Introduction: Welcome to Expound our weekly worship and verse by verse study of the Bible. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God as we explore the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Skip Heitzig: Let's pray. Father, we believe that all Scripture is inspired by God and it is profitable; it's profitable for our consideration, it's profitable for our study going both wide as well as deep. We know, Lord, that even in the most, what some would consider, mundane sections of Scripture there are transcendent principles that override culture and language and time.
We're dealing with a book, Father, that is the undergirding foundation to the book of Hebrews, and many of the truths that were so important under the New Testament. It gives to us at least a working knowledge of what Jesus and his disciples were dealing with when they were speaking with Pharisees and Sadducees and those who were involved in the priesthood and the temple.
Thank you, Lord, that we live in a place, in a country where there is, as of yet, the freedom to worship. And thank you, Lord, that we've been able to worship you tonight here freely, to pour as much of our energy, and heart, mind, soul, and strength into it as we have. We have spoken to you, Lord; we have sung words, songs, thoughts to you.
We poured our hearts out to you, but now it's time for us to listen to what your Word says to us. And even if it were just the sheer reading of the Scripture without any comment at all, there would be such wisdom and strength we would derive. But, Father, like the apostles who gave comments to help apply the truths to people's lives, so we too on this night have decided to get together and go once again through the Bible.
And now in this section of Leviticus we pray that your Spirit would help even the weakness of this teacher in all of his frailties and all of his humanity, and that somehow, Lord, your deity would still shine through the pages of your glorious Word. We're confident that will happen, and we ask it specifically in Jesus' name, amen.
Our God is an interactive God; that is, God chooses you, he picks you, he predestines you in advance before you were ever born, but then he allows you to make a decision for him. He allows the will to be engaged. Also, God gives to his body, his church, his people, gifts. First Peter, chapter 4, it says every one of us have been given a gift. Also First Corinthians, chapter 12, "We all are gifted by God."
But then he allows us to engage in serving one another, or not, with the gifts that he has given to us. So God is interactive, God provides, but then he allows a human element to be part of the provision. So, when you speak to me and you give me some encouraging word or some scriptural reminders, it's as if God is speaking through you. That hug, that embrace, that acceptance is how the Lord is working through you to speak to my heart.
We see that principle here in the tabernacle and the provisions for the tabernacle. God is going to provide for the priesthood the oil for the lampstand and the bread that will be inside that Holy Place where the priest would minister, but he's going to do it through the people of Israel. They're going to bring the oil, they're going to bring the flour for the bread and for the lampstand.
Now God didn't need that. If he wanted to, he could have miraculously provided oil, and miraculously provided bread so that the priest would walk into the Holy Place and he'd just look down (poof) bread would appear perfect. After all, he did that already by giving the children of Israel manna in the wilderness, water from the rock in the wilderness. He miraculously provided. So it's not like he needs us.
I love what Paul said when he stood on the Areopagus in Athens and he looked over the men of Athens and said, "God is not worshiped with men's hands, as though he needed anything, because he gives life and breath and all things to everyone." God doesn't need any of us, but he allows all of us to participate in his worship so that there's a partnership. I love that concept.
And so we have in verse 1 of chapter 24, "Then the Lord spoke Moses, saying: 'Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually. Outside the veil of the Testimony, in the tabernacle of meeting, Aaron shall be in charge of it from evening until morning before.' " Notice it doesn't say from morning until evening, because once again, the Jewish day began in the evening and ended the next evening. So it's from evening, that's where the day begins, to the morning.
" 'Before the Lord continually; it shall be a statute forever in your generations.' " Now just for reference sake, we're dealing with that little room in the tabernacle. Remember that little room that the priest would walk into that had on the left side as you would enter, that golden lampstand; and on the right side, the table of showbread; and directly in front of you would have been the altar of incense?
And then you'd have a veil, the veil of the Testimony. And you wouldn't pass that veil except once a year if you were the high priest, you would go into the Holy of Holies. So we're dealing with that room called the Holy Place where these other implements were found.
Verse 4, " 'He shall be in charge of the lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the Lord continually.' " So the high priest alone, single-handedly, from generation to generation. It was the high priest's deal, his gig, to make sure that the lampstand had plenty of oil. He maintained the lampstand. One of the most beautiful pictures of Jesus Christ, borrowing from this book of Leviticus and showing up even in the New Testament, is that Jesus Christ is our great High Priest.
The writer of Hebrews—one of my favorite passages of Scripture in Hebrews 4, "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted like as we, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we might receive mercy and grace to help in time of need." Our great High Priest, our representative, and the One who maintains the lampstand, the Testimony before the Lord.
In Revelation, chapter 2 and 3, John sees an interesting depiction of Jesus Christ like the high priest walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands which represented the seven churches in Asia Minor in modern-day Turkey. And he was superintending his church, surveying it, giving little report cards to each of the congregation. "You get an A on this. You get an F on this. You get a C on this. You did this right, you did that right, but I've got something against you. And you got to correct this." It's Jesus the High Priest, that's the analogy, walking and superintending the seven golden lampstands.
