February 14, 2015

Leviticus 24-25 -  God spoke to Moses: “Order the People of Israel to bring you virgin olive oil for light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually... from evening to morning continually before God. This is a perpetual decree down through the generations. 

Take fine flour and bake twelve loaves of bread, using about four quarts of flour to a loaf. Arrange them in two rows of six each on the Table of pure gold before God....Regularly, every Sabbath, this bread is to be set before God, a perpetual covenantal response from Israel... 

One day the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father went out among the Israelites.  A fight broke out in the camp between him and an Israelite. The son of the Israelite woman blasphemed the Name of God and cursed. They brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith...of the tribe of Dan. They put him in custody waiting for God’s will to be revealed to them.  Then God spoke to Moses: “Take the blasphemer outside the camp. Have all those who heard him place their hands on his head; then have the entire congregation stone him... The entire congregation must stone him. It makes no difference whether he is a foreigner or a native, if he blasphemes the Name, he will be put to death.

Anyone who hits and kills a fellow human must be put to death. Anyone who kills someone’s animal must make it good—a life for a life. Anyone who injures his neighbor will get back the same as he gave: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. What he did to hurt that person will be done to him. Anyone who hits and kills an animal must make it good, but whoever hits and kills a fellow human will be put to death. And no double standards: the same rule goes for foreigners and natives. I am God, your God.”

Moses then spoke to the People of Israel. They brought the blasphemer outside the camp and stoned him. The People of Israel followed the orders God had given Moses.

God spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai: “Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them, When you enter the land which I am going to give you, the land will observe a Sabbath to God.  Sow your fields, prune your vineyards, and take in your harvests for six years. But the seventh year the land will take a Sabbath of complete and total rest, a Sabbath to God; you will not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Don’t reap what grows of itself; don’t harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land gets a year of complete and total rest.... 

Count off seven Sabbaths of years—seven times seven years: Seven Sabbaths of years adds up to forty-nine years. Then sound loud blasts on the ram’s horn on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement. Sound the ram’s horn all over the land. Sanctify the fiftieth year; make it a holy year. Proclaim freedom all over the land to everyone who lives in it—a Jubilee for you: Each person will go back to his family’s property and reunite with his extended family. The fiftieth year is your Jubilee year: Don’t sow; don’t reap what volunteers itself in the fields; don’t harvest the untended vines because it’s the Jubilee and a holy year for you....

If you sell or buy property from one of your countrymen, don’t cheat him. Calculate the purchase price on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. He is obliged to set the sale price on the basis of the number of harvests remaining until the next Jubilee.... Don’t cheat each other. Fear your God. I am God, your God.

Keep my decrees and observe my laws and you will live secure in the land. The land will yield its fruit; you will have all you can eat and will live safe and secure. Do I hear you ask, ‘What are we going to eat in the seventh year if we don’t plant or harvest?’ I assure you, I will send such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. While you plant in the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and continue until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.

If one of your brothers becomes poor and has to sell any of his land, his nearest relative is to come and buy back what his brother sold. If a man has no one to redeem it but he later prospers and earns enough for its redemption, he is to calculate the value since he sold it and refund the balance to the man to whom he sold it; he can then go back to his own land. If he doesn’t get together enough money to repay him, what he sold remains in the possession of the buyer until the year of Jubilee. In the Jubilee it will be returned and he can go back and live on his land.

If a man sells a house in a walled city, he retains the right to buy it back for a full year after the sale. At any time during that year he can redeem it. But if it is not redeemed before the full year has passed, it becomes the permanent possession of the buyer and his descendants. It is not returned in the Jubilee. However, houses in unwalled villages are treated the same as fields. They can be redeemed and have to be returned at the Jubilee...

If one of your brothers becomes indigent and cannot support himself, help him, the same as you would a foreigner or a guest so that he can continue to live in your neighborhood. Don’t gouge him with interest charges; out of reverence for your God help your brother to continue to live with you in the neighborhood. Don’t take advantage of his plight by running up big interest charges on his loans, and don’t give him food for profit. I am your God who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

If one of your brothers becomes indigent and has to sell himself to you, don’t make him work as a slave. Treat him as a hired hand or a guest among you. He will work for you until the Jubilee, after which he and his children are set free to go back to his clan and his ancestral land.... 

The male and female slaves which you have are to come from the surrounding nations; you are permitted to buy slaves from them. You may also buy the children of foreign workers who are living among you temporarily and from their clans which are living among you and have been born in your land. They become your property. You may will them to your children as property and make them slaves for life....

If a foreigner or temporary resident among you becomes rich and one of your brothers becomes poor and sells himself to the foreigner who lives among you..., he still has the right of redemption after he has sold himself... What happens then is that he and his owner count out the time from the year he sold himself to the year of Jubilee; the buy-back price is set according to the wages of a hired hand for that number of years.... If he is not redeemed in any of these ways, he goes free in the year of Jubilee, he and his children, because the People of Israel are my servants, my servants whom I brought out of Egypt. I am God, your God.


Hebrews 11 - The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living.  It’s our handle on what we can’t see.

 The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.  By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see...  

It was what Abel believed, not what he brought, that made the difference.  That’s what God noticed and approved as righteousness.  After all these centuries, that belief continues to catch our notice. 

It’s impossible to please God apart from faith.  And why?  Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.  

By faith, Noah...by faith Abraham...by faith, Sarah....Each one of these people of faith died not yet having what was promised, but still believing.  How did they do it?  They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world...

By faith, Abraham offered Isaac back to God.  Acting in faith, he was ready to return the promised son, his only son, as he had been to received him--and this after he had already been told, “your descendants shall come from Isaac.”  

By faith, Isaac...By faith, Jacob...By faith, Joseph, By faith, Moses..., By faith, Israel... By faith, Rahab, the Jericho harlot...There are so many more---Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephithah, Samuel, David, the prophets----

Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves...

Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised.  

God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.