My Confusion Over Leviticus Has Ended!

So for the last 4 weeks (the whole time we’ve been doing Leviticus), I’ve been confused over the ordering of the chapters and their readings.  For the longest time, I thought we had skipped Leviticus 24.  Then I go back and see we skipped Leviticus 21-24.  What happened?  What was I missing?  So I got out all of my lesson questions and lined them all up and this is what I found:

Leviticus 1-7–Lesson 14

Leviticus 8-10–Lesson 15

Leviticus 11-15–Lesson 14

Leviticus 16–Lesson 16

Leviticus 17-20–Lesson 14

Leviticus 25-27–Lesson 17

So where’s Leviticus 21-24?  Well if you look at Day 6 of Lesson 14, it says to read Leviticus 17-24.  However, we are not asked any questions on Leviticus 21-24.  Almost always (in fact, this is the first time I have seen this) Day 6 is a re-reading of the passages you have already read in the lesson.  Apparently, not for Lesson 14.  You were supposed to read Leviticus 21-24 for Day 6.  I noticed this when I did lesson 14, but thought it was typo or that we’d come back to it since we weren’t asked any questions on it.

Therefore, if you were like me and missed this, you need to read Leviticus 21-24.  Even in the notes, it’s glossed over as well.  Now, in lesson 16 day 5 we are asked to read a small part of Leviticus 23 so if you read that, you need to read the rest.

Not being a Bible scholar, I’m unsure why we skipped over these parts of the Bible.  I’m assuming too much to cover and not enough time.  But I’m a stickler for thoroughness (I’m also a stickler for chronological order as well which I’d recommend here) so as a stickler who didn’t read it on Day 6 of Lesson 14 since I had assumed it was a review day, I’m reading it.  Focus on Leviticus 24 since it’s so often quoted and misunderstood.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 17, Day 5: Leviticus 26-27

Summary of passage:  Leviticus 26:  God repeats His rewards for obedience and His promises for His people:  to keep His covenant with them, to provide for them, to give them peace in the land, to defeat their enemies, to increase their numbers, to walk with them.  God warns the people if they don’t obey He will set His face against them, bring on diseases, and be conquered.  God will punish them 7 times over and not give them good harvests.  God will be hostile towards them and lay waste to the land and their cities.  They will eat but never be satisfied.  They will be scattered amongst the nations and God will abhor them.

But if the Israelites confess their sins, God will remember His covenant with Abraham and Isaac and even if they don’t confess their sins, God won’t totally destroy them because of this covenant.

Leviticus 27:  God tells Moses the regulations for those dedicating themselves or others to Him and the values of those people.  He tells the if an animal is dedicated to Him, it becomes holy and if he wishes to substitute the animal, the substitute becomes holy as well.  The Lord gives rules for dedicating houses, land and fields to Him as well.

No one can dedicate the firstborn to Him because it is already His.  Nothing devoted to the Lord may be sold or redeemed because it is now holy to God.  A tithe belongs to the Lord and is holy to Him.

Questions:

10a)  “Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it”.  (Verse 1)  “Observe my Sabbaths and have reverence for my sanctuary: (Verse 2)

b)  “I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit” (Verse 4)  “Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land” (Verse 5)

“I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid.  I will remove savage beast from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country.” (Verse 6)  “Your enemies will fall by the sword before you” (Verse 8)

“I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers and I will keep my covenant with you.” (Verse 9).  “You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new” (Verse 10).  “I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you” (Verse 11)

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people” (Verse 12).

c)  “I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life.  You will plant see in vain, because your enemies will eat it.” (Verse 16).  “I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you” (Verse 17).

“I will punish you for your sins seven times over” (Verse 18).  “I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze” (Verse 19).  “Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of the land yield their fruit” (Verse 20).

“I will multiply your afflictions seven times over as your sins deserve” (Verse 21 & 24 & 28)  “I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle, and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted” (Verse 22).

“I will break the sword upon you to avenge the breaking of the covenant.  When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you , and you will be given into enemy hands” (Verse 25).  “You will eat but you will not be satisfied” (Verse 26).

“You will eat the flesh of your sons and your daughters” (Verse 29″.  “I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you” (Verse 30).  “I will turn your cities into ruins and lay waste your sanctuaries, and I will take no delight in the please aroma of your offerings” (Verse 31)

“I will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled” (Verse 32).  “I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you.  Your land will be laid waste, and you cities will lie in ruins” (Verse 33).

