1 Chronicles 16-19: Our Servant

Chapter 16 begins with David’s song of thanks to the LORD, an ode which bears the following elements:

1.  Calling upon the LORD’s name (v.8, 10, 29, 35)

2.  Make known his deeds of salvation (v.8, 9, 12, 21-24, 35)

3.  Remember His covenant (v.15-18, 35)

4.  Ascribing to Him glory in our rejoicing (v. 10, 24, 27-35).

Note especially the last part of David’s song of thanksgiving which combines the four elements together:

Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, and glory in your praise.  Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!” (v.35-36)

After this act of worship, the blessing and glory of the LORD does not stay there in one place; rather, He continues to be with them in their households (v.43; c.f. John 17):

“The meaning of glory is offered most fully in John 17—where Jesus spoke aloud to the Father before going to his death.  Jesus received glory from the Father, and he reciprocated that glory to the Father.  As the linkage of glory to sacrificial death in the analogy of the planted-wheat of John 12 made clear, glory was displayed in the Son’s willingness to die for all who would believe

Glory is what Jesus shared with the Father and the Spirit even before there was a creation (17:5).  And what was the eternal motive for this whole exchange?  Love!  The Son’s real mission on earth wasn’t to gain glory but to give access to that eternal Father-Son-Spirit glory which the Father had given him “because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (17:24).  So it is that God is not a glory-monger but a glory-sharer.  And when the Spirit coaches us to glorify God—as in 1 Corinthians 10:31—it must be understood in light of 1 Corinthians 13, “the greatest of these is love” so that we love him, and out of that love our own celebration of his goodness—our own giving of glory—is poured out.” – Ron Frost on “Glorifying Glory

Chapter 17 is commonly associated with Solomon, as David looks to continue thanking the LORD by creating a house for the ark of the covenant.  However much David is like the Son, he is not the Son Whom the LORD has anointed (c.f. Isaiah 42:1).  The words, too, do not apply specifically to Solomon; although Solomon eventually built the temple to house the ark of the covenant, his throne did not reign forever either.  Chapter 17 therefore should only truly and firstly apply to the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whose Name shall indeed reign forever unlike Solomon whose kingdom has vanished for thousands of years already.  Let us now turn to the Father’s prophecy of His Son in (v.8-15):

V.8 – the Father will make for David a “name”;

v.9 – the Father will appoint a place for His people Israel and “be disturbed no more”.  This was clearly not fulfilled in the days of Solomon; and the indication here is that the place is not Canaan, for Canaan was already given to Israel at this stage (despite the intermittent invasions by neighbouring pagan nations);

v.10-11 – the LORD will build a house (not Solomon); and He will establish the kingdom of one of David’s offspring.

v.12-14 – the offspring (Jesus) will build a house for the Father (John 14:2; preparing a place for us), and He will establish the Son’s throne forever.  He will not take his steadfast love from His Son, as He had done so with Saul – and the Son’s throne shall be established forever (Hebrews 1:8 Revelation 22:3).  He will be to him a Father as he will be to him a Son (v.13; quoted in Hebrews 1:5).

Much of these truths are reflected also in Psalm 1-2 and in the book of Hebrews, as prophesied by the vision of Nathan.  David thus went into the tent and sat before the LORD (note, not before the ark!) and again re-counted his thankfulness to the LORD – such recognition of his need to be humble before the One who saves!  There is indeed none like the LORD (v.20), and none like Israel – the one united nation to have been chosen to be redeemed (v.21; note the Hebrew word “echad” used to describe Israel; it is not so much that Israel was the only people chosen to be redeemed, but rather, the only nation as a whole chosen to be redeemed.  This explains the ready salvation of the Gentiles in the Old Testament, such as in Exodus 12:38, although not to the same extent or focus on these nations compared to Israel, the chosen priesthood – c.f. Exodus 19:6).  David thus speaks of Christ as the Servant (v.23) through Whom the Father’s Name shall be established forever (v.24), though at the same time referring to himself as the servant before the LORD, looking forward to the work of the incarnate Servant (Isaiah 42:1).  As Matthew Henry comments:

“That which is there expressed by way of question (Is this the manner of men, O Lord God?) is here an acknowledgment: “Thou hast regarded me according to the estate of a man of high degree. Thou hast made me a great man, and then treated me accordingly.” God, by the covenant-relations into which he admits believers, the titles he gives them, the favours he bestows on them, and the preparations he has made for them, regards them according to the estate of men of high degree, though they are mean and vile. Having himself distinguished them, he treats them as persons of distinction, according to the quality he has been pleased to put upon them. Some give these words here another reading: “Thou hast looked upon me in the form of a man who art in the highest, the Lord God; or, Thou hast made me to see according to the form of a man the majesty of the Lord God.” And so it points at the Messiah; for, as Abraham, so David, saw his day and was glad, saw it by faith, saw it in fashion as a man, the Word made flesh, and yet saw his glory as that of the only-begotten of the Father. And this was that which God spoke concerning his house for a great while to come, the foresight of which affected him more than any thing. And let it not be thought strange that David should speak so plainly of the two natures of Christ who in spirit called him Lord, though he knew he was to be his Son (Ps. cx. 1), and foresaw him lower than the angels for a little while, but afterwards crowned with glory and honour, Heb. ii. 6, 7.”

Immediately thereafter, chapters 18 and 19 once again covers the victories of David after his dialogue and worship of God, just as chapter 14 had done after the narrative in chapter 13.  It seems to be the narrator’s intention to portray the need for the king of Israel to seek the face and Name of the true King of kings before any victory can be achieved, just as Christ sought the Father’s warm embrace (c.f. Matthew 26) before being nailed on the cross to achieve the Victory of victories.

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1 Chronicles 16-19: Our Servant

2 Kings 21-22: The Reformation

II Kings 21:

1  Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. 2  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. 3  For he rebuilt the high places that Hezekiah his father had destroyed, and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah, as Ahab king of Israel had done, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. 4  And he built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “In Jerusalem will I put my name.” 5  And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. 6  And he burned his son as an offering and used fortune-telling and omens and dealt with mediums and with wizards. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger. 7  And the carved image of Asherah that he had made he set in the house of which the LORD said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever. 8  And I will not cause the feet of Israel to wander anymore out of the land that I gave to their fathers, if only they will be careful to do according to all that I have commanded them, and according to all the Law that my servant Moses commanded them.” 9  But they did not listen, and Manasseh led them astray to do more evil than the nations had done whom the LORD destroyed before the people of Israel.

 

Hezekiah’s work, unfortunately, is thus undone by Manasseh – the young king whose mother is ironically called Hephzibah, the symbolical name of Zion, representing the LORD’s delight in Jerusalem (Isaiah 62:4).  This heretical king thus built altars in the house of the LORD, building altars for Baal and made an Asherah, burning his son as an offering, using fortune-telling (Deuteronomy 18) and omens and mediums and wizards – this is the same king of Judah who followed in the vein of the practices of the neighbouring countries and failed to walk a life circumcised in the Spirit.  The irony that this same image of Asherah is now set in the same house where the LORD promised to both types of Christ, David the man after the LORD’s heart and Solomon the Wisdom of the LORD, that this is where the LORD shall put His name forever (v.4 and 7 repeated; c.f. 1 Samuel 7, 1 Kings 9).  Yet, His Name and the throne on which this anointed and prophesied son of David and King of Israel are one and the same – this is the LORD Jesus Christ, the Name of the Father (Exodus 23:21), who shall reign on the throne of Israel forevermore.  Thus, the LORD speaks – “In Jerusalem will I put my name”, thus meaning – in Jerusalem will the name of Christ be stamped as the true identity of this rebellious nation.

 

But they did not listen” (v.9) – and Manasseh thus successfully led them astray to do more evil than the neighbouring destroyed nations.

 

10  And the LORD said by his servants the prophets, 11  “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, 12  therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. 13  And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria, and the plumb line of the house of Ahab, and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. 14  And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, 15  because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.”

 

Thus, the LORD intends to replace the plumb line of the house of Ahab, the measuring line of Samaria (v.13) with the plumb line of righteousness (Isaiah 34:11); but not until Jerusalem is wiped and turned upside down.  For the plumb line of Jerusalem is that of the house of Ahab – for the anointed city is walking in sin.  It would seem like the promise made to Adam in Genesis 3:15 will come to an end here – and never before has Israel faced such a dire threat; this is truly a dark moment in Israel’s history, far more than the imminent death of Christ (which, by comparison, is but a step towards greater light and hope).  Ironic, therefore, that he slept in the garden of strength and his son the builder (Uzza and Amon) reigned in his place, when Manasseh was truly deranged in his abuse of his strength as king of Judah who failed to build Judah up from Hezekiah’s day:

 

16  Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides the sin that he made Judah to sin so that they did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.