Something else, we've covered it before, but good time and place to remember that there was in the Holy Place only one source of light. It would have been dark unless there were a lampstand. The only source of light was the lampstand. Jesus said in the gospel of John, "I am the light of the world." There was only one table that had sustenance—that's bread. Jesus said, "I am the bread of life."
There was only one entrance into the tabernacle from the east, only one approach to God. Jesus said, "I am the way." In fact, all of the "I am" statements can be traced back to this wilderness experience of the tabernacle. It's a great study, great reminder, great picture of Jesus.
Verse 5, " 'And you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it. Two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake.' " You go, "Well, that's four quarts." They're sizable. " 'You shall set them in two rows, six in a row, on the pure gold table before the Lord.' " So this is the table on the right-hand side. If you were a priest and you walked through that first little room called the Holy Place, on your left-hand side would be the lampstand, on your right-hand side would be the table of this bread or the showbread.
" 'And you shall put frankincense on each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, an offering made by fire to the Lord. Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place; for it is most holy to him from the offerings of the Lord made by fire, by a perpetual statute.' "
Fine flour, of course, meant that the bread was made out of wheat. Frankincense on top—I don't know what that would taste like, because if you're a priest, you gotta eat this stuff. So I don't know the amount; I do know what it smells like.
Frankincense is a gummy substance that comes from the Saudi Arabia area. Now they're in the Sinai, so they would have had access to it, and it was probably readily available right where they were out in the desert. And it's this aromatic, gummy substance that kind of has a woodsy smell. Kind of like pine oil and lemon mixed together. It's quite a fragrant thing to smell. Tasting it, I don't know, so they just sprinkled it on top.
But the incense, the frankincense was also used on the altar of incense. And that's a beautiful picture, according to David, of our prayer life before the Lord. It goes up to the Lord like incense. Our prayers go up like incense. So if you were in Jerusalem and there was the sacrifices being conducted in the temple, there would be the burning of incense often accompanied by the lifting of the hands of the priest, which symbolized the prayers by and for the people of Israel.
In Psalm 141 David said, "Let my prayer be brought before you like incense, and the lifting of my hands like the evening sacrifice," a beautiful picture of our prayer. And if you smell incense, it's like: "Oh, it smells so good." [sniff] So just picture as you pray God [sniffing], taking it in, going, "Oh, I love it. He's talking to me. She's, she's calling on me."
Do you know how much the Lord loves to hear from you? It's like incense to him; it smells so good. Well, if you don't, you should. And if you're a parent, you get it. You never get tired of your children calling or talking to you. "Oh, don't talk to me." You love it!
When they're small and they come in—and Nate would come in at any time in my office when he was growing up here. He would just barge in even if I was counseling somebody with tears in their eyes. And I always told him to do that. I said, "Son, I want you to barge in my office any time you feel like it. Daddy's never too busy for you." Because I never wanted him to believe that the ministry was more important than his family. And I discovered that most everyone would understand this: "Well, this is my son." "Oh, okay. Okay." He'd just come in: "Dad, what's up?"
Now he's an adult and he has his own children. And if he ever calls I never say, "Oh, stop calling. I see you enough." I love it. We were at a pastors' conference last week and my son and I had the privilege of driving down to Tucson just he and I in the car, and we spent hours together. We hadn't spent that much time in a long time. It was like sweet incense. It's awesome!
So your God loves to hear from you. He doesn't see you or hear you praying—he never says, "Oh, it's you again. What do you want? You're always whining." No, he loves it!
Now, something about this showbread that's quite interesting. Only the priest could eat it. And the idea is you change it every week, and you take that which was there, and you have it at home for your bread if you're part of the priestly family. Listen, baked bread with a little olive oil, little cracked pepper—nothing better.
In First Samuel, chapter 21, David is running away from King Saul. And he goes to one of priestly cities, the city of Nob which is, we believe, just outside of Jerusalem probably not far from the Kidron Valley. It's one of the areas that was given to the priests to live in. It was in the days of the high priest named Abiathar, and the priest on duty that day was a guy named Ahimelech.
David comes in and goes, "Ahimelech," he was running from Saul, but he said, "I've been sent on a mission by King Saul and we're really hungry; my men and I need to eat." And Ahimelech said, "Well, we've got no ordinary bread. The only thing we have here is the showbread." And he gave David some of the showbread to eat with his men, as long as he passed the qualifications: they hadn't been with women, they were not ceremonial unclean. They gave it because it was an emergency to David's men.
Well, why is that important? Because Jesus uses that as an example when in Mark, chapter 2, Jesus with his disciples are out in the grain fields and they're eating the grain on the Sabbath day. And the Pharisees—always wondered why they're there—pop up out of the grain field like they had been there all night long waiting for them, saying, "Why do your disciples do what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath day?"
And Jesus said, "Have you never read what David did . . . in the days of Abiathar the priest? How he took that holy showbread which was not lawful except for the priest to eat, and he and his men ate it?" And then he said, "The Sabbath was made for man; man wasn't made for the Sabbath." Interesting, Jesus in their view was breaking the Sabbath. I don't believe he was breaking the Sabbath according to the law of Moses, but in their interpretation he was.
