, or the people as a whole may have simply been so upset at what happened, that they manhandled him off to Moses. Moses’ name means, “He who draws out.” He will be the one to draw out from the Lord that which must be done through judgment.

11 (con’t) (His mother’s name was Shelomith

Names are always given for a reason, when given. Three more names are given now, asking us to translate them into meaning. We can know this, because the corresponding account for the Sabbath breaker in Numbers 15 doesn’t give anyone’s name except Moses and Aaron. Here, along with Moses, these are specified.

The name of the offender isn’t given. The name of the man he strived with isn’t given, only the name of the mother, Shelomith, is. The name finds its source in the word shalom. But one cannot get to shalom, or a state of peace, without correcting for any offenses. And an offense has been made. Shelem, a corresponding masculine noun, indicates a peace offering or a sacrifice for alliance or friendship. The name Shelomith looks to be the result of a feminine plural form of this. In this case, it would indicate intensity rather than a plural number. The only such feminine derivative found in the Bible is in Psalm 91 –

“A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.
Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.” Psalm 91:7, 8

In this then, Shelomith indicates a requital, recompense, or retribution. A close synonym would be, “To avenge.” At times in the Bible, the Lord is said to avenge while giving recompense. The name of the Lord has been challenged, and therefore, the name of the Lord will be avenged, while recompensing the offender. Only in this, can there be shalom, or peace, once again.

11 (con’t) the daughter of Dibri,

Another name is given, and thus it is expected to be explained. The name Divri, is used just this once in the Bible. It is derived from the verb davar, or speak. The “i” at the end is either possessive, and so it would mean, “My word,” or it is a reference to Yehovah, and so it would mean, “Word of the Lord.” Either way, in picture the result is the same. The word of the Lord will lead to recompense for the offender.

11 (con’t) of the tribe of Dan.)

The tribe of the individual is named, Dan. Dan means, “Judge.” The given names anticipate the sentence which will follow. The Lord will judge, the man’s life will be forfeit for his misdeed, according to the word of the Lord, and the Lord will recompense the man for his wickedness. However, Israel will be the agent of this action. Should they fail to follow through in making his life an offering of appeasement, there can be no peace. All of this is tied up in what is presented here.

12 Then they put him in custody, that the mind of the Lord might be shown to them.

The verse literally says, “And they rested him in custody – to explain to them by (the) mouth (of) Yehovah.” The mouth is what speaks, and thus the spoken word will be the basis for judgment.

What shall be done to the offender of the Name?
What will Moses tell us to do?
Is the judgment for us and for an outsider the same?
Will he be allowed to live, or will we to him bid adieu?

Surely the Name is to be held as sacred
And in sanctity will the Lord hold His name
If not, then any who wishes, on His name they will tread
Ignominy will be the result, ignominy and not fame

We shall wait upon His word to reveal what to do
And what He decides will surely be just and correct
For the Lord is God, holy and true
In Him no unrighteousness will we ever detect

II. The Stone of Israel (verses 13-23)

13 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,

It goes unstated how the Lord spoke to Moses, so we can only assume that it was in the regular manner where he went into the Most Holy place, and there he spoke directly to the Lord, and the Lord spoke directly in return. The word of the Lord, from the seat of the Lord, is now given…

14 “Take outside the camp him who has cursed;

The same word, qalal, as in verse 11 is given as the basis for the judgment. The one who made a trifling, and thus brought the name of the Lord into contempt, is to be taken outside the camp. The sanctity of the camp meant that no such punishment as will be rendered could take place within it. Just as a leper or any other unclean person was sent outside the camp, so was this man to be taken out of it. He had no part in Israel, and he was to be removed from their sight. Things do not look good for this guy…

14 (con’t) then let all who heard him lay their hands on his head,

The laying of the hands on the head is specified. In the case of the Sabbath breaker of Numbers 15, there is no such instruction given. But here, there is. Those who heard were to place their hands on the man’s head. This seems to be another indication that the person invoked the name of another god. They are witnesses of this and are avowing the name of the Lord as the rightful Judge, and denying the name of the false god at the same time.

The Lord has rendered the judgment through His spoken word, and now recompense upon the individual must be made. Should this not occur, there could be no peace. Another god has been placed as a challenge to the name of the Lord, and this could not stand.

14 (con’t) and let all the congregation stone him.

The word “let” doesn’t do these words justice. It says, “And stone them him all the congregation.” It doesn’t say they could opt out if they wanted to. It simply says that all the people were to stone him. If this was literally carried out by all the people, the pile over him would be massive by the time they were done with the job. It would stand there as a testimony to the severity of the crime.

15 “Then you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin.

The Lord has given the punishment for the offender, but now He gives a general law to ensure that there is no question in the people’s minds concerning future violations of this type. There is again a dispute as to what is being referred to here. Some see this as not speaking about the true God at all, and this is probably correct. If someone were to curse the name of his god, he would bear the sin of an idolater.

Death is not mandated for such a thing, but sin is born by those who are, by default, not followers of the Lord. No death penalty is mandated for such a person because he is accountable to the Lord on a completely different level than those who are either followers of the Lord, or who would blaspheme the name of the Lord, even if not His follower.

16 And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land.

On the other hand, any person who blasphemes the name of the Lord, whether a follower or not, was to be put to death. The words are emphatic – “stoning, he shall be stoned.”

