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 are so grateful for this week. This week that is typically referred to as Holy Week. And Father, we pray that with every passing moment, all way up until Easter, our hearts would just be drawn into deeper fellowship and to a place of great appreciation, meaningful appreciation of what was done.
A transaction that began in heaven from before the earth was even created, that the Lamb was slain, as John wrote in Revelation, from the foundations of the earth; that is, you had us in mind even before you made us. You had fellowship with us, and your plan was enacted and was fulfilled through the Lord Jesus Christ.
And we're in the middle of that plan between the first and the second coming of Christ two thousand years since his first coming. But we believe his second coming is imminent, that it is close at hand, and we want to live, and be ready, and be prepared as if you could come tomorrow, but plan as if you wouldn't even come in our lifetime; that we would cover both bases being responsible but also waiting in anticipation for your soon return, Lord.
Father, thank you and give us grace now as we study what is to most believers, New Testament believers, a difficult book. It has become, though, to us so rewarding as we've taken the time to consider it, and not only what it means, but what principles are beyond what it means and what it meant back then, and what principles transcend the text and are meaningful even to us as New Testament believers. We thank you, in Jesus' name, amen.
When the disciples came to Jesus one day, and they asked him how they ought to pray, our Lord said, "When you pray, say: 'Our Father who dwells or who art in heaven, hallowed or holy is your name.' " The theme of the book of Leviticus is much like the portion of the Lord's Prayer—"hallowed be thy name." The Lord is holy. The Lord is unique. He is distinct. He is like none other.
And because he is holy, those who follow him ought to reflect the one they worship. Now, we're not going to do that perfectly. The moon reflects the sun, but it doesn't have the same kind of glory that the sun has. You can look at the moon; you can't look at the sun.
When Moses said, "Show me your glory," the Lord said, "Dude, if you saw me, you'd, like, burn up." This is a little bit of a free rendering of that verse. [laughter] "You'd die; you can't handle seeing me." You can't gaze at the sun without being blinded; however, you can see the glory of the sun by looking at the reflection of the sun in the moon. Last night and probably tonight is a great example—full moon, nothing like it. You can stare at it, gaze at it. So, too, imagine people looking at your life like we look at the full moon going, "Wow! It's beautiful. I see the glory of your Lord and Savior. Your Maker is in you."
One hundred fifty-two times in the book of Leviticus the word holy or a derivative thereof, a derivation thereof appears--holy or holiness, 152 times. The third person of the Trinity is called the Holy Spirit. Of all the descriptions that are given to him—not the loving Spirit, though he is loving, not the merciful Spirit, not the kind Spirit, but he is holy. That is the one demarcation he is known by for those of us who know him.
Now, Leviticus, chapter 25—and by the way, all of Leviticus has to do with holiness and worship; or look at it this way, worship and walk. Our worship for God and our walk before people, those are the two bases that are covered in this book. Now Leviticus 25, we didn't quite finish it last week, and I'm just going to zip right through the last few verses because we're continuing that thought.
It's the thought of redemption. We talked about the Jubilee year. We talked about the sabbatic year. Beginning in verse 35 it's how to treat a poor individual who needs to become an indentured servant. They're so poor they have to become a slave of sorts. And how do you treat somebody like that, and what are, what are the limitations of that indentured servitude?
So look at a few verses. Verse 35, "'if one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner that he may live with you.' "Verse 39, " 'If one of your brethren who dwells with you or dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee." '
The fiftieth year, every fifty years was the Jubilee; seven sets of seven years, forty-nine years; the very next one was the Jubilee. But instead of waiting for the Year of Jubilee the individual could be redeemed by a relative. We saw last week that Boaz and Ruth were a prime example of that. Somebody could come in and pay the price, and buy the land, or buy the individual back.
But verse 54 says, " 'And if he is not redeemed in these years, then he shall be released in the Year of Jubilee—he and his children with him. For the children of Israel are servants to me; they are my servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." '
Now an interesting question arises based upon the reading of this, and, and in the New Testament when we noticed that slavery existed in the early church; not by early church members per se, but it existed in the Roman Empire. About one-half of all those who lived in the Roman Empire two thousand years ago were slaves. So conceivably you might have within a church slaves and also saved masters.
So what do you tell a saved master? What do you tell a slave who is under the yoke of a master under Roman law? And so the question arises: Why didn't God ever try to abolish that slavery? Well—and it is interesting because Paul never said to the church, "Now, believers, Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, let's write picket signs and post them on little pieces of wood, and let's march around the Colosseum in Rome. Let's picket and let's petition Caesar to end slavery."
Now, first of all, they couldn't have done that. They didn't have a free society with free speech and a democratic government like we have. But also there's a deeper truth. Rather than trying to change the outward man-made institutions like slavery, God is all about changing the individual heart. If you change individual hearts, you will have an equity of treatment between master and indentured servitude or slave.
