Baby Steps Of Faith
The environment we grow up in shapes our values, and sometimes we may not even recognize that something is wrong because everyone around us doing it. In Egypt, Israel had learnt to fear Man and depend on their own wisdom & resources. They had lived under an oppressive regime, and their idea of what society should be like was shaped by the injustices & selfishness they encountered there.
In Exodus – Deuteronomy we see God holding Israel by the hand and teaching them to take their baby steps of faith in paths of righteousness. [Rf Hos 11:1-4] He was training them to be a nation that would showcase His character of love & righteousness.
Step 1. Fear God, not Man. God showed how perfectly in control He is of all creation through the Plagues & the parting of the Red Sea, etc. When El Shaddai is on our side, why should we fear Man? [Rf Ps 27, 91]
Step 2. Depend on God and not earthly resources/arm of flesh. In the desert God showed that where human resources fail, God faithfully provides all that is needed – daily Manna, and water from the Rock. Therefore, they could even take time to REST, worship God & dethrone self, enjoy family, celebrate… they could take a weekly off, and even a whole YEAR off. [Lev 25:1-7]
Step 3. God is alone is worthy to be obeyed & worshiped. The dramatic events of Mt Sinai and the death of Nadab & Abihu demonstrated the infinite majesty & power of God and the tragic consequences of taking Him lightly. It is only when we see God as GOD, that we can stop being the ‘god’ of our own lives. Then we pay attention to His Word with a heart that seeks to obey.
Step 4. Repent, return, be sanctified. The Sacrificial system reveals Man’s sinfulness, need for cleansing, and the need to come to God with a heart that repents because it desires fellowship with Him… with a heart that desires to live for HIS purposes.
Step 5. Overcome Adamic selfish nature. The Law gives a shadowy understanding of the God’s character of love, grace, righteousness, justice etc… By obeying it, Israel would have been transformed in part to think & act with the character of God. By yielding to God, and allowing His Word to shape our thinking & motivations, we learn to think & act like Christ.
Step 6. Remember the grace YOU have received and give it to OTHERS… forgive, be kind to those who are helpless (handicapped, strangers, widows…) don’t exploit another’s pain for your gain. Look outside yourself & consider the needs of others.
Step 7. Jubilee…. [Lev 25:8-55] It is a bit like a practical exam… A time to put into practice all the things God had been teaching them… [Depend on God not on self-effort. Trust God for provision. Rest. Don’t exploit others, give grace because you are forgiven etc…] All of it was crammed into one event. Land was to be returned, debts cancelled, slaves set free… It was the ultimate test of whether the selfishness and world culture within them had been rooted out.
Israel failed miserably, because though the Law could teach, it had no power to impart love or righteousness to the human heart. The selfishness in the heart of Man triumphed.
✝In Christ, we have received the Holy Spirit who fills us with God’s love. [Rom 5:5] Have you noticed that if you love & admire someone you subconsciously imitate some of their mannerisms? When we love & admire God [worship], we begin to desire to have the same beautiful character that He has. Love then leads us to seek His face, listen to His voice and do things the way HE would do them.
BUT we still have to CHOOSE to walk led by the SPIRIT, or FLESH [old Adamic nature] ? We have to decide who’s going to remain in control… Self/God?
What an awesome privilege You have given us …. to be friends with You, to understand Your heart, to know Your love and grow in Your likeness! Sharpen my ears to hear You. Soften my will to obey You, and help me to keep my eyes fixed on You and my heart & thoughts in sync with You. Make me a channel of Your Grace. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Simple thoughts for deeper meditation
Leviticus:25: 1, 2 "The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, 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 ----"
The Lord says, "when you come into the land, which I give you". The laws are given in faith. They are still in the wilderness, and not yet in the promised Land. When they reach there, the land shall keep a Sabbath. We are familiar with the idea of a Sabbath of days, where one day out of seven is specially consecrated to God.
