This week we have two Parashas: B’har (meaning, “on the mountain”), and B’chukotai (meaning, “in my statutes”). They cover Leviticus 25:1-27:34.
The Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai. He said, “Tell the Israelis when you enter the land that I am giving you, that you must let the land have a special time of rest.” Even in Israel’s use of the land, they were to honor Adonai. The land was to enjoy a sabbath of its own.
The Old Testament Jewish calendar functioned on a series of sevens. The seventh day of the week was the Sabbath. The Holiday of Unleavened Bread was to last seven days. Seven weeks after Passover was Shavuot, or Pentecost. The seventh month of the year contained three major holidays: The Holiday of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Sukkot, the Holiday of Tabernacles. Every seventh year was a Sabbatical Year, and after seven Sabbatical years came the Year of Jubilee.
The Sabbatical year was God’s way of allowing the land to lie fallow and preserve its fruitfulness. The people were not permitted to have a formal harvest that year, but anyone could eat from what remained of the produce in the fields and orchards.
Observing the Sabbatical year was really a test of faith for the people. It was also an expression of God’s love for the poor of the land.
The word Jubilee comes from the Hebrew word Yovel which means ram’s horn. This special year was announced by the blowing of trumpets on the Day of Atonement. Thus, the Year of Jubilee began with fasting and repentance as the nation confessed its sins to the Lord.
During that year, the people were able to return and reclaim land that they had previously been forced to sell, so that a family would never permanently lose their land. Any Israeli who was purchasing property would calculate the price until the next Year of Jubilee, when the land would again revert to the original owner. How much grain a given field might be expected to produce during those years was a major consideration.
During the Year of Jubilee, the land was not to be worked, but to rest. The people would need to trust God to provide what they needed for the Sabbatical year (the forty-ninth), the Year of Jubilee (the fiftieth), and the fifty-first year, when the crops would again be planted.
Slaves were to be released during this special year, so that families would also be reunited, and have a fresh start. The Year of Jubilee looks forward to the Kingdom Age when Yeshua the Messiah will reign in glory and fulfill the promises made to the Jewish people, and extend His blessings to all the nations of the earth.
In Chapter 26, Adonai once again warns Israel not to make any idols nor set up sacred pillars or bow down and worship these idols. Israel is told that if they will walk according to God’s statutes, the Lord will bless them in many ways. Adonai declared, “Remember My special days of rest, and honor My holy place. I am the Lord.”
Israel is told that if they will obey Adonai, He will give rain in the proper seasons and their land will be fruitful. Israel will enjoy peace in the land, and their enemies will be chased away.
Adonai promised to make them fruitful, saying, “I will set My Tabernacle among you, and I will walk among you.” The presence of God is the greatest blessing of all. He also promised that no Israeli would suffer financial hardship or be forced into servitude if they obey God.
If, however, Israel refused to obey Adonai and His commands, terrible things would happen to them. Their disobedience would result in plagues, panic, drought, wild animals killing children and cattle, terrible famine, military defeat leading to their being scattered among the nations. And yet, even after all their disobedience, God promised that He would draw Israel back to Himself, and to fulfill his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and restore the nation.
Chapter 27 is concerned with vows: vows dealing with the devotion of the individual as well as vows having to do with financial transactions. Animals, houses and fields are discussed.
Throughout this section, one principle is emphasized: regardless of the nature of a vow, every promise must be honored, and every financial commitment must be paid in full. If, for any reason, the person making the vow defaulted on it, they were required to pay its full value, as well as something extra, according to the decision of the priests.
Let me share a few thoughts in closing. Messiah Yeshua is called the Word of God. In Him, the laws, commandments, and promises reach their greatest fulfillment. He Himself is our Sabbath rest; He is the Lord of the Sabbath. He is our Kinsman Redeemer, who has set us free from our slavery to sin and from the evil one.
In light of all that He has done for us, let’s live obedient lives, so that we will see those blessed eternal years of Jubilee, when Messiah has made all things right. May God’s Spirit lead us to truly understand these blessed promises, and may we, as His blood-bought people, live by the power of His Spirit.