Change people and you will change culture. The best way to change culture is not by the right candidate, or the amount of votes, or a political structure. I'm glad we have a democratic society, I'm glad I'm able to vote, and I always vote any conscience and biblical standards. However, the best way to change your culture is to change the people within the culture.
Now imagine if in your country—you say, "How can we get our right candidate in and change society?" Here's how: What if you, what if every believer in America started being vocal about their faith, learning how to share their faith, and led people to Christ so that one-third, then half, then three-quarters, then almost all of our country believed in Christ? Well, you're going to see an entirely different set of values and standards based upon change in the heart than any other capacity. That's why all of our energy and effort has to be about that.
Now, when it comes to this unique relationship of saved master and saved servant within the church, listen to what Paul writes to the Ephesians, "Bondservants [or slaves], be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ." In other words, "Slaves, go back to your masters and be like the best slaves ever, so that no slave in town is as good a slave as you are, because that's going to make your master and the community wonder: 'What's up with those slaves? Why are they so nice and friendly and compliant?' "
And you're going to open a door and by the way, that was the case. Many of the slave owners became Christians by the witness of those slaves that they had owned, and so there was more equitable treatment that went on, and it was Christianity that was able to eventually abolish slavery.
Same in England, William Wilberforce a believer in Jesus Christ influenced by John Newton the hymn writer, the ex—slave trader, succeeded in abolishing slavery, but it was because of what God had done in his heart that caused that.
Now, Leviticus, chapter 26. Leviticus, chapter 26 is the "iffy" chapter, iffy; it's really iffy. The word "if" appears nine times. If you do this, then I will do that. "If" appears nine times; the words "I will" appear like twenty-four, twenty-six times. So what we have here are promises that God makes conditioned upon their obedience. "I will bless you, if you do this." Which isn't just part of the chapter, it's part of the whole old covenant; am I right? Is that—it's sort of the whole Old Testament.
"Do this and live, the law commands, but gives me neither feet nor hands. A better word the gospel brings, it bids me fly then gives me wings." So the New Testament did what the old covenant never could do, never could accomplish, never gave you the power to do it. So God is in the covenant of the law, the Mosaic covenant it is called; not because they, like, did jigsaw puzzles, but because it was a law of Moses, Mosaic covenant.
It was a conditional covenant. "If you do this, I'll do that. If you don't do this, then I'm going to do that." There are consequences. I know what this relationship is like. Not only is this part of the law, it's part of life. I grew up with this covenant. I grew up with parents: "Skip, if you do this, we'll do that." Did you ever have that? I had that. I had, I had positive reinforcement as well as negative reinforcement. I had "reinforcement." Whatever it took to get this kid to obey.
So when it was time to go to the dentist, and I hated going to the dentist, still not that stoked about it. My mom would always say, "We're going to the dentist, and you know what that means? If you're a good boy at the dentist, we'll go to Roscoe's." Now, Roscoe's was this little ten-cent store in California where they had the coolest little wind-up toys. And if I was a good boy at the dentist—if—then I'd get a cool, little wind-up toy.
And it was hard because my doctor, my dentist's was named Dr. Steel. [laughter] And, and you know what? He was like his name—hard as steel. I remember the time I came into the office and he had this new anesthesia he wanted to try out on his patients, a topical anesthesia. He says, "Now, we know that kids don't like shots, so we have this spray." Now I thought, "Oh! This is awesome!" Until I discovered that topical anesthesia doesn't work on little boys' gums and teeth very well.
So they sprayed me up and waited a while, and I couldn't feel topically as I touched it. I couldn't feel anything at all. I thought, "This is great!" What I didn't know is that my nerves were just as active one millimeter underneath that skin. So when he went in there to drill, I felt everything. And Dr. Steel just went down ten demerits in my little book that day. And I thought, "A wind-up toy now at a ten-cents store? I want, like, the whole store for that." If—then.
When I was fifteen years of age my parents went to Hawaii for their anniversary. They left me at home—yeah! [laughter] They left a fifteen-year-old boy. Now, I did have older brothers, so I had governors, sort of. But they knew that I wanted, more than anything else, an electric guitar. I had a little acoustic guitar, but, man, I wanted to jam. I wanted to play. I wanted to rock out.
And there was this—at Thrifty—this electric guitar that was like thirty dollars. It really was a piece of junk, but I wanted it. I thought it was the coolest thing. It was spray painted all awesome. So my dad said, "If you weed the yard, pull out all the weeds in the yard—if you do that, then we'll get you that electric guitar when we get home from Hawaii." I thought, "Deal!"
Well, they had about two acres, but I thought, "Not a big deal." And so I had a few weeks to do this. Wisdom would have told me start on it early, get the job done early. I didn't. I waited till the day before they came. Went out there—not even early in the morning, just went out there sort of like midday afternoon, started pulling the weeds. And I thought, "Man, there's like millions of these. There's no way I could do this. I could hire, like, my neighborhood and I couldn't do this."