 

17  Now the rest of the acts of Manasseh and all that he did, and the sin that he committed, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 18  And Manasseh slept with his fathers and was buried in the garden of his house, in the garden of Uzza, and Amon his son reigned in his place.

 

19  Amon was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned two years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Meshullemeth the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah. 20  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done. 21  He walked in all the way in which his father walked and served the idols that his father served and worshiped them. 22  He abandoned the LORD, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD. 23  And the servants of Amon conspired against him and put the king to death in his house. 24  But the people of the land struck down all those who had conspired against King Amon, and the people of the land made Josiah his son king in his place. 25  Now the rest of the acts of Amon that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? 26  And he was buried in his tomb in the garden of Uzza, and Josiah his son reigned in his place.

 

Unsurprisingly, Manasseh did not exhibit Christ-like leadership in his family; Amon is thus led astray, a man who could have re-built Jerusalem but instead led Judah to further downfall.  Instead, his life was brought to a short end at 24 years old when the servants of Amon conspired against him and killed him in his own house (typical of the manner of the kingdom of corruption – 1 Kings 15:27, 16:9, 16:16; 2 Kings 9:14, 10:9, 15:10, 15:25, 21:23-24).   Would Josiah, the new king brought to the fore by those who struck down the conspirators, bring the lamp back to Jerusalem?

 

II Kings 22:

1  Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. 2  And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.

 

Now we come to the life of Josiah (healed / supported by Jehovah), the young king and son of the one beloved by Jehovah (Jedidah), the daughter of Adaiah (adorned by Jehovah) of Bozkath (a city of Judah in the lowlands).  This is a man lifted up by the LORD in his reign over Jerusalem for 31 years, walking in all the way of David, the type of Christ.  He is surrounded by men like Shaphan, the son of he who is near the LORD (Azaliah), son of Meshullam (befriended) – the secretary to the house of the LORD.  At the tender age of 26, he immediately restarts the restoration of the Temple by directing the portion of Jehovah, Hilkiah, trusting that the carpenters, builders and masons deal honestly:

 

3  In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of the LORD, saying, 4  “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money that has been brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people. 5  And let it be given into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD, and let them give it to the workmen who are at the house of the LORD, repairing the house 6  (that is, to the carpenters, and to the builders, and to the masons), and let them use it for buying timber and quarried stone to repair the house. 7  But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.”

 

8  And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. 9  And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD.” 10  Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.

 

This is a stark contrast to Manasseh and Amon’s lives – the first recorded instance of Josiah’s kingship is the restoration of the house of the LORD.  This cleansing is coupled with the description in 2 Chronicles 34:1-7:

 

1  Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2  And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 3  For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images. 4  And they chopped down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and he cut down the incense altars that stood above them. And he broke in pieces the Asherim and the carved and the metal images, and he made dust of them and scattered it over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5  He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. 6  And in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, and as far as Naphtali, in their ruins all around, 7  he broke down the altars and beat the Asherim and the images into powder and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem.

 

However, his task is far greater than that of mere physical restoration; the LORD planned for a spiritual reformation through the young king Josiah – restoring the true meaning of what the house of the LORD was for.  It is befitting of such a king from an ancestry in Judah to tear his clothes in his utter disappointment that the LORD had been disobeyed by His anointed nation for so many years – and it is indeed a fitting commentary for the entire books of 1 and 2 Kings, that the fathers of the kings of Israel have not obeyed the words of the Torah.

 

11  When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. 12  And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, 13  “Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

 

Immediately, Josiah’s trusted men (Ahikam, Achbor / Abdon (c.f. 2 Chronicles 34:20), Shaphan and Asaiah, bearing names indicating their faithful servant-heart to the LORD their God) go to the prophetess of the LORD, Huldah , the wife of Shallum (whose name indicates retribution, as it is the LORD’s retribution against Israel v.16-17 for their faithlessness).  However, the hope is to stay with Judah – Josiah, whose heart was “penitent”, who “humbled [himself] before the LORD, when [he] heard how [the LORD] spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse (in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 28:37)”.  Just like Hezekiah (c.f. 2 Kings 20:19), Josiah also will not see the imminent disaster, despite the penitence and faithfulness of these kings of Judah – for the LORD’s destruction shall come to bring true refining in the fiery furnace to usher the dawn of reformation where Christ shall fulfill all the shadows which the nation Israel should have always been pointing to.