There is one God, and His name was not to be violated, ever. The words here also seem to confirm what was proposed earlier concerning the Egyptian. First, it says, “the stranger as well as the native.” The stranger could be any person following any religion. If he were to curse the name of his god, who would care? Only the Lord would, who is not considered his God.

And so the Lord would deal with him in due time. But if a stranger among the people blasphemed His name, then it would be an offense worthy of immediate consequences, lest His name be defiled among the people, and degraded in their eyes. Secondly, it says v’noqev shem Yehovah – “and he who blasphemes name Yehovah.” Unlike verse 11, there is no article, no “the,” in front of “name.” And this follows through to the next words…

16  (con’t) When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.

b’naqevow shem yumat – “When he blasphemes Name, put to death.” Again, the words “of the Lord” are inserted, and unlike verse 11 there is no article in front of Name. It simply says, shem. Thus, there is a stress on the very idea of His name. It is completely other, completely distinct, and without match or rival. The contrast between verse 11 & here clues us in to what was being referred to there.

17 ‘Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death.

It seems curious at first that this, and the following commands, are suddenly placed here, especially as some are repeats of previous commands. But what is being done is including anyone who would commit such crimes within the company of the Lord. The commands previously given pertained solely to Israel. However, it is now understood that anyone within the jurisdiction of Israel was bound to these same laws as well.

The words here say, “And he who strikes all the soul (of a) man.” The implication is murder. There are times when killing was prescribed by the Lord, such as in war, or in capital punishment, like the sentence which was just pronounced. That is not what this is speaking of. Rather, it is the intentional, unjustifiable murder of another. Nobody had the right to kill another without there first being a legal tribunal, even for a blasphemer.

18 Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, animal for animal.

Some laws concerning animals were given in Exodus 21. Those dealt with different matters than this. This is a provision of lex talionis or retaliation in kind (like for like), whereby a punishment resembles the offense committed in kind and degree. If someone purposefully killed another animal he was to replace it, in kind.

The obvious reason for this inclusion is to show that an animal is not in the same category as man. There can be no justification for anyone to find guilt beyond replacement for the killing of an animal. It is a precept which has become fashionably ignored in modern society where animals are placed in an unhealthy level of supposed dignity, at times bordering on that of humans.

The same punishment for blaspheming the name of the Lord was given to one who murders another, and rightfully so as the man is made in the image of God. But such was not, and is not, to be the case with an animal.

19 ‘If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him—

The word mum, or defect, is used here. Should someone do something to another to cause a defect in him, then the law of lex talionis was to be enacted. Though seemingly harsh, this law is actually as much a curb on retribution as it is a means of punishment. No greater punishment was to be meted out than that which had been inflicted. Thus the punishee was not to be unduly or overly punished.

20 fracture for fracture,

If Vic McGregg broke Sam’s leg
Then Sam could do the same in turn…but he could do no more.

If he were to instead, crack him on the head
Vic McGregg’s punishment would have been overly sore.

And so to break Vic’s leg is what the law says should be
And when that was over, Vic and Sam could make up
And they could together hobble home clumsily

20 (con’t) eye for eye,

If Jim poked out Tom’s eye… out of spite
We know that wouldn’t be right
And so the law says that Tom could do the same to Jim in turn
And so, from this loss of his own sight
Jim would his lessen learn

20 (con’t) tooth for tooth;

If Jay punched Alex and knocked out his tooth
Alex could not in turn break Jay’s arm
Instead he got to knock out Jay’s tooth too
But maybe Alex still suffered the greater harm

Because Jay’s whistle became pronounced
And it incessantly announced
What Alex in retaliation to Jay did do

20 (con’t) as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him.

Any disfigurement, of any type, was to be paid in kind, but the punishment was to go no further. The Lord’s decision in this was intended as a curb against any initial offense, and it was intended as a curb against excessive retaliation, either by the individual, or by an unjust court.

21 And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death.

Here we have a shortened repeat of verses 17 & 18. They are reversed as well. Here, the Hebrew simply says, “He who strikes a beast,” and “…he who strikes a man.” If one were to read this verse only, they might come to the conclusion that merely striking another man, whether death occurred or not, was worthy of death. Therefore, the words must be considered in connection with the passage, and not alone. The intent is to strike and kill.

But the reason for the repetition is to again stress the difference between animals and humans. It cannot be considered murder to kill an animal, and it must be considered murder to kill a man. Further, the word for “man” here is adam, not ish. It is not speaking of a man, as in an adult male, but rather as a member of the human race – one of mankind.

Although the perverse would say there is a difference between a human in the womb, and a human born from the womb, the Bible does not make this distinction. Biblically, the life of the human is one which begins at conception. The logical, moral, and correct evaluation of this then is that to kill a human in the womb is murder, and it is worthy of death. What our society, and the world at large finds acceptable, will be judged by the all-righteous, always moral, and perfectly just God.

22 You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the Lord your God.’”

Again, the words here hearken back to verse 16, and that in turn takes us back to the account of the son of the Egyptian and the Israelite woman. There were two groups of people at the camp that were to be held to the same standard. Upon arrival in Canaan, the same would be true with any foreigner to the people of Israel.