So I had the bright idea of taking the lawn mower that was in my dad's garage and lowering the blade all the way down to the level of the dirt. And so, it worked. I loaded it up with gas, pulled it, cranked it up, and just—I mean, dust flew everywhere, but when I got done with those two acres, it looked pristine, beautiful. It looked like I had pulled the weeds. I didn't, I chopped the weeds, which means the weeds are still there hiding ever so stealthily under just an inch of sand.
My parents came home, looked at it, and they said, "That looks fabulous. The deal is on; we'll buy you that guitar." They got me the guitar. A few days later, almost a week, as my father was looking out over the property and he noticed something peeking up out of the soil. And he went out there to look, and he noticed this frayed little end of a stem of weed growing up, and then another one, and then another one, and then another one. He knew something was up.
So he looked and he checked and he saw that the blade—though I had put it back up, the underneath part of the lawn mower was all filled with dust, and the blade was toast. I mean, dirt, rocks just chewed it up. It was all bent out of shape. And so he looked at it and he goes, "I know what he did." So he came to me and he goes, "Did you pull all the weeds out of our yard?" I said, "Well, yeah. Of course, you saw it." he says, "Come here, I'd like you to see something." And I was busted. Luckily they already bought me the guitar, but I still had to pay for part of it.
So God says in this chapter, "There's certain things you have to do if you want me to bless you"—that's verses 1 through 13. Beginning in verse 14 down to verse 45, "If you disobey, then bad things are going to happen to you." Now, here is where you and I as believers ought to say thank God for Jesus and being under the new covenant.
And now we understand what Paul meant when he said in Galatians the law was a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ, to point the way, a tutor to say, "You know what? Come here. Here's the law, you gotta do this, but that's child's stuff. Once you grow up and mature, you don't need the law, you're free in Christ." That is something that legalistic Christians still haven't got yet. And there are some people, I'll just warn you, they may be in our own flock, who want to bring you back under the covenant of the law to some degree, but be it keeping a Sabbath day, or doing certain rules and regulations. You are seeing the old covenant distilled in this chapter like nowhere else before.
Chapter 26, verse 1, " 'You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the Lord your God.' "
One of the first questions the people have in reading verses like this is: "Well, what does that mean then about religious art, paintings, artifacts, pictures that people have inside their homes, drawings, or engravings? Is all of it forbidden? Because if it is forbidden, then God has a problem; God has contradicted his own commandment. In the tabernacle God commanded that they make an image of cherubim over the mercy seat, angels' wings.
"In the tabernacle God commanded that they sew into the veil, between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, also beautiful cherubim. God commanded that upon the garments of the priests, the high priests, there would be sewn bells and pomegranates, or the images in thread upon the garment. The menorah had knobs of flowers. All of these are images of what's on earth. So, so God says, 'You shall not make an image,' and God stated that back in Exodus, chapter 20, as one of his top ten of his commandments. So is God contradicting or violating his own command?"
No, he's not, because none of those things represented or depicted God. The issue here isn't art, the issue is if an image lessens God by depicting God, then it's a problem.
God commanded angels to be made, flowers to be made, but not an image of him to be made. Now here's the problem with an image—there is no image that could possibly be made that could represent God. No one can make an image or a picture that represents God—no one.
God always exceeds any depiction that man has because as soon as you cast some idea of what you think God is like, and you make an image of it, you have restricted the unrestricted God. So you're always lessening, you're deprecating, you're depreciating the true nature of who God is, that's why God said don't do it.
Now, I remember as a kid we had icons and statues around the house, and I'd ask my parents about this. And my mom would say, "Well, it's a good reminder of God." But later on I got to thinking, "You know, if you need a reminder that God exists, you must not be hanging out very closely with him. It's like what, you go through the day and all of a sudden you see a statue: "Oh, that's right, there's a God. I almost forgot. Boy, I'm glad I saw that. That'll really kick-start me again."
Images simply demonstrate that you're not living close to God because you need that to remind you of him. God said, "No images—nothing that depicts me."
" 'You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.' " Here it is—" 'If you walk in may statutes and keep my commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, the vintage shall last till the time of sowing; and you're eat your bread to the full,' " the whole cycle will happen, " 'and dwell in your land safely.' "
Blessing number one, provision. Provision in the land is blessing number one. "I'm going to cause the rain to come down and you're going to have abundant crops." There's an excellent passage, and it's actually a passage when we take tours to Israel, the very first day we open up to Deuteronomy chapter 11 verses 10 and 11. You don't have to go there now; you can make a note of it.
But here's why we do it: there God tells the children of Israel, "The land that you are going into, the land of Israel, the land of Canaan, it's not like the land of Egypt that had the Nile River, the Nile Delta. The land that you are going into is a land of hills and valleys that drinks the water that comes forth from heaven." So Israel was, and by the way, still is to this day dependent upon annual rainfall.
