My journey through the Old Testament continues, as does my discovery of truth gems in these Ancient Words. Critics and Christians alike often seek to undermine the relevancy and validity of the Old Testament; I, myself, have often read it with “a grain of salt” – meaning I rarely sought to apply its words to my Christian walk unless they explicitly applied to my situation. I am reading with a different attitude this time. I earnestly seek to absorb and implement at least one truth from each chapter I read, and it is transforming my heart towards the Almighty God. You see, He is the epitome of INTENTIONAL – a quality that I have cultivated in my personality for some time, yet often doubted if it was socially acceptable.
I am nearing the end of Leviticus, a book that is filled with laws and consequences. From the 21st Century and post-modern perspectives many of these laws appear absolutely ridiculous and the consequences intensely brutal. The Israelites were told that they could not wear clothing made with two kinds of material or eat rabbits. If two people had homosexual relations they were to be put to death. If a man or woman mated with an animal, the human and the animal were to be put to death. If a person committed incest or adultery or had sex before marriage, the penalty was death. There are chapters filled with the explicit laws and consequences covering almost every situation the human mind could ever conceive of. After almost every law and consequence it is written, “I am the LORD” or “I am the LORD who sanctifies you” or “I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” What is the meaning of this?
Finally, in chapter 25, we are introduced to the concept of the Sabbatic Year and the Year of Jubilee. Every seven years the land was allowed to rest. It would not be cultivated or harvested. This was the Sabbatic Year. After seven of these sabbatic years had passed (meaning 49 years total), the fiftieth year was considered the Year of Jubilee. In this year, not only did the land rest, but servants were to be freed from their indentured service; debts were to be forgiven; and real estate was to be returned to the family it originally belonged to. These years had a dual purpose. Not only did they improve the fiscal and social environments, they also reminded the people that, ultimately, everything belonged to God – land and people alike. He promised that if they followed these laws, on the sixth year He would so abundantly bless their harvest they would be eating of it for the next three years. This would give them time to plant and harvest in the eighth year. How does this apply to me?
The intrinsic detail that is written into these chapters reveals the heart of God to us. He shows us how intimately He knows the human heart. He is well aware of the path upon which sin leads the human heart. He appreciates the necessity of community, social organization, and social justice. He is prepared to answer the “what ifs” that will pop out of human mouths as they are told His plans. Most of all, He knows that we will ask “why?” when we are given rules and boundaries. “I am the LORD your God” is the ultimate answer. Our current society has decided to make its own rules and set its own boundaries and in doing so we assume that we are erasing those divinely instituted so long ago. We are used to “sell by” dates, sequels, and updated versions of what tickles our fancy today and discard them as yesterday’s toys when the new ones hit the shelf. We apply the same attitude to philosophies, parenting methods, the Constitution, and God Himself. Time determines value and relevancy in our estimation and it leaves no room for intentional living.
Unfortunately, this is a dangerous game to play. Intentional living requires reflection on the past and forethought into the future. It requires attention to detail and an application of drawn conclusions. The intentional person realizes that things of value are not limited by time; in fact, time actually proves their worth. This is proven in Scripture. The human race has forgotten that they did not create themselves nor can they determine what will fulfill them. They were created and their Creator is the One who determines how they will be fulfilled. This is why He instated the laws, systems, and boundaries that He did. He is not bound by time and neither are His words. So as we seek to reason away what makes us uncomfortable in His Word with our, “Who does this apply to?” and “What is He really saying here?” and “When was this actually written?” and “Where were these laws coming from, culturally speaking?” and “Why would God be so harsh?” and “How do I explain God’s cruelty to someone who doesn’t believe?” let’s remember that He did not time-stamp His words with “I was the Lord their God.” No. His ultimate response? “I AM the LORD your God.” The Timeless Time-maker is not bound by the Time that He keeps.