Leviticus 27:14-Numbers 1:54
Warren Wiersbe explains this chapter in context, “If you have ever found it difficult or impossible to fulfill a promise, the message of this chapter is for you. In a moment of extreme joy or trial, a Jew might make a vow to God, offering to give Him something valuable in return for His blessing. (See Judges 11:29–40; Jonah 2:9.) The vow might involve people (vv. 1–8), animals (vv. 9–13, 26–27), property (vv. 14–25), or produce (vv. 30–33).
If the person could not fulfill the vow, he was not permitted to back out, nor could he offer a cheaper substitute. He had to give the priest the equivalent in money, plus one-fifth more. This chapter tells the priest how to evaluate the gift so that the Lord would receive the right amount, for the money was used for the work of the sanctuary. The word valuation is used nineteen times.”
Even today, when a congregant offers non-monetary donations to the Lord through the church, our administration team is required to give an approximate valuation for tax purposes. Leviticus continues with laws in this area, although this wasn’t for tax credit, the value was to be determined, the valuation of a house, or a field, etc., and what to do if the person wanted to purchase it back, or revoke their vow (add 20%). There was even specifics on how to navigate through all of this considering the Year of Jubilee.
It was possible for a person to donate their land permanently to the Lord – to be used by the priests, but if it was a property purchased outside of the family Tribe and then donated…in the Year of Jubilee the land would be returned to the original family.
The firstborn was to be dedicated to the Lord or redeemed, after all, the Jews were spared their firstborn in their redemption from Egypt, and the day would come when God would give His Firstborn, His only Son in redemption for us. (Colossians 1:15 – not that Jesus was created or born, but Jesus functioned with the right of the Firstborn).
The book of Leviticus ends aptly:
Leviticus 27:34 (NKJV) “These are the commandments which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai.”
As we begin the book of Numbers Bruce Wilkinson & Kenneth Boa have this to say, “Numbers, the book of divine discipline, shows the painful consequences of unbelief and irresponsible decisions on the part of God’s chosen people. Numbers begins with the old generation (chs. 1–12), moves through a tragic transition period (chs. 13–20), and ends with the new generation (chs. 21–36) poised at the doorstep to the land of Canaan. The book contains the records of two generations, two censuses, and two sets of instructions for enjoying the land of promise. God’s love is kind, but it can also be severe. His people must learn they can move forward only as they trust and depend on Him.” – Talk through the Bible
Warren Wiersbe, “Numbers is the book of wanderings. It takes its name from the two numberings of the Israelites—the first at Mount Sinai and the second on the plains of Moab. Most of the book, however, describes Israel’s experiences as they wander in the wilderness. The lesson of Numbers is clear. While it may be necessary to pass through wilderness experiences, one does not have to live there. For Israel, an eleven-day journey became a forty-year agony.”
We have the total number of soldiers 20 years old and above given to us in:
Numbers 1:45–46 (NKJV) “So all who were numbered of the children of Israel, by their fathers’ houses, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war in Israel—46 all who were numbered were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty.”
This total didn’t include the Tribe of Levi who were excluded from the military due to their responsibility of service in the Tabernacle. With 603,550 men of military age, what must the total population must have been, when you include women, children, and elderly…easily there could have been 3 million Jews by this time!
Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem had been predicted and prophesied in the Old Testament – to the very day.
We read one prophecy in:
Zechariah 9:9 (NKJV) “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
It was a colt on which no one had ever sat (Mark 11:2). It was reserved for Him. For this was the Day He finally, formally, officially “presented” Himself to Israel. Prior to this He told others, including His disciples NOT to say anything, NOT to tell anyone. Up to this point Jesus never made a fuss about Himself. He was very low key. If others were tempted to give Him any publicity, He would actually forbid it; He told them, “Don’t say anything.” (Mark 8:30; 9:9) but this time, it was time, He didn’t hold back, for this Day had been written about in Daniel 9:25 predicting 69, 7-year periods, which on the Jewish calendar totals 173,880 days after the command of Artaxerxes to restore and build Jerusalem, bringing them to April 6, 32 AD, the VERY DAY Jesus rode into Jerusalem – here He was Messiah the Prince! (Jesus even referred to this as “your day”in Luke 19:42)
The initial response of the people was receptive; they fulfilled prophecy in quoting from Psalm 118, which everyone knew to be a Messianic Psalm.
