Scripture: from verse 29
No person who has been sentenced to die, and thus unconditionally consecrated, can be redeemed; he must be put to death.
Observation: Something that was unconditionally consecrated was holy to Adonai; it could not be redeemed or sold or otherwise un-consecrated. This included people sentenced to death for crimes against God or the community.
When we were discussing God’s commanded wholesale slaughter of various people groups in the Old Testament, my mom once pointed out that God wasn’t necessarily condemning them all. He was simply making it so He could deal with those people individually. By preserving His plan for His people, He made it possible to offer grace to those people through Yeshua, the culmination of that plan.
What we see is not all there is. Executing criminals also meant putting them in God’s hands, where they could be dealt with with perfect justice and perfect love.
Obviously today we don’t go around stoning people. But we can acknowledge that God is dealing with people and we can’t always see it. Sometimes we are called to leave others to Him. We want to teach and correct and remind and push, but that may not be what we’re called to do. Other people are also holy to God, and we should let Him deal with their faults in His time and in His way.
And the truth is that we too are condemned to die. We were dead in our sin (Eph 2) and had no hope. We are unconditionally consecrated to God. And we cannot be sold or transferred, because we are especially holy to Him. He has plans for us.
Application: Trust God to be teaching others. Let Him teach you.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for making it possible for me to have grace. Thank you for making me holy. Help me to trust your plans. Amen.
Scripture: verse 8
If the person is too poor to be evaluated, set him before the priest, who will assign him a value in keeping with the means of the person who made the vow.
Observation: Apparently sometimes people promised to give God the value of a specific person. I’m not really sure why you would do this, but that’s not my problem. The passage sets out the standard value of a person by gender and age, and ends with this verse, saying that if the value of the person doesn’t match the standard value, the priest gets to examine the person and assign them a value.
I think the reminder here is that everyone has value. Someone who was blind or crippled did not typically have the earning power of someone healthy, but that didn’t make them worthless to God.
Application: Look for the value in others. God sees it, after all.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for coming to the poor and the blind and the sinners. Thank you for bringing healing to those who need it. Help me to see others the way you do. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 36
The sound of a driven leaf will frighten [you], so that [you] will flee as one flees from the sword and fall when no one is pursuing.
Observation: This is one of the penalties for not following God’s will: the land will be overrun and most of the people will be captured and taken away, and the remainder will live in fear. If God’s people followed His will, this would be true of their enemies instead.
I used to struggle with social anxiety. Actually I still do, but it’s much, much less than it used to be. And as a result there was almost always a couple of people who I was quite convinced hated me. I don’t know where the idea came from, but I would misinterpret every glance and comment as disdainful and critical. And it would make me feel sick and sad and tired, and I never knew what to do about it.
And that’s what life is without God. Without His perspective, we see things wrong. A blowing leaf looks bigger than it is, and the beginnings of a real storm look insignificant.
Application: Look for God’s perspective before you react. Don’t get caught up in your own perceptions.
Prayer: Father, thank you for being the Truth that is at the core of creation. Thank you for holding all things together. Help me to see things the way you do. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 6
I will give peace in the land — you will lie down to sleep unafraid of anyone.
Observation: The passage lists the blessings that will result from walking in God’s ways, as well as the punishments that will result from refusing to do so. I liked this one – a promise that God would remove wild beasts and protect them from attack, so they would be able to lie down and sleep unafraid.
In that time, all common sense argued against sleeping in the open. Someone could attack you or rob you in your sleep, or you could be hurt by a snake or scorpion or lion or wild dog, or if you avoided those fates, there was still the hot sun to burn you during most of the year.
But in God, we can defy common sense. His peace includes protection from people and animals and even the elements. If we follow where He is leading, we don’t have to worry.
We tithe, and let Him protect our finances. We reach out to others as He shows us, and trust Him to guard our hearts from being hurt. We remain chaste, and trust Him to arrange our sex lives. He provides for all our needs according to the riches of His glory (Phil 4:19).
Application: Lie down and sleep in peace. Ask Him to handle the things that are causing you anxiety.
Prayer: Father, thank you for protecting me. Thank you for reversing common sense so that I can rest. Thank you for covering all my anxieties. Amen.
Scripture: verse 55
For to Me the people of Israel are slaves; they are my slaves whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; I am Adonai your God.
Observation: This verse is repeated twice in the passage, and it concerns poverty in Israel: Israelites who became poor could sell themselves into slavery, but they were to be treated well, as if they were an employee or tenant, and they went free during the Jubilee year. People of Israel were not to be treated as property.
What struck me here is the reasoning: Israelites could not be owned by humans because they were already owned by God. They had to treat each other well, not just because they were humans, but because they were God’s property and He did not want His things mistreated. We are God’s treasured possession.
Modern Americans don’t really like the idea of being property. Cultures change, for the better in this case. But being God’s possession brings a sense of safety. If He owns us, then it’s up to Him to take care of us. He gets all the stress, and we get to belong.
I love it when the feeling of belonging wraps around me like a warm coat. Knowing that He has me exactly where I’m supposed to be. Knowing that I’ve been called by name (Isaiah 41:1) and bought with a price (1 Cor 6:20) and I belong to Him. I don’t have to worry about my identity or my purpose or my worth – that’s His problem. I belong here in His love.
Application: You belong to God. Let Him worry about things.
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for making me yours. Thank you for giving me a place to grow and for taking care of me and polishing me and protecting me. Help me to trust your love. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 10
You are to consecrate the fiftieth year, proclaiming freedom throughout the land to all its inhabitants…everyone is to return to his family.
Observation: The fiftieth year was Jubilee – debts were wiped away and land ownership reverted to the family who originally owned it. God points out in verse 23 that they are all leasing land from Him anyway.
