In Leviticus 24, we see the scheduled duties of the priests tending to the lampstand (v1–4) and the table of showbread (v5–9) in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle/Temple. The lamp represented God’s life-giving presence with the people. The 12 loaves represented the people’s presence before God. However the work of maintaining the altar of incense is not mentioned, it has already been mentioned in Exodus 30:7-8, What would be the significance of including these maintenance routines in this calendar? Obviously to make sure that regularly they are actively reminded of God’s life-giving presence amongst them. However the Altar of Incense is representing Christ’s High Priestly intercession of Israel’s prayers to God the Father. It was continual, but it was not glorifying God’s presence with the people or vice-versa it was glorifying Christ’s work for the people praying, so that the Father could hear & respond because in reality, his glory dwelt among them, but his holy, holy, holy presence was in Heaven.
The final note to Israel’s annual calendar is the story of a blasphemer’s punishment, v10–23. The focus of the text is on the blasphemer’s Egyptian heritage. We have already learned that sojourners are to be treated with the same love as neighbors (19:33–34). This passage teaches that sojourners, while not compelled to participate in Israel’s worship, were required to respect it. Why do you suppose such a sober lesson would be added to the end of Israel’s annual worship calendar? No doubt it was a statement of warning, to never disassociate what was happening in the Tabernacle/Temple with their daily life and behaviour outside Jerusalem and throughout Israel. Holiness that was maintained and glorified year around in Jerusalem, was meant to affect everyone’s daily behavior and language. Blasphemy is the opposite of respect for the holy life God was providing for all of them, the foreigner amongst them, and the natural citizens of Israel. Upon pain of death, they would pay if they rebelled against God’s gracious provision of sacred life and sanctified rescue from Eygpt. Do you think as a Christian, that there should be an aspect of your daily life that recognizes the holy sacredness of life providing your escape from sin’s consequences in Christ?
In Leviticus 25, We see the Sabbath Year, like the annual festivals, was tied to agricultural reality: the need for a regular time of letting the land remain fallow to avoid depleting soil nutrients. Fields were not to be farmed and harvested during the Sabbath Year (v. 4–5); nevertheless, subsistence food production was permitted (v. 6). What does this provision suggest about God’s care for the land? Surely it was a direct attempt by God to remind everyone, rich & poor, that God cares for the earth itself, and his people were legally obliged to mandate rest for giving the earth itself some dignity for the holiness of His creation. Remember God said through the Psalmist, Psalm 104:30 that His Spirit is active in the earth, and Paul reminds of this fact today in Romans 8:20-23.The final layer of Israel’s calendar was the Year of Jubilee, observed every seventh Sabbath Year. The Jubilee was a once-a-generation economic reset. Even if one generation fell so deeply into debt that the next was raised in debt slavery and the family property was lost, the Jubilee Year ensured the emerging generation would receive it back. What do you think was the significance of this proclamation of liberty taking place on the Day of Atonement during the Jubilee Year (v. 9)? Surely it had to do with the top economic tier of society, being forced to recognize God’s mercy & grace towards the poor. Jesus said, the “poor you will have with you always”, Mat. 26:11, Mk. 14:7, Jn. 12:8 and in Luke, Jesus emphasizes to all Christians, not just to the rich, that we should “sell our possessions and give to the poor”, Luke 12:33. The superiority of our New Covenant over the old, is that we are mandated to practice a Jubilee year at any time, we are not confined to a one-off generational economic reset.
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