Highlights From Bible Reading ‒ Leviticus 25, 26, 27
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Highlights From the Book of Leviticus 25-27
Scriptural Questions Answered:25:35-37—Was it always wrong for the Israelites to charge interest? If the money was lent for business purposes, the lender could charge interest. However, the Law forbade the charging of interest on loans made to relieve poverty. Profiting from a destitute neighbor’s economic reversals was wrong.—Exodus 22:25.
26:19—How can ‘the heavens become like iron and the earth like copper’? Because of a lack of rain, the heavens over the land of Canaan would become in appearance like hard, nonporous iron. Without rain, the earth would have a copper-colored, metallic brightness.
26:26—What is meant by ‘ten women baking bread in one oven’? Normally, each woman would need a separate oven for all the baking she had to do. But these words pointed to such scarcity of food that one oven would be sufficient to handle all the baking done by ten women. This was one of the foretold consequences of failing to maintain holiness.
*** w11 11/15 p. 17 “Temporary Residents” in a Wicked World ***
A Warning to the Israelites
4 Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites, became numerous and were eventually organized into a nation with a law code and a land. (Gen. 48:4; Deut. 6:1) The people of Israel were never to forget that the real Owner of their land was Jehovah. (Lev. 25:23) They were like tenants obliged to respect the Owner’s wishes. Moreover, they were to remember that “not by bread alone does man live”; they were not to let material prosperity cause them to forget Jehovah. (Deut. 8:1-3) Before settling in their land, the Israelites were given this warning: “It must occur that when Jehovah your God will bring you into the land that he swore to your forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to give you, great and good-looking cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things and that you did not fill, and cisterns hewn out that you did not hew out, vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant, and you shall have eaten and become satisfied, watch out for yourself that you may not forget Jehovah.”—Deut. 6:10-12.
*** w05 3/15 pp. 15-16 pars. 1-2 “You Were Bought With a Price” ***
“SLAVERY was prevalent and widely accepted in the ancient world,” states the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. It adds: “The economy of Egypt, Greece, and Rome was based on slave labor. In the first Christian century, one out of three persons in Italy and one out of five elsewhere was a slave.”
2 Although slavery also existed in ancient Israel, the Mosaic Law ensured that Hebrew slaves received protection. For instance, the Law required that an Israelite could serve as a slave for no more than six years. In the seventh year, he was to “go out as one set free without charge.” But the regulations concerning the treatment of slaves were so fair and humane that the Law of Moses made the following provision: “If the slave should insistently say, ‘I really love my master, my wife and my sons; I do not want to go out as one set free,’ then his master must bring him near to the true God and must bring him up against the door or the doorpost; and his master must pierce his ear through with an awl, and he must be his slave to time indefinite.”—Exodus 21:2-6; Leviticus 25:42, 43; Deuteronomy 15:12-18.
*** w01 12/1 p. 22 par. 14 Fear Jehovah and Keep His Commandments ***
14 Years later Joseph came face-to-face with his brothers, who had heartlessly sold him into slavery. He could easily have used their desperate need for food as an opportunity to avenge the wrong they had done to him. But treating people tyrannically does not reflect the fear of God. (Leviticus 25:43) Thus, when Joseph saw ample proof of his brothers’ change of heart, he mercifully forgave them. Like Joseph, our godly fear will move us to conquer evil with good, as well as hold us back from falling into temptation.—Genesis 45:1-11; Psalm 130:3, 4; Romans 12:17-21.
*** w01 9/15 pp. 12-13 pars. 12-13 Will Jehovah’s Blessing Overtake You? ***
12 The most outstanding evidence that Boaz kept listening to Jehovah was the unselfish way in which he acted on God’s law of repurchase. Boaz did all he could to ensure that the inheritance of his relative—Naomi’s late husband, Elimelech—would remain in Elimelech’s family. Through “brother-in-law marriage,” a widow was to marry her deceased husband’s next of kin so that a son born to them might carry on the inheritance. (Deuteronomy 25:5-10; Leviticus 25:47-49) Ruth presented herself for marriage in the place of Naomi, who was beyond the age of childbearing. After a closer relative of Elimelech declined to help Naomi, Boaz took Ruth as his wife. Their son Obed was viewed as Naomi’s offspring and the legal heir of Elimelech.—Ruth 2:19, 20; 4:1, 6, 9, 13-16.
