Leviticus 27

Sunday Evening Bible Study

November 16, 1997

Introduction

This is the end of the manual for priests.

This is a book of holiness. This is a book that tries to teach Godís people about Godís nature, so they might learn to be a little more like Him.

Leviticus 27

:2 a singular vow

This whole chapter is about "difficult vows".

There were several types of vows, but the "general vow" was kind of a bargain you made with God.

God did not start this whole idea of vows, but it seems to be a thing that man has come up with it on his own.

People are always making deals with God: "If you let live, I'll become a priest for the rest of my life..."

Biblical examples:

Jacob:

(Gen 28:20-22 KJV) And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, {21} So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: {22} And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

Iím not sure if we know if Jacob ever kept his vow.

Jephthah:

Judg 11:30-31 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the LORD, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands, {31} Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the LORD'S, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

Judg 11:34-35 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter. {35} And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the LORD, and I cannot go back.

There is controversy over exactly what Jephthah did with his daughter. Some believe she was just a virgin for the rest of her life. Some feel that he may have actually gone ahead and sacrificed her.

Hannah

(1 Sam 1:11 KJV) And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.

In Hannahís case, she actually kept her vow, and her little son, Samuel, was brought to the tabernacle after he was weaned, and was raised by the priests.

Though God didn't start the ideas of vows, He did give some directions concerning them, since He realized that man was going to make them anyway.

Deu 23:21-23 When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. {22} But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. {23} That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.

Somehow, we get the idea that making a promise to God is no big thing, because after all, you canít see Him, you canít hear Him (at least not very well), so whatís the big deal? Is He going to take me to court and sue me?

But as youíll see, this whole chapter is trying to get across the point that God wants us to keep our promises to Him. He considers them to be legally binding agreements.

ECC 5:5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.

In the New Testament, we see another idea about vows developing, from trying to get God to do something for you, to getting people to believe what you were saying.

(Mat 5:33-37 KJV) Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: {34} But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: {35} Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. {36} Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. {37} But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Lesson:

Be a person of your word.

It shouldn't take some sort of elaborate promise to convince someone you are telling the truth. Donít get into the habit of telling little lies to cover yourself.

(James 5:12 KJV) But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Now that I've said all that, let's back-peddle a bit.

God realized that men were going to make vows.

He realized that there were going to be times when they would vow themselves over their own heads.

Rather than holding them to their own words, God would allow them an out.

The whole point of this chapter was to give men a way to get out of the messes they put themselves into by their mouths.

:3 the male from twenty years old even unto sixty years old Ö fifty shekels of silver

If you made a vow to God like this...

"God, if you get me out of this mess, I promise to give my entire life to you for the rest of my life..."

What you were really promising is that after God delivered you, you would quit your job, leave your family, and go serve as a slave at the tabernacle, probably sweeping up ashes and cleaning blood stains and stuff.

But, if after you were delivered, you realized that you wouldn't be doing a very good thing leaving your wife and three little children at home, you could "buy" your way out of your vow.

:3 fifty shekels

About equivalent to the average man's fifty months' worth of wages (a little over four years!). Not something to promise too rashly.

:4 female ... thirty shekels

Is this fair?

The valuation is based upon the average person's ability to earn income.

In a primitive, agricultural economy, a woman with her weaker frame would not be as valuable.

This is not a commentary on the intrinsic worth of women!

PRO 31:10 An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.

GAL 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Note: This also happens to be the price that was paid for betraying Jesus.

ZEC 11:13 Then the \Lord\ said to me, "Throw it to the potter, {that} magnificent price at which I was valued by them." So I took the thirty {shekels} of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the \Lord\. (also Matt. 26:15)

:5 from five years old even unto twenty years old

Jephthah - could have taken advantage of this?

Could he have paid the ten shekels for his daughter instead of sacrificing her? Maybe!

Lesson:

Learn Godís Word.

The problem could be that he didn't know the Law, nor God's heart.

A statement summarizing the general state of affairs during Jephthahís day is found at the end of Judges:

(Judg 21:25 KJV) In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

Too many people have differing ideas of what God is like, and if you go to people to answer all your problems and questions, youíre going to get some strange answers.

But if we would just learn Godís ways and learn Godís heart.

I remember for years that the only concept I had of Godís Word was a verse here, a verse there, here a verse, there a verse, everywhere a verse, verse Ö and I thought I had it all down pat.

But when I began reading through the Bible, straight through, once every year, I began to realize just how much I didnít know.

Iíve been teaching Godís Word now for over twenty years, and every time I study, I hear Godís voice in a fresh way.

I love to hear Pastor Chuck teach. I kind of get the idea that even heís still learning more and more from Godís Word.

:6 from a month old even unto five years old

Infants.

Itís interesting that there is nothing said about children before a month old.