If they received the benefits of residing in the jurisdiction of the people Israel, they were to be bound to these same laws as the people of Israel. What they did with and towards their own gods was not to be of concern to the Israelites as long as it was not otherwise forbidden by the Lord. But what they did, to and towards both the Lord, and the Lord’s people was. This was because…

22 (con’t) for I am the Lord your God.’”

ki ani Yehovah elohekem – “for I am Yehovah your God.” They are the Lord’s people; He is their God; and so anything which affected either them in this capacity, or Him as being in this position, was to be considered equal for all people who dwelt within His boundaries. The emphasis stands because the offender of verse 11 was not a member of the covenant people, but he was within the jurisdiction of the Lord nonetheless. Because of this, Moses now has words for the people to hear…

23 Then Moses spoke to the children of Israel;

Moses has drawn out from the Lord that which was needed to resolve the dilemma of the congregation. And with that, he speaks forth the word. Here, it doesn’t say, “Then Moses spoke to all the people.” Instead, it says that he spoke to bene Yisrael – the “children of Israel.” Although it is a standard form of address, it is they who have been given the full authority, from this point forward, to deal with all cases of blasphemy. Such was the desire of the people towards Jesus as is recorded in John 8:54-59 –

Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”

58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

The same type of attempt against the Lord was made again in John 10. Thus we have another one of the ironies of the Bible before us. The Lord who gave the commandment of stoning for blaspheme against His name, was treated as a blasphemer. And the people, who bore the authority of His name, attempted to stone Him. Such was not to be the case however. Christ would die in fulfillment of Scripture, but it would not be by stoning at the hands of Israel. It would be by crucifixion on a tree.

23 (con’t) and they took outside the camp him who had cursed, and stoned him with stones.

The Hebrew reads, “and stoned him stone.” It is singular. In Numbers 15, the corresponding account of the Sabbath breaker says, ba’abanmin, or with stones, but here it simply says, aben, or stone. The man has blasphemed the name of the Lord, and though the congregation is instructed to destroy the man, it is the Lord who is the Judge and who made the decision, and therefore it is by the Stone of Israel, the Lord Yehovah, that the man was destroyed.

He the Judge (Dan), spoke the word (Divri), and recompense (Shelomith) was made upon the man for his transgression. Surely the Bible is true when it says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). And surely we can see why the names of the people were specifically included in the account of this passage.

*23 (fin) So the children of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses.

The offering of the violator’s life, if it can be so termed, has been made. The name of the Lord has been sanctified, and the obedience of the people has been proven. Though this is a remarkable example of such obedience, an abundance of examples of failure lie ahead. It is a chronic problem with Israel, and it is a chronic problem with us.

It is easy to find fault in others, and it is an easy thing indeed to execute judgment when a reward for doing so can be expected. But it is a much harder thing to find fault in our own actions, and it is a terribly hard thing to ferret out those who are offenders when there is no perceived benefit, and maybe even loss to do so.

How many churches turn a blind eye to sin because they would rather have the donations coming in! How many of us would turn a blind eye to sin because it involves a loved one, and thus the consequences for taking a stand against what they are doing will cause a disruption in our own lives?

Are we willing to put the word of God and His commands for our lives first? And even more, are we willing to defend the honor and sanctity of the Lord’s name above all else? He cherishes His name, and He safeguards it as the most precious thing – because it is. His name reveals who He is, and His name defines everything about Him. Is our relationship with Him in understanding of this? Is our reverence of Him in accord with this?

Let us endeavor to live with the thought in our mind that the Lord is indeed holy; He is indeed good; and He is indeed righteous and just. In keeping this understanding of who He is in our minds, we will then be in a better position to honor Him, to bring Him glory, and to be attentive to our lowly state in His magnificent presence.

Closing Verse: “For I proclaim the name of the Lord:
Ascribe greatness to our God.
He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:3, 4

Next Week: Leviticus 25:1-7 A provision marvelous and grand… (The Sabbath of the Land) (45th 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.

Recompense for an Offense

Now the son of an Israelite woman
Whose father was an Egyptian
Went out among the children of Israel
According to the account’s description

And this Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel
Fought each other in the camp, so the word does tell

And the Israelite woman’s son
Blasphemed the name of the Lord and cursed
And so they brought him to Moses
Because of his irreverent outburst

His mother’s name was Shelomith the daughter of Dibri
Of the tribe of Dan was her family tree

Then they put him in custody, probably holed up alone
That the mind of the Lord to them might be shown

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying
“Take outside the camp him who has cursed
Then let all who heard him lay their hands on his head
And let all the congregation stone him
———- for his unholy outburst

“Then you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying:
‘Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin, so I am to you relaying

And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord
Shall surely be put to death, be sure to understand
All the congregation shall certainly stone him
The stranger as well as him who is born in the land

When he blasphemes the name of the Lord
He shall be put to death, according to this word

‘Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death
So you shall extinguish his life, ending his breath

Whoever kills an animal shall make it good
Animal for animal; ensure this is understood

‘If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor
As he has done, so shall it be done to him, most certainly
Fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth
As he has caused disfigurement of a man
———-so it shall be done to him, so shall it be 

And whoever kills an animal shall restore it
But whoever kills a man shall be put to death, so to you I submit

You shall have the same law for the stranger
And for one from your own country as well
For I am the Lord your God
You shall do these things as to you I tell

