Parashah 32: B'har (On the Mount)
Vayikra “He called” (Leviticus) 25:1-26:2 Psalm 112 Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 32:6-27 Luke 4:16-21
by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley
Leviticus 25 1 Adonai spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai; He said, • Lest we get “bogged down” with the various details of the narrative, may we always remember that this is the written Word of the LORD At this point it is important to observe that the Bible presents itself to us as the written revelation of God. This purports to be a Book in which God gives us the answers to the great questions which concern our soul, and which all the wisdom and science of man are powerless to solve with any degree of certainty. The Bible asserts of itself that it is the special revelation from God; it must therefore be acknowledged as claiming to be the right kind of source from which to derive a trustworthy knowledge of religious truth.3 It come to us with the claim that the words are from God Himself: “Thus saith the Lord.” If there be a God, and if He is concerned for our salvation, this is the only way (apart from direct revelation from God to each individual of each successive generation) He could reliably impart this knowledge to us. It must be through a reliable written record such as the Bible purports to be. 3 To be sure, there are a few other religious scriptures which make the same claim for themselves, such as the Koran and the Book of Mormon. It must be conceded, however, that these two documents lack the credentials which authenticate the Bible as the true record of God's revelation. Most notably they lack the validation of prior prophecy and subsequent fulfillment, and the all-pervading presence of the divine-human Redeemer. The Book of Mormon is vitiated [polluted] by many historical inconsistencies and inaccuracies; and the Koran (which is claimed to have been dictated from a heavenly archetype coeternal with Allah) exhibits not only the most startling historical inaccuracies but also the changing viewpoints of a human author (Muhammed) in the light of the current events of his own day. Nor is there any comparison between the Bible and these other books when it comes to the grandeur and sublimity of thoughts it conveys or the power with which it penetrates the human soul with life-changing consequences. (Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, revised edition, (Chicago; Moody Press, 1985) p 21.) 2 Tell the people of Isra'el, 'When you enter the land I am giving you, the land itself is to observe a Shabbat rest for Adonai. 3 Six years you will sow your field; six years you will prune your grapevines and gather their produce. 4 But in the seventh year is to be a Shabbat of complete rest for the land, a Shabbat for Adonai; you will neither sow your field nor prune your grapevines. 5 You are not to harvest what grows by itself from the seeds left by your previous harvest, and you are not to gather the grapes of your untended vine; it is to be a year of complete rest for the land. • The land which became known as Isra'el was given to the people of Isra'el by the LORD. Until such a time that He takes it away, we will find ourselves defying Him, and even fighting against Him, if we try to reallocate any part of it. Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep My covenant, then you will be My own treasure from among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine (Ex 19:5, emphasis added). The earth is the LORD's, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it (Ps 24:1; 1 Cor 10:26). If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and everything in it (Ps 50:12). The heavens are Yours, and the earth is Yours; You founded the world and everything in it (Ps 89:11). The land itself is to observe a Shabbat Many can attest to the fact that where this principle is applied the land produces a better, larger harvest. Where it is not applied, the opposite is true. The Amish are said to apply this principle in a rotating manner, dividing their fields into seven sections and allowing one section to lay fallow each year. Their crops are some of the best around. This is yet another example of the loving care of the LORD for His people; for those who follow Him and His ways. 6 But what the land produces during the year of Shabbat will be food for all of you – you, your servant, you maid, you employee, anyone living near you, 7 your livestock and the wild animals on your land; everything the land produces may be used for food. • Though there is to be no regular sowing and reaping, the land will still produce so that even the wild animals will have food. 8 You are to count seven Shabbats of years, seven times seven years, that is, forty-nine years. 9 Then, on the tenth of the seventh month, on Yom-Kippur, you are to sound a blast on the shofar; you are to sound the shofar all through your land; 10 and you are to consecrate the fiftieth year, proclaiming freedom throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It will be a yovel for you; you will return everyone to the land he owns, and everyone is to return to his family. • The seventh day is to be a sabbath rest to the LORD Seven being the number of completion: we find our completion only in the LORD We can only find true rest in Him and His ways Here is what Adonai says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask about the ancient paths, 'Which one is the good way?' Take it, and you will find rest for you souls. But they said, 'We will not take it.' 17 I appointed sentinels [watchmen] to direct them: 'Listen for the sound of the shofar.' But they said, 'We will not listen.' 