Friday, February 09, 2024

2024.02.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 27

Read Leviticus 27

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to whom in Leviticus 27:1? To whom is he to speak (Leviticus 27:2)? What may a man consecrate, in what way, to Whom? What was the valuation for whom in Leviticus 27:3? What, for whom, in Leviticus 27:4? And what for which two groups in Leviticus 27:5? And what for which two groups in Leviticus 27:6? And what for which two in Leviticus 27:7? What accommodation does Leviticus 27:8 make? What else may be brought in Leviticus 27:9? What does it become? Since it is holy, what mayn’t he do (Leviticus 27:10)? And if he wants to offer a different one, what happens to both? What might keep it from being offered (Leviticus 27:11)? To whom must he present it? What does the priest do (Leviticus 27:12, cf. Leviticus 27:8)? And what if he wants the animal back at that point (Leviticus 27:13)? What else may a man dedicate (Leviticus 27:14)? What must the priest do? And what if the man wants the house back (Leviticus 27:15)? What else may a man dedicate (Leviticus 27:16)? How is it valued? When may he consecrate the field for that much (Leviticus 27:17)? But how much in other years (Leviticus 27:18)? And what if he wants it back (Leviticus 27:19)? What happens if he doesn’t buy it back; what happens in the Jubilee (Leviticus 27:20-21)? What other sort of field may a man consecrate (Leviticus 27:22)? Who calculates the value in what way (Leviticus 27:23)? What happens in the Jubilee at that point (Leviticus 27:24)? Of what does Leviticus 27:25 define the value? What may not be consecrated in Leviticus 27:26? Whose is it already? What must be done if it’s unclean (Leviticus 27:27)? What new category does Leviticus 27:28 introduce? What may not be done with those? And what about a person who is in that category (Leviticus 27:29)? What else in the land is consecrated (Leviticus 27:30)? What if the man wants it back (Leviticus 27:31)? And what else is to be consecrated, selected in what way (Leviticus 27:32)? What mayn’t he do; what occurs to both if he wishes to replace its offering (Leviticus 27:33)? Who commanded whom, for whom, and where (Leviticus 27:34)?

If God has prescribed His public worship, how can a believer respond to special providence or moments of inflamed love and thankfulness? Leviticus 27 prepares us for the evening sermon on the Lord’s Day. In these thirty-four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that believers may vow unto God to devote themselves to His service, but they must take these vows very seriously. 

Extraordinary vows. The word translated “consecrates” in the NKJ of Leviticus 27:2 ordinarily means to work a wonder or perform a marvel. Its use here, in connection with a man making a vow, does not mean that a man can work wonders like God can. Rather, it teaches us that there are going to be times in a believer’s life, when he has reason or desire to devote himself or what he has to God. If it’s a clean animal, it will be offered as a sacrifice. If it’s an unclean animal, it will be sold, and the proceeds will support the priesthood and their work. If it’s a person (even himself), that person will enter into the service of the tabernacle. 

Whatever is vowed, the idea is that this is extraordinary—above and beyond the offerings by which one draws near in ordinary worship, and above and beyond even the freewill offerings that are a part of that system. The believer ought to live in the expectation that God, Who continually does good to us and continually refreshes and encourages our hearts in Himself, will sometimes do for us something so unusual (or move us in such an unusual way) that we will wish to respond with a special or unique offering of ourselves. Note that the tithe is already holy to Yahweh (Leviticus 27:30-31) and would not be considered an extraordinary vow (though it may be redeemed with the extra one-fifth of the value, cf. below).

Valuations of redemption. For various reasons, it may become necessary or desirable to recover the animal, person, field, etc., that had been dedicated in the vow. In that case, the person who had made the vow could add one-fifth to the valuation and pay to redeem from the indentured servitude. This language of “redemption” strongly ties chapter 27 with chapter 25 in the theme of being able to redeem. There are implications here for what Christ has done and the greatness of the value of His offering Himself for us.

The valuations attached to the various people in Leviticus 27:3-7 might rub a contemporary westerner the wrong way, being loosely attached to the amount of productivity one might expect out of that demographic. But compared with values of slaves from other near-eastern cultures of the time, the valuations are all very high across the board. We can even see this implied by Leviticus 27:8. This was not to be an expression of thanks and love that only the rich could offer unto God. For the poor who wished to do this, the priest was to set a value for their sacrificial giving.

There is something sweet here about the value that the Lord places upon His people and their service to Him, as well as their willingness to give themselves, their families, and their property to Him. Let us learn, here, to see that our God treasures us. And, let us learn to offer ourselves in His service as that which is most valuable to give Him. Though we have not priests on earth, our Priest in heaven has servants (deacons) who oversee ministry to the saints and can employ us or our resources for the good of His flock.

Faithfulness to our vow. Leviticus 27:10 and Leviticus 27:33 show us how seriously we should make and keep our vows to the Lord. Those two texts deal with a situation where a man has vowed one animal, but decides that he wishes to keep it and attempts to make a switch. In this case, he is to forfeit both animals. Even worse, the forfeiture hinders him from giving freely, with a heart full of love and thanksgiving. 

A similar situation arises in Leviticus 27:19-21, where a man “sells” a field that had been devoted already. In this case, the field does not come back to him at the Jubilee. It continues in the possession of the one to whom it was sold until the Jubilee, in accordance with the instruction in Leviticus 25:28. But, rather than return to him at the Jubilee, the land of his family’s inheritance is forfeited by his deception and becomes permanently “devoted” (Leviticus 27:21, cf. Leviticus 27:28, and “ban” in Leviticus 27:29 is the same word). “Devoted” things are forfeited in an irredeemable way. When God’s law devotes someone to death for a crime, no money can buy him out of his sentence. This is how seriously God takes the vow and any deceitfulness to try to get out of it.

Knowing about this in advance helps him take the vow seriously when he is making it, and then not look back once it is made. (In a similar way, in Matthew 5:31–32, we saw how the impermissibility of divorce helps us take marriage more seriously when we enter into it and not look back once we are married).

Denying ourselves and making self-sacrificial promises and gifts to the Lord is a part of the believer’s life. We see this in Acts 5:1–2, where the rest of the context (Acts 5:3–11) reminds us that God is just as serious about our cheerful generosity and honesty in this now as He was in Leviticus 27. So, let us be cheerful and generous and honest in devoting ourselves and our things to the Lord!

In what ways do you draw near to God and give of yourself as He has commanded? What are other ways that you might devote yourself to Him and His service for a time, in response to a great providence, or when His heart moves you to a moment of greater love? How does this passage teach you to be very careful vowing such a thing to God, and then very careful to fulfill it?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving Yourself to us in Christ. Grant that we would gladly and cheerfully give ourselves to You. Help us to have wisdom and grace for making and paying vows of love and thanksgiving to You. And make us honest in fulfilling them, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP116B “I Still Believed” or TPH61B “O Hear My Urgent Cry”

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