But Jesus was saying, "Look, even David ate stuff to eat, or ate stuff to eat, ate bread that only the priest could eat. And so here we are eating this grain, and, and you should know that God gave the Sabbath as a gift to man. We're not supposed to be servile under these crazy rules and regulations. God gave it as a gift."
And then he said something that just rocked their world. He said, "For the Son of Man," speaking of himself, "is the Lord even of the Sabbath." That was, that was a statement of deity that he was God, he was in charge, he was the one calling the shots, he's the Lord even of the Sabbath day.
Now, beginning in verse 10 we have a story, we have an historical incident. This is rare. In the book of Leviticus there are only two places where you have a story told, an historical incident. One is chapter 10, which we've already covered with Nadab and Abihu and the profane fire, and God striking them dead—that narrative. And now we have this short little narrative, the short little story here.
Verse 10, "Now the son of an Israelite woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel; and this Israelite woman's son and a man of Israel fought each other in the camp. And the Israelite woman's son blasphemed the name of the Lord and cursed; and so they brought him to Moses. (His mother's name was Shelomith the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.)" Just in case you wanted to know who that was, now you have the bio. "Then they put him in custody that the mind of the Lord might be shown to them."
I love this. "We don't know what to do; we better pray about it." Instead of: "Well, look in the policy manual. What does the policy manual say?" It's like: "Now this is, this is sort of outside of our scope. We've never had this before. Let's put him in custody. Let's pray about it. Let's get God's mind and heart and will on this."
"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Take outside the camp him who has cursed; and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. Then you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: "Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death." ' "
This guy's mom was Israelite; this guy's dad was an Egyptian. We're going to get to in the book of Numbers one of the problems that the Israelites had when they were marching through the wilderness. It was called the "mixed multitude." The mixed multitude was part Israelite, part Egyptian. This, this very same thing, this sort of intermarriage, mixed marriage that produced children that were part Israelite, part Egyptian. And they complained and they murmured and they caused most of the problems for the children of Israel in the desert. So much so that the entire generation perished, and the new generation was the one to inherit the land; they created lots of problems.
Well, you can see here how this would create a problem. Perhaps—we don't know because we're not told—perhaps this Egyptian father, or this boy's father who was Egyptian, stayed back in Egypt. And perhaps his mom decided: "I've got to go out with the children of Israel." We don't know where the mother was or the father was, perhaps, he was out there alone and they both stayed back. But probably she is the one out in the wilderness while dad stayed back in Egypt.
He curses God while he's fighting with another guy, probably to incite him. Now we have an example in the Old Testament right before our eyes of why Paul in the New Testament, First Corinthians, chapter 6, said that you shouldn't be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever. There are certain relationships that when you enter into they're, they're so intimate, they're so deep, and especially marriage where the two become one flesh, that though you do what you do, and you decide to do whatever you do, if you make the decision as a Christian to marry an unbeliever, there are going to be some—well, there's going to be a hard road ahead.
And the hardest part will be with your own children. Because she's going to say, "Well, I'm an Israelite and we worship Yahweh." And he's going to say, "Well, I'm an Egyptian and we worship, like, eleven gods." "And son, daughter, we think that you ought to make your own choice." You can choose dad's gods or mom's God." And dad would say, "Well, I got more than she does. I would think you would want to kind of pick and choose from what I got." It would, it would create a problem, and here you see the problem that is created.
Now, this was a big deal for the children of Israel because the Jewish person wouldn't even say the name of God. They wouldn't say "Jehovah" or "Yahweh." We don't even know how it's pronounced to this day because all that is left to us in the Hebrew language are four consonants in Hebrew which we call the tetragrammaton.
And whenever they came to the tetragrammaton (the four consonant word in Hebrew for God), they just bowed their head and either said nothing, or they said "Adonai," which is "the Lord" as a substitute word for YHWH/Yahweh or Jehovah or however it's pronounced. Or they simply bowed their head and said HaShem which means "the name." The name embodied his character; to take his name in vain was like a super huge deal.
But here's the problem for the children of Israel: "Do we hold this guy to our standard or do we cut this guy a break? After all, he's part Egyptian. He was raised in a pagan culture by his dad, but married an Israelite mom, so sort of in between. What do we do?"
Now, if, if Moses would have consulted me, I might have said, "Moses, cut this guy a little slack, man. He's really not one of us fully. Let's show to these Egyptians just how much mercy we have." But if I were to give that counsel, I would be wrong.
Now, why am I bringing this up? Because so often we gather together and we discuss issues and we say, "I think this," and "I figure that," and "I believe this," and "my thought is this or that." And so we make our decisions based upon our conversations or our own emotions, and we can be so far off from the mind and will of God. And that's how a lot of decisions are made, even on church boards.
So sequester him, isolate him, arrest him, and let's pray and see what the mind of God is. Now, obviously the mind of God is there needs to be consistency, one law for every inhabitant in this land, whether he's foreign born or whether he's born as an Israelite.