18 So hear, you nations; know, you assembly, what there is against them. 19 Hear, of earth! I am going to bring disaster on this people; it is the consequence of their own way of thinking; for they pay no attention to My words; and as for My Torah, they reject it. (Jer 6:16-19) May the LORD help us to take His good and ancient paths, listen for the sound of the shofar, pay attention to His words and His Torah. Otherwise the disastrous consequences of our “own way of thinking” will be allowed to overtake us. “Yes, your fathers put Me to the test; they challenged Me, and they saw My work for forty years! 10 Therefore, I was disgusted with the generation – I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray, they have not understood how I do things'; 11 in My anger, I swore that they would not enter My rest.” 12 Watch out, brothers, so that there will not be in any one of you an evil heart lacking trust, which could lead you to apostatize from the living God! 13 Instead, keep exhorting each other every day, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you will become hardened by the deceit of sin. 14 For we have become sharers in the Messiah, provided, however, that we hold firmly to the conviction we began with, right through until the goal is reached. (Heb 3:9-14, cf Heb 4:1-11) Yeshua said, “Come to Me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matt 11:28-29) The sabbaths are used to count toward, and point to, a yovel: “a jubilee” in most English Bibles. יוֹבֵל [yo-vel] means: Strong's: the blast of a horn (from its continuous sound); specifically, the signal of the silver trumpets; hence, the instrument itself and the festival thus introduced: -jubile, ram's horn, trumpet. Apparently from יָבַל [ya-val]: properly, to flow; causatively, to bring (especially with pomp) BDB: a ram, a ram's horn, a trumpet, a cornet: a) a ram (only in combination); a ram's horn, a trumpet; b) a jubilee year (marked by the blowing of cornets) (metonymy) Vine's brings out that יוֹבֵל is related to (and a synonym of) אַיִל [a-yil] which represents a male sheep or “ram.” Strong's: אַיִל; properly, strength; hence, anything strong; specifically a chief (politically); also a ram (from his strength); a pilaster (as a strong support); an oak or other strong tree BDB: אַיִל; ram (as food, as sacrifice, skin dyed red for tabernacle); pillar, door post, jambs, pilaster; a strong man, a leader, a chief; mighty tree, terebinth The yovel was a time for “proclaiming freedom throughout the land to all its inhabitants.” The idea being that we make a big noise and proclaim liberty. That's the idea behind the Liberty Bell and why our Bible-believing, Bible-honoring forefathers put this verse on it. We can only find true freedom in the LORD. It will be a yovel for you; you will return everyone to the land he owns, and everyone is to return to his family. In verse 23 HaShem tells us that the land really belongs to Him. So this yovel, this jubilee rest and freedom and call to return to land and family is, in a sense, a call to return to Him Who is our Heavenly Father. This idea can also be seen underlying the words “you will return everyone to the land he owns” in that the word “own” here comes from the Hebrew אֲחֻזָּה [ah-khu-zah] which refers to land, property, and possession; specifically possession by inheritance. So everyone was to return to their inheritance. Moshe went up to God, and Adonai called to him from the mountain: “Here is what you are to say to the household of Ya'akov, to tell the people of Isra'el: 4 'You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep My covenant, then you will be My own treasure from among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you will be a kingdom of cohanim for Me, a nation set apart.' These are the words you are to speak to the people of Isra'el.” (Ex 19:3-6, emphasis added) We see this priesthood calling extended to all those who know Yeshua in 1 Peter 2:5 and 9. Now back to that term אֲחֻזָּה [ah-khu-zah]. Ezekiel 44:28 from last week's parashah is addressed to the priests, the cohanim, saying, “'Their inheritance is to be this: I Myself am their inheritance. You are not to grant them any possession (אֲחֻזָּה) in Isra'el – I Myself am their possession (אֲחֻזָּה)'” (emphasis added). 13 In this year of yovel, every one of you is to return to the land he owns. • More literally “return to his possession,” his אֲחֻזָּה, which points us to the Land, but also to the LORD. Although the immediate and surface context tells us verse 13 is referring to the 50th year yovel, or jubilee, it is good to remember that by definition yovel refers to the blast of the trumpet or horn (especially the ram's horn or shofar) which also points to Yom Kippur, the annual Day of Atonement – so we can also see in this verse that every year we should return to the LORD the Hebrew here says בִּשְׁנֵת הַיּוֹבֵל הַזֹּאת ha-zot ha-yo-vel bish-net this “jubilee” בִּשְׁנֵת is the feminine singular construct form of שָׁנָה [sha-nah] meaning “year” with the preposition בּ attached. as a preposition בּ can mean such things as: in, on, with, among, within, as, (and though not very common: at, by) so it is possible to see within this phrase “within this year of trumpet blowing” – so we can also see in this verse that within every year we should return to the LORD we are also pointed to Shabbat, since the shofar is often blown on the Sabbath – so we can also