Unfortunately, their faith in Him did not last long, it would wither away, pictured in the fruitless and withering Fig Tree, which also provided a visual, of the judgment to come.
The next day, which is Monday, He leaves Bethany as He heads towards Jerusalem. The Bible says He was hungry; but when He came to the fig tree… there was no fruit on it. V. 13, tells us that it wasn’t the season for figs.
Then why did Jesus judge it?
Well, the time of year was Passover, so it was the middle of the month of Nisan (our April). In Israel at this time, fig trees produced small edible buds in March followed by the appearance of large green leaves in early April. This early green “fruit” was common food for the local peasants to eat. An absence of this small green fruit, in spite of the large leaves, meant that it would bear no fruit that year. Eventually these buds dropped off when the normal crop of figs formed and ripened in late May and June, the fig season. Thus it was reasonable for Jesus, shortly before Passover (mid-April) to expect to find something edible on that fig tree even though it wasn’t the season for figs.
The religious leaders were lining their pockets with the big time profits of the money changers and those who sold “pre-approved” sacrifices, so Jesus cleaned house, and drove them out. People were making light of the Temple, despising it, when it should have been esteemed as God’s House, a House of Prayer for all Nations (they had made it a den of thieves).
I’ve always been checked and challenged by this teaching. May our lives, our homes, and our churches be “God’s House of Prayer!”
Peter is amazed by the way the Fig Tree withered away so soon, roots and all. Jesus teaches us on the power of God through prayer – that if we have faith we can move mountains, if we believe, Jesus says, we will receive. When we’re in right relationship with God we will ask in alignment with His will (1 John 5:14) and by faith we will see God move mightily!
But not only do we need faith, we also need forgiveness (Mark 11:25-26) – we must forgive others, for if we don’t, our Father will not forgive us – such a serious and heavy warning!
What a beautiful Psalm! Notice the application:
Psalm 46:1–2 (NKJV) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 THEREFORE WE WILL NOT FEAR…”
It matters not if the whole wide world including the mountains are moved, it matters not if the waters of every ocean rose up and roared and threatened to swallow us alive, God Himself is in the middle of it all, and He will help us (Psalm 46:5).
Psalm 46:6 is interesting for first of all, it refers to God as the “LORD of Hosts” which means the LORD of Heaven’s Army – He fights for us. Secondly, it refers to the God of Jacob as our refuge, and Jacob was that name of a man emphasizing his fallen nature, and the struggle he had, sometimes he was Jacob (conniver), sometimes he was Israel (governed by God). Not that I’m making light of sin, but we all need God’s grace. If our confidence is only in a God who helps us when we’re sinless, we will live in constant fear, because we will never know if we’re good enough. But if we understand that God helps us even when we fail and fall – He even fights for us this LORD of Hosts, this God of Jacob – it really does bring me to that place as God’s child…“Therefore, we will not fear.”
The King of kings will one day end all wars by winning the War of wars…so he concludes:
Psalm 46:10 (NKJV) “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
What does that passage mean to you?
Don’t be afraid. Don’t panic. Don’t fret. Don’t act hastily. Don’t do too much to try and “fix” your situation. God is God, let’s make sure to really know that.
I thought it was interesting to find the word “sport” in the Bible. But before I could break out my football analogies, I discovered that the Hebrew word translated “sport” is usually translated laughter, and that’s the tragedy taught here. How foolish is the man who does evil, and rather than experiencing a conscience of conviction, he ends up with a hardened heart of humor – he laughs about it.
Violence, cruelty, dishonesty, robbery, it’s just a joke to the fool.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.