Some would want to use this as way of saying that abortion is okay, and that a child isnít a person until theyíre a month old.

Try telling that to a newbornís mother.

This is probably due to the high infant mortality rate in those days.

Now, it would probably be something like thirty weeks into the pregnancy.

:7 sixty years old and above

The elderly.

:8 if he be poorer than thy estimation

If a person was too poor to pay for getting out of the vow, the priest had the authority to lower the price for buying them back.

This might have been the case for Jesus...

:9 a beast, whereof men bring an offering

Clean animals, ones that could be used for sacrificing couldnít be bought back, they had to be sacrificed.

If you tried to exchange it for another animal, then both animals were sacrificed to the Lord.

This was a problem in Malachiís day:

(Mal 1:13-14 KJV) Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD. {14} But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.

:11-13 be any unclean beast

Like a donkey...

You could buy it back, with a 20% interest penalty.

:15 if he that sanctified it will redeem his house

Houses could be redeemed, with 20% added.

:19 if he that sanctified the field will in any wise redeem it

Fields could be redeemed, with the price being calculated by figuring out how much seed it would take to plant that field, and how much money it would take to plant that field.

Value was calculated according to the number of years until the jubilee, when the property would revert to its original owner.

In addition, the same old 20% fee was added on.

:21 the field, when it goeth out in the jubilee, shall be holy unto the LORD,

If you gave your field to the Lord, and decided you didnít want it back and didnít redeem it, then at the jubilee, when all properties revert back to their original owners, the property belonged to the Lord, and the priests were put in charge of it.

:22 which is not of the fields of his possession

If you gave a field to the Lord that you had bought from somebody else, and it was some other familyís "family plot", then at the jubilee it was given back to the original owners, as it should be.

:26 Ö it is the Lordís

We begin a section of things that could not be redeemed.

They belonged to the Lord, and could not be bought back (firstborn, devoted things, tithes)

:26-27 Firstborn animals

Firstborn clean animals already belonged to the Lord.

(Exo 13:2 KJV) Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.

You couldn't redeem them, they weren't yours to give in the first place.

It would be as if you gave me your watch to look at, and then I decided to give it to you as a generous gift from me. Then I change my mind and want to buy it back. But it was never mine to give in the first place.

Every clean firstborn animal (those acceptable for eating and sacrificing) belonged to God, they were to be given to Him in sacrifice.

:25 according to the shekel of the sanctuary

There was to be a single, standard monetary unit to decide.

Money in those days was more like a specific weight of a valuable metal.

Since there were no standard weighing devices, one personís shekel could be different from another personís shekel.

It was the shekel of the sanctuary that was to be used.

:28-29 Devoted things

Some things were decided upon to be "under the ban", or "devoted to God", or literally, "devoted to destruction".

The booty taken from Jericho was to be "under the ban".

These were things God considered too dangerous for His people to handle.

When Achan kept some of it (things like religious articles from Babylon), it got everybody into trouble.

The animals taken from the Amalekites by Saul were to be devoted to God.

But Saul kept some of the best of them, saying he wanted to give them to God.

They already belonged to God!

Some human beings were also "devoted to God".

These would be convicted murderers, adulterers, etc., whose penalty was death.

Their death penalty could not be paid for with anything but their own lives.

:30-33 Tithes

The tithe was considered one of the "devoted things", it already belonged to God.

Crops - You could buy back your tithe of your crops, but with a 20% penalty.

Animals - Cows and sheep could not be bought back, if you tried, both the original tithe and purchase price belonged to God.

Tithing - Note: Here, tithing is not given necessarily as a command, it is assumed to already be understood.

Moses didn't actually start tithing, it happened as far back as Abraham giving a tithe to Melchizedek after having rescued his nephew Lot safely from his enemies.

(Gen 14:18-20 KJV) And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. {19} And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: {20} And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

You kind of almost get the idea that it was just an understood thing between Abraham and God. Itís not a matter of legalism, since it occurs before the law was even given.

Mal 3:8-10 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. {9} Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. {10} Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

Lesson:

New Testament giving - How much?

The widow with two pennies.

(Luke 21:1-4 KJV) And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. {2} And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. {3} And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: {4} For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

Actual dollar amounts arenít important to the Lord.

His desire is that we learn to give sacrificially.

Itís not a matter of how much should I give to God, but how much should I keep for myself.

Lesson:

Letting God guide your heart.

It starts with giving yourself to the Lord.

(2 Cor 8:5 KJV) And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

God wants to let you know how much to give.

(2 Cor 9:6-7 KJV) But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. {7} Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

This is kind of a difficult thing for many of us, because we are much better at keeping than at giving.

God may tell us how much to give, and we just respond with, "Huh? What did You say? I couldnít hear you!"