see in this verse that throughout every year we should return to the LORD 17 Thus you are not to take advantage of each other, but you are to fear your God; for I am Adonai your God. 18 Rather, you are to keep My regulations and rulings and act accordingly. If you do, you will live securely in the land. 19 The land will yield its produce, you will eat until you have enough, and you will live there securely. • you are not to take advantage of each other For many this idea of “fair play” just makes sense, but its origin is here in God's Word Unfortunately, since the Fall, a hacker has gotten into the system and reprogramed the hard-drive. Now the only hope is to have the hard-drive cleaned and rebooted by Yeshua. Otherwise we are left with the world's idea of what is fair, which is anti-God. Stated here as a negative commandment, Yeshua restated the principle as a positive commandment in Matthew 7:12, “Always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that sums up the teaching of the Torah and the Prophets” (also Luke 6:31). This summation is a common rabbinic teaching technique. It does not negate the rest of Scripture. Instead of / over against / in contrast to … taking advantage of each other we are to fear God keep My regulations and rulings and act accordingly. Why? “For I am Adonai your God.” He is our Creator and Redeemer If anyone has a right to command, lead, guide, and instruct us it is the LORD He is our perfect standard and example Adonai alone is truly pure, just, righteous, holy …. He is the Eternal, All-Knowing, Righteous Judge He will take all things into consideration, for before Him all things are laid bare He is our Perfect, Loving, Heavenly Father If we are truly His children, there should be a family resemblance The resemblance will also show if the adversary (שָׂתָן [satan] in Hebrew) is our father (cf John 8:44) There is also personal benefit You will live securely in the land The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them (Ps 34:7). Adonai protects all who love Him, but all the wicked He destroys (Ps 145:20). The land will yield its produce God said, “Let the earth put forth grass, seed-producing plants, and fruit trees, each yielding its own kind of see-bearing fruit, on the earth”; and that is how it was (Gen 1:11). 20 If you ask, “If we aren't allowed to sow seed or harvest what our land produces, what are we going to eat the seventh year?” 21 then I will order My blessing on you during the sixth year, so that the land brings forth enough produce for all three years. 22 The eighth year you will sow seed, but eat the old, stored produce until the ninth year; that is, until the produce of the eighth year comes in, you will eat the old, stored food. If we purpose in our heart to do whatever the LORD asks us, He will order His blessing on us even in the preparation time. NOTE: God is not afraid, ashamed, or put off by the honest, simple questions of the humble, obedient heart. We see this, for instance, with Manoach (Manoah) in Judges 13:11-14, and Miryam (Mary) in Luke 1:34-38 God answers all our prayers Sometimes He answers “yes,” sometimes “no,” sometimes “wait” Sometimes He waits before answering us. For His own reasons, the Sovereign of the universe sometimes “delays” His answer and makes us “wait.” We in Western cultures have grown to expect immediate results in most everything. (How often do we get impatient waiting for our microwave ovens?) But, “The LORD is not slow in keeping His promise, as some people think of slowness” (2 Pet 3:9). We need to remember that the LORD is the One who is Sovereign, Eternal, and All-Knowing: we are not. Though He loves us dearly, has redeemed us, and adopted us as His own sons and daughters, He is still our King and Master. The LORD is never ours to command, nor is He ever under any obligation to us. That He ever in our lifetimes answers our prayer is a sign of His grace toward us. We must also keep in mind that God's plans for us transcend both “time” and “space” as we currently know them. Though the shell we are now in (our body) is temporal, the life we have been given is eternal. The question is where we will spend that eternity? As one bumper sticker put it, “Eternity: smoking or non-smoking?” Just as the LORD “speaks” to us in different ways, so He “answers” our prayers in different ways, e.g. directly by speaking to us as He spoke with Moses (e.g. Ex 33:9), and Saul (e.g. Acts 9) indirectly through a messenger angelic: as He spoke to shepherds (e.g. Luke 2:8ff) prophet: as He spoke to David (e.g. 2 Sam 12:7ff) pagan: as He spoke through Balaam (e.g. Num 22-24) unbeliever; as He spoke through Gamaliel (e.g. Acts 5:33-40) (Yes, Gamaliel may have been a “secret follower” of Jesus, but we don't know from Scripture, and if Scripture is silent on a subject we need to be careful about saying something.) civil authorities: as mentioned in Rom 13:3-5 donkey: as He spoke to Balaam (e.g. Num 22:28-33) (This one gives me hope; if God could use a “jackass” then, then there's hope ….) stones: as He said in Luke 19:40 (This one gives me hope …. ) through His written Word, the Bible (e.g. Ps 119:11 ++) through physical occurrences within our bodies (e.g. 2 Kings 5:14) within our world (e.g. Josh 4:18) 23 The land is not to be sold in perpetuity, because the land belongs to me – you are only foreigners and temporary residents with Me. 24 Therefore, when you sell your property, you must include the right of redemption. The earth is Adonai's, with all that is in it, the world and those who live there (Ps 24:1) If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is mine, and everything in it (Ps 50:12) The heavens are Yours, and the earth is Yours; You founded the world and everything in it (Ps 89:12) For the earth and everything in it belong to the Lord (1 Cor 10:24) As the LORD deals with us, so we are to deal with others and the land; here including the right of redemption, since “the earth is Adonai's, with all that is in it, the world and those who live there.” 