Now, this year the rain has been good. The Sea of Galilee is the marker still to this day. The Sea of Galilee is at an all-time record high this year. But sometimes it drops really, really, really low because they don't have much rain. God says, "If you obey me, provision will be blessing number one. I'll bring rain out of heaven that will soak your crops and you will yield much."
Little known fact: did you know that the city of Jerusalem has almost the same annual rainfall as the city of London? You wouldn't know it; you look at London, it's cloudy, and it's green, and everything growing there. You go to Israel and it's beautiful, but boy, you think, "This place gets that much rain?"
There's two factors: number one, it's a rocky soil in Israel, it's not like the dark soil in England. It's a very rocky soil, there's rocks everywhere, limestone everywhere. Number two, most of the rains come in just a few months' period of time between late October and April. And they fall into two categories: the early rain and the latter rain; the winter rain and the spring rain. What they call in Hebrew the yoreh/yowreh and the malqosh/malqowsh, the first rains and the second rains. God says, "I'll bless you in both."
Now, because water is scarce there—this is cool—they've learned to navigate the runoff so that they will, when it rains, collect the water in these huge cisterns (this is in ancient time), these huge cisterns. Boy, I wish I could just right now transport you to outside of the gate of Jerusalem to the Garden Tomb. There's a cistern there that if we were to walk into it, it's about as big as this room. It's underground all carved out of solid limestone. It's enormous. It's an auditorium.
They dug it out a couple thousand years ago. And they dug it out all over the country like that. So when it rains they collect the water and then they use the water for their needs. But that cistern is still in operation today watering some of the gardens and the lands around the Garden Tomb.
So here's a good program—just, just, just understand God's heart here. This is such a good deal because God knows that we could effectively spend all of our energy and time trying to make a good life for ourselves, providing for ourselves, providing for our family. So God says, "Tell you what, if you just obey me and put me as number one, I'll make sure you're blessed. You don't have to worry about your crops. You don't have to worry about your animals. Just obey me and I'll bless you and give you provision."
Is that is good deal? You have the same deal. Did you know that? Jesus said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you." He said, "Don't be like the Gentiles, worrying about, 'What am I going to eat? Where am I going to sleep? What am I going to wear?' " It seems that most of us worry more about what we're going to wear than what we're going to eat. Jesus said, "Don't worry about it at all. Look at the flowers of the field; you're heavenly Father did that. You seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be provided for you."
I believe that God wants us to be as carefree as possible in life. You're going to get cares. You're going to get worries. You're not going to eat steak and lobster every day. "Well, I trust the Lord," you know. Jesus said, "Behold the birds of the air," right? when he was giving that example about "seek ye first." "Behold the birds of the air, they don't spin, they don't toil, they don't gather into barns, but your heavenly Father takes care of them."
But birds just don't like sit on a branch and do this [gapes], like: "Come on, God, plop one in." They still have to go out. So God says, "When you are threshing, when you are sowing—so, yes, I'm going to bless you, but you have to go out there and thresh, and you have to sow, and you have to reap. You gotta work. There has to be a human cooperation that demonstrates you believe that I'm going to bless you. Because you're going to go out there and sow and reap, it's because you're doing it in faith believing you're going to get a great harvest. So go for it, and I'll bless you."
Have there been lean times? I think back to the days when I was in college and all I had left in my pantry was bread and peanut butter and jelly. And for a week it was bread, and peanut butter and jelly. And it got old, but you know, by the end of the week I ran out of bread, and I had peanut butter and I didn't want to eat jelly. So I ate peanut butter. That's all I had. I made it; here I am.
David said, "I was young, and now I am old." I can say that now. [laughter]. And he said, "I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor God's people begging bread." He'll take care of you. Oh, he'll take you through dark times to teach lessons, but those are good lessons.
Verse 6, " 'I will give you peace in the land,' " that's blessing number two, " 'you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land. You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.' "
In other words, "You don't have to live in fear. If you obey me, not only will I bless you in provision, I'll bless you in peace. You don't have to live in fear. I don't want you to spend all of your time fighting." I don't think God wants us to spend all of our time fighting either.
Now, there are seasons of warfare. Back in David's time around First Samuel—I forget—chapter 11 I'm guessing. It says, "Now it was the spring of the year, the time when kings go out the battle," and David stayed home. There were seasons for battle, and there are seasons--you may be in one right now, you may be facing some kind of a battle, but you won't always be in that battle. God will bring you out; God does want you to have peace.
Now, just notice something in verse 8. As you read that it sort of sounds like—and perhaps when you read it you think it is literary hyperbole. It's just a way of stating something, but it's not to be taken literally. That's how many take it. It says, "Five of you will chase a hundred, a hundred of you will put ten thousand to flight." And you could say, "Well, that's just God's way of exaggerating the truth to make a point."