11a)  If the Israelites will confess their sins, then God would remember His covenant with Jacob and Isaac and Abraham and He will remember the land.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Well, no matter what, God will never forget His people. This is encouraging when we sin.  If we confess, we are forgiven.  If we don’t confess, God does not abandon us. I have hope every day that I can be a better person when sometimes it seems I am remaining stagnant in my growth with God.

12a)  Persons (verses 2-8).  Animals (verses 9-13).  House (verses 14-15).  Family land (Verses 16-21).  A field he has bought (verses 22-25).

b)  “Nothing that a man owns and devotes to the Lord–whether man or animal or family land–may be sold or redeemed” (Verse 28).

Conclusions:  On question 10, I stopped at Leviticus 26:35 and left out the remnant because I couldn’t take any more typing so there’s more answers to that question if you are so inclined.

I am ambivalent towards questions that require us to type up whole passages of Scripture.  In one sense it’s good because it forces you to read God’s word closer and dwell upon it more as you type it.  Some people learn better this way anyways rather than just reading it.  Yet, at the same time, it’s redundant and time-consuming.  For this question, you could literally just open the Bible and read all of Leviticus 26 to answer it in class because all of Leviticus 26 is the answer to 10 and 11.

I don’t know about you, but I quaked when I thought of God abhorring me.  Not a pretty picture.

Whooo0-hooo!  Done with Leviticus!  On to Numbers!

End Notes:  Leviticus 26: God’s desire was to show Himself through the Israelites and He was giving them the choice:  either follow my commands and I will bless you beyond measure to show my glory or disobey my commands and I will curse you beyond measure to show my judgments and power.

This chapter very closely follows ancient treaties between peoples and their kings at the time it was made/written.

Here we see God foreshadowing Gideon and Jonathan’s defeat of much larger forces when He promises  verse 8.  The Old Testament is full of examples of these blessings and warnings coming to light.  Another is the Queen of Sheba in 1 Kings 10 where she is overwhelmed by the wealth she sees and she praises God because of it.

Sadly, the disobediences also played out in the Old Testament and even the worst punishments like eating your own son or daughter came to be (2 Kings 6:26-29).

Yet the chapter ends with God’s mercy upon His people to never forsake them.  So even with all this horror there is hope.  And with Jesus, there is no more curses for he bore it all.  With Jesus God’s mercy is complete.

Leviticus 27:  These vows were separate from the priesthood; this was for those who wanted to dedicate themselves to God but was not of the tribe of Levi.  Everyone was assigned a value according to age and usefulness to society and being primarily agricultural, the young men were worth more.

A person could redeem things vowed to the Lord such as animals, houses or land.  One could not redeem those things devoted to the Lord, which included those who were set to be executed for crimes committed.

Fun Fact:  “The Lord said to Moses” occurs more than 60 times in the book of Leviticus.  It is the most words recorded that God spoke personally in the Bible.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 17, Day 4: Leviticus 25:35-55

Summary of passage:  If an Israelite becomes poor, help him so he can stay with you.  Don’t take interest from him or sell food to him at a profit.  If a poor man sells himself to you, don’t treat him as a slave but as a worker until the Year of the Jubilee where he and his family are to go free.  Slaves may be bought from the surrounding lands but no slaves are to be made from the Israelites.  If an Israelite sells himself to a non-Israelite, he is to be treated as a servant, not a slave, and may be redeemed either by a relative or in the Year of the Jubilee.

Questions:

8 )  Basically, do everything you can to help them get back on their feet.  Don’t take advantage of them and treat them favorably.  Help as much as possible.

9a)  “For the Israelites belong to me (God) as servants.  They are my servants whom I brought out of Egypt.  I am the Lord your God.”  Verse 55, 38 42

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m taking issue with “even though you didn’t deserve it” part of this question because none of us deserve God’s care ever at all.  It is all grace and mercy from Him.  My answer is every day God takes care of me when I don’t deserve it.  Specific times is when I am far from him like during college.  Or my bankruptcy.  Answer:  every day.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We should treat others as God treats us:  with unconditional mercy and grace and love.  With those who have less than us, the same.  Give, offer help and guidance, and be available.

