Lessons from Leviticus - Chapters 24-25
E. L. Lovering, Ilfracombe
This paper includes a Parenthesis, ch. 24, and deals with Privileges and Property, ch. 25.
At this point in the record there appears to be a break in continuity, with a repetition of some of the laws, followed by an incident relating to the sin of blasphemy. Details relating to the holy oil, 24. 1-4, are first given when the children of Israel are commanded to bring "pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually", 24. 2. The olive pressed to yield the oil, and the gold beaten to form the candlestick, would speak of the grace and light of the Spirit in testimony, founded upon the death of Christ, and maintained by His priesthood. The lamps of the pure candlestick (lampstand) burn, not only for the benefit of man but for the glory of God, and are maintained through the constant supply and ministry of the One who walks "in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks", Rev. 2. 1. We call to mind the words of the Saviour, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid", Matt. 5. 14. From evening until morning, throughout the hours of darkness, the light continued to shine, reminding us of the constant faithfulness of our God.
The bread of the presence. Lev. 24. 5-9, next requires our interest. Every Sabbath, Aaron set it in order before the Lord, on behalf of Israel as a covenant for ever. In this activity there was arrangement, acceptance and agreement. The loaves, twelve in number, and arranged in rows of six, represented the twelve tribes, who were always "before the Lord". Whatever the external condition of the nation, in the eyes of the Lord they remained an unbroken unity, Covered with the fragrant incense, they exhibited the pleasure which the Lord enjoyed in His people. In this act, too, there was acceptance, for it was "a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord", 24. 7. All this was based upon divine agreement by "an everlasting covenant", 24. 8. All these things, patterns of things in the heavens and "a shadow of good things to come", Heb. 10. 1, assure believers of their inseparable unity with Christ their living Head, for "all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen", 2 Cor. 1. 20.
Chapter 24 concludes with an example of the sin of blasphemy, 24. 10-16, and the enunciation of the permanent principle of justice, 24. 17-23. Dispensationally, this incident of strife and conflict would demonstrate Israel's grievous sin against the Lord. They had blasphemed His name among the Gentiles, and His wrath had fallen upon them. Yet, though the blasphemer was stoned without the camp, the twelve loaves remained undisturbed within the sanctuary, for the "gifts and calling of God are without repentance", and so "all Israel shall be saved". More factually, here was a man of mixed blood, whose father was an Egyptian and mother an Israelite. How should the law now be applied to such a man ? It was clearly stated that there should be "one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for" the home-born, 24. 22, a permanent principle of justice and mercy. Of justice because none should expect to enjoy the privileges of the kingdom without obedience to its laws; of mercy because it protected the stranger from the injustices of the home-born. Though now, in the economy of grace, none are home-born members of God's kingdom, all having entered by the new birth, it is well to remember the need for kindness and sympathy towards those who have newly entered the kingdom of God. In referring to such, the Saviour warned against offences, saying, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones", Matt. 18. 10.
The second section of our paper deals with matters of Property and Privileges, ch. 25. First, there is the year of Sabbath, 25. 1-7, which the children of Israel were commanded to keep on entering the land which the Lord would give them. The land must not be sold in perpetuity, for it was not their's but the Lord's and they were but strangers and sojourners with Him, 25. 23. This was the law of the land-Sabbath, a period of rest for the soil and a sabbath to the Lord, a lesson in God's ownership and man's stewardship. We hold ourselves and our possessions only in trust for God, for we are not our own, we are bought with a price, 1 Cor. 6. 19, 20. As stewards we are required to be faithful, 4. 2, and as strangers and sojourners we are to remember that, like Abraham, here we have "no continuing city, but we seek one to come", Heb. 13. 14. Let us, then, use the transient as a preparation for the eternal, and remember that as travellers, they march easier who travel lighter.
Every fiftieth year, the end of seven sabbaths of years, was a year of jubilee when all manner of human adjustments were made, Lev. 25. 8-55. This was first a year of rest for the people, a year ushered in at the close of the day of atonement. With the realization of peace of mind and sins covered, the trumpet sounded and the land was at rest. As God had forgiven their debts, so they could now forgive their debtors. It was also a year of rejoicing, for as the loud trumpet sounded throughout the land, it was proclaimed a year of jubilee, 25. 9, 10. There was every cause for rejoicing for the year was a year of release. They were "to proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all the inhabitants", 25.10; slaves were set free and all men released from toil and debt. Finally, it was a year of restoration, when all who had been dispossessed through adversity were restored to their possession.
What a glorious foreshadowing of the spiritual blessings in Christ, the portion of all believers, for in Him there is rest. Matt. 11. 28, re/ease, John 8. 34-36, and restoration, Eph. 2, 12-19. The time of jubilee is yet to be completely fulfilled, when "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever", Rev. 11.5.