Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm20080702.htm
THRU THE BIBLE EXPOSITION
Leviticus: Fellowship With A Holy God
Part III: Acceptable Living Before A Holy God, Leviticus 11:1-27:34
P. Heeding God's Call To Counter Covetousness Through Himself
(Leviticus 25:1-7; Deuteronomy 31:10-13)
Lesson: Israel was to avoid the sin of covetousness by observing the land sabbath years, trusting God, the True Landowner of Canaan, to provide for her material needs lest she suffer loss in discipline.
- Though we in the Western world might not consider ourselves idolaters since we do not bow down to graven images, we are yet often tempted with the subtle idolatry of materialistic covetousness, Col. 3:5.
- The Leviticus 25:1-7 stipulations were designed to teach Israel to trust God for her material needs versus relying on her possessions or income themselves for that security, and we view that passage for insight:
- Heeding God's Call To Counter Covetousness Through Himself, Lev. 25:1-7; Deut. 31:10-13.
- The Lord directed Moses at Mount Sinai to tell the people of Israel that once they possessed the land of Canaan, they were to let it lie fallow every seventh year; they could sow their fields and harvest the land's crops for six consecutive years to market the produce, but every seventh year, they could neither sow nor reap the land's produce for the purpose of marketing, Leviticus 25:1-5.
- Rather, everyone in Israel, be they landowners, their dependents, the aliens living in their midst or even the animals, could eat of the crops of the field for their immediate daily sustenance, Leviticus 25:6-7.
- This put the people of Israel in the position of having to trust the Lord for His sustenance provision:
- If in the seventh year, the people of Israel were to let the land lie fallow and to live off of what the land produced on its own, there would be no preparing of seed or the land for the eighth year, Lev. 23:3-4!
- Hence, the people of God were to trust that God would provide in the sixth year for their needs of seeds to be sown for the year after the land sabbath similar to how, in the wilderness, they had to rely on God to provide the manna needed the sixth day to keep them fed for the seventh day, cf. Exodus 16:22-24!
- Israel was thus left living in material dependence upon the Lord every seventh year!
- We know from Deuteronomy 31:10-13 that a key reason for this land sabbath rest was to cause Israel to focus on God's Law that was to be read to the nation at each land sabbath's Feast of Tabernacles, cf. Deuteronomy 31:10-11. This reading of the law would remind the people of their need to revere the Lord so as to obey Him in their lives, Deuteronomy 31:12-13.
- Since the people were to focus on revering the Lord in that land sabbath year, this reverence would drive them to realize that it was not the wealth they could earn from sowing and harvesting their crops that was to be their source of livelihood security, but that God was their true Supplier of all such livelihood needs!
- Besides, as Leviticus 25:2 revealed, the land did not really belong to the people of Israel, but to the Lord! This is why Leviticus 25:23 NIV claimed the people of Israel were not permanently to buy or sell the inheritance of the father's tribal estates, for the land belonged to God, and His people were only aliens and tenants of it in God's estimation! Thus, God's people were to submit to the Supreme Landowner -- God!
- Sadly, Israel never did keep her land sabbath rests, so in her national discipline in the Babylonian Captivity, God kept Israel in captivity one year for every land sabbath year that she had failed to honor:
- In Leviticus 26:33-35, Moses predicted that were the nation Israel to fail to observe her land sabbath years, when God judged the nation to go into national captivity to a foreign land, Israel would stay one year in captivity for every year she had failed in her history to observe her land sabbath years.
- Accordingly, when the prophet Jeremiah predicted Israel would be in the Babylonian Captivity for 70 years (Jer. 29:10), this time was set since Israel had missed 70 sets of land sabbath years that had accumulated in the 490 years of time since she had been in the land of Canaan, cf. 2 Chron. 36:20-21!
Application: (1) May we look to God as Our All-Sufficient Supplier of our livelihood needs! (2) If the Lord has let us become materially impoverished in some way, may we examine our hearts to see if He is using this shortage to critique the sin of materialistic idolatry in our lives, and, IF so, to repent in looking back to God as our livelihood Provider as Israel was to do in Babylon!