Verse 17, " 'Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death.' " Interesting segue, because God says, "Take and give this guy capital punishment." Now God says, "Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death." Obviously, God didn't consider capital punishment murder.
" 'Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, animal for animal. If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him—fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death.' "
Now, can you see that an animal and a man have different value in the eyes of God? "Oh, but my puppy is so much like a person." I can relate; I love my puppy. I love my dog. But I don't love my dog the same way I love my wife, or there are going to be some megaproblems in my life. Nor do I believe that my doggy has the same kind of soul and the same sort of worth and value that a human being has.
Now if you were to go to India, it would be quite different. The Hindu philosophy is that animals and humans are just life-forms, and we have transmigration of the soul from death to life to death to life, reincarnation.
And one time when I was in India I heard of a bus driver who had to make a decision—roads are crazy over there. You think they're crazy here? They're so crazy because you have cars kind of going wherever you want to go. There's really no lines on a lot of the roads. There's animals on the roads, people walking on the roads, bicycles on the roads, oxcarts, elephants, camel carts on the road, and so you're kind of doing one of these things all day long, swerving.
Well, there was a crisis moment where the bus driver had to decide either he was going the hit a man or he was going to hit a cow. Because the cow was much more sacred than the human, he ran over the man and killed him. Now, it's not that he tried to aim for him; he was in that split decision kind of a deal. But in his mind what was most valuable was the animal life-form, the cow, the sacred cow, the "holy cow" was truly the supreme life-form in the biosphere. God says if you kill an animal, you will restore it, you'll pay for it; if you kill a man, you'll be put to death.
" 'You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one of your own country; for I am the Lord your God.' " Question: Why does God speak about murder right after this incident of blasphemy? In fact, he's going to circle right around back to that man who said what he said blasphemously, but he sort of pushes that aside, talks about murder, and then back to this guy who committed blasphemy. Because if you think about it, blasphemy is a sort of murder, a kind of murder.
When a person blasphemes the name of the Lord, he is killing the reputation of God in the eyes and the ears of the people. He's killing his character. The reputation of God is suffering. He's slaughtering God's reputation by saying, "God blank this," and "God blank that," and taking God's name in vain. So that the person that hears that over and over again, God rather than being holy and awesome is diminished in his hearing for such a long time that when this person ever gets into trouble, or there's an issue, he or she is not going to be inclined to call upon that God because that God has had no value in the surroundings in which the person has lived. So it is a sort of killing; it's a killing of a reputation and value of God.
"Then Moses spoke to the children of Israel; and they took outside the camp him who had cursed, and stoned him with stones. So the children of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses." Now, this whole thing about eye for eye, and tooth for tooth, and limb for limb, and fracture for fracture, it's not about retaliation, it's not about revenge, it's about restraint. That's what this law is about.
It is called the lex talionis. That's the formal legal name for this set of laws. The lex talionis, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, means the punishment should be fitting for the crime. That in a court of law when you exact punishment, it ought to fit the crime: eye for eye, tooth for tooth. It's such an old law that many ancient cultures employed the lex talionis. The Code of Hammurabi from the Babylonian era or Babylonian area also had something very similar to this.
Now the reason God employs it is for restraint, because you see human nature—well, revenge is never satisfied with justice. You know, if, if, if you deck me in the eye, my reaction would be to deck you back so hard that I take out both your eyes; that's just that's the that's human nature. Pounce on you—you broke one of my teeth, man, I'm going to take out your uppers. You're going be, you're going be needing dentures when I'm done with you, dude.
So to limit revenge this lex talionis was put into place. It was part of the mercy of God that the punishment should fit the crime. Remember that character back in Genesis, chapter 4, named Lamech who was like the great-great-great-great-grandson of Cain, I believe. And Lamech comes back from one of his excursions one day—and of course, Cain killed Abel—and Lamech has a song.
He says, "I've killed a man for wounding me, even a young man for hurting me. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, then Lamech will be avenged seventy-sevenfold." That's the human nature I'm speaking about. So to get away from that God said, "No, no, no; eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, fracture for a fracture. So to limit that the punishment would be fitting for the crime.
Now, chapter 25 is—I know you're probably getting tired of hearing statements like this, but it's at least one of my favorite sections of Scripture in this book, because it's about special years. Now, chapter 23, if you remember, was all about special days of the year, right? Special feast days of the year: Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Passover, etcetera. You know, times you get together and party hardy for the Lord because God's been good to you; that's what that chapter is all about.
Now, chapter 25 is all about special years. Now get this: there was a Sabbath year, not just a Sabbath day, but a Sabbath year. So you had six years, the seventh year was the year of rest. Then you count seven sets of those seven-year periods, and you have forty-nine years; add one, the fiftieth year, they called it the "Year of Jubilee." So the first few verses talk about the sabbatic year. And verse 8 through the rest of it speaks about the Year of Jubilee. We're going to touch on some of these verses.
So here's the deal: you're a farmer, you have land, you cultivate the land, you sow, you reap, you do it for six years. The seventh year you don't do anything. You don't work. You don't go out to the field and sow, and you don't reap. You just let whatever happens happen. You let stuff grow.
