Friday, January 26, 2024

2024.01.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 25

Read Leviticus 25

Questions from the Scripture text: Who spoke to whom (Leviticus 25:1)? Where(!)? To whom was he to speak (Leviticus 25:2)? About the time that they came into what? And what would that land then keep? In what way (Leviticus 25:3-5)? What could everyone eat (Leviticus 25:6)? And what else could eat that (Leviticus 25:7)? What does v8 describe a “sabbath” of? What would be sounded on what day of that year (Leviticus 25:9)? And what would the next year be (Leviticus 25:10-11)? What would be repeated (Leviticus 25:11-12)? What unique action would be taken (Leviticus 25:10Leviticus 25:13)? What instruction do Leviticus 25:14-17 give, in light of this 50-year “reset”? Why, ultimately (end of Leviticus 25:17)? What will come by following these instructions (Leviticus 25:18-19)? How (Leviticus 25:20-22)? Who owns all the land and is its only true Owner (Leviticus 25:23)? What does this mean for buying and selling it (Leviticus 25:23-24)? In what ways does a piece of land come back to the one to whom the Lord assigned it (Leviticus 25:25-28)? What about when it is property not assigned by the Lord, as in Leviticus 25:29-30? What is the difference between that house and the houses in Leviticus 25:31? Which specifically assigned houses, even in walled cities, are subject to the land redemption/jubilee laws (Leviticus 25:32-34)? What should the attitude and actions of a brother be, when his brother becomes poor (Leviticus 25:35-37, cp. Leviticus 25:23b)? Why (Leviticus 25:38)? What is the ultimate reason for delivering them and settling them (end of verse 38)? And what if borrowing doesn’t remedy his poverty (Leviticus 25:39-41)? From Whom is this indentured servitude really being purchased (Leviticus 25:42-43Leviticus 25:55)? To whom did these redemption/jubilee rules not apply (Leviticus 25:44-46)? To what might a brother resort if there is no kin to sell himself to (Leviticus 25:47)? But what must be permitted as soon as one is able (Leviticus 25:48-50)? What governs the price (Leviticus 25:51-53)? Why (Leviticus 25:54)? What relationship establishes all of these laws (end of Leviticus 25:55)?

How did God communicate to Israel the great liberty of their holiness to Him? Leviticus 25 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these fifty-five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that in His holy land, for His holy people, the Lord gave a rhythm of seasons of life, and even of generations that proclaimed liberty in Christ. 

Holy Liberty, Leviticus 25:1–22. We have just seen how the favor and fellowship of the Lord in the midst of His people (Leviticus 24:1–9) extends itself to the holiness of the people as a whole and even their land into which they are coming (Leviticus 24:10–23). Now, in chapter 25, the Lord communicates the holiness of the land and of the people by way of sabbaths of years for the land, and even sabbaths of sabbaths of years! 

One of the things that we can see here is how important is the weekly Sabbath from the creation. Man was created to enjoy God’s favor and fellowship, and God assigned holy time—an entire holy day—consecrated to only that enjoyment. But when God redeems for Himself a people from Egypt, and brings them into the land, He uses that Sabbath as a template for the rhythm of seasons of life (every seven years) and even generations (every 49+1 years) for both the land and the society. And what is it that the Lord thus communicates in His society? Liberty! 

There was liberty every seventh year, where this agrarian society would basically get an entire year off (Leviticus 25:4). The Lord would make the land so productive in the sixth year that, without putting in the work, it would bridge the no-work year, and the year following it, since nothing had been planted in the seventh year (Leviticus 25:20-22)! He is still the same Lord, and we must trust Him to bless the other six days sufficiently to liberate us for devoting the Lord’s Day entirely to enjoyment of Him.

What was this liberty for? Primarily for worship. Unlike the weekly Sabbath, only particular activities were forbidden (Leviticus 25:4-5b). But exactly like the weekly Sabbath, the purpose of the Sabbath is given as “unto YHWH” (Leviticus 25:4b). It was especially to be a year of worshiping the Lord—opportunity for more fellowship with Him, a reset and renewal of spiritual life.

It was also a reminder that they were sojourners with Him, that they were all “the poor.” For a year, they would leave old produce from the double-yield of the sixth year to be eaten in the eighth (cf. Leviticus 25:22), as they ate gleanings in the seventh year. For a year, they would all be the poor who eat gleanings (cf. Leviticus 19:9–10, Leviticus 23:22; Exodus 23:11) left for them by the rich Landowner, the Lord Himself!

But this sabbath of liberty wasn’t even to be the liberty-climax in the Israelite’s life. For, every seven sabbath years, there would be a sabbath of sabbaths of years (Leviticus 25:8). And then would come the trumpeted year! The sabbath (seventh) month always began with a trumpet (cf. Leviticus 23:24). But in the 49th year the tenth day of that month would be full of these trumpet blasts (Leviticus 25:9). This would announce the trumpet year (Leviticus 25:10-12, “Jubilee” is actually a transliteration of a second Hebrew word for trumpet in Leviticus 25:9).

