“On the Mount”
Torah: Leviticus 25:1–26:2
PROPHETS: Jeremiah 32:6–27
APOSTOLIC WRITINGS: Luke 4:16–21
These devotionals are designed to supplement, not replace, your Bible reading.
Torah 1 & 2
“Holy Times” continue from Emor (esp. Chapter 23) and designate every 7th year a Sabbath year so the land can rest. The land was supposed to be worked for six years and then allowed to rest for one year.
After seven cycles of working the land and then allowing it to rest, the Jubilee Year would conclude a half-century of life in the land. Thus, God set apart the 50th year to reunite people with their extended families and these families with their inherited land.
Consider how God’s ordering of His community gave individuals liberty to pursue personal well-being (focus of capitalism). God also, however, gave limits in order to preserve societal well-being (focus of communism).
What is genuine “liberty” or “freedom”? Can you truly have it when others in your family or community don’t? (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:26 and John 8:36)
Torah 3 & 4
God is the Landlord and we are his tenants (v. 23). The Jubilee Year functions as a “chronological anchor” around which time gains its relative value based on proximity (v. 16). God is ordering His community to create good stewards who care for both His land and His people. Sometimes poverty forced Israelites from their homes. In such cases, restoration to inherited land could be achieved through familial support (v. 25), through personal success (vv. 26–27) or as a last resort—the Jubilee Year (v. 28). Thus, the 50th year served as a great equalizer insuring that the rich could not just keep getting richer—and the poor would not just keep getting poorer.
In what ways are you being a “faithful tenant” in God’s household (exercising stewardship over God’s resources for the benefit of God’s land and God’s people)? What is God calling you to do differently?
torah 5 & 6
A Truly Free Society
A Truly Free People
God created unique provisions for walled Israelite cities (vv. 29–30), unwalled Israelite cities (v. 31) and Levite cities (vv. 32–34; cf. Numbers 35:1–5). These provisions (and others!) served to create a society that preserved individual “rights” (to buy and sell, vv. 29–34) and yet prohibited individual “wrongs” (pursuing personal gain at the expense of others within the community, vv. 35–38). As God’s servants and members of His household, impoverished Israelites were to be protected from oppression (vv. 39–43) yet free to provide for their own households (vv. 44–46).
In vv. 14, 17, 43 and 46, what kind of attitude toward others is God cultivating in the hearts of His people? In Matthew 5:43–48 and Luke 6:27–36, what kind of attitude toward others is God cultivating in the hearts of His people?
Take a moment to reflect of where you find it easy to express love and mercy. Where do you still need God’s grace in order to be free to be an instrument of His grace to others? Ask and ye shall receive!
torah 7 &
Israel is “Free”
Israel is a “Slave”
So far, God has instructed “neighborly” treatment between members of His household: when buying and selling to each other (25:14–17), when one suffers impoverishment generally (vv. 25–28, 35–38), when that impoverishment forces them to be dependent upon “neighborly” treatment of fellow Israelites (vv. 39–43), and now when that impoverishment forces them to be dependent upon non-Israelites (vv. 47–53). Because God has freed His people, they are free indeed, despite temporary setbacks and sufferings (v. 54). Yet, it is precisely because God freed His people from slavery that they in turn belong to Him (v. 55; cf. Exodus 13:2 and Numbers 8:15–18 for how God takes a representative group [Levites] as a way to relate with the larger group [Israelite nation] just as He takes Israel as the representative nation as a way to relate with the nations of the world).
Read Romans 6:16–22. Are you free (free from or free to…) or are you a slave (to what or Whom)? Reflect on your own process of “working out your salvation.” In what ways are you exercising “freedom” for the glory of God (cf. Galatians 5:13)? In what ways are you embracing “slavery” for the glory of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19)?
Jeremiah is preaching to southern Judah after her northern sister Israel had been carried off by Assyria. Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem (32:2) and God tells his prophet to “redeem” land according to the principles in b’Har (he is to be a “kinsman-redeemer”) as proof that even though Jerusalem will fall and Judah will be carried away in exile, “we’ll be back!” (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:21). Though this will be a temporary setback and involve suffering, God’s promises remain trustworthy (this exile was foretold as part of God’s plan to purify His people and reach the nations of the world; Leviticus 26:33–35; Deuteronomy 30:1–6).
In the same way Jeremiah’s land purchase pointed forward to promised future blessing, where does Messiah’s resurrection point you (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:12–22)?
Sabbath provides “rest.” Jubilee provides “return” home after temporary financial hardships. Both of these societal institutions are designed to lead God’s people in living out their freedom within a redeemed society that is called to be a light to surrounding societies.
Yeshua offers both “rest” (Matthew 11:28–29) and “return” home to relationship with our Heavenly Father (John 14:6). While reading from Isaiah 62:1–2, Yeshua proclaimed the freedom that He alone can provide. This freedom restores what was lost at the Fall (soul-rest which only comes through intimacy with our Creator!). Yeshua is our kinsman-redeemer!
Spend a few moments praising him by prizing (i.e. increasingly treasuring with a sense of personal value) him for who He is and what He has done.
Rest. Fellowship. Discussion.