Book of Leviticus Chapter
Twenty-Seven Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
Value And Redemption
What can be done if you've made a boastful religious statement, a vow, and then changed your mind? You could donate money to the ministry you vowed to enter instead of actually serving in it and the values in this chapter might help you know (in shekels) how much to give. These valuations also applied if things got bad financially, because you could sell your land to someone else when you went broke, and then sell yourself and your family members into a modified, relatively gentle form of slavery. The land and personal freedom could be received back in the "year of jubilee." Here we find that the Lord settled future disputes by placing values on broken vows and recovered fortunes. How much are you worth according to His scale? And note that when the Lord died for our sins, humanity valued Him at "thirty pieces of silver," the price of a slave (Zechariah 11:12-13, Matthew 26:14-15).
It's important to see in Verses 1-2 that these are not the words of Moses, Aaron or any human being. This is the Word of the Lord: "Again, the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 'Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man makes a difficult vow, he shall be valued according to your valuation of persons belonging to the Lord.'" As you read these valuations, don't make the mistake of thinking that the Lord values one category of humans as less than another. They are merely values based on likely abilities to perform manual labor. A male is usually stronger than a female, a child or an elderly person, and it is about settling financial disputes from a judicial perspective. Here are the valuations in Verses 3-7:
"If your valuation is of the male from twenty years even to sixty years old, then your valuation shall be fifty shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary. 4 Or if it is a female, then your valuation shall be thirty shekels. 5 If it be from five years even to twenty years old then your valuation for the male shall be twenty shekels and for the female ten shekels. 6 But if they are from a month even up to five years old, then your valuation shall be five shekels of silver for the male, and for the female your valuation shall be three shekels of silver. 7 If they are from sixty years old and upward, if it is a male, then your valuation shall be fifteen shekels, and for the female ten shekels." Centuries ago, British Common Law became the basis of legal systems in countries around the world, and the Book of Leviticus in the Bible is the source of much of that law. Faithless society quickly becomes chaotic in the absence of law and God knows that humanity needs legal restrictions.
The priest is to be the judge in these situations and it's clear, when we think about it, that a priest, a judge, a president or king is just a person like everybody else, needing God's help in making decisions. What if the person is poor and doesn't fit these guidelines? What will the priest do? Note that God takes into account our poverty. If we have less, then less is expected of us, as in Verse 8: "But if he is poorer than your valuation, then he shall be placed before the priest and the priest shall value him; according to the means of the one who vowed, the priest shall value him." We need to value people on the basis of what they are, not what we want them to be.
In Verses 9-10, we're back to the person who makes a vow that they will give something to the Lord and then changes his or her mind: "Now if it is an animal of the kind which men can present as an offering to the Lord, any such that one gives to the Lord shall be holy. 10 He shall not replace it or exchange it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good; or if he does exchange animal for animal, then both it and its substitute shall become holy." Notice that you may change your mind, but in Romans 11:29 we find, "The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." If you are called by God and say "yes," He does not change His mind, though you might. Everything belongs to Him anyway, and what you agree to give is doubly His.
As you read Verses 11-13, recognize who you are and what the Lord has done for you: "If, however, it is any unclean animal of the kind which men do not present as an offering to the Lord, then he shall place the animal before the priest. 12 The priest shall value it as either good or bad; as you, the priest, value it, so it shall be. 13 But if he should ever wish to redeem it, then he shall add one-fifth of it to your valuation." Every one of us is like that unclean animal, valued as "bad" in the sight of God. We were without hope, but the Father sent His Son, our High Priest, to redeem us. He paid the redemption price with interest, enabling the faithful to become "good" in God's sight. Your vow of faith in the Lord is wrought in Him, and He redeems you now and forever.
What if you donate your property, perhaps your house, and then want it back? That's what Verses 14-15 are all about: "Now if a man consecrates his house as holy to the Lord, then the priest shall value it as either good or bad; as the priest values it, so it shall stand. 15 Yet if the one who consecrates it should wish to redeem his house, then he shall add one-fifth of your valuation price to it, so that it may be his." The house you live in is your body, which always has had a poor foundation and little hope, except the faithful are redeemed by the Lord through the saving grace of His cross and resurrection.
In Mark 7:9-13, Jesus told of a man who dedicated his property to the temple as a way to avoid caring financially for his parents. He performed an otherwise acceptable act for very wrong reasons as people often do. The law of the jubilee continues in Verses 16-19: "Again, if a man consecrates to the Lord part of the fields of his own property, then your valuation shall be proportionate to the seed needed for it: a homer of barley seed at fifty shekels of silver. 17 If he consecrates his field as of the year of jubilee, according to your valuation it shall stand. 18 If he consecrates his field after the jubilee, however, then the priest shall calculate the price for him proportionate to the years that are left until the year of jubilee; and it shall be deducted from your valuation. 19 If the one who consecrates it should ever wish to redeem the field, then he shall add one-fifth of your valuation price to it, so that it may pass to him." The man in Mark 7 no doubt intended to outlive his parents and then perhaps he could reclaim the property in the year of jubilee. God expects us to keep our word and honor our parents as reflected in Mark 7:10.
