THE LAW AS MASTER AND MERCY

God shows favor to his friends and some harshness to those who curse him.  But he also allowed mercy for the poor and the non-Jews who lived among them.  The priests of the family of Levi and Aaron have a memorial in the show bread.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children ofIsrael, that they bring unto thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually.  Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for ever in your generations.  He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the LORD continually.  And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.  And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the LORD.  And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD.  Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children ofIsraelby an everlasting covenant.  And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute.  Leviticus 24:1-9

 The priests have this bread to remember their God, and to remind others that the priest has favor with God.  Those who hate God can expect a different future.

And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in the camp;  And the Israelitish woman’s son blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:)  And they put him in ward, that the mind of the LORD might be shewed them.  Leviticus 24:10-12

We can remember that God encourages the Jews to marry among their own people.  This young man should know about his mother’s god, but he also has Egyptian heritage and nature.  This causes confusion and should be avoided.  This remains as a Christian principle today.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath thetemple ofGod with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.  2 Corinthians 6:14-17

The Jews did put him in a cell until they could hear from God.  They did not rush to judgment on their own.  The Lord was not dispensing an easy Law at this time though.  The man did curse by a true anger at God.  This was not just some crude language.  God reminded them of the punishments of sin.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him.  And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.  And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.  And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.  And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast.  And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him;  Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.  And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.  Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.  And Moses spake to the children ofIsrael, that they should bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones. And the children ofIsrael did as the LORD commanded Moses. Leviticus 24:13-23

The law was hard, and the Lord expectedIsraelto enforce it among their people.  They would soon be facing evil nations and great temptations.  They would have to stand strong against sin.

And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD.  Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof;  But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.  That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.  And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee.  And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.  And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.  Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.  Leviticus 25:1-9

But even in the presentation of stern rules there was mercy. Israelwas not to put their neighbors and fellow Jews under heavy burdens.  Those who borrowed were given a reprieve in the year of jubilee. 

A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.  For it is the jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.  In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.  And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour’s hand, ye shall not oppress one another:  According to the number of years after the jubile thou shalt buy of thy neighbour, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee:  According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee.  Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God:for I am the LORD your God.  Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.  And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.  Leviticus 25:11-19

God gives us his promise to provide in the lean years or the jubilee years if we obey him.  We will prosper in the good times to have reserves for the holy year. 

And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase:  Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.  And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.  Leviticus 25:20-22

This is important for the prosperous to remember the poor of their nation.  We are living in GOD’s property now, not our own. 

The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.  And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land.  If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.  And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it; Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession.  But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubile: and in the jubile it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession.  Leviticus 25:23-28

Here is a concept of Old Testament life.  Land was to be given to family in each tribe as they entered the Promised Land.  At this point in time no one owned land anywhere, as they were still wandering in the desert.  If one sold that inheritance, he could redeem it or re-purchase it later.  It was like he had pawned it for seven years.  The buyer could farm it and live on it until it was redeemed.  Or the first owner could lose it if no family could help him get it back. 

And if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year may he redeem it.  And if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city shall be established for ever to him that bought it throughout his generations: it shall not go out in the jubile.  But the houses of the villages which have no wall round about them shall be counted as the fields of the country: they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubile.  Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time.  And if a man purchase of the Levites, then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the year of jubile: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel.  But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession.  Leviticus 29-34

Walled cities were valued because they were protected from enemy raiders.  A short year sale offered less value for growing, but more for safety of living.  One should not sell it lightly, but could redeem it more quickly.  The Levites were the priests, and were allowed to redeem their homes at any length of time.  They had no employment or business to pay for redemption or to make a living at.  Their inheritance land was protected for them.  They were not allowed to sell the fields they could grow on though.

And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.  Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.  Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.  I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.  And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant:  But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubile.  And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.  For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of thelandofEgypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen.  Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God.  Leviticus 25:35-43

A fellow Jew could not be charged interest for a loan if he becomes needy.  Nor could he be forced into slavery or servitude if he became poor.  He could be a hired worker though.  On the year of jubilee he is allowed to leave that employment though.  He could then pay to redeem his inheritance lands.  They are God’s servants, not to be our slaves. 

Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.  Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.  And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.

One could buy servants from the non-Jewish nations around them.  These nations had been displaced fromCanaanby their sins in the first place.  But they too were allowed to be redeemed by family members from their servitude.  This was not exactly slavery, they had rights. 

And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger’s family:  After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him:  Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself.  And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto the year of jubile: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him.  If there be yet many years behind, according unto them he shall give again the price of his redemption out of the money that he was bought for.  And if there remain but few years unto the year of jubile, then he shall count with him, and according unto his years shall he give him again the price of his redemption.  And as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall not rule with rigour over him in thy sight.  And if he be not redeemed in these years, then he shall go out in the year of jubile, both he, and his children with him.  For unto me the children ofIsraelare servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of thelandofEgypt: I am the LORD your God.   Leviticus 25:44-55

 I have experienced long unemployment myself.  In the last five years, nearly two were spent unemployed.  I really appreciate a God who provides for us.  A contract employee may not have insurance or retirement plans.  But he does have a family in God and an assurance policy.  Consider the Amish; they have a community of builders after a storm destroys their barn.  We should also build the body of Christ, and not tear down the brethren.

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