Conclusions:  I can’t help but think back on Leviticus 24 and how I’d rather study that.  8 and 9c are very similar.  A good question here would be:  Knowing how God calls you to treat the poor, what are you not doing that you could be doing for others and be specific.  Why are you not doing it?  I think we all know what we should be doing; we just don’t.  Examining why would hit us where it hurts and perhaps spur us to change.

End Notes: This is similar to what Jesus said in Luke 6:34-5.  Give without expecting anything back.

If one could not pay their debts, they had to work to pay it off but they had to be treated humanely and be set free.  This did not hold true to non-Israelites who could remain slaves for life.

Why is this such an important part in God’s word?  God wanted to make sure every one of His people understood that they were foremost His and His slave and worked for Him and no other.  He is the final redeemer of His people–a fact often lost sight of in the throes of this world.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 17, Day 3: Leviticus 25:8-34

Summary of passage:  Every 50th year is to be a Jubilee year for Israel where all the people return to their family property and clan and do not sow the land and freedom for all.  Do not take advantage of people when selling the land and fear your Lord.  God will provide in the sixth year all the people need for the seventh and eighth year until the crop comes in.  The land is God’s.

People are to sell their property to relatives and property will be returned to the original owners in the year of the Jubilee.  Houses sold are not to be returned in the year of the Jubilee except for the Levites who can redeem their houses in Levitical towns.  They are not to sell their pastureland.

Questions:

5a)  All the slaves are to be freed.  All the land is to return to the original owners.  The land is to remain fallow.

b)  The idea that servants are to gain freedom.

6a)  To ensure that the land remains in the hands of all the people and not just a wealthy few who bought up others’ land.

b)  The people are to follow God’s decrees and obey His laws and then they will live safely in the land, which will bear fruit.  God will bless the Israelites in the 6th year to provide for the fallow year of the 7th and into the 8th as they await the harvest.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  No.  The sheer magnitude of managing the number of people in the world today and the number of individual properties would render the task impossible.  Plus, at least in the US, people hold the idea that they own land very close.  They would not be willing to agree to give up land to original owners and descendants.  It goes against all of the ideals the US holds dear:  hard work and you will succeed in anything in this life.

7a)  The nearest relative is to come and buy the land from the poor man in effect giving him a loan until the man could buy it back.  An example would be Boaz who bought Naomi’s husband’s land and married Ruth so the land would stay in the name of the dead (Ruth 4).

b)  Jesus redeems us from sin and purchases our freedom from the guilt of sin so that we can “receive the full rights of sons”, which is eternal life with God.  Ultimately, God reclaims the land which is His as He reclaims us.

Conclusions:  The neatest part of this for me is how Ruth popped in my brain immediately.  Normally, I’d have to google that.  That shows me just how much I am learning through BSF.  And I immediately saw Jesus.  Again, we see God providing for His people.

End Notes: Since Jesus quoted Isaiah 61, scholars say Jesus may have come in the year of a Jubilee although at the time the practice of land redemption had fallen out of favor especially since the Romans were in control of the land.

Basically, the whole point of the land in the year of the Jubilee was that it returned to the original owners so they would always have God’s Promised Land.  Land in effect could never be sold, only leased.  The intent was to ensure against people becoming poor.  However, the extent to which this was observed is difficult to say.  Some scholars say this was never observed.  God wanted His people to remember their home was in heaven, not in the land.

This land rule only applied in the country where the people needed the land to earn a living.  In a walled city, land could be bought and sold as it was seen as just a home and nothing more.

Fun Fact:  “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” is inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, which is where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were drafted and signed.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 17, Day 2: Leviticus 25:1-7

Introductory Note:  I am not sure why we are skipping Leviticus 24 except that it’s the passage that says “an eye for eye, a tooth for tooth”, which if there’s any passage in Scripture more misunderstood, it’s this one; so why BSF if shying away from it, I don’t know.  If you have a chance, read it.  It’s very short and since it is often quoted, it’s good to know.

Summary of passage:  The Lord decrees to Moses that once they enter the Promised Land, the land is to be sown for 6 years and then have a year of rest and all that is yielded in that year of rest belongs to the people.

Questions:

3a)  When they enter the Promised Land

b)  For 6 years, the Israelites are to sow their fields but he seventh year is to be a year of rest where no crops are sown or harvested and whatever the land yields during the seventh year will be food for the people and their animals.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not sure.  I think they would have been scared because they would have to be totally dependent on God to provide food for that year.  The people however would have been free to rest and perhaps do other things for God’s glory in all that spare time they would have.