25 That is, if one of you becomes poor and sells some of his property, his next-of-kin can come and buy back what his relative sold. • We see this in practice in the book of Ruth [ רוּת - “Rūt”] (emphasis added): ◦ 2:19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where were you working? Blessed be the one who took such good care of you!” She told her mother-in-law with whom she had been working; she said, “The name of the man with whom I was working today is Bo'az.” 20 Na'omi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by Adonai, Who has never stopped showing grace, neither to the living nor to the dead.” Na'omi also told her, “The man is closely related to us; he's one of our redeeming kinsmen.” ◦ 3:9 He asked, “Who are you?” and she answered, “I'm your handmaid Rut. Spread your robe over your handmaid, because you are a redeeming kinsman.” 10 He said, “May Adonai bless you, my daughter. Your latest kindness is even greater than your first, in that you didn't go after the young men, neither the rich ones nor the poor. 11 And now, my daughter, don't be afraid. I will do for you everything you say, for all the city leaders among my people know that you are a woman of good character. 12 Now, it is true that I am a redeeming kinsman; but there is a redeemer who is a closer relative than I am. 13 Stay tonight. If, in the morning, he will redeem you, fine! – let him redeem you. But it he doesn't want to redeem you, then, as Adonai lives, I will redeem you. Now, lie down until morning.” ◦ 4:3 Then he said to the redeeming kinsman, “The parcel of land which used to belong to our relative Elimelekh is being offered for sale by Na'ome, who has returned from the plain of Mo'av. 4 I thought I should tell you about it and say, 'Buy it in the presence of the people sitting here and in the presence of the leaders of my people. If you want to redeem it, redeem it. But if it is not to be redeemed, then tell me, so that I can know, because there is no one else in line to redeem it, and I'm after you.” He said, “I want to redeem it.” 5 Then Bo'az said, “The same day you buy the field from Na'omi, you must also buy Rut the woman from Mo'av, the wife of the deceased [son], in order to raise up in the name of the deceased an heir for his property.” 6 The redeemer said, “Then I can't redeem it for myself, because I might put my own inheritance at risk. You, take my right of redemption on yourself; because I can't redeem it.” 26 If the seller has no one to redeem it but becomes rich enough to redeem it himself, 27 he will calculate the number of years the land was sold for, refund the excess to its buyer, and return to his property. 28 If he hasn't sufficient means to get it back himself, then what he sold will remain in the hands of the buyer until the year of yovel; in the yovel the buyer will vacate it and the seller return to his property. • If God blesses a person's finances so he is able to buy it back, fine. If not, it will revert back in the Jubilee. ◦ Either way, as always redemption relies on God's provision. 29 If someone sells a swelling in a walled city, he has one year after the date of sale in which to redeem it. For a full year he will have the right of redemption; 30 but if he has not redeemed the dwelling in the walled city within the year, then title in perpetuity passes to the buyer through all his generations; it will not revert in the yovel. 31 However, houses in villages not surrounded by walls are to be dealt with like the fields in the countryside – they may be redeemed [before the yovel], and they revert in the yovel. • As Scripture usually does, it covers the general rules or panoramic view of things before going into details like we see here. 32 Concerning the cities of the L'vi'im and the houses in the cities they possess, the L'vi'im are to have a permanent right of redemption. 33 If someone purchases a house from one of the L'vi'im, then the house he sold in the city where he owns property will still revert to him in the yovel; because the houses in the cities of the L'vi'im are their tribe's possession among the people of Isra'el. 34 The fields in the open land around their cities may not be sold, because that is their permanent possession. • Finer focus on details, special cases, exceptions. • Those who work in the service of the LORD vocationally should be afforded special privileges in honor of their service to Him. ◦ But they also need to be careful not to take advantage of their position or privileges to the detriment of the people they are called to shepherd, for they will answer directly to the LORD. 35 If a member of your people has become poor, so that he can't support himself among you, you are to assist him as you would a foreigner or a temporary resident, so that he can continue living with you. • Don't treat a foreigner or temporary resident better than you do your own people, for instance: ◦ 36 Do not charge him interest or otherwise profit from him, but fear your God, so that your brother can continue living with you. 37 Do not take interest when you loan him money to take a profit when