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Leviticus Bible Study – Lesson #14 (Last in series)

Lesson 14:  Leviticus 26-27    

BLESSINGS AND CURSINGS (Leviticus 26)

The Blessings for Obedience to God (Lev. 26:1-13)

Twice as much space is devoted to warning as to blessing in this chapter. Adversity, the promised fruit of disobedience, is a tool which God uses, not to inflict revenge but to lead His people to repentance (vv. 40–42). National chastisement would be increasingly severe until the people confessed their iniquity. Notice the progression in verses 14, 18, 21, 24, and 28.

After warnings against idolatry (v. 1), sabbath-breaking, and irreverence (v. 2), the Lord promised the following blessings to the nation if it would keep His commandments: rain, fertility (v. 4), productivity, security (v. 5), peace, safety (v. 6), victory over enemies (vv. 7, 8), fruitfulness, and the presence of the Lord (vv. 9–13).

The Curses for Disobedience to God (Lev. 26:14-39)

Disobedience would result in terror, disease, conquest by enemies, drought, barrenness, wild beasts, pestilence, invasion, and captivity.  Verse 26 describes famine conditions. Bread would be so scarce that ten women would be able to bake their supply in one oven, ordinarily big enough for only one family’s use. Even more severe famine is pictured in verse 29, where cannibalism prevails (see 2 Kgs. 6:29 and Lam. 4:10 for the historical fulfillment of this warning).

Persistent disobedience on Israel’s part would result in their being taken captive by a foreign power. The land of Israel would enjoy a period of rest equal to the number of sabbatic years which the people disregarded. This is what happened in the Babylonian captivity. During the years from Saul to the captivity the people had failed to keep the sabbatic years. Thus they spent seventy years in exile, and the land enjoyed its rest (2 Chron. 36:20, 21).

Restoration through Confession and Repentance (Lev. 26:40-46)

The final section of chapter 26 provided a way of recovery through confession and repentance for the disobedient nation. God would not completely forsake His people, but would remember His covenant promises to their ancestors.

 

VOWS AND TITHES (Leviticus 27)

The last chapter of Leviticus deals with voluntary vows made to the Lord. It seems that in gratitude to the Lord for some blessing, a man could vow to the Lord a person (himself or a member of his family), an animal, a house, or a field. The things vowed were given to the priests (Num. 18:14). Since these gifts were not always of use to the priests, provision was made that the person making the vow could give the priest a sum of money in lieu of the thing vowed.

27:1-33   A vow of consecration was very special.  If a person was vowed to the Lord, then the redemption price to be paid to the priest was as follows:

A man from 20–60 years old                 50 shekels

A woman from 20–60 years old             30 shekels

A male from 5–20 years old                  20 shekels

A female from 5–20 years old               10 shekels

A male from 1 month to 5 years old      5 shekels

A female from 1 month to 5 years old    3 shekels

A male 60 years old and above             15 shekels

A female 60 years and above               10 shekels

If the vow was an animal, the following rules applied: A clean animal, suitable for sacrifice, could not be redeemed (v. 9). It was to be offered to the Lord upon the altar (Num. 18:17); nothing could be gained by exchanging one animal for another, because both would then become the Lord’s (vv. 10, 33); an unclean animal could be redeemed by paying the value placed on it by the priest, plus one-fifth (vv. 11–13).

If a man dedicated his house to the Lord, he could change his mind and buy it back by paying the priest’s estimate of its value, plus one-fifth.

Appraising the value of a field was complicated by the fact that it reverted to the original owner in the Year of Jubilee.

The firstborn of a sacrificial animal could not be dedicated to the Lord, because it belonged to Him anyway. The firstborn of an unclean animal could be redeemed by paying the priest’s valuation of it, plus one-fifth. Otherwise the priest could sell it.

Nothing that was under sentence of death or destruction could be redeemed. This is what was meant by a devoted or proscribed thing. Thus a son who cursed his parents could not be redeemed but must be put to death.

It should be noted that there is an important distinction in this chapter between what is consecrated  or sanctified and what is proscribed or devoted. Things sanctified by vow—that is, set apart for divine use—could be redeemed. Devoted things were given completely and finally, and could not be redeemed.

A tithe or tenth of the grain and fruit belonged to the Lord. If the offerer wanted to keep it, he could pay its value plus one-fifth.

The expression “whatever passes under the rod” refers to the practice of numbering sheep or goats by causing them to pass under the shepherd’s rod. Leslie Flynn comments:  With rod in hand, he [the shepherd] would touch every tenth one. He could in no way contrive to change their order so that a good animal would escape tenth place. If he tried to alter the order, both the real tenth and the attempted switch would be the Lord’s.  This first tithe was called the levitical tithe, because it was paid to the Levites (Num. 18:21-24). A second tithe, which apparently is a different one, is prescribed in Deuteronomy 14:22-29.

The commandments which the Lord commanded Moses in the last verse of Leviticus probably refer to the whole book. After studying the multitude of detailed rituals and blood sacrifices, we can rejoice with Matthew Henry that…..

“We are not under the dark shadows of the law, but enjoy the clear light of the gospel, … that we are not under the heavy yoke of the law, and the carnal ordinances of it … , but under the sweet and easy institutions of the gospel, which pronounces those the true worshippers that worship the Father in spirit and truth, by Christ only, and in his name, who is our priest, temple, altar, sacrifice, purification, and all. Let us not therefore think that because we are not tied to the ceremonial cleansings, feasts, and oblations, a little care, time, and expense, will serve to honour God with. No, but rather have our hearts more enlarged with free-will offerings to his praise, more inflamed with holy love and joy, and more engaged in seriousness of thought and sincerity of intention. Having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, let us draw near with a true heart, and in full assurance of faith, worshipping God with so much the more cheerfulness and humble confidence, still saying, Blessed be God for Jesus Christ!”