4a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The 7th year was also a year for canceling debts, freeing slaves, and giving generously to the poor.  I think the year was to strengthen the faith of God’s people and free up time to think more about others instead of concentrating on survival.

b)  They had to be totally dependent on God to provide all their food during the six years and then some to last for the seventh year.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Depending on God for a whole year I think is a lot different than one day a week so in my opinion this question is a bit of a stretch.  For me, my answer is not sure.  Increasing our faith in God’s provision for us should not be relegated to one day a week but should be constantly every day of the year.  Sundays are just like every other day for me:  being with God, reading His word, praying, living His example, and spreading His light.  If I do this, then my faith in His provision can’t help but grow.

Conclusions:  This passage could have been covered with just one question, three parts, instead of two questions, six parts.  I think we all got the point:  rely on God for your provision.  Period.

End Notes:  Deuteronomy 31:9-13 speaks of in this year how the people will assemble to listen and learn God’s laws.  Hence, this year was to allow time for the Israelites to study and learn God’s laws even deeper and for the children to know God’s laws.

This also demonstrated how the land belonged to God, not the people, and how God dictated its use.  It was a testimony of dependence on God.  The people didn’t just say they depended on God; they showed they did.

It’s also what many farmers do today to allow the nutrients to return to the soil or they do this with crop rotation as well.

Leviticus 26:3 again tells the people to obey God’s laws.  Yet we learn in 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 that the Israelites did not allow the land to lay fallow and thus God forced them to allow the land to lay fallow when they were carried off into captivity by the Babylonians.

The Israelites have found ways around this law.  They have rented out their land and allowed Gentiles to farm it for that year and they took a share as payment, thus circumnavigating the law.  However, I don’t think God sees it this way.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 17, Day 5: Matthew 16:21-28

Summary of passage:  Now Jesus is revealing to his disciples the reason for his being:  that he will die in Jerusalem and suffer for others.  Peter was in denial and told Jesus such.  Jesus rebuked Peter, calling him Satan and a stumbling block to his purpose here on earth.

Jesus tells his disciples that those who come after him must take up their cross and follow him.  People must lose their life in order to save it.  Jesus will reward each person according to what he has done.  Some will not die before the Son of Man comes again.

Questions:

10a)  Peter tells Jesus that he won’t go to the cross and die for our salvation.

b)  Probably for the same reason we don’t want our loved ones to die:  it’s too painful both for Peter who lose his friend and the pain of a crucifixion death that was well-known in ancient times was immense and Peter probably can’t imagine Jesus dying so.

[One commentary I read said Peter did this because he was prideful and having just heard from God about who Jesus truly was in 16:16 that he also thought God was telling him to this as well when it was in fact the devil.  I took the more simplistic, human approach in this one.  I don’t want any of my family to die.  And Jesus was Peter’s family.]

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When sin tempts us, we are all tempted to ignore what Christ did for us.  For me, any sin which is frequent in my life.  However, I have sympathy here for Peter for he knew Jesus in a way we never can.  He walked beside Jesus.  I can imagine he had other motivations for not wanting Jesus to die like we all do for our relatives.

d)  Satan

11a)  To have all of your sins forgiven and to receive the Holy Spirit.  When Christ was crucified he took our sins upon himself and made us righteous and healed us.

b)  He says that “whoever wants to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”

c)  “Lose your life” means you die to sin.  You have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus.  “Take up your cross and follow” Him means the same thing.  You lay down your life (your wants, desires, and sins), surrender yourself to him, to do God’s desires in life.

d)  They will find new life (gain eternal life as well) and be rewarded in heaven for it.

e)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I try to follow God’s will for my life and listen to Him and do His calling and not my own.

12)  This simply means that some people will be alive when Jesus comes again and never have to experience the penalty of death that came about through our sins.

Another interpretation of this is that you will experience glimpses of God’s power and glory as you lead a Christian, new life.  It’s not all about death.

Conclusions:  Anyone else think Question 11 was a repeat?  In fact, it is.  We answered this question on Lesson 11, Day 5 except the question read “how” instead of “explain what” this means. BSF Notes also tell us exactly what this means in Lesson 11 Notes.  I didn’t think the reference passages were all that helpful either in understanding the meaning.