Well, remember Gideon had three hundred men against 135,000 Midianites. Served him well; he won the battle. Remember Jonathan and his armor bearer went over to the Philistine camp? Jonathan said, "Come on, let's go over here." And he goes, "You know what? God is God, and nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few. Let's give it a shot. It could be that the Lord's going to deliver the whole Philistine camp into just two guys hands, yours and mine. Let's just see. If God is fighting for us, he doesn't need an army, he just needs you and me." That's based on this principle.
David facing Goliath—based on this principle. Israel was not strong. They were not a talented fighting force; they were a bunch of country bumpkins who made it through the desert by God's grace. But they had the secret weapon, man. They had, like, they had like, the nuke; it's called God. And Martin Luther said it, you all know it, "With God one is always a majority." God says, "Live like that. Believe like that. I'll give you provision, I'll give you peace.
Verse 9, " 'For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm my covenant with you. You shall eat the old harvest, and clear out the old because of the new. I will set my tabernacle among you, my soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be my people.' " Third blessing, partnership with God.
Provision in the land, peace with their enemies, partnership with God—those are the three blessings. "If you obey me, that's what you'll get." Now look in verse 9, see that little phrase, "I will look on you favorably"? The word literally means to turn to and to lean toward someone; it speaks of intimacy.
Ever see a couple in love? I'm looking at a few right now; they're just sort of like leaning close to each other. They've turned toward each other, they're leaning toward each other. It's cute, it's wonderful, arm around each other—hope you're married or dating. [laughter] The idea is of intimacy like a, like a young man who would propose to a young woman, turning to her, and leaning in toward her. What a beautiful idea of relating to God. That's the kind of, that's the heart of God.
Have you ever been in a restaurant and observed some married couples at a meal? I remember James Dobson once wrote, "You can always tell married couples in restaurants; they're the ones who don't talk to each other very much." The ones who are dating—they're gabbing, talking, can't get them out. They're just talking; they want to learn more.
But he said look at the married couples, and it wasn't but a few days ago and I noticed a married couple. And it's true; they were both kind of looking around like: "I'm enduring this and, dude, I'm glad you're paying for this, but that's about all I'm getting out of it."
You know some Christians have that kind of a relationship, they're content with that kind of a relationship with God. Sort of a formal relationship. "Well, me and God, we visit. I visit him once a week. We don't say much to each other, it's not really close." I love the relationship of apostle John at the Last Supper what was he doing? Yeah, he was leaning. He was leaning on the bosom, on the breast of Jesus. He wanted that closeness. God says, "I will look favorably." So that's the third, partnership with God
" 'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.' " That phrase appears ten times in Leviticus, over one hundred times in the rest of the Old Testament. God wants to remind them, "I've delivered you. I've delivered you. Remember where you used to be. I've taken you; never forget your past. Never forget what you've been delivered from."
" 'Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright. But if you do not obey me,' " now the flip side of the coin, " 'and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise my statutes, if your soul abhors my judgments, so that you do not perform all my commandments, but break my covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.' "
The Arabic equivalent of wasting disease is consumption. Now some have thought wasting disease is a reference to leprosy. It is probably, rather than leprosy, a reference to tuberculosis, which very common to this day in the Middle East. You want to know where it's found the most in? Bedouins, those nomads who go from place to place in their tents. It's because they get it from their camels. Camels give humans tuberculosis.
Now knowing this—I'm bringing this out because it's interesting how the Lord works. Most of the Bedouin tribes are infiltrated with tuberculosis and the need for treatment; wasting disease, consumption. Because of that, I knew two ladies, one's now in heaven, one's pretty close; a doctor and a nurse; an American and an Australian who lived in Bethlehem but saw that because most Bedouins get tuberculosis from their camels, they were looking for some kind of evangelistic key to reach the Bedouin people. They didn't know how to do it.
They saw that this disease was common, and the only way to treat it is several weeks worth of treatment in a hospital. So they started a hospital for chest diseases in Mafraq, Jordan. And because of that, Bedouin tribes from the entire Middle East circulate through there and have to be there for several weeks at a time. So they have doctors, nurses, and evangelists who speak Arabic. And because of that one hospital, and because of the tuberculosis problem, it is estimated by good sources that there is at least one believer or believing family in every single Bedouin tribe in the Middle East because of that hospital. Isn't that fabulous how God works?
" 'I will set my face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you. After all this, if you do not obey me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.
" 'Then, if you walk contrary to me and are not willing to obey me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues according to your sins. I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate. And if by these things you are not reformed by me,' " of course, some of them would be deformed by these things. " 'But if you are not reformed by me, but walk contrary to me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you yet seven times for your sins.' "
Something interesting just to make a note of in verse 19 is a reference to iron. The first reference to iron is in Genesis 4. Now, I say it's interesting because this is before iron implements every existed in Israel. If you remember your Bible, it was the Philistines who first perfected the art of producing iron for weapons and introduced iron into their weaponry against the children of Israel, that's why they had the advantage.