Israelites in future centuries KNEW the Law, the Books of Moses, the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The words of Verses 20-21 became familiar to all: "Yet if he will not redeem the field, but has sold the field to another man, it may no longer be redeemed; 21 and when it reverts in the jubilee, the field shall be holy to the Lord, like a field set apart; it shall be for the priest as his property." Our refusal to accept God's redemptive intention for us is a serious decision. Salvation is a contract. God has offered eternal life and we are allowed to accept or reject His offer. All you have and are reverts to the High Priest if you reject Him, leaving you with nothing.
They were given a life-long holding of land in Israel, a parable of God's ultimate intention for those who place their faith in the Lord and receive a permanent estate in eternity. Verses 22-24: "Or if he consecrates to the Lord a field which he has bought, which is not a part of the field of his own property, 23 then the priest shall calculate for him the amount of your valuation up to the year of jubilee; and he shall on that day give your valuation as holy to the Lord. 24 In the year of jubilee the field shall return to the one from whom he bought it, to whom the possession of the land belongs." You can give away much in life through alcoholism and other bad decisions, but as to the faith you placed in the Lord and then forgot about it, He will never forget. What you neglected will be restored to you. As it says in Romans 8:38-39, nothing (including our bad decisions in life) "...can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Verse 25: "Every valuation of yours, moreover, shall be after the shekel of the sanctuary. The shekel shall be twenty gerahs." A "gerah" was one-twentieth of a shekel, and note the parable here of what is valuable in the heavenly sanctuary, seen in 1 Peter 1:18-19—"you were not redeemed (with money)...but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." Your money and good works will not buy heaven. The Lord paid the price with His own blood which has infinite value in eternity. Faith is also valuable, our acceptance of God's contract, our "yes" to Him and what He has done.
The events that led to Israel's deliverance from slavery in Egypt included the death of Egypt's firstborn, including men and animals, and the passing over, the saving of the firstborn of Israel (Exodus 12). Jesus Christ always was God, yet as Son of man He is God's Firstborn. He is the Father's Gift to you and me. The message of the firstborn resulted in freedom for Israel and the Life, Death and Life of the Lord gives a passover, freedom from sin to all who have faith in Him. Verse 26: "However, a firstborn among animals, which as a firstborn belongs to the Lord, no man may consecrate it; whether ox or sheep, it is the Lord’s." Jesus is "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29), God's Son and our Savior.
Verses 27-31: "But if it is among the unclean animals, then he shall redeem it according to your valuation and add to it one-fifth of it; and if it is not redeemed, then it shall be sold according to your valuation. 28 Nevertheless, anything which a man sets apart to the Lord out of all that he has, of man or animal or of the fields of his own property, shall not be sold or redeemed. Anything devoted to destruction is most holy to the Lord. 29 No one who may have been set apart among men shall be ransomed; he shall surely be put to death. 30 Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. 31 If, therefore, a man wishes to redeem part of his tithe, he shall add to it one-fifth of it." Everything and everyone belongs to the Lord. As Asaph observed in Psalm 50:10, "Every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills," even though some rancher might think otherwise. And notice that the one who has been dedicated to the Lord belongs to God, and the penalty for trying to escape that dedication is death. The principle of redemption is essential because we are all slaves to sin. As Jesus said in John 8:34, "whoever commits sin is a slave of sin." But there is excellent news—what you cannot, could not do, God has done for you in Christ. As in Galatians 4:7, "You are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
The concept of a "tithe" being ten percent is from places like Verses 32-33: "For every tenth part of herd or flock, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. 33 He is not to be concerned whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; or if he does exchange it, then both it and its substitute shall become holy. It shall not be redeemed." And consider Proverbs 3:9—"Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase." Before paying bills or buying groceries, prayerfully give to the Lord first, who will be pleased with your decision.
Verse 34: "These are the commandments which the Lord commanded Moses for the sons of Israel at Mount Sinai." You are to understand that God has a will for your life. You were conceived, nurtured, born, raised and shaped with God's purposes in mind. No one perfectly follows Him, but instead we are redeemed, bought back from sin and failure. As Paul learned and shared, "You were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Corinthians 6:20).
Lord, I come to You as a slave of sin, unable to redeem myself. I confess my sin and ask for Your forgiveness. You have given Yourself for me. You paid the price in Your blood. Even the tithe I should have given, You paid for me. I am Yours, Lord, and I weep for joy. I surrender, I am saved, I am free. Hallelujah. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.