Then Moses spoke to the children of Israel
And they took outside the camp him who had cursed
And stoned him with stones
So the children of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses
———-for the man’s unholy outburst

Thank You, O God, for this hope You have given to us
As sons of Adam we are dead in sin
But through Your Son we are made alive, yes, through Jesus
A new and eternal life we have been granted to live in

And so may we reverence Your name always, O Lord
And cling fast to the truths of Your superior word
Praise You! Praise You O God. Yes, hear our praise
That which our hearts will sing to You for eternal days

Hallelujah and Amen…

Leviticus 24:1-9 (The Holy Oil and the Holy Bread)

Leviticus 24:1-9
The Holy Oil and the Holy Bread

One thing you can say about the Bible, is that it is always consistent. It uses things from nature consistently. It uses numbers consistently. It uses moral issues consistently. You can, for example, do a study on trees in the Bible, and you will find consistent patterns in the use of trees. Or, you can pick certain trees, and find consistent patterns in the use of those trees.

What about the number five? If you go through the Bible, a theme will develop based on the number five that is remarkable. It is the number of grace. If I didn’t tell you that, and if you just did your own thorough study, you would figure it out all by yourself eventually.

What is more amazing is that these themes weren’t all decided upon, written down, and then built upon by one person. Rather, unless you knew that God was directing these things, you would assume exactly the opposite was true. You would say, “These books were written eons apart, they were written in different countries, by various people, and yet coincidentally the patterns match. How can that be? This can’t be coincidence at all!”

You would have to come to this conclusion, because for the most part, the patterns weren’t discovered until long after they were written down. In fact, many of the patterns have only been discovered in recent years. It’s a marvel and it is amazing. But it is one of those remarkable proofs that the Bible is what it claims to be – the word of God. No random chance could have come up with these patterns, time and time again.

Text Verse: For the Lord has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His dwelling place:
14 “This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless her provision;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation,
And her saints shall shout aloud for joy.
17 There I will make the horn of David grow;
I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed.
18 His enemies I will clothe with shame,
But upon Himself His crown shall flourish.” Psalm 132:13-18

Today we will look at several things which form patterns in Scripture that are seen right in these six verses from the psalm. We will look at the dwelling place, rest, bread, the lamp, and quite a few others not in the psalm. All of them are found in just nine verses. And yet, if you were to do a study on any of them, you would find the same consistency running throughout Scripture.

Once something is introduced, it generally remains tied into the same concept all the way through to the end. I’m sure I’m like any one of you, in that at times I have doubts about things. Can it all be true? Can the Bible be relied upon? Am I sure about what I’ve read and what it means to my eternal future?

When I have doubts like this flicker through my mind, all I need to do is think about what I already have learned. The marvel of this book is that once you’ve really looked into it, and once you’ve really thought about all that it teaches, reveals, and details, you can once again feel confident that the doubts are all for naught. The Lord is a safe place because His word says He is.

As the psalmist said, “You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.” The word reveals, and that is all I need. Thank God for this marvelous treasure. 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. Care of the Menorah (verses 1-4)

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

Words of law, and words of instruction lie ahead. Therefore, the Lord speaks only to Moses. From there, Moses will relay the commands he receives to the people. The Lord has just given the instructions for the weekly Sabbath Feast of the Lord, and the seven annual Feasts of the Lord. With that accomplished, He will now give instructions for the daily and weekly services required for the Menorah and the Table of Showbread.

The importance of this placement cannot be understated, because the Lord has just said in verse 23:3 that the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, and it is a holy convocation. Because of this, the Lord directed, explicitly to the people, “You shall do no work on it, it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.” And yet, in the next three verses, no exemption is given for performing the daily rituals on the Sabbath, and in verse 8, Aaron and his sons, meaning the priests, are explicitly told to violate the Sabbath in order to honor the Lord.

In other words, in the temple, there is in essence no earthly Sabbath, but there is rest. There is work done, but it is work which is in the presence of the Lord who is at His place of rest. God rested on the seventh day, a day on which the Genesis account recorded no evening or morning. It is an eternal day. The priests, in type, enter that place of rest. And so whatever they do there may profane the Sabbath, but it does not profane God’s rest, which the Sabbath only anticipates.

At the temple, the priests worshiped and served the Creator in a place of rest, which is exactly what man was originally created to do, and which is exactly what the final page of Scripture says man will do in heaven. In this, we can now see that the words of Jesus in Matthew 12 are referring directly to what is stated in Leviticus. There we read

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!”

But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:5-8).

What Jesus was saying with the words, “The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath,” is that He is the anticipated Messiah. Because of this, His authority as the Messiah is superior to the law of the Sabbath, and so no guilt can be imputed to either Him, or to His disciples who have acted under His authority, just as the priests here in Leviticus are going to be directed to profane the Sabbath under the authority of the Lord.

The adjective used in the words “One greater than the temple” is neuter. The neuter is used to give a solemn, impressive sense of what He is referring to, which is Himself, His body, it is the temple which is greater than the temple in Jerusalem. If Yehovah of the temple directed the priests to profane the Sabbath in order to conduct their duties, then such was allowed for One greater than the temple.