 

14  So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter), and they talked with her. 15  And she said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: ‘Tell the man who sent you to me, 16  Thus says the LORD, behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read. 17  Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched. 18  But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall you say to him, Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, 19  because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. 20  Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.’” And they brought back word to the king.

2 Kings 21-22: The Reformation

2 Samuel 8: Firstfruit of Victory

After the important prophecy about the Messiah in chapter 7, what follows after is understandably prophetic in its own sense as well.  The Israelites reading 2 Samuel after their expulsion to Assyria and Babylon will undoubtedly refer to the promises made to David concerning the everlasting kingdom of his offspring, and with bittersweet flavour will they turn to chapter 8, seeing the victories achieved by King David as firstfruit of what their Messiah Son of God would do on Israel’s behalf.  What judge, and what man has single-handedly, under his headship, led the defeat of several of the enemies of God’s people within one chapter besides a taster by Abraham (Genesis 14)?  The systematic dispatching of the Philistines (v.1) from whom David received Metheg-ammah, a ‘bit of the metropolis’, a bit of the city dedicated to new creation; the Moabites (v.2) by whom he follows the tradition of the measuring line, this line being a type of Christ deciding who is to dwell in the city of Jerusalem and who is beyond the “one full line” (v.2) and put to death (c.f. 2 Kings 21:10-15; Jeremiah 31:38-40; Lamentations 2:8; Ezekiel 47:1-6; Amos 7:17; Zechariah 1-2) with the remaining Moabites being received into the nation Israel; the defeat of the Hadad-worshipper Hadadezer (c.f. Genesis 36:35) so that David may prevent his restoration at the river Euphrates so commonly associated to destruction, this river of Babylon (by its other name, Perat in Genesis 2:14; c.f. 2 Kings 23:29; Jeremiah 2:18, 51:63; Revelations 9:14, 16:12) being the associated source of evil as opposed to the rivers of life; and with what great judgment David enacted (v.4) that even the supporting pagan nations are similarly destroyed – the people and its resources (v.5-6).

And so this is the effect of the new king, that he shall inherit the gold, silver and bronze (taken even from the secure hands of Betah and the mighty ‘god’ Hadad in the cities of Hadadezer v.8) on our behalf from surrounding nations (Matthew 5:5) – the amazing defeat of Edom (Genesis 36), Moab (Genesis 19:37), Ammonites (Genesis 19:38), Philistines (Genesis 10:14), Amalek (Genesis 36:12-16), Hadadezer – all symbolic enemies of God throughout the previous books of the Old Testament, all from the root of the sinful line of Adam, either removed from power or restored under the headship of the Israelite King (c.f. Moab and Edom restored as servants of Israel v.2 and v.14) not because of David’s innate strength, but because of what the LORD had promised to effect through David (v.14) as a foreshadow of his Offspring.  The witnessing of this priesthood of all nations (Exodus 19:6) is not merely in the form of war, but also in the form of diplomacy, that Toi king of Hamath shall acknowledge his subservience to King David (v.10-11) by paying tribute indirectly provided to the LORD.  It is in Toi that we see ourselves typified: in the wandering Toi once king of our own fortresses (Hamath) we have been attacked by the pagan nation of Hadadezer and true victory is achieved on our behalf through King David, our tribute, sacrificial response and offering provided through David (v.11) by the hands of Joram (“Jehovah is exalted“), so that the household of Toi and his aptly named son would both be grateful worshippers of Yahweh through David their mediator.

As the Israelites read this, their anticipation should be ever more expectant of an even greater king who will not only provide gold, silver and bronze before the LORD and subdue surrounding nations under the one true God – the king on the throne of the everlasting kingdom is to do even greater things than what is listed out in this chapter!

Yet, the key thing about David’s victories is not the gold, silver or bronze; it is not even about the mere subduing of nations, taking away of their idols, or making them Israel’s servants.  It is primarily about worship; about purifying the land; about new creation in replacement of old creation – new wine and new wineskin (Matthew 9:17).  What better way than to begin with the list of David’s list of officials, all men whose honour comes from the Lord God?  Joab (Jehovah is father); Jehoshaphat (Jehovah judged); Zadok (righteous); Ahimelech (brother of the king); Seraiah (Jehovah is ruler); Benaiah (Jehovah has built); and finally David’s sons, the centre of all attention in lieu of chapter 7, were priests, a foreshadowing of the kingly-priest Messiah.