It wasn't till 1180 BC that iron became a workable product in the Middle East. This is way before them. So it is believed that this reference to iron is either to iron ore, or to something known as ironstone, or that had shades that has compounds of iron within it, or some iron-like hard stone.
So anyway—just thought—an FYI. Some people get interested in that, and I bring it up because sometimes if you don't mention it people say, "You know the Bible's inaccurate, speaks about iron before the Iron Age." So you have an explanation and then they just go, "Oh, so."
Verse 27, " 'After all this, if you do not obey me, but walk contrary to me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins' "—now this is brutal—" 'you shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.' "
In other words, things will get so bad, the famines will become so severe, and human nature being what it is, and people who will want to survive will even be brought down to this level. You say, "Oh, that would never happen." Has happened. Has happened on many occasions.
It even happened in the Bible, Second Kings, chapter 6; the Syrian king named Ben-hadad besieged the city of Samaria right in the middle of the country. And there was a great famine in the land so they were shut up; nobody could get inside, nobody could get outside. There was no food.
One day the king of Samaria was walking on the wall of the city and there's two women who were down below the wall saying to the king, "Help us!" And he says, "If God can't help you, I can't help you. What, am I going to go to the threshing floor, the wine press? There's nothing there." And then he paused and he said, "What do you need? What ails you?" In the King James, "What ails you?"
And one woman said, "This woman made a promise that if we would eat my son, then the next day we would kill her son and eat her son. So," she said, "we boiled my son and ate him. Then the next day I said, 'Okay, produce your son so we can boil him and eat him,' and she hid her son."
The king of Samaria ripped his garments. He so just in shock, like, "It's come to this." And then he got angry and he said, "That prophet Elisha, may God do so to him and more if I don't cut his head off by the end of the day." In other words, he blamed God's prophet. God always gets the blame, and God's people typically get the blame for their own sin. But it happened.
Jeremiah looking over the city of Jerusalem after it had been laid waste by the Babylonians said, "The hands of compassionate women have cooked their own children."
Verse 30, " 'I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; my soul shall abhor you. I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas.' "
Sounds a lot like Isaiah, chapter 1, when God said, " 'To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices?' Says the Lord. 'I don't want your burnt offerings. I don't like the incense that you burn or the smell of burnt fat from the fatted calves, because your heart wasn't right.' "
" 'I will bring the land to desolation, and your enemies who dwell in it shall be astonish. I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate, your cities shall be waste.' "
Did this happen? Three times it happened: 722 BC it happened, the Assyrians took the northern kingdom captive; 586 BC this happened, the Babylonians came, took Judah the southern kingdom captive, that's when Daniel went to Babylon; it happened in 70 AD by the Romans who destroyed the city. And for the last nineteen hundred years Israel has lived verse 33 perpetually until May 14, 1948, then God brought them back into their land and they're in their land today.
" 'Then the land shall enjoy it's sabbaths," notice that, " 'as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies' land; and the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths.' " Remember we talked all about that last time, the idea of the Sabbath? And they sinned for 490 years not keeping the sabbatical year on the Jubilee. That happens to be seventy Sabbath years, so God said you owe me seventy years. He took them into Babylon for seventy years. "Let the land enjoy its Sabbaths. If you're not going to give the land a rest, I will."
Verse 40, " 'But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to me, and that they also walked contrary to me, and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt—then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, my covenant with Isaac, my covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land.
" 'The land also shall be left empty by them, and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; they will accept their guilt, because they despised my judgments and because their soul abhorred my statutes. Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break my covenant with them; for I am the Lord their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the Lord.' These are the statutes, the judgments, the laws which the Lord God made between himself and the children of Israel on Mount Sinai by the hand of Moses."
What do we have here? We have something awesome here. All of their sin, as bad as they could ever blow it before God, was not enough to make God forget them utterly. We had sung those truths right before—the worship. I'm glad the worship team pulled those babies out to sing. "The love of God—greater than all of my sin."
Now this is what we're dealing with. This is cool. In the Bible there are two types of covenants. Do you know what they are? Some of you know what they are. Type number one, a conditional covenant. In other words, a deal, a covenant, an agreement that has conditions: "If you do this, I'll do that. If you don't do this, I won't do that,"—that's a conditional covenant.
Then there's an unconditional covenant. You know what an unconditional covenant is? It has no conditions, okay, that's easy. It's this, here's an unconditional covenant: I go up to you and I promise you, "I am going to give you ten thousand dollars." And you go, "What are the strings attached?" You're waiting for the other shoe to drop, like, "This just doesn't happen." "No, I just promise. I'm going to give it to you. No strings attached. I'm just going to give it to you." That would be an unconditional covenant.
You have those two types in the Bible: conditional, unconditional. One of the covenants is called the Edenic covenant because Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden, hence, Edenic covenant. That was a conditional covenant. "You do right, you can stay in this beautiful place. If you don't, you're out"—and they were out. It was conditioned upon something.
