Rabbi Ken Alpren
Sermon Notes: Teresa Bennett, Pharm.D.
May 14, 2011
In the twenty-fifth chapter of Leviticus, three times the L-rd reiterates that His people not rule over or treat each other harshly; specifically in verses 43, 46 and 53. Interestingly, the Hebrew word used in these passages is ‘perek’ which is related to the Hebrew word ‘parokhet’ used for the curtain dividing the Holy Place in the Temple from the Holies Place.
When used in Leviticus, this word means with rigor, but also may mean to suffocate or stifle. Further in verse 17 of the same chapter, the word ‘yanah’ is used.
Leviticus 25:17, ‘Thus you are not to take advantage of each other, but you are to fear your God; for I am ADONAI your God.’
The instruction here with ‘yanah’ is not to oppress or wrong one another, but to fear G-d instead.
Am I critical or judgmental with others? Do I judge and draw conclusions based on appearances?
John 7:24, ‘“Stop judging by surface appearances, and judge the right way!"’
If I am judgmental I may speak harshly about someone and drive others away from the L-rd!
Romans 14:10, 12, 13, ‘You then, why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For all of us will stand before God's judgment seat, So then, every one of us will have to give an account of himself to God. 13 Therefore, let's stop passing judgment on each other! Instead, make this one judgment - not to put a stumbling block or a snare in a brother's way.’ Instead, we are to ‘pursue the things that make for shalom and mutual upbuilding’ as is written in Romans 14:19.
Rabbinical teachings have cited Leviticus 25:17 and in the context, the word ‘yanah’, that our treatment and judgment of others may cause unbearable pain especially when reminding others of past transgressions.
We need to be careful! For G-d Himself says in Jeremiah 31:34 that He will remember our sins no more, ‘No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, 'Know ADONAI'; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickednesses and remember their sins no more."’.
Our own judgements will come back to us!
Matthew 7:1-2, ‘"Don't judge, so that you won't be judged. 2 For the way you judge others is how you will be judged -- the measure with which you measure out will be used to measure to you.”’.
Would I want G-d to deal with me the way I deal with others?
In Leviticus 25, the L-rd not only gave instructions on how to deal with others, He also instructed the Israelites about the observance of Sabbath for the land they were entering.
The people would naturally be concerned about how they would survive during the Sabbath year.
Leviticus 25:20, ‘"'If you ask, "If we aren't allowed to sow seed or harvest what our land produces, what are we going to eat the seventh year?"’
What is G-d’s answer?
Leviticus 25:21, ‘“then I will order my blessing on you during the sixth year, so that the land brings forth enough produce for all three years.”’
G-d orders or commands a blessing! He promises something supernatural; something that man cannot do!
Doesn’t this remind us of what Yeshua said?
Matthew 6:31-33, ‘"So don't be anxious, asking, `What will we eat?,' `What will we drink?' or `How will we be clothed?' 32 For it is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. 33 But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”’
The principle is that G-d honors us when we put Him first, demonstrated by the obedience of the Israelites during the Sabbath year and for us as we seek first His Kingdom knowing that He will take care of us.
Give Him our best first; not the leftovers or something that cost us nothing and He will honor it!
Proverbs 3:9, ‘Honor ADONAI with your wealth and with the first fruits of all your income.’
What about my plans? Do I pray first or do I make plans and then pray about them?
Proverbs 16:3, ‘If you entrust all you do to ADONAI, your plans will achieve success.’
Just as G-d commanded the blessing to provide for His people during the Sabbath, He does so when we forgive and live in unity with one another.
Ephesians 4:32, ‘Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted; and forgive each other, just as in the Messiah God has also forgiven you.’
Look at this verse as it relates to Psalm 133, ‘A song of ascents. By David: Oh, how good, how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in harmony. 2 It is like fragrant oil on the head that runs down over the beard, over the beard of Aharon, and flows down on the collar of his robes. 3 It is like the dew of Hermon that settles on the mountains of Tziyon. For it was there that ADONAI ordained the blessing of everlasting life.’
Unity is costly and requires humility; it requires putting our preferences and rights aside so as to love the L-rd and live together in unity.
In doing so, He commands the blessing! And what a blessing of everlasting life!
Contrast this principle with what happens when we don’t put the L-rd first as described in Haggai 1:6, ‘“You sow much but bring in little; you eat but aren't satisfied; you drink but never have enough; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who works for a living earns wages that are put in a bag full of holes.'"
If we wonder why things don’t work out or our lives are paved by obstacles, we may need to assess whether we are putting G-d first or not! We will not be free of tribulation, but our paths will be easier, better and be less stressful.
The Sabbatical year is known as Shana HaShmita and reminds us that the earth belongs to the L-rd and the Year of Jubilee is known as Shana HaYovel and reminds us that we are sojourners here on Earth.
As sojourners we are are looking toward the true Year of Jubilee or the Ultimate Yovel when we receive the fullness of His Commanded Blessing upon Yeshua’s return!
Revelation 21:3-4, ‘“I heard a loud voice from the throne say, "See! God's Sh'khinah is with mankind, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and he himself, God-with-them, will be their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will no longer be any death; and there will no longer be any mourning, crying or pain; because the old order has passed away."’
Further Reading: Leviticus 25:1-5, 8-10, 20-21, Malachi 3:8-10, Hebrews 11:13, Romans 2:1, Galatians 6:7, Isaiah 58:13,14, 2 Samuel 24:24, 1 Timothy 2:1, 1 Samuel 2:30, Mark 10:28-30, Romans 8:21, Acts 3:21, Revelation 20:4, Isaiah 65:17, Isaiah 11:6, 2 Peter 3:13