you sell him food. ▪ He is poor, don't make him poorer, “but fear God” • It is not the job of government to help the poor, but those who “fear God” ◦ Too much has been abdicated to the government that has no fear of God ▪ We should pray for those in government (cf e.g. 1 Tim 2:1-2), and encourage more godly men and women to be in politics, but • never rely on them, but rather on the LORD Who reigns supreme. • In the U.S. there are two main political parties; republican and democrat. The Republican party's logo is an elephant. The Democratic party's logo is a donkey. Years ago I heard a speaker on Christian radio say, some of you vote democratic because you believe in that party's platform (what they say they stand for). Some of you vote republican because you believe in that party's platform. But I want to tell you that our Savior will not come riding on an elephant or a donkey; He will come riding a white horse, and His name is Jesus! (cf Rev 19:11) ◦ Why? ▪ 38 I am Adonai your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt in order to give you the land of Kenan'an and be your God. 39 If a member of your people has become poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him do the work of a slave. 40 Rather, you are to treat him like an employee or a tenant; he will work for you until the year of yovel. 41 Then he will leave you, he and his children with him, and return to his own family and regain possession of his ancestral land. • Biblical laws are above all other law codes, even as to how slaves are to be treated more as what we would now term indentured servants. ◦ Many tout the greatness of the Code of Hammurabi, how it predates Mosaic Law, and that “its copying in subsequent generations indicates that is was used as a model of legal and judicial reasoning.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_of_Hammurabi, accessed 26May16) ▪ The Code of Hammurabi, however, does not predate the LORD • Who is the ultimate Law Giver and Judge. His name is above every other name, and His Law above and better than every other law. ◦ The Law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. (Ps 19:7-11) • Who has written His Law in the heart of man (Rom 2:15) • To Whom wisdom and power belong. He removes kings and establishes kings, and Who alone gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to knowers of understanding (Dan 2:20-23) • Who turns the king's heart wherever He wishes (Pro 21:1) • Why treat these people this way? ◦ 42 For they are My slaves, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; therefore they are not to be sold as slaves. 43 Do not treat him harshly, but fear your God. 44 Concerning the men and women you may have as slaves: you are to buy men- and women-slaves from the nations surrounding you. 45 You may also buy the children of foreigners living with you and members of their families born in your land; you may own these. 46 You may also bequeath them to your children to own; from these groups you may take your slaves forever. But as far as your brothers the people of Isra'el are concerned, you are not to treat each other harshly. • Many seem offended that the Bible talks about slavery, but Scripture addresses every aspect of human existence. ◦ Slavery has been an unfortunate part of human history since right after the Fall. ◦ Addressing something does not equate to advocating or even condoning something. ◦ If the Israelites were going to have slaves, in the more traditional sense of the word, they were to be from the heathen nations around them; הַגּוֹיִם [hah-goyim] ▪ Yes, they would serve the Israelites, but there was always a mission, a calling on the commonwealth of Isra'el (native born and grafted in): • Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests [cohanim] and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Isra'el (Ex 19:5-6) ◦ As you come to Him, the Living Stone, rejected by people but chosen by God and precious to Him, 5 you yourselves, as living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be cohanim set apart for God to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to him through Yeshua the Messiah. 6 This is why the Tanakh says, “Look! I am laying in Tziyon a stone, a chosen and precious cornerstone; and whoever rests his trust on it will certainly not be humiliated.” [Isa 28:16] 7 Now to you who keep trusting, He is precious. But to those who are not trusting, “The very stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” [Ps 118:22] 8 also He is a stone that will make people stumble, a rock over which they will trip. [Isa 8:14] They are stumbling at the Word, disobeying it – as had been planned. 9 But you are a chosen people, the Kings's cohanim, a holy nation, a people for God to possess! Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; before, you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Pet 2:4-10) ◦ I submit that part of the reason for the allowance of bringing these heathen into their homes was so that they could see, firsthand, what it was like to personally know and follow the One True and Living God. ▪ In other words, the LORD allowed for the possibility that the Israelites might have slaves because it might lead to the slaves coming to know the LORD. • Say to them, “As I live,” swears Adonai ELOHIM, “I take no pleasure in having the wicked person die, but in having the wicked person turn from his way and live. So repent! Turn from your evil ways! ….” (Ezek 33:11) 47 If a foreigner living with you has grown rich, and a member of your people has become poor and sells himself to this foreigner living with you or to a member of the foreigner's family, 48 he may be redeemed after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him; 49 or his uncle or his uncle's son may redeem him; or any near relative of his may redeem him; or, if he becomes rich, he may redeem himself. • Rashi deduces that “a member of the foreigner's family” may include “one who sells himself not to worship idols but to serve in their cult, e.g. hewing wood and drawing water to be used in idolatry” (The Soncino Chumash, p. 772). • Regardless of how long the person has been in servitude to this foreigner, redemption is possible. ◦ No matter how long a person has been living in servitude to the devil, as long as they are still breathing, redemption is possible. 