This Parsha includes the Behar (on Mount [Sinai]) and the B’chukkotai (follow or to follow that which the L-rd declares or by my regulations) as found in the last two chapters of Leviticus.
Leviticus presents the given blessings and curses associated with obedience of Adonai’s commands and the curses associated with disobedience of Adonai’s commands given on Mount Sinai. We originally saw these commands presented in Exodus, thus these texts begin “Adonai Spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai. Previously, studies presented the blessings for keeping Shabbat and in this study we will see how Adonai gives a blessing for keeping a Shabbat for the land and that which we own which really belongs to Adonai (we are only keepers of Adonai’s belongings).
Many would point out that these are directions for the Jewish people and have nothing to do with us today. However, in Galatians 3:29 Paul writes; “Also, if you belong to the Messiah, you are seed of Avraham and heirs according to the promise.” Wouldn’t it stand to reason that as believers belonging to Christ our Messiah wouldn’t we, in theory, also be heirs of the curses? But wait you say, isn’t it mentioned that we could choose to be circumcised or not (and we don’t need to be) as well as some other laws presented to the Isra’el? Circumcision is one of the ceremonial laws and is not the in the same category as Shabbat keeping.
Verse 18 of Leviticus 25 reads “Rather, you are to keep my regulations and rulings and act accordingly. If you do, you will live securely in the land.” What does the laws of buying and selling of land and slaves and these concepts have to do with us today and how would we keep such laws, if we were able, is the question we must ask ourselves. Verse 38 says, “I am Adonai your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt in order to give you the land of Kena’an and be your G-d.”
Ah you say, see this is for the Isra’eli people. Verse 2 of Leviticus 26:2 says, Keep my Shabbats, and revere my sanctuary; I am Adonai.” Leviticus 26 goes on to say in verse 3 which is the beginning of the B’chukkotai Pasha, “If you live by my regulations, observe my mitzvoth and obey them; then I will provide the rain you need in its season, the land will yield its produce, and the trees in the field will yield their fruit. Your threshing time will extend until the grape harvest, and your grape harvesting will extend until the time for sowing seed. You will eat as much food as you want and live securely in your land. I will give shalom in the land—you will lie down to sleep unafraid of anyone….”
And the blessings given towards Isra’el continue. History shows that the Isra’el peoples did not follow all that Adonai commanded; however, Adonai did not leave them without hope. In verse 41, Adonai continues, “At that time I will be going against them, bringing them into the lands of their enemies. But if their uncircumcised hearts will grow humble, and they are paid the punishments for their misdeeds; then I will remember my covenant with Yaakov, also my covenant with Yitz’chak and my covenant with Avraham; and I will remember the land. For the land will lie abandoned without them, and it will be paid its Shabbats while it lies desolate without them; and they will be paid the punishment for their misdeeds, because they rejected my rulings and loathed my regulations. Yet, in spite of all that, I will not reject them when they are in the lands of their enemies, nor will I loathe them to the point of utterly destroying them and thus break my covenant with them, because I am Adonai their G-d.”
Chapter 26 of Leviticus ends with Adonai proclaiming again that he is their G-d and that these are the teachings given on Mount Sinai through Moshe. Chapter 27 also begins with the declarations of Adonai and what he told Moshe at Mount Sinai and ends with “These are the mitzvoth which Adonai gave to Moshe for the people of Isra’el on Mount Sinai. As believers in Yeshua today how or why would we care to acknowledge these teachings given the Isra’el people on Mount Sinai?
The reasons for celebrating Shemittah given in Exodus 23 appear to focus on mankind serving his fellowman while in Leviticus it appears to focus on Adonai and acknowledging his authority over and ownership of land and peoples. When commands are given twice it usually means that these need to be looked closely to discover if there is another aspect and reason for the command given the Isra’el people.