This describes the Sabbath of years for the Lord where the land receives a rest for one year out of seven. Obviously, this called Israel to a great deal of faith. During this year they are not permitted to sow their fields or prune their vineyards.
How they will live? There it takes their faith. They had to trust the LORD who provided for them in the past six years for the seventh year also. Not for one day, one week, or one month, but for a whole year -365 days. God wanted to test their faith, so the Sabbath for the land. When we go through this passage, let us examine our faith in God.
What is faith?
--Faith is simply taking God at His word, believing what He says, and acting accordingly.
-- Faith reminds us that the future is in God's hand. I came across an acrostic somebody made for Faith. "Forsaking All I Trust Him" ie, FAITH. A man of God has suggested that whenever you feel that God has spoken to you anything to do with the future, write it down as Habakkuk did.
What did Habakkuk write down? "The righteous shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk: 2: 2, 4). In the book of Hebrews, it has been reiterated as " But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him." (Hebrews: 10: 38) Let us therefore face the unseen future with a firm faith in the Lord who cared for us in the past. Secondly, they shall take time for reading and hearing the word of God in the Sabbath year. All the people including their children who have not known it, and also the sojourners in the land. (Read Deutero: 31: 10-13)
So each Sabbath Year was also to be a time for an extensive Bible Seminar for the whole nation- Let us consider the 240 days Bible reading program as a God given Sabbath year and study it fervently. Finally, when seven Sabbath years will be completed, they shall celebrate the fiftieth year as a jubilee year which also is holy. That year shall be an year of liberty, return, redemption and ultimately rejoicing. In fact, it shall be an year for others. It is pertinent to note that the word "Jubilant" which means feeling or expressing great happiness and triumph is derived from the Biblical word " Jubilee".
Are you jubilant in your Jubilee?
Dr. Thomas David.
Laws and Decrees
It is really wonderful to see God's care for the poor. For six years the Israelites could sow and reap in the fields. But in the 7th year which is the Sabbath Year the land should be unploughed and whatever the land yields will be food for themselves, the poor wild animals and livestock. The same should be done to the vineyards. It is a Sabbath rest for the land.
The Year of Jubilee
Jubilee Year comes once in 50 years. In this year redemption of land takes place. Redemption of land is the right to repurchase the land by or for the original family.
Here also God cares for the poor. His nearest relative could redeem his property for him. Interest should not be taken from the poor. The slaves should not be treated brutally. The masters should always remember they are God's servants.
© Commands to Obey ©
▫ Don't set up idols or images or sacred stones.
▫ Observe the Sabbaths and have reverence for God's sanctuary.
® Rewards ®
Blessing in their sowing and reaping and abundance of food.
Enemies will fall by the sword before them.
God will have His dwelling place among them and keep His covenants.
Punishments for Disobedience
▪ Terrible diseases
▪ Enemies will eat the food they grew in the fields and rule over them.
▪ Soil will not yield crops or trees their fruit.
▪ Their afflictions will be multiplied.
▪ Their cities will be turned to ruin and their sanctuaries will lay waste.
But if they confess their sins, treachery, hostility and humble themselves before God, He will remember His covenant with their forefathers. He will not reject, abhor or destroy them.
The final chapter concerns things promised by the Lord.
Money sometimes was given instead of an animal vow, adding a fifth part of its value. Such vows were expressions of special thanks giving and were given over and above the expected sacrifices.
These are the Laws, Decrees and Regulations the Lord established on Mt. Sinai between Himself and the Israelites through Moses.
Servants, animals, lands and houses.
RENDER UNTO THE LORD
What shall we believers of the New Covenant render unto the Lord for all His benefits? For the one and only sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
For His salvation so Full, Free, Forgiveness, Fellowship, Freedom from all the Old Testament sacrifices and Perfect Peace?
We can fall at His feet in gratitude and thank and worship Him and live for His glory.
Mrs. Caroline Chellappa