And what will happen is the land—you're taking care of the land. You're a steward of the land. You're not to deplete the earth is the idea. It's well known that if you are working a portion of land that you can't over cultivate that land, and so it was a common practice even then to let weeds grow up.
Because you know what weeds do? As much as I hate weeds, what weeds do in a field is they take the nutrients from the lower soil and they bring it up to the topsoil to regenerate the soil for the next growing season. So you let it weed out, and you let the fruit that's hanging on the tree drop, get rotten, turns into nutrients and fertilizer for, again, that topsoil. You do that for a year, and you're ready to go at it, and the crops actually come out bigger and better than the previous six-year period.
So that's the Sabbath year. You sow and you reap six years, the seventh year the ground lays fallow, you don't work it, no organized harvest. What this allows the congregation to do, especially if they're poor, is just to go out and have free food all year long. It's, it's the one year where the wealthy landowner and the poorest of the poor are on equal footing. So one-seventh of the time they're on equal footing because of this Sabbath year.
Now, I'm telling you this for another reason. Because this is part of the law of the Sabbath. And I'm telling you this because every now and then you're going to meet well-meaning Christians who make a huge deal of keeping the Sabbath. "Oh, you don't keep the Sabbath day? Why that's a commandment of God. It's in God's Top Ten list. 'Keep the Sabbath holy. I am the Lord your God.' How come you Christians don't keep the Sabbath? We keep the Sabbath."
And I usually let them go through their little spiel, and I try to be gentle and say, "Do you really keep the Sabbath?" "Oh, yes. We're a very devote Sabbatarians." "Cool. You even got a cool word there, so that's good. Um, you keep the Sabbath laws?" "Oh, yes, we keep the Sabbath." "Do you keep the Sabbath year?" And there's usually a blank stare at that point, because they don't even know about this Scripture.
"The what?" "Well, the Sabbath year. You probably know as a Sabbatarian that part of the Sabbath law goes beyond keeping a day of the week, but keeping an actual year after six years. So I hope you're going to tell me that you worked for six years and then you take an entire year off, and you just trust God that whatever comes in God will provide for you. Right?" "No." "Well, that was the life of faith under the sabbatic law."
Verse 1, "The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: "When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord.
" ' "You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vines, for it is a year of rest for the land. And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: For you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land—all its produce shall be for food." ' "
Whatever came up, any spontaneous yield was open pickings for anybody, whether you owned the land or whether you didn't own the land. You're walking along the field and you see some grapes over there, or some figs over there, and there's some on ground that have died, but you see a few that are ripe, and you're traveling, you just go in and grab it. How cool is that? God was taking care. This is one of the ways God was caring for the community.
Now, I want you to see something, and I want you just to mark this and keep this sort of framed in your mind. One of the things you notice if you are a Bible reader is that you see the number seven appear a lot.
God created the heavens and the earth for six days, on the seventh day he rested. Jacob worked for his uncle Laban for seven years, and then for another seven years. Pharaoh had a dream where he saw seven fat oxen and seven lean oxen. There were seven branches of that golden candlestick. It's very, very seven heavy. The siege of Jericho lasted seven days.
You get to the New Testament book of Revelation, you have seven heads and ten horns for the beast. You have seven churches. You have seven spirits. You have seven stars, seven seals, seven trumpet judgments, seven bowl judgments, which has led the scholar and the observer to say that there must be something to this number seven. It must represent something—and it does.
Seven is the number of? —not perfection, completion. Seven days in a week. Seven colors in a palette that form the rainbow. There are seven notes on a scale. It's a complete scale, it's a complete week, it's a complete palette—so it's the number of completion.
And I say it's not the number of perfection because the Antichrist is depicted as having seven horns; he's far from perfect. He's like Mr. Imperfect. He's Mr. 666, number of man. But number of seven is significant and you see a lot of it in Scripture.
Verse 8, " ' "You shall count seven sabbaths of years," ' " that will be important to you when you get to Daniel, chapter 9; you'll be ahead of this curve. " ' "Seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years." ' " That's sort of a tongue twister: "seven sabbaths of years"—say that ten times. No, don't do that. I hear somebody doing it; that's interesting. Of course, I said to do it, so it's my fault. [laughter]
" ' "Shall be to you forty-nine years. And you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all of your land." ' " The word Jubilee comes from the word trumpet in Hebrew: Yowbel, yowbel. The yowbel, the ram's horn, is the trumpet that is blown.
Also, Jubilee comes from another Hebrew root word: Jubal/Yubal. Now, if you are a musician, I hope you know who Jubal is. It's like your patron saint, man. In the book of Genesis chapter 4 verse 21 it says, "He was the father of all those who play the harp and the flute." So he's the first musician that appears in the Scripture—Jubal. Jubilee comes from that same root word.
Verse 10, " ' "And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you, for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, each of you shall return to his family. That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine. For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.