The Mosaic covenant, the law of Moses, conditional or unconditional? It was conditional. And we just saw it here summed up. "You do this, I'll do that; you don't do this, I won't do that"—that's conditional.
But then there's unconditional covenants. The Abrahamic covenant is unconditional. "Abraham, I'm going to bless you. I'm going to multiply you. The whole world will be blessed through you." Unconditionally. He just said, "I will," not "if you"—just, "I will."
There's another covenant, and it's seen here, it's the covenant of the land. It is called by theologians the Palestinian covenant referring to the land of Israel, or some call it Palestine. It's just called the Palestinian covenant; it's a covenant of the land. God promised that to the children of Israel unconditionally, unconditionally. So this just solves the whole land issue in the Middle East easily. Of course, it's not that easy because not everybody agrees with Scripture.
What do you do if you have a conditional covenant and an unconditional covenant operating simultaneously? What you have here, you have a covenant of Moses: "Hey, you obey me, you can stay in the land; you disobey me, you're out of here." Yet, now there's this unconditional covenant that says, "I'm giving you the land unconditionally." How do they work? Well, they work in tandem.
You see, under a conditional covenant their tenure in the land, their dwelling in the land was conditioned upon their obedience, but their ultimate possession of it was unconditional. So God makes the unconditional promise: "The land is yours." But he makes a conditional promise: "You blow it, I'm taking you out of here, and make it so hard for you that you will humble yourselves and repent and cry out. When you do that—and I'm anticipating that you will, I'm going to bring you back. I'm going to bring you back."
And that's why God says in Isaiah 11:11, the second time that God brings Israel back to Zion, they're there for good. First time, God brought them back after the Babylonian captivity. The second time, May 14, 1948, they're there for good. They are going to face hard times in the future, but it's part of the unconditional covenant, the covenant of the land.
That's why Daniel—Daniel knew this—Daniel was in captivity, read Jeremiah, he goes, "Oh, my goodness! Jeremiah said we're going to be here seventy years. Seventy years is almost up, according to my calendar it's time for me to pray." And he started confessing his sins, and like the text says the sins of his fathers, forefathers, knowing that God would answer his prayers and bring them back into the land.
Okay, Leviticus 27—you can tell that I'm speeding up my speech because we're finishing the book. Okay, honestly—and we're going to go very quickly—some don't know why this chapter is even here. They see it as an addendum. They see it as a postscript. I say no, it's the very heart of sacrifice.
Here's why: most of the sacrifices in this book were obligatory. The sacrifices we're talking about here were voluntary. It's the heart that says, "I don't have to do it; I want to do it. I want to dedicate certain things to God: myself, my home, my land. I just want to give these things to the Lord for his use, for his glory." It's the heart of thanksgiving.
Verse 1, "The Lord spoke to Moses, 'Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: "When a man consecrates by a vow certain persons to the Lord, according to your valuation, if your valuation is of a male from twenty years old up to sixty years old, then your valuation shall be fifty shekels of silver according to the valuation of the sanctuary. If it is a female, you're valuation shall be thirty shekels; and if from five years old and up to twenty years old, then your valuation for a male shall be twenty shekels, for a female shall be ten shekels." ' "
Now, let me just tell you it's not because men are more valuable than women. It's simply because men are going to be more suited for heavy work, heavy lifting in the tabernacle. That's what we're dealing with; you're dealing with a person who's dedicated to the work of the Lord.
Hannah and Elkanah brought Samuel and dropped him off at the tabernacle making this vow. Remember that? They "lent him to the Lord." "I prayed for a young man, a boy, and the Lord answered my prayer. Now I'm going to lend him back to the Lord." And dropped him off to the priest and said, "Train him up, raise him up, use him around here." And he was used to work around the tabernacle.
Verse 9, " ' "If an animal that men may bring as an offering to the Lord, all that anyone gives to the Lord shall be holy." ' " Go down to verse 14, " ' "When a man dedicates his house to be holy to the Lord, then the priest shall set a value for it, whether it is good or bad; as the priest values it, so it stand." ' "
Verse 16, " ' "If a man dedicates to the Lord part of his field of his possession," ' " so some would dedicate a person or a thing to God. Coinage was not invented yet. They would get a valuation of what that property was for him according to the temple coinage or the temple shekel. And you could make a vow: "I'm dedicating this person to the Lord, but now I want to bring him back home, or I want use of my home or my property once again, so I will pay the value of it to the tabernacle for the work of the Lord; thus, redeeming my vow."
Again, this is just simply voluntary. If you want to do it, these were the stipulations for how it's done. Here's the, here's the basic principle here: true worship is voluntary, it's not forced. It's not forced. It's something you want to do, worshiping in spirit and in truth.