50 He will calculate with the person who bought him the time from the year he sold himself to him to the year of yovel; and the amount to be pail will be according to the number of years and his time at an employee's wage. 51 If many years remain, according to them will he refund the amount for his redemption from the amount he was bought for. 52 If there remain only a few years until the year of yovel, then he will calculate with him; according to his years will he refund the amount for his redemption. • The same laws apply to everyone living in the land. ◦ Foreigners living in the land and those native born are subject to the same laws, rules, and regulations. ▪ Foreigners coming to live in any land do not have the right to ignore the law of the land or establish their own within in. • “Though the heathen purchaser be under your jurisdiction, you must not act wrongly towards him, as this would be a desecration of God's name. Accordingly, when estimating the sum for redemption, the correct amount has to be deducted for each year of service” (Rashi, The Soncino Chumash, p. 772). 53 He will be like a worker hired year by year. You will see to it that he is not treated harshly. • The idea being more of an indentured servant than a slave. 54 If he has not been redeemed by any of these procedures, nevertheless he will go free in the year of yovel – he and his children with him. • Even though no one else is able to redeem him, the LORD has made provision. ◦ It is commonly accepted by those who read Scripture that no one is able to perfectly keep all the commandments of God's Word, (though out of our love for Him we are obliged to try,): ▪ All of us are like someone unclean, all our righteous deeds like menstrual rags; we wither, all of us, like leaves; and our misdeeds blow us away like the wind. (Isa 64:5) ▪ But now, quite apart from Torah, God's way of making people righteous in His sight has been made clear – although Torah and the Prophets give their witness to it as well – 22 and it is a righteousness that comes from God, through the faithfulness of Yeshua the Messiah, to all who continue trusting. For it makes no difference whether one is a Jew or a Gentile, 23 since all have sinned and come short of earning God's praise. 24 By God's grace, without earning it, all are granted the status of being considered righteous before Him, through the act redeeming us from our enslavement to sin that was accomplished by the Messiah Yeshua. (Rom 3:21-24) • We all need the Redeemer! • “he and his children with him” ◦ It is common to only mention the first and last while meaning everything in between as well, e.g. ▪ Whose work is this? Who has brought it about? He Who called the generations from the beginning, I, Adonai, am the first; and I am the same with those who are last. (Isa 41:4) ▪ Thus says Adonai, Isra'el's King and Redeemer, Adonai-Tzva'ot: “I am the first, and I am the last; besides Me there is not God.” (Isa 44:6) ▪ Listen to Me, Ya'akov; Isra'el, whom I have called: I am He Who is first; I am also the last. (Isa 48:12) ▪ When I saw Him, I fell down at His feet like a dead man. He placed His right hand upon me and said, “Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last, 18 the Living One. I was dead, but look! – I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to Death and Sh'ol. (Rev 1:17-18) ▪ And so, on you will fall the guilt for all the innocent blood that has ever been shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Hevel to the blood to Z'kharyah Ben-Berekhyah, whom you murdered between the Temple and the altar. (Matt 23:35) ▪ To the angel of the Messianic Community in Smyrna, write: Here is the message from the First and the Last, Who died and came alive again (Rev 2:8) ▪ I am the 'A' and the 'Z,' the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Rev 21:13) • It is reasonable to believe that “he and his children with him” includes his wife, the children's mother, that comes a man and his having children. 