" ' "In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession. And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor's hand, you shall not oppress one another. According to the number of years after the Jubilee you shall buy from your neighbor, and according to the number of years of crops he shall sell to you.
" ' "According to the multitude of years you shall increase its price, and according to the fewer number of years you shall diminish its price; for he sells to you according to the number of the years of the crops. Therefore you shall not oppress one another, but you shall fear the Lord or fear your God; for I am the Lord your God." ' "
On the fiftieth year, on the Year of Jubilee, (after forty-nine years or seven sets of the sabbatic years; plus one, the Year of Jubilee) on that year all the slaves went free, all the debts were canceled, and all the land reverted back to its original owners. But a field that would be purchased or taken and utilized, the worth would be according to how many years to the next Jubilee.
So that, let's say, it's three years to the next Jubilee, and you have the ability to get this piece of land. You're going to pay pennies on the dollar for it, or on the shekel for it. But if you have thirty years so the next Jubilee, it's going to be worth more because you're going to get more use out of it. That's what he means when he says, "You shall not oppress your neighbor."
So here's the principle: the further away you get from the next Jubilee year, the more valuable the land becomes. Make sense? The more valuable the possession gets. Now here's a principle I want to throw at you—that's sort of like it is with us. One day there's going to be a Jubilee for you and I. We're getting off this earth and we're going to get into his kingdom. It will be the year when all the slaves literally go free for eternity, all the debts are totally canceled, and it's freedom.
But what I've noticed is that the further that Jubilee is or thought to be, the more we get hung up on our possessions. We get hung up on the earth, and what we own, and our hobbies, and our stuff. The closer we live to the Year of Jubilee, it's like: "Whatever. It's all going to burn anyway. Freedom's coming, man."
When I was much younger and I thought, "You know, I've got just years ahead. Heaven seems so—it's like so far away." Now, I'm not saying that, you know, I'm going to be in heaven tomorrow or anything; of course, that could happen. But I've noticed that as a person ages, especially when they get into their older years, those last few years—
And I had one dear, sweet, lady tell me, she goes, "You know, Skip, I really want to go to heaven." She goes, "My husband's there. My sister sisters are there. I have a couple of children there. I have a grandchild there. Most of my friends—" She said, "I think I know more people who live in heaven than I know who live on earth, and I'd rather just join them." She was so close to the Year of Jubilee that the possession was not worth that much. And I would say no matter what age you are, live close to the kingdom to real values so that you don't get hung up on the possession, on the land.
Something you ought to know: there is absolutely no record in the Bible or in secular history that the children of Israel actually kept the sabbatic year. And in fact, it seems they neglected it; they neglected it because this whole thing of the land going back to its original owners. They just said, "Forget it. Don't even deal with it." So they neglected keeping that seven-year cycle—you know how many years? Four hundred and ninety years. Four hundred and ninety years equals how many sabbath years? Seventy sabbath years the land didn't get its rest.
If you've ever wondered why the Babylonian captivity lasted seventy years—that's why. God was saying, "You owe me seventy years that the land must rest. I'm kicking you out of the land, taking you to Babylon that the land can get its rest." Now I'm not making this up. I'll read it to you.
This is Second Chronicles, chapter 36, two verses: "He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power. The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord to Jeremiah."
You didn't keep it four hundred ninety years. You guys weren't serious about this. I just want you to know God's saying, "I'm going to weigh in on this one. I am serious about it. Bye, see ya in seventy years." Our God is a mathematician, he keeps fine time, they were there seventy years. Daniel saw that as he was reading Jeremiah 25, and then he knew time's almost up when they came back.
I want to share something else with you. I was reading one scholar who noted that the earliest Year of Jubilee we have in Judaistic records is the year 1393 BC. That's the first record of them celebrating to some degree the Year of Jubilee, the fiftieth year, having a celebration of it. The same scholar believes that Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth and opened up the scroll of Isaiah, chapter 61, on a Jubilee year that is dated between AD 26 to 29.
Now, if that was Jubilee year that Jesus quoted Isaiah 61, it has great meaning. Let me just remind you what Jesus said. He opened up the scroll, everybody is watching Jesus in the Nazareth synagogue, and Jesus said, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."
He's announcing, "Your Jubilee has arrived. I am here to set the captives free." And what a pregnant meaning that would be if that were indeed a Jubilee year.
Well, go down a few verses to verse 20. "'And if you say, "What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?" I then I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years.' "
"If you just trust me, the last year in that little cycle, that sixth year, man, I'm just going to super abundantly bless you. And you can store that stuff up and you'll have, you'll have plenty of eatings. Plus, you can't reap or you can't got go out and just take, you know, in an organized harvest, but if you're hungry, you can go out in the fields as previously noted and have something to eat whenever you want."
Verse 25, " 'If one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possessions, and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold. Or if the man has no one to redeem it, but himself becomes able to redeem it, then let him count [seven] years since its sale, and restore the remainder to the man to whom he sold it, that he may return his possession.' "
Okay, in this whole Jubilee thing there was a problem. The problem is this: a man could conceivably, out of poverty, lose his portion of land, and he wouldn't get it back for another fifty years, which means depending on how old he is, he may never be able to enjoy it in his lifetime. So to fix that problem God made a provision to recover the land through a relative called in Hebrew a "Goel".
