Study Notes

Leviticus 24:1-27:34

24:1-4 Oil For The Lamp

Remember that as you walked into the tabernacle, there on the left was a lampstand. God described its manufacture to Moses in Exodus 25. The oil for the lamp was to be clear olive oil.

24:5-9 Bread For The Table

On the other side of the Holy Place in the tabernacle was a golden table. On the table were 12 cakes of bread (two rows of six). This bread was changed every week. The old bread was eaten by the priests, and the new bread was placed on the table before the Lord.

24:10-11 Egyptian And Israelite

Remember that when the Israelites left Egypt,

Exod. 12:38 ...A mixed multitude also went up with them...

Not all of these folks in the wilderness are Israelites. Some were Egyptians that came along for their own reasons. Remember how God feels about mixture. We read in chapter 19 how God commanded,

Lev. 19:19 'You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.

God hates it when people bless and curse with the same mouth (James 3:9-10). God hates it when people combine Christianity with paganism (1Cor. 10:21). God hates it when people attempt to pursue Him and money simultaneously (Luke 16:13). God hates it when a believer yokes together with an unbeliever:

2Cor. 6:14-16 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?...

And right here is one of the reasons why God forbids marriages of unbelievers and believers. If you are single this evening, make a commitment to God that you will obey this command. Promise yourself and promise Him that you will not compromise this. Be willing to wait until He brings you the person that He desires for you - someone who is as committed to Jesus Christ as you are.

Cursing God

Now this man was the son of an Israelite woman and an Egyptian man. A worshipper of God and a worshipper of idols. How did this child grow up? Contentious and foul-mouthed. He got in a fight with an Israelite, and blasphemed the name of God and cursed.

It always grieves me to hear people use the name of God as profanity. Some men mention Jesus Christ more times in a workday that I do during a Sunday morning teaching - but for different reasons. The book of Philippians states that the Father bestowed upon Jesus...

Phil. 2:9-11 ...the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Every tongue should be confessing the name of Jesus with reverence, not repulsion. Remember that the 10 Commandments say,

Exod. 20:7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.

This man should not be left unpunished.

24:12-16 Made Clear

What should they do? How should they punish him? What is the will of the Lord? Have you ever been in a situation that you didn't know what to do - you didn't know what the will of God was? Do what they did:

Lev. 24:12 And they put him in custody so that the command of the LORD might be made clear to them.

They didn't make a decision until they found out God's will about it.

God's decision? Death. He said,

Lev. 24:15 "...If anyone curses his God, then he shall bear his sin."

God takes this sin very seriously. I wonder how pleased He is when we claim to refrain from using it that way, but pay three bucks at Blockbuster Video to hear an actor use it? Being a special effects fan, I couldn't wait for the movie "Twister" to come out. I had heard of the incredible advances they had made in making computer-generated tornadoes. But I was very disturbed and disappointed when I saw the movie. Seven times, actors used the name of Jesus Christ as an expletive. I'm giving up on movies of this generation. My new philosophy with movies is, "what you don't see can't defile you."

And make no mistake - lest you think me an ignorant prude - even hearing it defiles you. Notice what God has them do:

Lev. 24:14 "Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him.

This is an acknowledgement that everyone who heard it was defiled by it. They were to understand this, then they were to act on it. Now I'm not suggesting that we go stone the star of "Twister," but it is clear that we are to acknowledge this and deal with it.

24:17-23 An Eye For An Eye

God here commands that penalty is to be an even trade - life for life, animal for animal, eye for eye, etc. Why? Because human beings are vengeful. If a person injures me, my instinct is to kill him. This perfect Law of God insures that punishment is administered, and the one wronged doesn't go overboard with vengeance.

But wait a minute! Doesn't this contradict what Jesus taught?

Matt. 5:38-39 "You have heard that it was said, 'AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also."

Is Jesus negating the Law? Is He contradicting the Law? No. What we just read in Leviticus 24 is a perfect picture of justice. What we just read in Matthew 5 is a perfect picture of mercy. Fair justice dictates that a man gets what he deserves. Mercy dictates that a man doesn't get what he deserves. God told us what justice is, then told us that we should walk in mercy.

(25:1-7) Sabbath For The Land

The first 7 verses of chapter 25 explain that when the Israelites enter the Promised Land, they are to give the land a sabbath rest every seven years.

(25:8-17) The Year Of Jubilee

These next ten verses outline what is called the Year of Jubilee. Every seven sabbath years (49 years), on the Day of Atonement, was to be a jubilee. The fiftieth year was the Year of Jubilee - a time when all property reverted back to its original owners or their families. Imagine: every 50 years, a brand new start!

Now, it was also a sabbath year, after the previous sabbath year. Twice per century, they had two Sabbath years in a row! Talk about learning to trust God to provide!

