Today’s Scripture Focus: Leviticus 26:1-13
We are finishing up our study in Leviticus today. Remember Leviticus is the “holiness handbook” of the Old Testament. So far, we have seen within it regulations relating to holiness of the common people, holiness of the priests, and holiness of the calendar. In the final chapters of Leviticus, we find instructions for maintaining holiness of the land itself, along with matters of commerce. Chapters 25-26 comprise a speech given directly from God to Moses on Sinai. Israel is commanded to let the land lay fallow every 7th year. Every 50th year, or the year after seven sevens, is Jubilee, in which slaves are freed and land is returned to its original keepers.
Chapter 26 gives the blessings and curses that come with keeping these commands or failing to keep them. How are the Jews supposed to survive if they don’t plant crops or tend vineyards every seventh year? How can they engage in commerce if land and homes that are bought and sold revert to their original owners every 50 years? God once again shows that holiness means doing things differently, and that involves trusting God to provide. Living a holy life begins with worship (“do not make idols…observe my Sabbaths…reverence my sanctuary”). Only by truly worshipping God can the people be holy in their business affairs.
Verse 3 in chapter 26 begins a series of blessings that are promised if the people will walk in God’s ways. This relates to the keeping of Sabbath years and Jubilee, but also to the rest of the holiness regulations given in Leviticus. If the people carefully seek to live holy lives, God will bless the land with abundance. Harvest will overlap with harvest, instead of the normal two month gap between the gathering in of grain and grape. Neither ferocious beast nor human enemy will harm anyone. The people will be fruitful, and will have to actually throw away last year’s crops to make room for the next year’s. This was a big deal in an arid climate prone to famine.
The rest of the chapter is a series of curses, or consequences for not keeping the holiness standards. The curses each begins with “but if”, and increase in severity as the chapter goes along. The curses are not simply designed to punish, but to cause the people to repent. If the people won’t let the land rest, God will cause them to be taken into captivity so the land will be forced to rest. This is exactly what happened. Israel never kept the Sabbath years until after the Babylonian Exile, and the land was given rest during their decades of captivity. At the end of the list of blessings and at the end of the list of curses, God reminds Israel “I AM the LORD”. The key to holiness is submission to God.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
For Israel, land was the primary source of wealth. For us today, our net worth is determined by what we own and how much money we have in the bank. What does it mean to conduct our business in a “holy” way today? How do we handle money differently than non-Christians?
Is there anything in today’s scripture that especially speaks to you?
What questions would you like to ask about today’s scripture?