The temple is the sanctuary where Yehovah dwelt. In saying that He is greater than the temple, He is making an absolute claim to Deity. If the temple is God’s dwelling place, and profanation of the Sabbath is conducted there to honor the Lord, it is because the Lord, meaning Yehovah, is greater than the temple. In His claim is an implicit, but absolute, claim to being Yehovah incarnate.

The corresponding account in Mark adds in the words, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Man was created first, and only then was he given his rest. The rest was intended for man’s good, and his happiness. The laws of the Sabbath were intended to promote that state in man, not feelings of misery or unhappiness.

But more, the Sabbath was intended to honor the Lord while in that happy state. As the Lord was among them, and He was pleased with their happiness at being filled, then no wrong could be imputed. The disciples were hungry, and so out of necessity, in order to actually meet the intent of the Sabbath, they plucked grain and ate. As they were with Jesus, who is the One greater than the temple, they were fulfilling His will in the process. The One who gave the Sabbath laws could dispense with those laws because He is the place of rest which the law pointed to.

There is nothing arbitrary in Jesus’ words or actions. Rather, He is making a theological point concerning Himself, His nature, His Being, and His disciples’ relationship to Him. As the priests of Leviticus could profane the Sabbath before the Lord and yet be blameless, so could His disciples likewise be blameless in His presence when doing the same.

With this understanding, we can see why the Lord placed these verses here in Leviticus. Serving the Lord in His place of rest is more important than the Sabbath laws which He had just given to Israel. This would be true even on the Day of Atonement, the most holy day of the annual calendar, and a Sabbath day all its own as is seen in the next verse…

“Command the children of Israel

These words go back to Exodus 27:20 & 21. Moses is instructed to “command” the children of Israel. This is one of only two times in Leviticus that the Lord tells Moses to “command” in this way. It is more direct and forceful than the normal words, “Speak to the children of Israel.” The change is certainly given because of the obvious conflict with the Sabbath laws just presented in the Feasts of the Lord.

If the Lord gave those directives, and now He gives these commands, then there can be no contradiction between the two. His Sabbath laws are to be dispensed with according to His directives, just as any laws can be dispensed with when given by the proper authority. The US constitution may be amended according to the authority of the US constitution. Each initiator may amend or dispense with the laws which he has set forth.

(con’t) that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light,

The words, which have been given as a command to the people, are that they are expected to bring shemen zayit zak kalith la’maor, or “pure oil of pressed olives for the light.” Everything about this anticipates Christ. First is the shemen, or oil. That comes from shamen, a verb meaning “to grow fat.” That in turn comes from a root meaning, “to shine.”

The oil of the zayit, or “olive,” is designated. Oil can be derived from a multitude of sources, but in order to picture Christ, the olive is named. The olive is a symbol of religious privilege. It is the Spirit working through those who are included in this privilege. The olives receive their fatness from the roots. Those branches which are a part of the tree receive this fatness and produce olives which are then used to put forth light before the Lord.

The word “pure” is the adjective zak. This indicates “clean,” “clear,” or “pure.” It has only been used twice so far, in Exodus to describe this same oil, and also the frankincense used in the incense to be burned on the altar of incense. This would be the finest oil possible.

The word “pressed” is not a good translation. Rather, it should say “beaten.” It is the adjective kathith that comes from a root meaning to be crushed by beating. Rather than being pressed under heavy stones, it would probably be gently beaten in a pounding mortar, just enough to break the skin. The oil would usually come from unripe fruit. It would come out clear and without color and it would give a pure, bright light. It would have very little smoke.

After the gentle beating to break the skin, the full olives would be placed in a strainer of some sort, like a wicker basket in order to allow their juice to drip through by gravity alone. The liquid would simply run through that and into a bowl. From there, the purest oil would float to the top and be skimmed off. Out of this, the anticipated result would be oil with no impurities at all, and thus the very finest possible.

As I said, everything about this looks forward to Christ. First, He is the Source of the shemen or oil, and He is the one who makes the tree flourish through its increasing fatness. Paul speaks of this in Romans 11, using the olive tree as a metaphor for God’s religious privileges being bestowed first upon the Jews of Israel, then upon the Gentiles, and which will again return to the Jews. The Lord promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that from them would spring the messianic promises. Paul explains this in Romans 11:16-18 –

For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

The religious privilege which comes forth from the roots went from Jew to Gentile, but it is Christ from whom the promises spring and to Him that they belong. His body is the tree, and His life is the fatness. That is why the word zak, or pure, is used. Christ’s purity is revealed in the olives which grow from the branches. Whether Jew or Gentile, the pure produce of the olives is what is used to cause the light to shine. For Jew, Jesus told them to, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

For Gentile, Paul writes, saying, “that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). The beating of the olives is reflective of the treatment of first Christ and then those who are in Christ. Peter explains this –

For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
“Who committed no sin,
Nor was deceit found in His mouth” 1 Peter 2:20-22

This pure oil, from the fatness of the olive, all pointing to Christ, and those in Christ who bring forth their offering, was to be used…

(con’t) to make the lamps burn continually.

l’haalot ner tamid – “to cause to ascend the lamp perpetually.” In other words, to have the light of the lamp rise continually. It doesn’t mean to burn as if to consume. Instead it is a word which is normally used to express an action such as the burning of a sacrifice which is offered to the Lord. It could thus be paraphrased to say, “…to cause the lamp to ascend to the Lord continually.”