2 Samuel 8: Firstfruit of Victory

Leviticus 24:10- Ch.25: Holistic Living in the New Land

Since chapter 16 we have been working towards the newness of life, from the cleanness of being in this world (and being sanctified by the Spirit) to being completely sanctified in New Creation (with new bodies).  It is a strong reminder that Israel, then, could not have been the chosen race because of their merit – it was something they looked forward to.  Canaan, to them, was a temporary place – representative of the renewed creation of New Jerusalem.

The previous two chapters referred to the importance of the Jewish feasts on an annual basis, and the next two work towards building up on this picture of holistic living, as a preparation for true kingdom living in new creation; as well as incorporated temporarily the aspects of looking forward to new creation where this forward-looking hope is erased in Zion when all things are fulfilled (Hebrews 11).

1.  The Name (Leviticus 24:10-23)

2.  Sabbath and Jubilee (Leviticus 25)

1.  The Name (Leviticus 24:10-23)

Lev 24:10-23  Now an Israelite woman’s son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel. And the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel fought in the camp,  (11)  and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. Then they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan.  (12)  And they put him in custody, till the will of the LORD should be clear to them.  (13)  Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  (14)  “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him.  (15)  And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin.  (16)  Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.

When we first read these verses, it is easy to skim over and conclude that they relate to blasphemy.  In one sense, it is right to read it as such – but given today’s climate and interpretation of the word ‘blasphemy’, it is perhaps better to understand the actual Hebrew which seems to give it a much stronger tone (qalal – קלל – which literally means ‘to make lightly of’, but the figurative use of the Hebrew term is to despite and to curse).  Given the context and the choice of the English translation, it seems to be inclined to the Hebrew figurative.  This Egyptian-Israelite son is a blasphemer, a despiser, of the Name.

Before we move on to look at what this “Name” is, it is interesting to note the little detail about the child’s heritage.  He is of Egyptian-Israelite heritage: there can be many implications made about this mixed heritage.  Adam Clarke and Matthew Henry simply state the fundamental spiritual problem represented by the mixed heritage.  Henry goes on to say that the incorporation of the Egyptians into Israel during the Exodus is a cause of much strife since Exodus 12:38.

However, I think Calvin marks the message best.  We know from Genesis 12 that the LORD does not have essential problems against mixed-heritage marriage, so long as both are spiritual Israelites – so long as both are heart-circumcised.  Indeed, a command to marry only Israelites, and not outsiders, is more a proclamation of singleness of identity and loyalty to the LORD – the very name “Israelite” is the same as saying, “I am a citizen of those whose God fights for them”. How can an outsider, a Canaanite, or Amorite, or Ninevite say the same thing?  Their national identity preaches other truths (“Canaan” means humilitated).

Which is why the treatment of this Egyptian-Israelite child should not be different from anyone else.  v.16 explains it well: whoever blasphemes the name; the sojourner as well as the native.  The LORD does not actually differentiate between nations.  He is not making a statement against Egyptians.  He is saying that anyone who appears to be in the physical church will still be destroyed if they do not partake of the fruit of faith.  Only the spiritual church will be taken up to the Holy of Holies, and the physical church like the rest of the world remain reprobate and judged.

On another level, his treatment of the Egyptian child is also a mark of the LORD’s acceptance of Egyptians fully into Israel and his expectation of the child to obey the laws of the land be he Israelite or not.  Thus, physical lineage does not give us the privilege in itself; it is the national citizenry which we join as born-again Israelites and Gentiles which establishes that privilege.  The LORD here is destroying he who took pride in the Exodus which the child clearly did not remember nor took seriously.  His faith in Jesus was never true.

The Name

What is “the Name”?  Let’s work backwards in the NT.  Revelation 16:9 and 19:13 reveal that the blasphemy of this “name” will lead to people’s death.  This “name” is revealed as the Word of God, as explained in John 1 as Jesus Christ.  1 John 5:13 is especially important:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