What struck me is that everyone was to return to his family as part of the year of freedom. Jubilee was meant to be a year of reconciliation and reconnection as well as a time of rest and returning to God. The debts to be wiped away were not just financial but also the emotional debts that can stress families so badly.
God wants us to be at peace with others, because emotional debts keep us from knowing God’s freedom. Old slights and arguments and angry spirals stay in our hearts if we don’t deal with them, and pop up just when we wish they wouldn’t.
Just as God is the ultimate owner of everything we have, we also need to let Him mediate our relationships with those around us. He knows their hearts, and He is working in their hearts, just as He knows and is working in our hearts. He will create justice and life and order; we don’t have to. All will be well.
Application: To the extent that it depends on you, live in peace with all people. (Romans 12:18)
Prayer: Yeshua, thank you for being my Peace. Thank you for offering Peace to everyone I know. Help me to stay in that peace and extend it to others. Amen.
Scripture: verse 7
Put frankincense with each row [of bread] to be an offering made by fire to Adonai in place of the bread and as a reminder of it.
Observation: Each week, they had to use twelve gallons of fine flour to make bread, and the bread was displayed on the holy table. Frankincense was put out with it, and then the frankincense was burned and the bread got eaten by the priests.
The sacrifice was bread. But instead of taking the bread, which could then go to feed the priests, God took the frankincense, which had no real use beyond smelling nice.
Proverbs 37:25 says, “I have been young; now I am old; yet not once have I seen the righteous abandoned, or his descendants begging for bread.” God is not unreasonable. He does not demand sacrifices that leave us with nothing. He deserves them – without His grace we would be dead in our sin (Col 2:13) – but He doesn’t take them. Because He loves us.
The things that we give to God have a way of coming back to us. Our sacrifices are often the source of our blessings. God asks us to trust Him with our finances and our time and our energy so that He can make sure we have plenty. Our trust becomes His provision.
Application: Give God His due. Trust Him to provide for you. He wants to, after all.
Prayer: Father, thank you for abundantly blessing everything my family has turned over to you. Help us to find more ways to trust you. Amen.
Scripture: from verse 41
You are to observe the feast to Adonai; it is a permanent regulation, generation after generation…
Observation: My family tends to be big on traditions. My mom is really good at instituting them, in part because she found that one big Tradition was usually less work than trying to figure out multiple smaller iterations. And I like traditions. Well, I like the traditions we make up. I tend to get cranky about traditions that come from outside our immediate family. *Those* are the boring kind 🙂
But traditions change and shift over time, adapting to new people and new circumstances. And that’s why God didn’t create traditions. He created regulations.
God doesn’t change over time. He’s outside of it. And He doesn’t shift for new people and new circumstances. He’s far too big for that.
So when He creates a feast meant to remind us about who He is, He doesn’t leave it to the flux and flow of tradition. He requires it, as a permanent thing.
God is who He is, no matter who or where you are. He is still the God who saves us, who leads us through every trouble and rejoices with us in every victory. He still knows where you are and what you need.
Generation to generation, God has protected and nurtured and redeemed us. And generation to generation, we remember who He is and worship Him for it.
Application: Don’t get caught up in traditions, which can change and should change. Spend time with God, who is unchanging.
Prayer: Father, thank you for providing a solid rock for us to build our lives on. Help me to keep going back to you when I need help seeing. Amen.
Scripture: from verses 10 and 14
After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest…You are not to eat bread, dried grain or fresh grain until the day you bring the offering for your God.
Observation: God goes first. The first fruit from the tree was dedicated to God (Lev 19), and the first grain of the harvest was brought to God also. This was a gesture of thanks (since God had given the grain in the first place) and faith (that God would provide more ripe grain for them to eat) as well as worship.
We no longer bring sacrifices, but it’s still important to find ways to remind ourselves that God goes first. In our finances, in our time, in our energy. I’m not especially good at this, to be honest. We’ve done some things with our finances that reflect this, but that’s not necessarily something I notice. I have gotten a bit better since starting this study – choosing to write the next post before catching up online is a form of putting God first.
God is the source of life – our physical life, but also our energy and our creativity and the order and balance of the universe. When we remember that, the rest of our lives makes more sense.
Application: Find ways to put God first. Make decisions that remind you that He is your wellspring and your source.
Prayer: Father, thank you for being the ultimate Source of energy in the universe, the foundation of logic and the crux of all matters. Help me to remember that you are there, and make you my priority. Amen.
Scripture: verse 27
When a bull, sheep or goat is born, it is to stay with its mother for seven days; but from the eighth day on, it may be accepted for an offering made by fire to Adonai.
Observation: The passage is about acceptable sacrifices: animals offered had to be without defects or deformities, etc. I’m not sure why a newborn animal had to stay with its mother for seven days, but I’m guessing it was for the good of the flock. It seems quite possible that losing a baby too early caused distress in the mother.
I could be wrong, of course, but there’s a number of places where God gave instructions that make more sense now than they did then. Washing your hands under running water after touching a sick person would prevent the spread of disease and reduce the risk of infection. The commandment that slaughtered meat be eaten within two days makes plenty of sense when you consider that they were in a hot climate with no refrigeration and limited resources for preserving it. (They had access to salt, admittedly, but it was expensive and probably not widely used.)
And I like that we can trust God to know what He’s doing. That even the most arbitrary rules will probably make sense when we have access to His knowledge of how things work. He knows the plans He has for us – and they are plans for good (Jer 29:11). He knows enough to help us stay safe.
Application: What you see is not all there is. Trust Him to know more than you do.
Prayer: Father, I praise you for knowing everything there is to know. I praise you for understanding the mysteries of the universe, and for sharing your knowledge with us. Help me to trust you to keep me safe. Amen.