There is debate as to whether the lamp was to burn continually, day and night, or if it was to burn every night continually. It appears from the Exodus 27:21, Exodus 30:8, and from the next verse that the lamp, meaning the menorah, only burnt throughout the night. The idea of a light is to illuminate, and that is only needed where there is darkness. Ultimately then, the light is reflective of the eternal nature of Christ which shines and dispels all darkness for all eternity. That is seen in Revelation 22 –

There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light.” Revelation 22:5

This light was to shine and never go out. It is the eternal light of Christ which always shines before the Lord. But as we have seen, the olives are reflective of the produce of the people. Thus, we see the result of Christ in one’s life. In Daniel 12, for example, it says this of the faithful Jews –

Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3

Paul uses a similar theme when speaking to Gentiles in Ephesus –

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:

Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:8-14

It is Christ who is the Light, and which He imparts to and through His people. It is the same idea as the incense reflecting Christ in every detail, and yet, the burning of the incense is the prayers of the people, sanctified to God by Christ.

Outside the veil of the Testimony, in the tabernacle of meeting,

These words are given after mentioning the bringing of oil. It is for the lamp which is in the tabernacle of meeting. In other words, the Lord is specifying the particular lamp. Because of the abrupt change in the subject – from the feasts of the Lord to the bringing of oil – this is being made clear to Moses. It is the lamp which was previously described and which is in the tabernacle, outside the veil, and before the Testimony.

In the use of the words, “Outside the veil of the Testimony,” we can see a truth which should not be missed. The Lord could have simply said, “In the tent of meeting,” or “In the Holy Place.” But He specifically mentions the veil of the Testimony. The veil, or paroketh, signifies a fracture exists in which on one side there is rest, and on the other there is labor and rigor. The Testimony, meaning the law contained in the Ark, is where rest is found. However, man is fallen, and is kept apart from God because of violations of the law.

However, Christ is the fulfillment of the law, and in Him is rest. The deeds of the people, and their light which shines, is only acceptable because of Christ. Again, we must think of the symbolism of the olive tree, the branches, and the fruit which the branches bear. Our deeds are only acceptable because of being in Christ. Our prayers, symbolized by the incense which burns in this same room, are only acceptable because of Him. In the end, only because of Christ is there anything in us acceptable to God.

(con’t) Aaron shall be in charge of it from evening until morning

Aaron” here means, “Aaron and his sons” as was explicitly stated in Exodus 27. The lamp was to be tended to throughout the night. This suggests that it was not left burning during the day, but some commentaries disagree. No matter what, the symbolism of perpetual light is not diminished by having natural sunlight because Christ is called “the Sun of Righteousness” in Malachi 4:2.

(con’t) before the Lord continually; 

The burning of the lamp is of particular interest to the Lord. The first thing that must be brought into a house for its inhabitants to function properly is light. And for light to shine, there must be something to produce that light. In this case, it is the oil, signifying the Spirit in action, and thus life itself. It is reflective of the first command given after the creation of the universe –

Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” Genesis 1:3

Here, after the calendar-driven Feasts of the Lord, and then more calendar-driven instructions to come in the next chapter, we have this chapter which commences with the care of the lamps and the table of showbread. In this, we can see that the light here is that which burns throughout the duration of the calendar. It is a reflection of the work of Christ from beginning to end, and throughout the ages. About 1500 years after this, we will see what this light pictures as it flows from John’s pen concerning Jesus –

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” John 1:4, 5

And He is that same Light which we see shining on the last page of the Bible. It is Christ now, at all times, and throughout the ages. There is design, intent, and wisdom seen in this seemingly misplaced passage of Scripture.

(con’t) it shall be a statute forever in your generations.

As always, these words must be taken in their proper context. As these things only picture Christ and His work, the statute forever means “until the time when they are revealed and fulfilled in Christ.” Now, that which was once physically given, is spiritually realized in Him and in His people.

He shall be in charge of the lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord continually.

The verse is literally translated as, “Upon the menorah, the pure, he shall array the lamps before Yehovah continually.” The reason for using the definite article before “pure” is that it was made of pure gold, thus it symbolizes Christ in His Divine nature. What may also be inferred from this definite article, is that the menorah was kept pure by being cleaned from any ashes which might fall on it. It was always pure internally and externally. Thus it is reflective of Christ’s perfect purity in all ways – physical, moral, etc.

The use of the word arak, or array, is to signify that the lamps were always to be arranged as the Lord previously described in Exodus. To understand all of the symbolism of this most important article, you should go back and watch the sermon from Exodus 25. It is an astonishing lesson. As far as the arraying of the seven lamps on it, it is reflective of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation, called “the seven lampstands.” The arranging of the lamps here is reflective of Christ’s arranging of the lampstands of the church.

The purest of gold, fit for a King
Was used to make a seven-branch lampstand
Seeing its beauty makes my heart sing
The workmanship marvelous; stunning and grand

Every detail is so beautiful, each knob and flower
The glistening of the branches as they catch the light
It shines in the dark for hour after hour
Illuminating the holy place throughout the night

The glory of God is seen in each detail
Every branch speaks out a marvelous story
And in what it pictures, nothing will fail
As the Lord reveals to us His unending glory

II. The Holy Bread (verses 5-9)

“And you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it.