25:18-22 Sabbath Blessings

But how were they to practically prepare for sabbath years in which they could not do any farming? How could they eat? How could they provide food for their families? The Lord promised to provide abundantly for them in the sixth year.

Remember Joseph's rise to power in Egypt. In Genesis 41, we read that Pharaoh had a dream. He was standing by the Nile, when 7 fat cows rose up from the river. Then seven emaciated cows ate the 7 fat ones. Joseph was called to interpret the dream, and explained the God was foretelling that there would be 7 years of plenty in Egypt followed by 7 years of famine.

Joseph told Pharoah that in order to survive the famine, they had to store up food from the years of plenty. This plan worked, and they survived.

This is God's principle that we must heed: preparation in advance for difficult times. He tells us to learn from the ants:

Prov. 6:6-8 Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest.

I don't believe that we should put our trust in our preparations, but that we should absolutely be faithful to prepare for life's uncertainties.

(25:23-34) Laws Of Land Sales

These twelve verses specify that no land of the Israelites can be permanently sold. It is God's land, and He says,

Lev. 25:23 "The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are {but} aliens and sojourners with Me."

There also had to be a provision of redemption. When an Israelite became poor and had to sell his land, his nearest relative could redeem it for him. This kept the land in the family. (This concept of the kinsman redeemer is prevalent in the books of Ruth and Revelation.)

If no one could redeem it for him, it reverted back to him during the Year of Jubilee.

25:35-38 Usurious Interest

God tells them that they are not to take advantage of someone's misfortune, but to remember how God had blessed them when they were without.

(25:39-55) Servants

In this section, God deals with slavery. Slaves were also to be released during the Year of Jubilee. He also commanded that Israelite slaves were not to be treated with severity, but as employees.

Just like the land, a man could also be redeemed by a near kinsman, or he could redeem himself if he had the money.

(26:1-13) Blessings For Obedience

God outlines the blessings He will give to the Israelites if they obey His commandments: Rain, crops, fruit, peace, safety, and strength. Walking in obedience to God's word yields wonderful things.

So God tells them these wonderful blessings in these 13 verses. But He knows how disobedient His people will be, so He then spends three times as many verses telling them the cursings of disobedience.

(26:14-39) Cursings For Disobedience

If (actually, "when") they disobey, this is what will happen: Terror, consumption, fever, enemies, loss, war, oppression, drought, famine, plagues, beasts, pestilence, destruction, desolation, dispersement, weakness, and death.

But God is always ready to hear a repentant heart...

26:40-46 Repentance

The Lord will hear confession of sin. The Lord will look kindly upon a repentant heart.

2Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

His punishment of Israel is not His rejection of Israel. He has made a covenant with them, which He will keep.

(27:1-8) Vows

Often, we make vows to God. We promise that we'll do this, or say, "Lord, if you do that, then I'll do this." While God has not encouraged us to make vows, He has told us to take them seriously!

The entire 27th chapter of Leviticus deals with vows. They fact that they are to be kept, and how they are to be kept.

(27:9-13) Animals Vowed

If you promised an animal to the Lord, and then decided you wanted to keep it, you owed God the value of the animal, plus 20%.

27:14-15 Houses Vowed

You could vow your house to God, but if you changed your mind, same deal - pay 120% of its value.

(27:16-24) Fields Vowed

Various rules regarding the vowing of a field. In the Year of Jubilee, the field returned to the owner who vowed it. The value of it was to be pro-rated based on the number of years left until the Year of Jubilee. If he wanted to redeem it earlier, the cost was 120% of its value.

27:25-27 First-Born Animals

First-born animals could not be vowed, because they already belonged to the Lord.

27:28-29 Devoted To Destruction

These are a confusing couple of verses.

Lev. 27:28-29 ...Anything devoted to destruction is most holy to the LORD. No one who may have been set apart among men shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death.

What does this mean? Anything that was vowed to God to be destroyed, whether man or beast, was in fact to be destroyed. Maybe an animal sacrifice is understandable, but a man? Remember, we're not talking about, "God, I love you so much that I vow that I'm going to go kill the guy next door." Take for example the situation that King Saul found himself in...

God ordered that all of the Amelekites be destroyed: ever man, woman, child, infant, ox, sheep, camel, and donkey. King Saul defeated the Amelekites, and obeyed God's command... mostly. When Samuel the prophet confronted King Saul about his disobedience, he said that they had...

1Sam. 15:15 ...spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.

This was the end of Saul's reign over Israel. He should have obeyed God when the Lord had said, "utterly destroy."

27:30-34 Redeeming The Tithe

If you realized that you needed your tithe back to meet a financial obligation, you could get it back, but then you'd owe God 120% of the original value. I wonder if we could set that up here?

Next week, we begin our study of the wonderful book of Numbers!

Go to next study

Go to previous study