55 For to Me the people of Isra'el are slaves; they are My slaves whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; I am Adonai your God. • “slaves” here comes from the Hebrew word עֶבֶד [eh-vehd] meaning ◦ Strong's: a servant ◦ BDB: a slave, a servant: a man-servant; subjects; servants, worshipers (of God); servant (in special sense as prophets, Levites etc); servant (of Israel); servant (as form of address between equals) ▪ from עָבַד [ah-vahd] meaning • Strong's: to work (in any sense); by implication, to serve, till, (causatively) enslave, etc. • BDB: to work, to serve ◦ in the Qal verb form: to labor, to work, to do work; to work for another, to serve another by labor; to serve as subjects; to serve (God); to serve (with Levitical service) ◦ Niphal: to be worked, to be tilled (of land); to make oneself a servant ◦ Pual: to be worked ◦ Hiphil: to compel to labor or work, to cause to labor, to cause to serve; to cause to serve as subjects ◦ Hophal: to be led or enticed to serve • The LORD is our Creator, Maker, Redeemer, Savior, Lord, Master, Heavenly Father, Divine Husband ◦ we are the creature, that which was made, the redeemed and saved in Christ, the servant, the bond-slave, the adopted son or daughter, the earthly bride Leviticus 26 1 You are not to make yourselves any idols, erect a carved statue or a standing-stone, or place any carved stone anywhere in your land in order to bow down to it. I am Adonai your God. • Standing-stones were a normal part of the culture memorializing something of great political or spiritual significance. ◦ The Canaanites erected standing-stones and used them in the demonic worship. They were to be destroyed, e.g. ▪ You are not to worship their gods, serve them or follow their practices; rather, you are to demolish them completely and smash their standing-stones to pieces. (Ex 23:24) ▪ Rather, you are to demolish their altars, smash their standing-stones and cut down their sacred poles; 14 because you are not to bow down to any other god; since Adonai – Whose very name is Jealous – is a jealous God. (Ex 34:13-14) ▪ No, teat them this way: break down their altars, smash their standing-stones to pieces, cut down their sacred poles and burn up their carved images completely. 6 For you are a people set apart as holy for Adonai your God. Adonai your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His own unique treasure. (Deut 7:5-6) ▪ Break down their altars, smash their standing-stones to pieces, burn up their sacred poles completely and cut down the carves images of their gods. (Deut 13:3) ◦ Yet, it was fine for the LORD's people to set up standing-stones to memorialize His great acts, e.g. ▪ Ya'akov got up early in the morning, took the stone he had put under his head, set it up as a standing-stone, poured olive oil on it top 19 and named the place Beit-El [house of God]; but the town had originally been called Luz. (Gen 28:18-19) ▪ Ya'akov took a stone and set it upright as a standing-stone. (Gen 31:45) ▪ Ya'akov set up a standing-stone in the place where He had spoken with him, a stone pillar. Then he poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. 15 Ya'akov called the place where God spoke with him Beit-El. (Gen 35:14-15) ▪ Moshe wrote down all the words of Adonai. He rose early in the morning, built an altar at the base of the mountain and set upright twelve large stones to represent the twelve tribes of Isra'el. (Ex 24:4) ▪ And give them this order: “Take twelve stones from the middle of the Yarden riverbed, where the cohanim are standing, carry them over with you and set them down in the place where you will camp tonight.” … 6 This will be a sign for you. In the future, when your children ask, “What do you mean by these stones?” 7 you will answer them, “It's because the water in the Yarden was cut off before the ark for the covenant of Adonai; when it crossed the Yarden, the water in the Yarden was cut off; and these stones are to be a reminder for the people of Isra'el forever.” (Josh 4:3, 6-7) ▪ On that day there will be an altar to Adonai in the middle of the land of Egypt, as well as a standing-stone for Adonai at its border. 20 It will be a sign and witness to Adonai-Tzva'ot in the land of Egypt; so that when they cry out to Adonai for help because of the oppressors, he will send them a savior to defend and rescue them. (Isa 19:19-20) • Standing-stone: the following is adapted from an article by Ray Vander Laan at followtherabbi.com The greatest collection of standing stones is in the high place at Gezer. There, ten stones, some over 6 meters tall, stand in silent testimony to a long-forgotten event. Their size probably indicates the importance of what they represented. How they got there is not certain, but it is clear they came from some distance because there are no other stones like them in the area. Long before the Israelites came to the region, pagans in the Middle East set up sacred stones to their gods. If they believed one of their gods caused something important to happen, they might set up a stone as a testimony to what the god did. If a covenant or treaty was signed between cities or even individuals, stones were set up to testify of the agreement and to involve their gods as a witness to the treaty. [I.e. Gen. 31:44-53] Travelers who saw the standing stones would ask, “What happened here?” and the people who knew the story would give testimony to their gods. It was in this Middle Eastern culture, that God revealed Himself so He could accomplish the great work of restoring a lost world to Himself. His people worshiped Him and remembered His acts of deliverance according to their custom: by erecting stones. These masseboth (from the Hebrew word “to set up”) are mentioned often in the Bible. Scripture mentions ungodly pillars, or standing stones in various places, including: Ex. 23:24 You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces. Lev. 26:1 You shall not make for yourselves idols, nor shall you set up for yourselves an image or a sacred pillar, nor shall you place a figured stone in your land to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God. Deut. 16:21-22 You shall not plant for yourself an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of the LORD your God, which you shall make for yourself. 22 You shall not set up for yourself a sacred pillar which the LORD your God hates. 