Now in Leviticus is introduced the actual bread of the Presence for the table of showbread which was first described in Exodus 25. The preparation for the bread was done by the priests as is recorded in 1 Chronicles 9, where it says –

And some of their brethren of the sons of the Kohathites were in charge of preparing the showbread for every Sabbath.” 1 Chronicles 9:32

For the bread, solet, or “fine flour,” was to be used. This comes from an unused root meaning “to strip.” Thus it is fine flour, indicating purity. It is reflective of the purity of Christ. The word for “cake” is khallah. This comes from the word khalal, or “to pierce.” It is the word used to describe what happened to Christ when He was “pierced for our transgressions.”

From this, twelve cakes were to be made. The number twelve in Scripture denotes perfection of government, or of governmental perfection. Christ is the Bread of Life, but He has revealed Himself through His established government. First that of the twelve tribes of Israel who proclaimed His coming, and then through the twelve apostles who proclaimed His having come.

(con’t) Two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake.

The two-tenths of each cake reveals Him as well. The amount for each equals two omers, the amount that two men could eat in one day. But, instead of saying that, it says “two tenths.” Thus, there are 24 tenths total in the bread. Two is an indication of difference, that there is another. Ten is the perfection of Divine order. Thus we have a division of the divine order, reflected in the twelve tribes of Israel, and the twelve apostles. God’s Divine order in Christ is worked out through these divisions, and it is seen in this bread.

You shall set them in two rows, six in a row,

The translation is not correct. They were arranged in two piles. The table is not big enough to place them in two rows. The word used is a new one in Scripture which will be seen just nine times, always in connection to the bread. It signifies an arrangement, whatever that arrangement may be.

Each pile is of six loaves. Six is the number of man. We are seeing a picture develop of men, representing all men before the Lord. In each pile, there are twelve tenths. In other words, one pile signifies the twelve tribes of Israel, the other signifies the twelve apostles. Together, they form the perfection of Divine order in God’s perfection of government. It is this which led to, and which then revealed, Christ, the Bread of life. It is a picture of what is seen in Revelation 4:4 –

Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.” Revelation 4:4 

Nothing is said about whether the bread contained yeast or not. It could go either way as far as what is actually pictured. The Pentecost loaves had yeast because they reflected Jew and Gentile, acceptable to God despite their sin because of Christ’s covering. Such could be the case here. Or, it could be that they were unleavened, and thus reflect only Christ’s purity. Jewish writers, such as Josephus, state that they were unleavened. What matters is that it doesn’t matter. The Bible is silent on the matter.

(con’t) on the pure gold table before the Lord.

The shulkhan, or table, is a word that indicates “stretch out,” or “spread out.” It is a place of expanse. Again, the wording is precise in the Hebrew, “on the table, the pure, before the Lord.” The table was overlaid with pure gold, and it was certainly kept pure through constant maintenance. And again, it would be reflective of Christ – pure and undefiled internally and externally.

The details for this table are recorded in Exodus 25. If you didn’t hear the sermon on its makeup, you missed a lot. You have your instructions for this afternoon. This table, like the menorah, is said to be “before the Lord.” Because of its location, it is elsewhere called, lekhem ha’pannim, or literally, “Bread (of) the Faces.” Translations will then call it “the Bread of the Presence.”

What we have is the idea of the Lord’s eyes always being on those who are in Christ. He is the Bread, His people are of the same lump. As Paul says in Romans 11, “For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy.”

And you shall put pure frankincense on each row,

levonah zakah, or “frankincense pure,” was to be placed either on, or by, each pile. The word can indicate either. As there would have been room for the incense on the table, it was probably alongside of the bread. This levonah, or frankincense, comes from the word lavan, meaning “brick.” The concept of a brick in the Bible is one of human work. At the tower of Babel, the people made bricks in order to work their way to heaven. In Egypt, the people were forced to make brick without straw and were unable to perform their duties. In both instances, pictures were being made of man’s futile attempt at pleasing God through works. Their brick-making was tainted and unacceptable. This incense, however, is zakah, or pure. It is reflective of the pure works of Christ, or of those in Christ, which are deemed acceptable to God. This is then more fully explained with the words…

(con’t) that it may be on the bread for a memorial, an offering made by fire to the Lord.

As it is for the bread as a memorial, it is specifically speaking of the acceptable works of Christ. The bread is a bloodless offering from the children of Israel representative of the people of God who are diligent in sanctifying themselves to perform good works. It is the works of Christ, however, which makes them acceptable. Paul explains this in Romans –

Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” Romans 1515, 16

As can be seen, the Gentiles, like Israel, have also become an offering to God because of the work of Christ, sanctified through what He has accomplished. It is through this great work that the Holy Spirit is available to do exactly that, the part of sanctification. This is the very heart of the work of Christ. That together, Jew and Gentile, are found acceptable through Him. It is, therefore, His work, which is offered up to God “as on offering made by fire to the Lord,” pictured by this pure frankincense.

Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually,

The bread was changed out every Sabbath as prescribed here. Because of the words “before the Lord continually,” tradition says the Jews made this an exceptionally solemn service. As the old bread was being removed, the new bread was put in its place at exactly the same moment, one priest’s hands removing the old, while the other priest’s hands inserted the new.