If you have these notes, I would suggest re-reading them here.  I can’t legally quote anything in the notes but the explanation they give is very, very good.

Hopefully, with repetition, we all understand this now:  that Jesus wants us and all of us to follow him in our lives.  To put him first.  To die to our will and live for him.  Period.

End Notes:  So often we focus on Jesus’s death as for our sins.  But the positive way of putting this is how great is God’s love for us.  God loved us so much He sent his son to die for us.  How many of us parents would do the same thing–to allow our sons to die for strangers?  I wouldn’t. Thus, we must remember the cross is the ultimate sign of God’s love for us despite the tragedy that we had to lose Christ to gain him.

We see Peter’s pride at work as he tries to tell Jesus he is wrong.  Peter is to follow as a disciple, not lead. This is important to remember as in our daily lives we may be thinking we are working for God when the devil sneaks in and we’re not.  In Peter’s case, he focused on “the things of men” instead of on God.  This is a hard one to know when we as humans are just so dumb when compared to God.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 17, Day 4: Matthew 16:18-20

Summary of passage:  Jesus renames Simon “Peter”, which means “rock” for Jesus will build his church around Peter and Hell will not overcome it.  Jesus will give him the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  He told his disciples not to reveal his identity to anyone.

Questions:

6a)  Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18, 30-31:  God and/or Jesus

Matthew 16:23:  an impediment, an obstacle to overcome

Ephesians 2:20:  foundation would be the work and words or the apostles and prophets and the cornerstone is Jesus Christ

1 Peter 2:4-8:  Christ

b)  The rock is Christ and Jesus is blessing Peter with the authority to build his church.  Peter was the first rock amongst Jesus’ church/building with Christ as the cornerstone.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That the gates of Hades or the gates of death will be defeated.  Death and darkness will never prevail against the church, God, or His people.

8a)  Acts 2 records the Day of Pentecost after the Resurrection where the first believers converted (almost 3000) and the Christian church was born.  It is Peter who addresses these people; who speaks powerfully to convince them that they have just witnesses the most important event of all history:  the resurrection of Jesus. It is Peter who explains the Holy Spirit and the meaning of Jesus’ death.  God blessed Peter with this role.

In Acts 10, Peter is speaking to a crowd of friends and relatives in Cornelius’ (a Roman centurion or a Gentile) home.  Peter explains again Christ’s life and death and it’s meaning and if you keep reading (Acts 10:44-48) all those there were converted and blessed with the Holy Spirit and they were Gentiles.  Peter explains how Jesus came for all of mankind.

Hence, from these events, we see Peter as the one having been blessed by God to spread the word that He is for all mankind.  That all are welcome at His table.  And Peter becomes the Rock as he converts more and more people to begin the new church.  He opens the kingdom to all.

b)  Jews and Gentiles.

9a)  In John, Jesus gives this power to all of his disciples (the Eleven).  In Matthew, Jesus is speaking to his disciples as well.  However, I believe Matthew can be interpreted to extend to all believers once they have the Holy Spirit.  Hence, I would say all believers have this power to bring others to Jesus.

b)  Binding and loosing were legal terms in use in the Jewish law in first century AD that all Jews understood.  You were either “bound” or “loose” with regards to Jewish law.  To bind was to be subjugated to the law; to be put under it or to prohibit something.  To loose was to allow something under the law; to permit it.

Peter and the other apostles were given the authority by Jesus to set the terms of the New Covenant and “bind and loose” the Old Covenant.  They would set the rules for the early church and build its foundation.

To some extent, the Church still has this power today as long as it is from God.

Conclusions:  Admittedly, I groaned at question 8 and stopped working when I saw how much of Acts we had to read.  Another example of how it’s okay to stop for the day when you’re just not into it and come back when your heart is ready to hear from God.

End Notes:  Hades was the Ancient Greek god of the underworld (Roman name is Pluto).  Hades was the place the dead went and lived.  It wasn’t a place where only eternally damned people go. The Romans believed everyone went to Hades after death.  Thus, it’s meaning is different than hell, which is often incorrectly equated today.

Good, brief explanation of binding and loosing:  http://www.gotquestions.org/binding-loosing.html

Fun Facts:  This was the first use of the word church in all of the Bible and it is used by Jesus way before Acts and Pentecost.

Peter is always listed first in the listings of the disciples in the Bible.  There is no doubt he was specially blessed by God to spread the word.