Leviticus 25–27: The LORD wants to set you free

At the end of the book of Vayiqra (Leviticus) in dual Torah reading בהר Behar/בחקותי Bechukotai, we look back at the journey through the parable of the Tabernacle. At the end of the book of Shemot (Exodus), the LORD moved into the newly created Tabernacle, and everyone had to get out. “And He called out” (Vayiqra) from the Tabernacle at the beginning of Leviticus for the people of Israel to draw near to Him. Vayiqra teaches how God is helping us move closer to Him and to each other.

Review of Leviticus

The first seven chapters of Leviticus are about the different kinds of qorbanot, which means “to draw near.”

You don’t waltz into God’s presence anytime you like unless you have an invitation and a way in. We saw in Leviticus 10 the consequences for entering God’s presence presumptuously. Aaron’s two sons paid a steep price for their presumption and arrogance.

The people are brought near to the Lord through their offerings. What we see here is the tabernacle is really a great parable of how we move close to God. The Apostle Paul tell us that those who are far off (Gentiles) would be brought near. But at the beginning of Leviticus, everyone was far off, even the children of Israel.

The parable of the Tabernacle is a pattern of something going on in Heaven. It is a copy of what Moshe saw on the mountain. The process of drawing near to God has never been about righteousness being bestowed by osmosis. There is a change that has to happen inside of ourselves before we are open to allowing God to write His law on our hearts which is what makes us righteous.

We can become unclean just by being alive. That’s just the way bodies work. We can’t avoid uncleanness. Righteousness doesn’t come through the letter of the law.

We don’t just need knowledge, we need wisdom. These memorials remind us that we have been here but where have we come from and where are we going. Are we leaving Egypt or just walking in circles? The lesson is to keep moving forward and by moving forward, I mean moving closer to God’s presence.

We have a great High Priest, and we can have confidence to go in. Without the Messiah, our Great High Priest, our efforts to approach God will do us about as much good as it did for Nadab and Abihu.

Leviticus 25: Yobel year (Jubilee)

There are all sorts of instructions about what to do once they enter the Promised Land. The lifestyle of the people in the land was radically different than the kind of life God instructs us to live.

We are working with the One whose thoughts are far above us and who has given us a glimpse into His mind.

God tells the Israelites they were were supposed free their servants every Jubliee year. Some of these exacting details of how they were to prorate the years of service based on how many years before or after the Jubliee.

We draw closer to God when we stop trying to do His job and rest in Him.

The picture we have of the Jubilee is a picture of restoration. We see several cycles of seven. There’s the Shabbat every 7 days, which is a day to stop. It’s more than just “taking a nap.” It’s about stopping all the toil that keeps us alive. We stop because the Creator stopped. Stop, stop, stop! Then we start the cycle over.

There are cycles of seven in both the first month and the 7th month. All the Biblical festivals deal in cycle of sevens. We also had the pattern of shabbats for the land every seven years.

There are also several patterns of eights or 7+1 in the Bible. The rite of circumcision is on the eighth day, and lepers were declared clean on the eighth day.

Released to rest

The patterns of sevens and 50s are all about release.

“Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the LORD.” (Leviticus 25:2 NASB)

The reason they were to give the Shabbat a rest is because God gave them the land. They didn’t earn it. When God says “stop” on the seventh year, and then plant on the eighth year and reap on the ninth year, that was a very big leap of faith in an agricultural society.

During the Yobel (Jublilee), everyone is a gleaner. One could not tend to the plants, but one could still pick what one needed for daily sustenance.

Rather than thinking “If I stop working my land and gathering my crops, my family will suffer,” they were to rest in the fact that the land was God’s land, the crops belong to God and we and our families belong to God.

We are to love our neighbors because “I am the Lord.” We are to give the land its rest because He is the Lord. He is the one who gave them the land.

There was a secular research paper released this week which said there’s a lot of “chatter” at a microbial level.

You might have heard of low-VOC or no-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint. This is the kind of paint that has very little smell to it. Within a couple of hours after painting a room with it, whatever faint smell in the paint is gone. Microbes, such as fungus and bacteria, communicate to each other through VOCs.

One thing we should note about why the Lord says, “The land is mine” is that God created the great internet of microbes. God is not just a local deity, He is the Lord of the entire world, He is the creator of Heaven and earth.

We are to have faith that when He says that things will revert to the way they were before and recover, you can trust Him.

Good fences make good neighbors

Leviticus 25 is basically a ground lease contract. For a modern example, the nation of China leases land to citizens, they do not own it. The British owned the land for Hong Kong on a lease basis and the land returned to China at the end of the lease. The British owned what the land of Hong Kong produced but the land ultimately still belong to China.

We see in these provisions of gleaning, and God’s instruction about not taking advantage of people as the year of release gets closer. It is only when the law is written on the heart that people will not take advantage of their fellow citizens. The children of Israel were to remember that God was the owner of the land, not them. They were also to remember who they were.

One hallmark of a free society is that the law acknowledges private property. If the land is leased, when why do boundary stones matter? Why is theft relevant? Because it dishonors God when we cross over His boundaries.