The Christians did not have a generic understanding of “the Name”, as if it referred to some monotheistic God of divine essence.  The Christians viewed faith as a firm belief in the name of the SON of God, that you may know you have eternal life.  1 Peter 4:14 states that if you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of God rests upon you which corresponds directly to James 5:10 who tells the Greek and Jewish NT readers to look at the OT Scripture and the OT saints who spoke in the name of the LORD.  Which LORD was James speaking of?  What name was James speaking of?  Given Peter’s explanation that our persecutions are a result of bearing not just any “name”, but the name of CHRIST, the Son, James’ reference to the LORD is synonymous to that of Christ as well.  Hebrews 1:4 – “the name” of Christ, generated from the Father, establishing his identity as far superior to that of angels.  2 Thess 1:12:

so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul had clear Trinitarian worship in 2 Thess 1:12.  He refers that in his name we are glorified, according to the grace of our God (meaning the Father), and the Son.  He understood that it is by the grace of the Father, and in Christ, that we are glorified through Christ (c.f. Ephesians 5:20).  Philippians 2:10 – “so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth”.  One might ask – why would people profess another name in the OT, and why would God work under a different economy in the OT, if he intended to have people acknowledge the name of Christ in heaven, on earth, and under the earth?  If God himself has such a Christological focus of the entire creation, even in heaven and under the earth beyond what we see, perceive and understand?  The presupposition of exegesis, as we investigate the NT, shows that it must be Christological.  That it MUST presume Christ as the focus of every Israelite’s faith in the OT, before proven otherwise (c.f. Romans 9:17; 10:13).

The Council of Jerusalem shows exactly the contention shown – the Jews had no idea who this “Name” is, and that is exactly the tension between them and the circumcised Christians who understand that salvation must come through a Trinitarian understanding, by calling on the Christ, and saved and glorified by the grace of the Father:

Act 5:40-42  and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.  (41)  Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.  (42)  And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Note, however, that v.42 implies that the some in Israel understood the name as synonymous with the Christ.  Many may not have understood the Christ to have come as God-man, but many did consider the Anointed One, the Seed, as the name on which they called.

Therefore, bringing us back to the Egyptian child – for him to blaspheme the Name is to blaspheme the very identity of the church of Christ.  He is directly blaspheming, cursing, despising, the only mediator who should be acknowledged in the heavens, earth and under the earth.

(17)  “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.  (18 )  Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life.  (19)  If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him,  (20)  fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him.  (21)  Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death.  (22)  You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the LORD your God.”  (23)  So Moses spoke to the people of Israel, and they brought out of the camp the one who had cursed and stoned him with stones. Thus the people of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses.

It may sound completely ironic that after the stoning and death of the Egyptian child, v. 17-22 is preached.  However, remember that these passages relate to a tit-for-tat attitude of sin.  A sin shall be repaid – a life for a life.  However, what of the inevitable death of tens of thousands of billions of men and women who have died as a result of Adam’s inherited sin?  That must be repaid by a mediator who is more than man – a mediator who is fully man and fully God.  That is the cost of Christ’s death, and how absolutely wonderful and glorious it is!  How little of the impact of the cross we know of!  Thus, the proportionality of the punishment is reflected in the stoning prior to this commandment.  It is as if Christ is saying that the stoning is completely appropriate and proportional to the blaspheming of the Name, and so it is, for who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit who brings us the eyes of our hearts to Christ who not be saved (Matthew 12:32; 1 Corinthians 2).

2.  Sabbath and Jubilee (Leviticus 25)

Lev 25:1-55  The LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying,  (2)  “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the LORD. (3)  For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits,  (4)  but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard.  (5)  You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land.  (6)  The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired servant and the sojourner who lives with you,  (7)  and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food.

Again, the very first command is not to sacrifice to the LORD; it is not to do ‘good works’.  It is to simply keep a Sabbath to the LORD.  But note the important distinction: the LAND shall keep a Sabbath to the LORD.  The model of work for six, then rest on seventh.  Six days, seventh day rest.  Six years, seventh year rest.  We understand that this model of Sabbath is a continual reminder of the rest that we look forward to, that in new creation we will not work and toil in the same way as we do now.  But this commandment relates to the LAND: for the LAND is also looking forward to its own redemption as symbolised through the Sabbath (Romans 8:18-25).

(8 )  “You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years.  (9)  Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land.  (10)  And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan.  (11)  That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines.  (12)  For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you…

While we have looked at the theology of numerology to some extent by looking at the significance of the numbers 1-7 (according to the significance shown on day 1-6 of creation, day 7 of Sabbath rest and divinity, day 8 of new creation and first day of new week, number 12 as representative of governmental perfection (c.f. the 144,000 in the new city of Jerusalem = multiple of 12, perfection of Christian political order; 12 Tribes of Israel; 12 Apostles).  Here, the Israelites are asked to wait 49 years (7 x 7 years), the fullness of the Sabbath multiplied!  The food is provided without any further need to work after the consecration of the 50th year. This is not the first time we consider the number 50 – the last time we saw this number is the commandment of the festival of Pentecost (23:15-22), simultaneous to the festival of harvest and as we know, the giving of the Spirit to both Jew and Gentile alike.  The festival was also a time of communion and unity through harvest-sharing (23:22).

