2.22.2007

Leviticus 26-27

Last post on Leviticus

[insert big sigh of relief from both my readers]

Chapter 26
God describes and promises to bless His people if they obey (1-13), and to curse them if they disobey (14-43). Verse 13 is especially beautiful in the first section: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright." The whole point of saving Israel was so they would not be slaves and would not walk unrightly. God causes His people to walk uprightly, after He saves them. The million dollar word here is sanctification. Once we are saved, we try to live to please God and obey Him. This verse 13 reminds us that it is God at work in us, both to will and to act (Philippians 2:13), that makes this sanctification happen.

In the section of curses, verse 25 stood out to me: God will bring a sword that will "execute the vengeance of the covenant." Being in covenant with God brings enormous blessing for those who are faithful and obedient. But to those in covenant who do not obey faithfully, the punishment is great. The point I would have you consider is that a person can be in covenant with God and also be disobedient and punished by God.

The curses escalate until verse 39, with a refrain between each escalation, that if you still don't turn back, then something worse will happen ("if by these things you are not reformed by Me... then...." vs 23).

At verse 40, we get the promise of restoration if we repent. After generations of disobedience, if Israel repents, then God will look back to the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (vs 42; see Isaiah 51:1-3). Then He will not cast away or abhor Israel anymore (vs 44), even though He DID do these things in punishment for disobedience earlier.



Chapter 27 - redeeming gifts to God
If an Israelite gives God a gift - sets apart a person, field, animal or house for Him - they could redeem it (buy it back) to themselves in most cases, according to the law laid out in this chapter. The details here are fuzzy to me, but some things are clear. Somethings could not be bought back: tithes and things banned to destruction in war. The priest set the value of whatever was given to God. If one wanted to buy it back, they had to pay according to what the priest said. Also, the priest determined if an animal brought was clean (able to sacrifice) or not (vss 9,11). So the priest, in this moneychanging context, was in a position to fleece Israel, if his heart went astray that way, while still obeying the letter of the law. And indeed, this is what had happened in Jesus' day. It may be that this kind of activity was part of Jesus' cleansing of the temple.

Another possible connection: Jesus rebukes the practice of giving to God whatever a person should have used to support their parents. The practice (not the sinful distortion of it that Jesus rebukes) may have its roots in this chapter.

2 Comments:

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Clurt said...

Steve,
Am I one of the 2...or do you have 3?

Thanks for addressing Leviticus. So much for us here! I would still take semantic exception with your usage of the word "obey." I might use "keep" instead, reserving "obey" for actual obedience IAW a heart devoted to Christ. This is possible, I would argue, even when we obey contrary to our desires. By mortifying the flesh, we are obeying.

Press On!
JK

 
At 8:39 PM, Blogger Annette said...

Steve, wanted to tell you how I've enjoyed these overviews of Leviticus. Now I don't have to read them for myself (just kidding). But it gave me a good overview of them, and I liked it. So ... thanks. :)

 

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