God drew the boundaries and the people were supposed to honor them. If you respect your neighbors and your neighbors respect your property and both of you have the law written on the heart, then conflicts are easily resolved.

Hikers are among the worse offenders in this regard. They often follow trails without paying attention to where they are leading and whether they end up crossing over from public property into private property. They ignore fences, go through the fence, climb over the fence, etc. because following the trail is more important than paying attention to and respecting someone’s property.

We need to remind ourselves and teach our children how to respect boundary lines, fences, etc.

Devoted for a purpose

The Torah also makes a distinction between the native born vs. the slaves, who came from Gentile lands. The children of Israel were to be a kingdom of priests, servants of the Creator of Heaven ad Earth. They were to testify of who God is.

When Israel went into the land and conquered it, there were things that were devoted to God. Some are devoted to a good purpose, some were devoted to destruction. Hannah devoted her son Samuel to God for a lifetime of service, while the city of Jericho (except for Rahab and her family) were devoted for destruction.

Rahab and her family had heard of God’s work on behalf of the children of Israel and when they saw the children of Israel on their doorstep, the people of Jericho were scared. Rahab heard God’s word, and she wanted to enter God’s rest. She not only entered the commonwealth of Israel, but she entered into the ancestry of Yeshua the Messiah.

We all have to face the question of if we are going to lock out the Lord or let Him in to give us salvation and rest.

Leviticus 26: For whom the bell tolls

In Leviticus 26, God tells the children of Israel what will happen if they keep His commandments, and the blessings that come from it. He also warns them of the fruit of disobedience and the consequences.

There is no fine print in Torah. All relationships have a give and take, blessings and curses.

Leviticus 26 reminds us that if we “hate” His instructions, there are consequences. But God also promises to pick up the pieces and bring the children of Israel back to their inheritance. Heaven doesn’t pass out blessings and curses on a whim.

In the midst of the smiting, chasing, lowering the boom, etc., there is a way out if they confess their own hostility towards the Lord and the hostility of their ancestors, there will be a way back into God’s good graces.

The LORD is the one who brought about the “abomination of desolation” onto His own house, and He had to do it several times. Why did that keep happening? Because the people of Israel acted with hostility against God. They were “stiff necked and rebellious.”

Leviticus 27: To vow or not to vow

Leviticus 27 goes into great detail about how to deal with members of the community who wanted to make a vow of themselves to God’s service.

“Again, the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man makes a difficult vow, he shall be valued according to your valuation of persons belonging to the LORD.” (Leviticus 27:1–2 NASB)

We then read about different valuations for young v. old, male v. female, etc. We see all these different values upon the vows.

It makes you look at Yeshua’s warnings against taking any vows in a different light.

““Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” (Matthew 5:33–37 NASB)

Oaths and vows are both promises. Vows are promises with a show of earnestness in wanting to approach God. Oaths are a different type of promise.

What is it you are doing when you say, “I swear to God” or “As Heaven is my witness”? You are dragging the Creator of Heaven and Earth down to be a co-signer to whatever deal you are entering.

A smart co-signer on a loan says, “No.” But a reasonable, reliable co-signer will review the issue carefully to make sure the person signing the loan will follow through with the payments and the co-signor won’t have to get involved in the transaction after that point.

But when someone drags God Himself into a contract of any sort, you are saying that Heaven agrees with you on the issue but how can you know that? How do know that Heaven is on your side on an issue? That’s why Yeshua teaches us to just let our “yes be yes” and our “no be no.” Dragging the Creator down to our level to make our vows more believable is not honoring to our Lord.

Our statements should be able to stand on their own based on our own character and reputation.

The Torah doesn’t punish people if they don’t take vows. If one does take a vow, it’s a serious thing not to follow through. If you change your mind after taking a vow, the bill goes up by 25%.

In Acts 5:1-11, we see the example of Ananias and Sapphira. They made a promise that they would sell some land and devote all the proceeds to the Apostles, but they lied and paid a large price.

Yeshua told a parable about counting the cost before building a tower. Our brothers and sisters in the Middle East know that devoting one’s life to Yeshua the Messiah can be a death sentence. They let their faith be known, they do not hide it even though the threat of death hangs over them. They know the cost.

All of these things we have seen in Leviticus are about moving closer to God and as we move closer to God, we should also move closer to others in our sincerity and truth. God is not fooled by any act we put on. We may fool other people, but people can tell if someone is playing a part.

The Tabernacle was smack dab in the middle of the camp of Israel, because God wants to dwell among mankind.

When we celebrate Sukkot and read the end of the Bible (Revelation 21–22), we see how much God longs to walk on the earth, the way He did with Adam and Eve in the Garden (Genesis 3). It’s a beautiful thing that God wants to walk with us.

Hopefully, as we come to the end of Leviticus, we can see how God is moving Himself closer to us and helping us move closer to Him and to each other.

Summary: Tammy.

Banner image: Photo by Kelsey Johnson, from freeimages.com via Creative Commons license

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