Feb. 9 Reading: Leviticus 24-25 Commentary
“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; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.” (Lev. 25:10)
Leviticus 24 – Consequences of Disobedience
Except for the incident at the tabernacle with Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10, we haven’t seen God carrying out any justice on a member of any tribe. That changes in Leviticus 24. Here we have the first recorded case of a person breaking a major command.
In this case, a son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian father fought against another man in the camp. We don’t know what the incident was over. Clues in the passage suggest it might have been a disagreement over the death of an animal (v. 18, 21). It may have also turned brutally violent based on the new commands given in verse 17 and 19-20.
The big deal though is that during the fight the Israelite woman’s son “blasphemed the name of the Lord and cursed” (v. 11). Now, this was clearly forbidden in the law (see Ex. 22:28). In this case though, questions arose because the individual was not a full-blooded Israelite. He was biracial, having an Israelite mom and Egyptian dad (v. 10). So, before taking action, they brought him before Moses to see what the Lord would say.
Turns out, it didn’t matter if you were biracial or not. The punishment ended up being the same. God said:
“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.” (Lev. 24:15-16)
So, that’s what they did. They took the man outside the camp and stoned him with stones just as the Lord commanded (v. 23).
Leviticus 25 – The Year of Jubilee
God laid out an interesting plan for working the land. It’s called the Sabbath of the 7th Year. For six years, the Israelites were allowed to plant crops for food. But in the 7th year, reaping, storage and selling were not permitted. They could still harvest for their personal needs. Otherwise, they were to leave the land alone – to give it a year of rest – and trust in God to provide for them. (vv. 1-7).
While believers today are not under this law, we can still draw application from it. We need rest. Our bodies were not designed to go 24/7 without a break. We can take time within your daily and weekly schedule to rest and recharge. These rest periods are times to reflect, do things that you enjoy and draw closer to God.
The Year of Jubilee
Seven of the Sabbath-of-the-7th-year time frames would equal 49 years (seven times seven). The next year – the 50th year – God also ordained as a Sabbath of rest. And He gave it a special name – the Year of Jubilee.
But it was more than just another year for the land to rest. Special transactions happened every 50 years. Specifically, all debts were cancelled, anyone who had sold themselves into slavery were freed and purchased land reverted back to the original owner. It was a year to “proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants” (v. 10).
Why would God do this? For starters, it was another reminder that the people and the land actually belonged to God (v. 23). He had rescued them and given them the land to use for their benefit (v. 2). He never wanted them to forget his role in their lives.
But he also did not want them to oppress one another either (v. 14, 17). In this type of agrarian society, it would have been easy to do. Those with means could buy up the land from those who were poor. Additionally, lending (v. 35-37) and slavery (v. 39-55) were allowed. So a poor person who found themselves in a desperate situation might take out a loan or sell themselves into slavery to pay off a debt. This could cause personal and family hardship that they could never recover from.
But the Year of Jubilee and the laws about redemption of the land and slaves fixed that. It gave people hope that their circumstances were not permanent. It helped people make a new start. In that way, these ordinances are vivid symbols of what Christ did for all people on the cross.
But What Will We Eat?
If you are processing what it means for the land to have a Sabbath rest, you are probably asking the same question the Israelites were. What are we going to eat if we can’t plant crops? In a culture dominated by agriculture, how were the people to survive? And what about the back-to-back years of land rest during the Year of Jubilee?
God anticipated that question and had an answer. In Lev. 25:20-22, we see it:
“And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce?’ Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years. And you shall sow in the eighth year, and eat old produce until the ninth year; until its produce comes in, you shall eat of the old harvest.”
Three years worth of food produced in one year! God supplied enough food during the 6th year to cover the three year gap until the next harvests were gathered. How’s that for provision?
Questions to Consider:
There is value in rest. A 24/7 non-stop schedule will eventually catch up with you. Take time to recharge – physically, emotionally and spiritually. What do you do on a daily or weekly basis to renew your strength?
How have you seen God provide for you?
What other points would you want to know about in our Leviticus 24-25 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.