Perhaps the reason we need to in part celebrate and understand these commands lies closely with our acknowledging Adonai’s authority and ownership over us and all that we “own” during this time. Knowing and understanding how these commands given Isra’el relates to Yeshua’s teachings will give us assurance in today’s economical times we are living in.
If you review the history of Isra’el you will discover that their captivity in Babylon was 70 years which was in direct correlation to the number of Shabbats the land had not rested. Adonai had Jeremiah purchase land that had belonged to his family at a pivotal moment in the siege on Jerusalem by the Babylonians as they are about to conquer Jerusalem. Further reading of Jeremiah we see that he refers to those who “amass wealth without justice.” This is a reference to those who disregard Shemittah and Yovel by not allowing the land and servants to rest or have a Shabbat.
So what does all this have to do with us today? Many believe that the Torah or the law was done away with or abolished for various reasons. The main two reasons they believe this is that they do not actually know what the Torah teaches because they do not seriously study it, and they do not understand how the Torah needs to be studied and analyzed. Many believe the New Testament or Covenant is separate from the Old Testament when in fact the teachings of the Torah and prophets are the basis and the foundation of the New Covenant Scriptures concerning the Kingdom of G-d.
In Luke 6:38 Yeshua says, “Give, and you will receive gifts—the full measure, compacted, shaken together and overflowing, will be put right in your lap. For the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure back to you!” The New American Standard says it this way, “For whatever measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt to you in return.” The Shemittah is taught in Leviticus that by obeying we will be blessed through the Shabbat of allowing the poor to harvest in your fields Adonai will bless you so that you will eat from the 6th year into the 9th year. Luke 6:38 directly shows our relationship to our fellow man.
Throughout The Torah we are able to read and understand that it teaches in pictures about the Messiah and this is why we study so that we are well versed in who he is and his work in our lives as well as throughout the lands. Anytime we see pictures of resurrection, pictures of renewed life, and pictures of victory and renewed life as a result of death we need to understand that The Torah is about to show us the Messiah. When we see this coupled with the number three it is of a greater importance. The sign of the Messiah in Leviticus 25 is found in the multiple of three and the keeping of the Shabbat for the land. Did you notice that most of Yeshua’s miracles were performed on the Shabbat?
In studying the history of Isra’el we notice that at the Red Sea Adonai commanded them to stand back and rest (Shabbat) and view His salvation. When we observe the Shabbat we allow the ultimate fulfillment of the finished work the Messiah will perform within our lives and we rest in his finished work. The Torah teaches a strong connection between Shabbat and Life through the pictures presented in the history of Isra’el. We must rest from our labors and allow Him to complete the good work He has begun within us. Sha’ul in his writing to the Messianic Community in Philippi says, “And I am sure of this: that the One who began a good work among you will keep it growing until it is completed on the Day of the Messiah Yeshua.” The New American Standard states it this way, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” As Yeshua brought healing or Life to many on the Shabbat we are healed in our keeping of the Shabbat and we are stating that He is our Messiah! A complete understanding of Shabbat, Shemittah, and Yovel grants us the healing in our relationship with Adonai.
In my studies I read that it was said that Yeshua came the first time fifty generations from Noah’s grandson. What is the significance of 50 and what did Yeshua say about himself? Yovel was a time of freedom and redemption and Yeshua said he came to set the captive free and to redeem us from our transgression and separation from the Father and our Creator. Understanding this we are able to understand that the deeper meaning of Yovel is actually a teaching concerning the work of the Messiah.
The major themes of Yovel are; peaceful relations between mankind and beasts, blessings, the Shofar, Yom Kippur, freedom, return to ancestral land, rest, redemption of people, redemption of land, and clearance of debt. In looking at each of these themes we can in fact connect these to not only the Messiah coming the first time but also his 2nd coming. The keeping of Shabbat, Shemittah, and Yovel show that there is greater peace and harmony between man and beast and are reflections of Gan Eden and foreshadow of the future Millennial Kingdom of Messiah Yeshua!