For us, the symbolism here in Leviticus is pretty remarkable. The new bread was rested, on the day of rest, in the Lord’s presence, at His place of rest, on this table. It must be, at least partially, what David was thinking of when he wrote the 23rd Psalm –

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Psalm 23:5, 6

The people of God may be hemmed in by enemies, but there in the middle of it, right in the house of the Lord, a table is set where the people of God can stretch out in ease and rest. It is the promise of a return to Eden and the presence of the Lord – all because of the work of Christ which makes us acceptable to God once again.

(con’t) being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.

God required it of them, and they had agreed to the covenant. Therefore, whether in substance, or in money to purchase the substance, the items for the menorah and the table of showbread were provided from the children of Israel. In other words, these things are reflective of the people, and it is Christ who establishes His people. If you are a follower of Christ, you are reflected in the very things that we are looking at here today.

And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place;

The bread of this passage is one of only a very limited number of things which were required to be eaten in a holy place by the priests. Despite this being for the priests, this is the same bread which was given to David when he was escaping from Saul. That is found in 1 Samuel 21 –

So David said to Ahimelech the priest, “The king has ordered me on some business, and said to me, ‘Do not let anyone know anything about the business on which I send you, or what I have commanded you.’ And I have directed my young men to such and such a place. Now therefore, what have you on hand? Give me five loaves of bread in my hand, or whatever can be found.”
And the priest answered David and said, “There is no common bread on hand; but there is holy bread, if the young men have at least kept themselves from women.”
Then David answered the priest, and said to him, “Truly, women have been kept from us about three days since I came out. And the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in effect common, even though it was consecrated in the vessel this day.”
So the priest gave him holy bread; for there was no bread there but the showbread which had been taken from before the Lord, in order to put hot bread in its place on the day when it was taken away. 1 Samuel 21:2-6

Only by a stretch of the law given here in Leviticus could this have come about. It says that the bread was only to be eaten by the priests, and only in a holy place, but the bread was given to David, and he took it with him. And yet Jesus cited this exact account in Matthew 12 indicating that the request of David, and the decision of the priests, was not unacceptable. The need of the man outweighed the precept of the law.

*(fin) for it is most holy to him from the offerings of the Lord made by fire, by a perpetual statute.”

The bread offering was considered most holy, and therefore it was only to be eaten by males, and only in the sanctuary. Anything deemed most holy is, in itself, a picture of Christ. The bread reflects those in Christ, and thus those considered holy to the Lord. Therefore, it was restricted to the priests alone for consumption. The words, “offerings of the Lord made by fire” is speaking of the incense, not the bread.

The incense, being connected to the Lord, was burnt on the altar, while the bread was eaten by the priests. The symbolism is that of Christ being offered up to God, and the people being acceptable to God because of Christ’s mediation.

Each thing is logically presented to show us both the Person and work of Christ, and the acceptability of those in Christ to God. What is implied here, and what is stated explicitly elsewhere, is that only those who are in Christ are acceptable to God. Even the Jews, the people of God’s choosing, who do not receive Jesus, are as branches broken off. And those Gentiles who are not of the nation of Israel, are grafted into the people of God because of faith in Christ.

In the end, all matters between God and the people of the world come down to one issue alone, do you have faith in Christ Jesus, or do you not. The difference is eternal in scope. If you have never made a commitment to Christ, who has done all of the work necessary to restore us to a right relationship with God, today would be a good day for you to do so.

Closing Verse: But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.
I will praise You forever,
Because You have done it;
And in the presence of Your saints
I will wait on Your name, for it is good. Psalm 52:8, 9

Next Week: Leviticus 24:10-23 What will you pay with? Dollars and Cents? (Recompense for an Offense) (44th 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.

Oil and Bread

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

Command the children of Israel
That they bring to you pure oil, so shall it be
Of pressed olives for the light
To make the lamps burn continually

Outside the veil of the Testimony, in the tabernacle of meeting
Aaron shall be in charge of it – this endeavor
From evening until morning before the Lord continually
It shall be a statute in your generations forever

He shall be in charge of the lamps, so shall it be
On the pure gold lampstand before the Lord continually

And you shall take fine flour
And bake twelve cakes with it
Two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake
So you shall do, as to you I submit 

You shall set them in two rows, six in a row
On the pure gold table before the Lord is where they shall go

And you shall put pure frankincense on each row
That it may be for a memorial on the bread
An offering made by fire to the Lord
It shall be accomplished as I have said

Every Sabbath he shall set it in order
Continually before the Lord
Being taken from the children of Israel
By an everlasting covenant, according to My word

And it shall be for Aaron and his sons
And they shall eat it in a holy place
For it is most holy to him from the offerings of the Lord made by fire
By a perpetual statute; such shall be the case

Wonderful pictures of Christ and His work for us
Are revealed in the holy oil and holy bread of Israel
Every word shows us more hints of Jesus
And of His marvelous works each does tell

Thank You, O God, for such a wonderful word
Thank You for the mysteries which are hidden there
Each that we pull out speaks of Jesus our Lord
Thank you that in His goodness we too can share

For all eternity we shall sing to You our praise
Yes, from this time forth and for eternal days

Hallelujah and Amen…