13 Rich blessings overtook Boaz because of his unselfish compliance with God’s law. Through their son Obed, he and Ruth were blessed with the privilege of becoming ancestors of Jesus Christ. (Ruth 2:12; 4:13, 21, 22; Matthew 1:1, 5, 6) From the unselfish deeds of Boaz, we learn that blessings overtake those who show love for others and act in harmony with God’s requirements.
*** w08 4/15 p. 4 pars. 7-8 Repudiate “Valueless Things” ***
7 In many lands today, people still bow down to man-made images, and such gods are just as useless now as they were in the past. (1 John 5:21) However, the Bible describes things other than images as gods. Consider, for example, these words of Jesus: “No one can slave for two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other. You cannot slave for God and for Riches.”—Matt. 6:24.
8 How can “Riches” become like a god? Well, as an example, think of a stone lying in a field in ancient Israel. Such a stone could be useful for the construction of a house or a wall. On the other hand, if it was set up as “a sacred pillar” or as “a showpiece,” it became a stumbling block to Jehovah’s people. (Lev. 26:1) Similarly, money has its place. We need it just to survive, and we can use it well in Jehovah’s service. (Eccl. 7:12; Luke 16:9) But if we place the pursuit of money ahead of our Christian service, money becomes, in effect, a god to us. (Read 1 Timothy 6:9, 10.) In this world, where the pursuit of financial gain is so important to people, we have to make sure that we keep a balanced view in this matter.—1 Tim. 6:17-19.
*** w13 9/15 pp. 7-8 pars. 3-4 Jehovah’s Reminders Are Trustworthy ***
3 You have perhaps noted that Jehovah’s reminders at times include messages of warning. The nation of Israel regularly received warnings through God’s prophets. For example, shortly before the Israelites were to enter the Promised Land, Moses warned them: “Watch out for yourselves for fear your heart may be enticed, and you do turn aside and worship other gods and bow down to them, and Jehovah’s anger does blaze against you.” (Deut. 11:16, 17) The Bible reveals that God gave his people scores of helpful reminders.
4 On many other occasions, Jehovah urged the Israelites to fear him, to listen to his voice, and to sanctify his name. (Deut. 4:29-31; 5:28, 29) If they heeded these reminders, they were sure to receive many blessings.—Lev. 26:3-6; Deut. 28:1-4.
*** w08 10/15 pp. 13-14 pars. 9-10 Jehovah’s Answer to a Heartfelt Prayer ***
9 In ancient times, the Promised Land was referred to as God’s holy abiding place. Recall the victory song that the Israelites sang after being delivered from Egypt: “You in your loving-kindness have led the people whom you have recovered; you in your strength will certainly conduct them to your holy abiding place.” (Ex. 15:13) Later, that “abiding place” contained a temple with its priesthood and a capital city, Jerusalem, with a line of kings who descended from David and sat on Jehovah’s throne. (1 Chron. 29:23) Not without reason, Jesus called Jerusalem “the city of the great King.”—Matt. 5:35.
10 What about in our day? In 33 C.E., a new nation, “the Israel of God,” was born. (Gal. 6:16) That nation, made up of anointed brothers of Jesus Christ, fulfilled the task that fleshly Israel ultimately failed in, that of being witnesses to God’s name. (Isa. 43:10; 1 Pet. 2:9) To them, Jehovah made the same promise that he made to ancient Israel: “I shall be their God, and they will be my people.” (2 Cor. 6:16; Lev. 26:12) In 1919, Jehovah brought the remaining ones of “the Israel of God” into a favored position, and at that time, they took possession of a “land,” a spiritual realm of activity wherein they have enjoyed a spiritual paradise. (Isa. 66:8) Since the 1930’s, millions of “other sheep” have flocked to their side. (John 10:16) The happiness and spiritual prosperity of these modern-day Christians furnishes powerful evidence of the rightness of Jehovah’s sovereignty. (Read Psalm 91:1, 2.) How that infuriates Satan!