I had a bad experience in a church that I went to for a couple of times as a brand-new believer. When I say "bad experience" is the pastor and the worship leader were telling me that I needed to raise my hands, and telling me that I needed to speak in tongues. I didn't even know what that was. I said, "I am using my tongue when I speak." I didn't even know—"What are you talking about?" And just trying to orchestrate everything, and trying to work people up into a frenzy, and almost like conditioned response. "I do this, and you automatically do that." And I just felt like that should be spirit led, not human led, so I just said, "No, I don't think so. I think it really has to come from the heart."
And I think you could take this chapter, these principles, and you could segue it easily into Romans 12 verse 1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable, which is your reasonable service." It's voluntary.
Verse 17, " ' "If He dedicates a field from the Year of Jubilee, according to your valuation it shall stand. If he dedicates his fields after the Jubilee, then the priest shall reckon to him the money due according to the years that remain," ' " getting back to that Jubilee year. So these are laws if you want to dedicate people, homes, or fields.
I have a question for you: Wouldn't you want to dedicate yourself, your family, your home, your sustenance to the Lord? Yeah, it is, it is a natural thing once a person has a relationship with God, eventually that person wants to serve the Lord, give to the Lord, get involved in the work of the Lord. That's just the natural progress, so that is being—that stipulation, that allowance is being made and expanded on here.
Let's finish it out. Verse 28, " ' "Nevertheless no devoted offering that a man may devote to the Lord of all that he has, both man and beast, or the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed; every devoted thing is most holy to the Lord." ' " So the firstborn child, it's already devoted to the Lord. You're not going devoted again to the Lord, it's already His.
" ' "No person under the ban, who may become doomed to destruction among men, shall be redeemed, but shall surely be put to death. And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, it is the Lord's. It is holy to the Lord. If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it." ' " It's sort of taking out a loan.
Now this is the first time, this is the only time the word "tithe" appears in the book of Leviticus. It is talked about in the law, but this is the only time. Tithe means how much? Ten percent. Did you know that the children of Israel didn't just give a tithe, but according to Deuteronomy 14 there were two other tithes totaling about 23 percent? And there was a third tithe that was to be given every three years.
So I bring this up because I get this question all the time: "Well, should we tithe to the Lord based on net or gross? Before or after taxes?" I mean, it's like, really, we're having this conversation? Okay, and I can have it; I think there's good answers to it.
But in the New Testament it doesn't say you are to tithe. It says, "Give, and it shall be given to you." And it says in Corinthians you give with a hilarious heart, with a joyful heart. "Give as you purpose in your heart, not grudgingly nor of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver."
It is my personal practice to give 10 percent. My first check I write to my fellowship, to this church. That's what we do, we write it, that's the first 10 percent. I don't touch it, it's the Lord's. But my wife and I have agreed upon over the years other organizations, other crusade organizations, others missionaries, that takes us well beyond 10 percent.
I'm not going to tell you how much that is, I'm just telling you we have made our purpose that there are other worthy organizations. My tithe doesn't go there; my tithe goes to the tabernacle. But my offerings, freewill offerings go beyond that to help support others around the world that I feel, we feel, in prayer are something the Lord wants us to do.
Let's finish it out. I already said that once, two more verses and we're done. " ' "He shall not inquire," ' " verse 33, " ' "whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.' " These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai."
Okay, we're done! [applause] We finished the book, congratulations to y'all. Hey, listen, in closing, did you know that these laws that we're reading in this last chapter by the time we get to the New Testament became corrupted. Ever heard of the word Corban? Corban. Mark, chapter 7, look that up when you get home. Read that when you get home.
Mark, chapter 7, they come to Jesus, "they" being the Pharisees and say, "Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?" Jesus said, "I have a question for you. Why do you by your traditions transgress the commandment of God?" And then he nails them, he says, "For it is written," and he quotes the fifth commandment, "the law says, 'You shall honor your father and your mother,' but you say whatever is Corban—dedicated to the Lord—bypasses the fifth commandment. So you have negated the fifth commandment. By your tradition you have allowed the fifth commandment to be broken."
So this is how it would work. Parents would get old—Jewish homes the more kids you have the better, because they're going to take care of you when you're old. But now we have Corban, and so you go to mom and dad, and you say, "Mom and dad, I know you're getting old, and you probably require care, but I can't give you anything. I've dedicated my entire bank account to the Lord, it's Corban. I know I have four couches in my living room and you need one, but they're all Corban, mom. And my BMW camel cart, it's Corban. I can't carry you around in it."
And so Jesus said, "You, by your stupid, religious traditions are violating God's command." And I have found religion to so be corrupting that we—"Well, you know we haven't done this; we've always done it this way." And it becomes a tradition. And you have to exam: so do you do it because you're just comfortable doing it, and it's the way you always did it? Is that how God wants it done? Is there anything biblical to say that feeds into this or not? Enough said—I'm done. I won't belabor it.
Father, thank you, thank you for the freedom we have in the gospel. Thank you for the new covenant. Thank you for Jesus our Savior who redeems us from sin, who died to pay for our sin, and rose from the grave, and we celebrate all of that this week, in Jesus' name, amen.