We understand that the trumpet points towards the victory of Christ, but why is it on the 10th of Tishri instead of 1st of Tishri?  When the trumpet is normally blared on the 1st day of the Jewish civil year, it is a forward-looking action towards new creation.  However, the 50th year, the year of the jubilee, marks the actual joining of the victory of Christ to the Day of Atonement.  This is very important: if the trumpet signifies victory won, and the Day of Atonement signifies ascension, then the commandment to preach the victory won must be part and parcel with the ascension.  The Jewish understanding of the Day of Atonement, again, must not be tied to an actual trust in the goat sacrifice; it is symbolic of Christ’s work!  And, just as sure as Genesis 3:15 is preached, so the victory of Christ is something they look forward to but the LORD wants the Israelites to consider it as a victory already achieved.

There are a few things to note under this chapter:

(a)  Redemption of the Land from the lessees to God

Lev 25:13-18  “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property.  (14)  And if you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another.  (15)  You shall pay your neighbor according to the number of years after the jubilee, and he shall sell to you according to the number of years for crops.  (16)  If the years are many, you shall increase the price, and if the years are few, you shall reduce the price, for it is the number of the crops that he is selling to you.  (17)  You shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God, for I am the LORD your God.  (18 )  “Therefore you shall do my statutes and keep my rules and perform them, and then you will dwell in the land securely.

The verses state that for 49 years, the land may be leased to a fellow Israelite or sojourner, but it is freed in the 50th year to the owner. The next few verses continues on this theme of freedom:

Lev 25:25-28  “If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold.  (26)  If a man has no one to redeem it and then himself becomes prosperous and finds sufficient means to redeem it,  (27)  let him calculate the years since he sold it and pay back the balance to the man to whom he sold it, and then return to his property.  (28 )  But if he has not sufficient means to recover it, then what he sold shall remain in the hand of the buyer until the year of jubilee. In the jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his property.

This theme is again shown in v.25-28, that even if the redeemer has insufficient means to recover the land, the buyer shall hold the consideration until the year of the jubilee where a return of the property will happen, regardless of the redeemer’s capability!

Lev 25:29-34  “If a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, he may redeem it within a year of its sale. For a full year he shall have the right of redemption.  (30)  If it is not redeemed within a full year, then the house in the walled city shall belong in perpetuity to the buyer, throughout his generations; it shall not be released in the jubilee.  (31)  But the houses of the villages that have no wall around them shall be classified with the fields of the land. They may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the jubilee.  (32)  As for the cities of the Levites, the Levites may redeem at any time the houses in the cities they possess.  (33)  And if one of the Levites exercises his right of redemption, then the house that was sold in a city they possess shall be released in the jubilee. For the houses in the cities of the Levites are their possession among the people of Israel.  (34)  But the fields of pastureland belonging to their cities may not be sold, for that is their possession forever.

The only difference shown here is a dwelling house in a walled city:  with a right of redemption within a year of its sale, and shall keep forever it if it is not redeemed within a year.  But every other land outside of the walled city is considered as “fields of the land” (v.31).

Contrarily, the priestly Levites have the privilege of redeeming the houses in the cities they possess at any time.  These houses are their possession among the people of Israel; but the fields are their possession forever.

Some important things should be stated here – as we understand Canaan as representative of the spiritual Israel, the walled city is akin to the walled city of Revelation 21:12-19.  Therefore, anything within the walled city can be kept forever if not redeemed.  This perhaps implies an eschatological significance of the people of Israel no longer living in “the land” in tents, but living in walled cities built by the hands of God.  The ownership in the walled city belongs to us and to Christ.  This is why there is much privilege in being a Levite during the Mosaic law period, because of their typological significance as being like Christ.  The Levites have the power of redeeming the houses in the city, and the fields that they own are in their possession forever.

The picture here is quite important: for every non-Israelite, there is much ‘exchanging’, from lessee back to owner.  It is a picture of the land being redeemed to God, who is the true owner of the entire creation.  But this picture is even clearer when we look at the Levites – only they can own the land forever.  Only they can redeem the houses within the walled city at any time.  This teaches us that for everyone who is a doulos, a slave, who is redeemed into Christ, is truly and forever owned by Christ.  Only Christ can redeem us whenever and wherever, and when Christ redeems us, we are kept forever by his work on the cross (c.f. Romans 8:38 ).  It is a picture of salvation from the LORD and kept by the LORD.  True freedom is marked here by being joined to Christ; to follow Christ, who set us free to bear the cross — that is to gain true Christian freedom (Galatians 2:4; 5:1).