Have you heard that term—"Goel"? The "Goel" means a kinsman redeemer: somebody can come along and prove that he has the money, that he is related, that he's willing to do it, and buy it back. And then he as a relative can step in and bring back that provision to the family.
Where this Scripture comes to life is in the book of Ruth; that's what it's based on, this Scripture. Remember the story? A woman named Naomi marries a young handsome guy named Elimelech, they get married, they got big dreams, they got a plot of land, a little farm going on there in Bethlehem. They're just so stoked, they're happy, they have a couple kids Mahlon and Chilion—you think those are funny names? You know what they mean? Sickly and pining. [laughter]
Well, their dreams were shattered because a famine hit Bethlehem. They were forced to leave Bethlehem and go on the other side of the Dead Sea to Moab. While they were there Mahlon and Chilion married two women, Ruth and Orpah. So they were there trying to recover from the famine. In the meantime, Elimelech, Naomi's husband, kicks the bucket—that means dies. Mahlon and Chilion died; of course, sickly and pining, they're not going to last.
So now you got these three women that are over in Moab. Naomi one day hears that the famine is over in Bethlehem. She goes, "Girls, I'm going back home." The girls say, "We'll come with you." She says, "Stay home, stay here. You know, you're going to find husbands here in this land where you're from." But Ruth insists, "Where you go, I go; where you lodge, I lodge; your God will be my God, your people will be my people."
So Ruth goes back to the land of Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi. As they're there, and they're in their poverty, and they're trying to recover, and Naomi's saying, "I'm bitter. Don't call me Naomi, which means pleasant; call me Mara, which means bitter. I'm a bitter old lady."
She discovers that she has a relative named Boaz who owns the fields in Bethlehem. And she goes, "Hey, psst, Ruth, come here. We have a relative who has a lot of money and he's single. Go work in his fields." So she goes and works in his fields. Eventually Boaz becomes the "Goel", the relative, the kinsman redeemer who buys the land back for the family and marries Ruth. That's the whole story of Ruth; it's based upon this Scripture.
" 'But if he's not able to have restored it himself, then what was sold shall remain in the hand of him who bought it until the Year of Jubilee; and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession.' " Down to verse 32, " 'Nevertheless the cities of the Levites, and the houses in the cities of their possession, the Levites may redeem at any time. If a man purchases a house from a Levite, the house that was sold in the city of his possession shall be released in the Year of Jubilee; for the houses in the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel. But if the field of the common-land of their cities may not be sold, for it is their perpetual possession.' "
So the Levites had no land of their own. They were given cities and common-lands outside, not tribal allotments, just cities and places to hang out and grow crops. They were given to Levites the cities in the surrounding area. Okay, bringing this to a close now tonight.
Jeremiah the prophet in chapter 32 of that book was put in jail. And as he's in jail sort of moping; he had just predicted that Babylon will take captive the children of Israel for seventy years. But he predicts that they'll come back and be restored. So now he's in jail, he's sort of moping.
And God comes to this prophet and basically says, "Hey, great prophecy the other day, dude, that the land is going to be restored. That was totally from me, that was from my mouth, that's my heart. You guys are going away, but you'll be back. And you predicted that, so now I want you to put your money where your mouth is, Jeremiah. You have a cousin named Hanamel. He's on his way right now to see you. Whatever he does and tells you to do, do it."
So Hanamel comes in, goes, "Hey, cousin, Jeremiah, I know you're in jail and everything, but there's this plot of land that can be purchased and the right of redemption has come up for you to be the kinsman redeemer. You want to do it?"
Now, you would think this is the stupidest time to buy land; they're about to go into captivity. Unless you really believed: "But we're coming back. When we come back seventy years, the appreciation on this little dump of land that's going for nothing, it'd be a good investment." So as an act of faith he buys the land that is up for foreclosure, so to speak, in this legal system. He buys it because he had made the statement: "We're going to be restored."
Okay, now get this: according to Jewish law whenever a transaction of law is made, a scroll with seals on it—there were three documents. There were two scrolls that were title deeds with seals; another scroll that was the terms and conditions of the sale or the forfeiture.
When a person fulfills the qualifications—he has to be a relative, has to have the money, he has to be able, and he has to be willing, can't be forced; those are the three conditions; then he pays the money, takes the scroll, breaks the seals, and claims the land.
That's important because when we get to Revelation, chapter 5, John gets a vision, and there's somebody sitting on the throne; that is, God. And in his hand is a scroll that is written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And an angel says, "Who is worthy to take the scroll and unloose its seals?" And John said, "I looked, and no one—no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was worthy to take the scroll and unloose the seals, and so I wept much."
Literally: "I wept with great convulsions." It's understandable why he would weep with convulsions. He is looking at a title deed, a title deed to the earth. God made the earth. God gave the earth under the dominion of mankind. Mankind forfeited the earth to Satan when he obeyed Satan's ploys in the garden of Eden. And so that's why Paul called the devil the "ruler of this world"; the "god of this world." That's why Satan said to Jesus, "Kneel down and worship me. I'll give you the earth for it is mine and I can give to whomsoever I wish." Jesus did not argue that point.
