August 31, 2015.
Daily Reading: Leviticus 25-27.
Background: Leviticus 22-24.
Concepts and Connections.
The Sabbath year and the year of Jubilee: This chapter details two years in which the children of Israel were to neither sow their fields or prune their vineyards. The first was the Sabbath year, which occurred every seventh year, on which the children of Israel were to have a year of solemn rest, not sowing or harvesting. This would be a true challenge of their faith, as they would have to rely on God to supply their food, as the text says that the Sabbath year would. They were not to harvest what the land produced on its own like they would harvest their normal crops, but rather eat their share from what the Sabbath provided. Then the Jubilee is discussed, which would be similar to the Sabbath year in that there would be no sowing or harvest, but it went beyond the year of Sabbath rest and was a time of celebration and restoration. The Jubilee would happen every 50th year, after the seventh Sabbath year (which would equal 49 years all together). This would be even more of a test of their faith in the Lord, as there would be two years in a row where they would neither sow nor reap, and on the year after the Jubilee, they would have to wait until harvest time to get any crops. Thus the Lord said in the year prior to the seventh Sabbath rest, the land would produce enough produce for three years, to cover the time of no sowing or harvest. This would be His provision for His people. In the year of Jubilee, all of the land that was sold would return to its original owner, as it was his inheritance from the Lord. Houses that were not in walled cities were considered part of the land and would be returned to their original owner as well. There is a focus here on not harming your brother, being just to each other and restoration. For those brothers who were struggling financially, the children of Israel were to be kind to them and help them in their time of need, not looking to take advantage of them. If they got to the point where they had to sell themselves, they were not to be taken as slaves, but rather as hired workers, and they were to be released in the year of Jubilee. If an Israelite was sold to a sojourner, he was able to be redeemed by a relative, according to the years until the Jubilee. If he was not redeemed before the Jubilee, he was to be released in the year of Jubilee. The year of Jubilee served as a reminder that the land, nor the people, were owned by anyone except the Lord, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt.
Obedience and disobedience: This chapter lays out the blessings and repercussions for either obedience to His rules and statues or disobedience. First, the children of Israel are told that if they are faithful to the Lord in all that He has commanded them to do, then He would greatly bless them and enrich their lives. Blessings and protection would flow from the hand of the Lord onto His people, and they would not have to be afraid. However, the flip side to this was the punishment that would ensue if they did not obey the word of the Lord and walk in His commands and statutes. If this were the case, the exact opposite would happen. The hand of the Lord would be agains them, and they would experience times of trials, of drought, famine and pestilence, times of the sword and fear of their enemies. This would be their punishment, and if they continued to disobey, more punishment would be dolled out from the hand of the Lord, visiting their iniquities sevenfold. This would be the discipline from the Lord that He might guide His people back to Him. However, if they continued to forsake Him, then they would be removed from the land, and the land would enjoy its Sabbath rests as it was supposed to do with the people of God. In the end, if they humbled themselves before the Lord, He would remember the covenant that He made with their forefathers and would not make an ultimate end to His people.
Laws about vows: This chapter is devoted to the regulations of vows, specifically to the redemption of these vows. The chapter begins with people who had been consecrated to the Lord with a vow, and a valuation based on age and gender of that vow. Some view this as a vow that was simply paid by the vower, whereas others see this as the redemption price to end a vow of service for the person who was vowed. It is notable that there is a provision made for the poor vower, as the price could be changed at the digression of the priest. Then regulations are given for vows concerning animals that were dedicated to the Lord as an offering. To redeem an offering, a fifth was to be added to the valuation. The same concept applied to vows concerning the dedication of a man’s house to the Lord. The valuation of a portion of land that was vowed was measured relative to the year of Jubilee, which was discussed in chapter 25. A fifth was also to be added to the valuation price if one wished to redeem the land. The firstborn of animals could not be vowed, as they already belonged to the Lord. Tithes of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees could be redeemed by adding a fifth to the value, but tithes of herds and flocks could not be redeemed.
Tomorrow’s Reading: I Chronicles 1-4.
Stand strong in the Lord.