And this would be especially a year for proclaiming liberty (Leviticus 25:10). The land would be freed back to those to whom the Lord had originally assigned it (Leviticus 25:13), and the Israelite slave would go free (Leviticus 25:40-41Leviticus 25:54). There would even be an extra year of gleanings (Leviticus 25:12). This all anticipates the great proclaiming of the great liberty (cf. Isaiah 61) that would finally and forever come in the Lord Jesus (cf. Luke 4:16–21).

The great point of the Jubilee is that God is liberating sinners into His favor and His fellowship forever in His Son, our Lord Jesus. He takes the weekly Sabbath of the creation and incorporates into Israel’s life these rhythms, of the seasons of their life and even their generations, that make liberty in Him the great theme of their existence. Now for us, dear Christian, the place to which we are tied is glory itself (cf. Ephesians 2:6), and our people are His kingdom/temple/bride/body the church. Our very existence is all about the Lord Jesus’s having liberated us. 

Similar to the administration under Moses, the church under Him has been given a rhythm of life to experience this and be refreshed in it. No longer tied to land ownership or indentured servitude, our jubilee comes not once in a lifetime, but every week (cf. Hebrews 4:9, Hebrews 12:22–23; Revelation 1:10)! Like Israel of old, whom we do not know ever to have followed this (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:21), there is an epidemic in the churches of those who do not keep a completely consecrated Lord’s Day as an enjoyment of the Lord’s liberty. 

Holy Property, Leviticus 25:23-34. “The land is Mine,” says the Lord (Leviticus 25:23). “You are strangers and sojourners with Me” (verse 23). The land would be allotted to families by the Lord Himself, and these allotments could not be permanently lost (verse 23, until the Lord expelled the people as a whole from the land). Even if hardship forced them to sell, it had to be sold back if the redemption price could be paid (Leviticus 25:25-27). And if it couldn’t, then it would still return to him in the trumpet year (Leviticus 25:28). 

There were houses that were not part of allotted land, and the Lord gave a year to redeem (Leviticus 25:29) before losing one of those permanently (Leviticus 25:30). But since the Levites had only cities and not farmland, their houses in the cities were to be treated as permanent allotments from the Lord (Leviticus 25:32-34). 

Though we do not have land prophetically assigned to us for a permanent allotment, let us remember that all that we have in this world is a temporary provision from God. We will not take it with us or repossess it in the new earth. Let us enjoy it as a gift from Him and employ it for His service.

Holy Poverty, Leviticus 25:35-55Leviticus 25:35 mirrors Leviticus 25:23. The whole nation are sojourning with YHWH in His land. And, if the Lord’s providence brings a brother into poverty, it is to be seized as an opportunity to imitate the Lord’s grace with their brother. “Fear your god that your brother may live with you” (Leviticus 25:36). If he needs to borrow, it is not a capital opportunity (like when someone borrows for business or for a large purchase) but a charity opportunity (Leviticus 25:37). 

Borrowing didn’t always resolve the issue. If that didn’t work, a brother might sell himself into slavery (throughout the passage, “servant” and “slave” are, somewhat unhelpfully, translating the same word). Anyone who bought him had to reckon with the fact that, just like the land, YHWH claimed every Israelite as His own (Leviticus 25:42Leviticus 25:55) in distinction from other nations (Leviticus 25:44-46).

The first choice would have been to sell yourself to a brother, but as a last resort an Israelite might sell himself to a stranger (Leviticus 25:47). In this case, he would seek to have his redemption purchased as soon as possible, whether by a kinsman redeemer (Leviticus 25:48-49) or even somehow by himself (end of Leviticus 25:49). But whatever the case, the Lord would “redeem” him in the trumpet year (Leviticus 25:54). 

These two options (redemption by a brother/redemption in the jubilee) are both ultimately fulfilled in Christ. By His incarnation, He became our Kinsman(!) Redeemer, Who is also our Redeeming God by virtue of His divine personhood. A brother’s poverty was an opportunity to imitate and participate with the Lord in showing him grace. But one’s own poverty was an opportunity to remember that the Lord, Who redeemed him, refuses to let him go. The Lord has liberated him to be His own, forever! Isn’t that a great comfort to you, dear liberated ones of the Lord Jesus Christ?!

How is being liberated to enjoy the Lord’s smile and the Lord’s fellowship the great theme of your life? What rhythm has He established for you, as a New Testament believer, for the enjoying of this reality? How could your use of His day be brought into better, sweeter enjoyment of Him in the way for which that day has been set apart? How are you treating your property as entrusted to you by God to steward for a season? How are you treating believers as His people and His servants?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for liberating us to enjoy the shining of Your face and the sharing of Your fellowship. And thank You for the rhythm that You have established, by way of the Lord’s Day, to make us to enjoy that liberty as the great theme of our life. Grant that we would delight in it, so that we might delight in You. Please make us to enjoy and employ all property as a gift from You. And, grant that we would treat our brethren as belonging to You. Make us to treat all poverty, whether ours or others’, as an opportunity to glorify and enjoy Your abundant generosity. Grant it all, we ask, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” 

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