LEVITICUS 25:1 – 27:34 and MARK 1:29–45
This particular commentary was birthed during the nation of Singapore’s Jubilee year. (50 years as a nation) Singapore is a marvellous testament to God’s faithfulness. The subject of Rest came alive whenever Singapore as a nation came to my mind during its jubilee year. This is why it is referenced in my commentaries on Rest. The truths can apply for any nation.
In reading through this chapter I am sensing more of a prophetic sense with regard to Singapore as a nation. This chapter speaks again to the Sabbath and Rest and we already looked at its meaning, its benefits as well as the consequences of not observing the Sabbath. Singapore has recently celebrated its jubilee year and one cannot help but feel an application being made to this nation regarding this subject. What does this chapter have to say about Singapore? This nation is known for its hard work and industriousness. It is a task oriented society that achieves at very high levels. It is also a nation where you see extremely talented and highly qualified female leaders in high positions. It is a nation that has gained recognition throughout the world for its good governance, generosity and quality of life. Though it is a nation of diversity it has been able to function as “one nation” promoting the general good of all men and religions. It is a nation that many others can look towards as an example of how to blend and harmonize people from different backgrounds, ethnicity and religions. The year of jubilee was an opportunity for Singapore to pause, take stock and give thanks to the Lord for the wonderful harvest of blessings as a nation that have been achieved and experienced over the past 50 plus years. At the same time it is imperative for Singapore to enter into the reality of Rest and what the Sabbath represents. The following are thoughts that I feel the Lord is placing into my Spirit.
Singapore needs to enter into Rest. Of course that does not mean that the nation ceases from all its labours but consider the following points of emphasis. A Sabbath recognizes that it has been God’s blessing and goodness that has allowed a person or a nation to be productive. If we do not uphold this principle it can result in pride and a sense that anything that has been achieved was due to one’s own strength. The warnings from Daniel 4 come to mind. The king acknowledged that God had indeed blessed His kingdom (Dan 1:1-4). Notice that he was at Rest. He was then given a troubling dream that Daniel was able to interpret. A portion of the dream is revealed below:
Dan 4:11 The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:
Dan 4:12 The leaves thereof were fair, and the fruit thereof much, and in it was meat for all: the beasts of the field had shadow under it, and the fowls of the heaven dwelt in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.
The above spoke of Babylon as a nation under the king. The reason the king was troubled was due to a warning about being cut down. Why would this happen? It was due to pride.
Dan 4:30 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?
A church leader or pastor would not openly advocate this kind of pride but it can exist in the heart. There can be an attitude that conveys an element of “this way is the right way of doing things etc”. We actually prove that the blessings come from God and not our own efforts when we enter into Rest. It can be a period of reflection and thanksgiving for the cycle of 6 days of work. When we press beyond the boundaries of the Sabbath we violate God’s ordained order because we are in effect taking issue with God and His creation. If this continues it will only be a matter of time before man becomes his own God. It will be subtle at first but will gradually become more apparent. If we violate the principle and law of the Sabbath we will be prone to violate other laws as well. Once again it will begin with subtle compromises; once the standard is breeched it is a matter of time before the tenets of the law yield and give way.
In our previous review of the Feasts we drew upon the lessons from marriage and how it relates to Rest. There is the pulse of a hardworking, fast paced work ethic in Singapore which has enabled the nation to achieve at high levels. A notable downside is the price that is paid in normal family life. The drive to achieve has put children under a type of pressure that is oftentimes beyond their years. Many are presented with educational standards that are higher than what they can achieve. Their childhood years are oftentimes filled with school, tution and further studies. When the young fail to measure up to unrealistic expectations they may be later prone to struggles with their identity. Is there a nurturing family environment to help reinforce positive values and affirmation during such times or is the fast paced two income drive to achieve and survive the primary driving force of a family unit?
It is an honest question based on observation. I am burdened that unless this issue is recognized and addressed there will be severe ramifications in the near future. The year of jubilee served as a reminder that we need to reflect upon God’s goodness to the nation; two years later it’s still true. My feeling is that there will need to be a true application of the cycle of Rest in order for this to be realized. Which is more important; the battle for a nation or the battle for our family? It is time to look to the home to help insure that our nation and any nation will be strong and purposeful. A nation may look strong and vibrant to a casual observer but its veneer will only hold for so long if the family unit is strained and divided in trying to keep pace. The Lord desires to see homes strengthened, restored and fortified. The promise of the Spirit of Elijah coming forth to restore is needed now more than ever (Mal 4:5-6). The time is at hand where we see children resting under the loving care of their parents, a wife resting in the leadership covering of her husband resulting In a nation entering into Rest in the hands of the Living God. Lord, may it be so.
The Lord again makes reference to a few commandments and the Law in general. There are to be no idols (vs1). Unfortunately, Israel would fail horribly in this area. It was because of idolatry that they ended up going into a future captivity.
Eze 16:24 That thou hast also built unto thee an eminent place, and hast made thee an high place in every street.
They did not reverence the sanctuary but came to the place of taking it for granted as seen at the time of Eli’s reign. This was also mentioned in Lev 19:30.
1Sa 4:3 And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
It is clear that they also violated the exhortation from verse 3 where they were told to walk in his statutes and commandments. The Lord goes on to share the fruits and benefits of obeying these exhortations. There is the promise of rain, fruit, provision, peace, favour, respect and victory over the enemies if they were to obey. (vs 4-13) I believe these promises are for us today if we were to give heed to His laws and ways while seeking to live in holiness.
