Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Leviticus 25-27

Chapter 25 of Leviticus contains the LORD's instructions for the sabbath year and the Jubilee year. As the seventh day of every week is a sabbath for the people, every seventh year "the land itself must observe a sabbath to the LORD." So the people would not sow or reap every seventh year. Every 50th year, the LORD decrees a Jubilee year, where the people are to return to their own clan and their own property. The LORD also gave laws regarding the selling of land, but only to fellow Israelites and "the land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants." Instructions include dealing with the poor, slaves, hired workers, temporary residents and those who sell but want to redeem their property.

Leviticus 26 is another exhortation from the LORD to follow his commands, the law which he has been handing down on Mt. Sinai. And he emphasizes the benefits that will accrue from doing so. If the Israelites follow GOD's laws, they will have "rain in its season and the ground will yield its crops...I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid." But just as obedience brings its rewards, disobedience results in punishment. If they do not follow the LORD's commands, "I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you." And the book ends in chapter 27 with rules and instructions for dedicating persons, and sacrifices and property to the LORD.

Thoughts, questions, issues

  • One of the things that we tend to think is that the Bible would support the claims of the antebellum abolitionists. On the contrary - there are several passages dealing with slavery, including these chapters of Leviticus, and in none of them is it unreservedly condemned.
  • This is a book of law. It is law for the Israelites, but it is law. It starts with the Israelites receiving the law at the foot of Mt. Sinai, and ends with them in the same place. There are essentially two short narrative stories in the entire book.
  • The promised land is for the people of Israel, but only as long as they obey God's commands.
  • "These are the commands the LORD gave Moses on Mount Sinai for the Israelites." The commands are not for all people. They are for Israel, a people set aside as an example for everyone else.

Psalms 16

The 16th psalm is, at its heart, a psalm of gratitude to the LORD. "In you I take have assignew me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure." And the psalmist promises to continue to praise the LORD and follow his instructions.

Psalm 16
A miktam of David.

1 Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.

2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing."

3 As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.

4 The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.

5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.

6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.

8 I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,

10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

11 You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

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