While it is not practical in today’s society to keep directly the Shemittah and Yovel we are able to study and ask for peaceful relations between us and those we are living and working with. We are able to keep a type of Shemittah in the activities that we are doing such as a year without TV, or a year of extra financial giving to help those in need. Yeshua came that we might be free of strife in our lives and we could spend a type of Shemittah through extra hours of praying for those that seem to be at odds with us.
In the Torah there are two words that are translated “freedom” the first is hofesh and the other is deror. Some scholars suggest that hofesh is temporary freedom such as that associated with the Shemittah while deror is the freedom associated with the setting free of those in bondage. How fitting than that Yeshua came declaring that he had come to heal the brokenhearted and to set the captives free.
Yovel means ram’s horn. Yovel began with the blowing of the ram’s horn and according to Leviticus was blown on Yom Kippur also known as the Day of Atonement. Sha’ul in his letter to the Colosse says in Colossians 2:13-14, “And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us, and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” As I said earlier many use texts such as these in their ignorance to justify and declare that “the law” was done away with. Doesn’t Romans 3:23 teach that we are all sinners and that we owe a sin debt to Adonai? But if you read this text carefully in the Greek you will notice that it was a certificate of debt that was nailed to the cross. Note that it was customary when a criminal was executed a list of his crimes were attached to the stake. In John 19:19-24 we see that Yeshua was accused of claiming to be the King of the Jews.
We are slaves of this land yet having been set free in our acceptance of Yeshua as our Messiah we still owe the debt of death for our transgressions and separations we created through disobedience to Adonai. Yeshua took this death upon himself when he was nailed to the cross so that we could celebrate with him through His Freedom that he in his lovingkindness, mercy, and grace granted to us during a Yovel of Jubilee. Clearly when we study and read these texts with this understanding we can see that the verse that many claim shows that the law was done away with in reality mean that it was our certificate of debt for our transgressions, thus allowing us freedom in Yeshua.
The redemption of land that had been bought and sold through the years was returned to the original owner during Yovel. As we look at the appointed times or festivals given to the Isra’el people we are able with discernment to know and understand the prophetic shadows of the first and second comings of Yeshua. Yeshua fulfilled to the letter the spring festivals to the day and hour in his death. After his resurrection it is recorded in Luke 24 how after his resurrection he appeared to two of his disciples as they walked on the road to Amma’us and it was on this walk that Yeshua began with Moshe and all the prophets explaining these things to them. Even Yeshua’s disciples learned to understand the Torah and all the prophets’ writings and how they equated to the life of Yeshua at his death as well as in his glory. And what is this glory of Yeshua? It is his reign and him being the King of Kings at the right hand of Adonai.
Fully understanding how the Shabbats of Shemittah and Yovel are directly related to Yeshua’s ministry allows us to understand more fully some other scriptures that are sometimes misapplied concerning Shemittah/Yovel and the Millennium/Eternal State. Peter in his 2nd Epistle chapter 3 verse 8 makes this comment. “But do not let this one fact escape your notice beloved that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” Understanding this and applying it to the Leviticus 25-27 we could make the analogy that one day/1,000. Looking again at Leviticus 25 we would see that 6,000 years we could sow our fields or in other words work as we choose on this planet. However, in the 7,000 year this planet would have a Shabbat rest. While some teach that we will live on this land in peace with Yeshua for 1,000 when we completely and fully understand why Isra’el was exiled we will understand that the 1,000 years will be for a full Yovel Shabbat rest of earth with those that are saved will be off of this planet and in heaven. We will be free of all bondage and this earth will be desolate for a Yovel of Shabbat rest because we have neglected to create within us the Yovel Shabbat rest and to keep Shabbat according to the commands of Adonai.
However, lest we feel overcome with foreboding and despair let us know that Yeshua the Messiah is he that will restore us and all creation in the end through all eternity to its Gan Eden conditions.
Be Strong! Be Strong! And May We Be Strengthened!