So now you have the earth under the control of the god of this age, and you have the title deed to the earth, and no one can open it and reclaim it. So he wept much until he turned and looked and he saw a Lamb as though it had been slain. And it says, "He is worthy to take the scroll and loose the seals." That was Jesus Christ, and that's where the redemption begins in the tribulation period coming up as Jesus takes the scroll, and then looses the seals, and he claims the earth.
He is, he is able. He is willing. He is related. He's related because Jesus became a man. That's why God had to become a man. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." So he's related. He was able. What did he buy it with? His blood. "For you have redeemed us with your blood out of every tribe, kindred, tongue, nation, and people."
And he was willing. He wasn't forced. He wasn't murdered. He said, "No one takes my life from me, I lay it down of myself. I have the power to lay it down, and take it again." He willingly did it to buy it back. And so that's why studying the book of Leviticus is awesome, because we get all these truths tied together, and the bow tied on the end of it. We go, "Now I get it—the title deed to the earth taken by Jesus."
Well, we're out of time. We'll finish the chapter; we're just going to look at a couple verses because there's a lot of repetition. We'll get right into the next chapter next time.
Father, as we close this book—and it's evident that I've been pretty excited about the contents and the principles and the truths that are found from one end of the Bible to the other. Our great High Priest walking among the candlesticks, Jesus our "Goel", our kinsman redeemer foreshadowed by this text, emulated by Boaz, and ultimately fulfilled in Jesus our Kinsman Redeemer. And to think that he was not only related, and not only able, but he was willing to do it; for the joy that was set before him he endure the cross. We're humbled, Lord. All that translates to one irreducible minimum, one bottom-line statement—that Jesus loves us so much that he thought we were worth dying for, worth dying for.
I pray for anyone who is gathered here tonight who doesn't personally know Jesus. They may be toying around with other things, things of this world, messing around, and they haven't devoted their lives to Christ yet. Or they've been wandering away from you and they need to be brought back home. Or some are very religious and committed to their faith or church, but they don't have a personal, working relationship with this God of heaven through Jesus Christ. And their heart is empty, it's vacant, it's hurting, it's crying out; I pray, Lord, you'd answer their hearts cry by invading their life, invading their space, releasing them from their captivity. May this be their Year of Jubilee.
As our heads are bowed, real quickly, if you've come here tonight, and you haven't given your life to Jesus—you know if you have and you know if you haven't. If you're not sure, you haven't, you haven't. You can be sure by a simple acknowledging that you're a sinner, and a decision to turn from that and to turn to Jesus Christ, to have your sins forgiven and to by faith become a child of God.
He made it that easy; yes, he did. He did all the heavy lifting so that you could come. If you want that, if you're willing to come on those terms, to admit that you need him, and are willing to receive him as your Savior, I want you to raise your hand up in the air. Right now, just raise it up in the air and keep it up. And you're saying, "Pray for me. I want to give my life to Christ."
God bless you, right here in the front. Maybe for the first time, or you're coming back to him, but you raise your hand up so I can see it. Raise it up. Yes, sir, right in the front. Once again, God bless you. Anyone else? God bless you toward the middle. Yes, ma'am. Couple more of you, I see your hands
Father, for all of these precious ones that you love, you desire to bring into covenant with yourself, I pray that there would be right now that acknowledgment not only that they need you, but that you wanted them, and you're so excited to receive them as children into your kingdom. I pray, Lord, that life would mean something different after this night. I pray they'd never be the same, in Jesus' name, amen.
Would you stand to your feet. We're going to sing a closing song, and as we do—I saw several hands go up. I'm going to ask you to find the nearest aisle, really quickly step out into the aisle, and just walk right up front, and just stand right at the base, right up here at the bottom of these steps. A counselor, a couple pastors, just kind of show them how it's done guys. Just come right up here and stand right up here and just—that's it.
So as you come, we'll wait for you, we're going to sing and I'm going to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ. I'm going to make this real for you. As you raised your hand, now put feet on that; come forward.
[worship music plays]
Here in the middle, if you are in the family room, if you are in the balcony, we'll wait for you. Run down those steps; run down those steps. Don't let this step be done away with, you come forward and say that prayer receiving Christ. Come to Jesus. You're not coming to a church, you're not coming to a man, you're not coming to a religion, you're coming to Jesus.
Okay, those of you who have stepped forward, so excited to see you standing here. And I'm even more excited about what God is doing and going to do in your lives. So I'm going to lead you a prayer, and I'm going to ask you to pray this prayer out loud after me, from the bottom of your heart you say these words. This is you giving your life to him. Let's pray.
Father, I give you my life. I know that I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I turn from my sin; I turn to you as my Savior. I believe in Jesus that he died for me, that he rose from the dead. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and help me to live for you, in Jesus' name, amen.
Congratulations! Welcome to new life!