1 Kings 14:23-24 For they also built for themselves high places and sacred pillars and Asherim on every high hill and beneath every luxuriant tree. 24 There were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel. The Bible also mentions God-directed standing stones. They focus on God’s work in a certain place or in the lives of certain people. In each case, people became aware of the work of God and, through His work, aware of God Himself. Genesis tells us about four occasions when Jacob set up a massebah after a significant event in his life: In Genesis 28, God spoke to Jacob in a dream from the top of a ladder reaching to heaven. Overwhelmed, Jacob set up the stone he used as a pillow as a standing stone to God’s presence there, calling the place Bethel (“House of God”). In chapter 31, God called Jacob to return to the Promised Land. As he left the pagan world of his father-in-law, Jacob erected a standing stone as a witness of his decision to leave. He went back to Bethel, and next to the original massebah, God appeared again to reaffirm His love for Jacob. There Jacob set up another standing stone as a monument to the presence and power of God (Genesis 35). Finally, at Rachel’s grave near Bethlehem (Genesis 35), Jacob set up one last stone, a reminder of his beloved wife’s death and (apparently) his determination to live faithfully before God. God’s covenant with Israel through Moses was represented by 12 masseboth at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 24). They were a testimony to the great deliverance from Egypt and the faithful love God promised the Jewish people in the Sinai covenant. The traveler who saw these stones would know that something important had happened on this mountain. If one of God’s people were there, the traveler would know that the stones were dedicated to the one true God of the Hebrews. The Book of Joshua records seven times that Joshua erected standing stones pointing to the dynamic power of God. The dividing of the Jordan River, which displayed God’s power over the fertility gods the Canaanites believed caused flooding, was memorialized by 12 stones taken from the dry riverbed and erected on the bank, where they stood as an object lesson to Jewish children (Joshua 4). Near the end of his life, Joshua challenged the Israelites to serve the only real God. Their spontaneous response of “we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:21) was the occasion for another standing stone: “Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak near the holy place of the LORD” (Joshua 24:26). The idea of stone work is not only in the Old Testament. In the New Testament we’re told that Christ Himself is the foundation and chief cornerstone (1 Cor. 3:11; Eph. 2:20). In 1 Peter 2:4-12 the metaphor is applied to those who follow Christ. And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For this is contained in Scripture: "BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED." 7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, "THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone," 8 and, "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE"; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. 9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God's OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. 11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. As stones, believers are being built into a house within which the presence of God lives. Each believer is a living stone making up the “house” of God. Even though the main emphasis of this passage is on the house, the use of the stone metaphor can remind us of the cultural practice of standing stones. Each stone represents the work of God in a particular place or in the life of an individual and therefore points people to God Himself. Verse 12 of our passage from 1 Peter emphasizes the idea: “Live such good lives among the pagans that...they may see your good deeds and glorify God.” As followers of Jesus / Yeshua we must live so that the world will know that the Lord is God. So......When we come to a crossroad in our lives, do we look to the Lord for His direction and guidance? When our will crosses His will, do we put our will on a cross and follow Jesus? When God places us on the crossroads of others where we can influence society or culture, like He did with ancient Israel, do we influence others in a Godly way, in a way that clearly points to God’s love, character, holiness and purity? Does the world around us know Who He is, and what He is like because of how we live? Or, do we allow the culture around us to influence us, so we end up becoming so much like it, no one can tell the difference? As we stand in the gates, are we watchful for what comes into the “city” of our life? Whether through TV, music, magazines, misuse or overuse of various substances, through other people or even our own imagination. Do we take an active stand against ungodly intruders, or simply allow anything and everything free access into our mind and heart? As we live our lives, what kind of stone are we? – Are we like sandstone? Easily shaped by the influences of the world around it. – Or are we a solid, living, standing stone? Living in a way that when others look into our lives they see what God is like. Life is full of choices. Let’s choose, let’s determine, right now, – to do what we can to influence our world in a Godly way; – to guard our hearts and minds from the tricks and schemes of the enemy; and – to be a standing stone for the one true God.