The Lord then warns of the consequences in not upholding these laws (vs 14-39). The Lord goes to great lengths in warning what would happen if they disobeyed. God warned Adam and Eve as to the consequence of sin; yet they did it anyways. This speaks to the power of sin. We must remember that we have a nature that needs to be put to death. This nature is not destroyed at salvation. It requires the application of the Sin Offering as seen in chapter 4.
The Lord will allow the enemy to come up against Israel and to reign over them. Is this not what they were just set free from? There lands would not produce and be fruitful. The intensity of judgments will arise upon them. So again, it comes down to a CHOICE. Remember, God does not force us to CHOOSE but He shares on the benefits of making right CHOICES and faithfully warns in CHOOSING not to disobey them. This can be seen throughout scripture. God warned Israel against asking for a king during the reign of Samuel (1 Sam 8). In spite of God’s warning they made the CHOICE to disobey with the painful consequences soon to follow. Can we not learn from their example so as to not make the same mistake?
The Lord makes clear that He would remember His covenant to those who acknowledge their iniquity; this includes a willingness to be circumcised while being in a posture of humility (vs 40-46). We see attributes here of a loving God who goes to great lengths to restore and make whole. In the end, it is the CHOICE that one has to make, either to obey unto life or disobey with heavy consequences. What CHOICES are we making today?
The Book of Leviticus closes with instructions concerning vows and redemption. These expressions to God were voluntary and went over and above the norm. I have referenced Lev 27:28 often when being given the privilege of doing baby dedications. It is the making of a vow before the Lord on behalf of the parent’s that the child will be dedicated to God for His glory and purpose. This is something that is not to be taken lightly. How does God view the vow of a man?
Ecc 5:4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.
Ecc 5:5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.
A vow is a declaration of intent that God looks upon very seriously. At a wedding a man and a woman exchange vows, stating their intent to love and honor each other for life, till death do part. God honors and upholds that vow and expects us to do the same. He hears our words, records them and holds us to them. It is a privilege for a man to have opportunity to dedicate or make a vow unto the Lord but it is something that needs to be followed through and not taken lightly.
To better illustrate the making and committing of a vow we can look at the period when Samuel the prophet was born. Here you will see God’s part in the establishing of a vow that would come forth from a woman named Hannah. Here is a brief review:
It was a spiritual low point for Israel. They were serving under the reign of Judges. There was no consistency in their relationship with God. They called upon Him in time of need and then forgot Him when all was well. Does this up and down kind of relationship sound familiar? Additionally, they were ill served by a corrupted priesthood. (Eli and his two sons) This cycle was about to come to an end. God was about to bring forth change but how would this be accomplished?
As the Book of 1st Samuel commences we find a woman named Hannah who is barren. We find that God is the author of her barrenness (1 Sam 1:5). We also find that she is misunderstood by her husband and the priest (vs 8, 13-14). This is something that God is allowing but why would He do such a thing? What is wrong with Hannah; why is she going through this ordeal? Let’s look at a bigger picture.
God is no longer going to tolerate a status quo, “going through the motion” type of relationship with His people. He is going to introduce change through a man who will bring a whole new order of priest into being. Secondly, this will be a man who will have the privilege of initiating the role of a king to Israel. This will be the fulfillment of the king/priest promise as seen through Melchizedek (Gen 14:18). God is allowing a woman (Hannah) to go through a most difficult ordeal for the purpose of fostering a consecrated prayer and vow to be made unto the Lord. Hannah is an exceptional woman. She did not become bitter and angry against God. In spite of her ordeal she still had the ability to worship the Lord unconditionally (1 Sam 1:19) and was able to make a deliberate, intentional vow and prayer unto the Lord.
1Sa 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
Can you see God’s part in the creation of this vow? In order to institute change in the condition of Israel, He had to first have a vessel that would be intentional in dedicating a child to Him for HIs use and purpose. If Hannah did not go through barrenness and a period of being misunderstood, she never would have come to that place of consecration. This is why we should always look to the Lord to see the bigger picture. God needed a Samuel, a child who would be the product of a woman who would willingly dedicate and present that child to the Lord for His use. I feel this account helps to give understanding to the Man-child seen in Rev. 12. The woman (church) of Rev 12 can be better understood in examining the character of Hannah. The church today needs to travail to come to know the true burden and purpose of God. The Man-child can be better understood in examining the role and ministry of Samuel. He displaced the old order and set into motion a true king/priest ministry unto God. The man-child of the last days will displace the order in the heavenlies. It will be at that time when Satan is cast down from his heavenly perch, to the earth to finish his role upon the earth for the last 3 1/2 year period.
The message on vows from Lev 27 does carry a message for us. We learn that vows must not be made foolishly because God does hold us to them. We need to recognize God’s role in the establishment of a vow. (As seen in Hannah’s experience) This will result in a more deliberate, intentional prayer of consecration. A vow that is produced in this fashion is one that has a much better rate of being fulfilled on the part of the one making the vow.
When I made my vow before my wife, before God and the witnesses who attended my wedding I knew of my need for a helpmate. I recognized that it was God who brought her into my life in His timing and ultimately for His pleasure. This was God’s part; it was the fruit of seeking the Lord for a wife of His choosing. My part is to uphold the vow that was made. If God was not part of the process in the lead-up to the marriage the vow that was made would not have had the same intensity. Man may be the one making the vow with his words but it is God who is the initiator. Can you see the parallels between the period of Samuel’s birthing and these last days? God is at work and there is a consecrated prayer of dedication that is beginning to gestate n the church. There is a cry for the modern day Samuel’s to be birthed for the purpose of ushering in the new order of king and priest. The example of Hannah’s consecrated prayer should not be lost on us. The parallels are there for all to see.
Mark 1 – Read day 45 commentary