*** w01 12/15 p. 11 Relief From Stress—A Practical Remedy ***
Under the Yoke
9 Did you note that in the words quoted from Matthew 11:28, 29, Jesus said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Back then, a common man might have felt as though he were working under a yoke. From ancient times, the yoke had been illustrative of slavery or servitude. (Genesis 27:40; Leviticus 26:13; Deuteronomy 28:48) Many of the day laborers whom Jesus met worked with an actual yoke on their shoulders, carrying heavy burdens. Depending on how a yoke was fashioned, it could be easy on the neck and shoulders or it could chafe. As a carpenter, Jesus may have made yokes, and he would have known how to shape one that was “kindly.” Perhaps he lined the contact points with leather or cloth to make the yoke as comfortable as possible.
10 When Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you,” he could have been likening himself to one who provided well-made yokes that would be “kindly” to a workman’s neck and shoulders. Thus, Jesus added: “My load is light.” This signified that the yoke bar was not unpleasant to use, and the work was not slavish either. Granted, by inviting his listeners to accept his yoke, Jesus was not offering immediate relief from all oppressive conditions then current. Still, the change of viewpoint he presented would bring considerable refreshment. Adjustments in their life-style and way of doing things would relieve them too. More to the point, a clear and solid hope would help them find life less stressful.
*** w02 12/15 p. 30 Do You Remember? ***
• Why is tithing not required of Christians?
Under the Law given to ancient Israel, tithing was a means of supporting the tribe of Levi and caring for needy ones. (Leviticus 27:30; Deuteronomy 14:28, 29) The sacrificial death of Jesus abolished the Law and its tithing requirement. (Ephesians 2:13-15) In the early congregation, the pattern was for each Christian to give according to his means and as he resolved in his heart. (2 Corinthians 9:5, 7)—12/1, pages 4-6.
*** w03 12/1 p. 16 par. 7 “Show Yourselves Thankful” ***
7 In the Mosaic Law, Jehovah provided three ways by which the Israelites could show their genuine appreciation for his goodness. First, there was the tithe. A tenth of the land’s produce, together with a “tenth part of the herd and flock,” was to become “something holy to Jehovah.” (Leviticus 27:30-32) When the Israelites obeyed, Jehovah blessed them abundantly. “‘Bring all the tenth parts into the storehouse, that there may come to be food in my house; and test me out, please, in this respect,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘whether I shall not open to you people the floodgates of the heavens and actually empty out upon you a blessing until there is no more want.’”—Malachi 3:10.
*** w08 12/15 p. 30 Do You Remember? ***
• What can a Christian elder learn from how an Israelite shepherd used a curved staff?
A shepherd used a curved staff, or crook, to guide his flock. As sheep entered or left the pen, they would ‘pass under the crook’ and he could count them. (Lev. 27:32) A Christian shepherd likewise needs to know and keep track of the flock of God under his care.—11/15, page 9.
*** w08 11/15 p. 9 par. 7 Help Those Who Stray From the Flock ***
7 A shepherd in ancient Israel used a long curved staff, or crook, to guide his flock. As the sheep entered or left the pen, they would ‘pass under the crook’ and could thus be counted by the shepherd. (Lev. 27:32; Mic. 2:12; 7:14) A Christian shepherd likewise needs to know and keep track of the flock of God under his care. (Compare Proverbs 27:23.) Therefore, shepherding is one of the important matters discussed by the body of elders. This includes making arrangements to help sheep who have strayed. Jehovah himself said that he would search for his sheep and give them the care they needed. (Ezek. 34:11) So God is pleased when elders take similar steps in an effort to help sheep who have strayed to return to the flock.
How Leviticus Affects Our WorshipJehovah’s Witnesses today are not living under the Law. (Galatians 3:23-25) Since what is said in Leviticus gives us insight into Jehovah’s viewpoint on various matters, however, it can affect our worship.
As you do the weekly Bible reading in preparation for the Theocratic Ministry School, no doubt you will be impressed with the fact that our God requires holiness of his servants. This Bible book can also move you to give the Most High your very best, always maintaining holiness to his praise.
References consulted on: Watchtower Library 2013 CD‒ROM
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