(b)  Debt management & slavery

Lev 25:35-55  “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.  (36)  Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.  (37)  You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.  (38 )  I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.

This is a perfect picture of kingdom living: v. 38 is the justifying verse of the behaviour of v. 36-37.  This is the type of holistic Christological lifestyle that should be conducting the actions of the Israelites and us Christians today.  Why do we love our neighbours?  Why do we love our brothers?  Why do we love our enemies?  It stems from the justification of v.38 – because He is faithful.  Because he brought the detestable and complaining Israelites out of Egypt.  The LORD did not ask anything from us as a contribution to salvation; so why would you ask your brother who becomes poor to return money at an interest?  As this holistic living is built upon salvation already won, it is not holistic living to gain the LORD’s approval.  It is how the LORD wants us to live by pondering our salvation in hindsight, and not to fight for our own salvation.

(39)  “If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave:  (40)  he shall be with you as a hired servant and as a sojourner. He shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee. (41)  Then he shall go out from you, he and his children with him, and go back to his own clan and return to the possession of his fathers.  (42)  For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves.  (43)  You shall not rule over him ruthlessly but shall fear your God. (44)  As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you.  (45)  You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property. (46)  You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly.  (47)  “If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger’s clan,  (48 )  then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him,  (49)  or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him, or a close relative from his clan may redeem him. Or if he grows rich he may redeem himself.  (50)  He shall calculate with his buyer from the year when he sold himself to him until the year of jubilee, and the price of his sale shall vary with the number of years. The time he was with his owner shall be rated as the time of a hired servant. (51)  If there are still many years left, he shall pay proportionately for his redemption some of his sale price.  (52)  If there remain but a few years until the year of jubilee, he shall calculate and pay for his redemption in proportion to his years of service.  (53)  He shall treat him as a servant hired year by year. He shall not rule ruthlessly over him in your sight. (54)  And if he is not redeemed by these means, then he and his children with him shall be released in the year of jubilee. (55)  For it is to me that the people of Israel are servants. They are my servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Again, v. 55 is the justifying verse for the jubilee redemption of the slaves and servants.  They are to look back on the Exodus as their salvation gained, so they can live holistically.  There is a refrain in this part of chapter 25:  The Israelite “shall not rule over (the servant/slave) ruthlessly” – the reason being v.55.  The servant/slave shall serve the Israelite until the year of jubilee.  Because of v. 55 – because we are the redeemed slaves of God – we are the LORD’s servant.  Paul’s statement is clear in Galatians 1:10 – doulos, literally meaning slave, of Christ.  v.47-55 sees the LORD maintaining national purity and integrity, requiring the relative of a slave to redeem him/her if the slave is subjected to a “stranger’s clan”.  These verses show the importance of familial redemption, and again, these verses find their meaning in v.55, and the year of the jubilee is the year of full redemption, whether the money is paid for the slave or not.

However, what of a pagan slave?  He will surely be ‘released’ back to his pagan owner!  It is not clearly stated here, but Deuteronomy 23:15-16 implies that refuge is not found in his pagan master!  Rather, refuge is found within the land of Israel, and the pagan slave shall find his identity within Israel.  The year of the jubilee therefore is a year where he is free, and will enjoy his freedom in attachment to the LORD who set him free.  The 7th years described in Exodus 21:1-4, and the jubilees, are all indicative of this inevitable redemption which is all justified from the great Exodus.  The book of Leviticus is not one of holistic living in a vacuum; and these chapters display that the work of the Exodus is not isolated either: it is tied very much to the 10 Commandments, the Tabernacle, and the new kingdom living as a result of salvation won.  The jubilee is merely a mock-representation of the great future Jubilee starting from the true Day of Atonement, the spiritual 10th of Tishri that we are all looking forward to.  However, are we merely going to wait for it, and not bring the reality of this new kingdom living now, by the power of the Spirit?  Let us continue to live as the Redeemed, and bring more strange clans and outsiders into the spiritual church of Israel so they, too, and live as the Redeemed and fight the slavery outside of Christ, for Christ alone gives us freedom in our slavery to His Name.

Leviticus 24:10- Ch.25: Holistic Living in the New Land