Updated: Oct 11
32nd & 33rd Portion
[19-25 May 2024 & 26 May - 1 June 2024]
Theme of the Book of Leviticus:
Life as a priest.
Meaning of "behar" = "on the mountain"
Meaning of "bechukotai" = "in my statutes"
This week's Torah portions:
Sunday: Leviticus 25:1-18
Monday: Leviticus 25:19-28
Tuesday: Leviticus 25:29-38
Wednesday: Leviticus 25:39-26:9
Thursday: Leviticus 26:10-46
Friday: Leviticus 27:1-15
Shabbat: Leviticus 27:16-34 & Jeremiah 16:19-17:14 & Jeremiah 32:6-27
Daily Bread for Busy Moms portions:
This week is our last week in the book of Leviticus. And it's a double portion so technically it's two portions but the themes of these two portions are so closely related or link so well that they are combined.
It's the third double portion in Leviticus and the fourth one in this year's reading cycle.
Behar is one of the shortest portions in the Torah reading cycle as it's basically only one chapter. But despite being short, it's a super important one. Behar means "on the mountain" and this portion took place when the Israelites camped at Mount Sinai.
This portion deals with the laws regarding the smittah / the sabbatical year. A smittah is a seven year period in which they worked the land for six years and in the seventh year they allowed the land to rest.
Many people apply this principle today to their work lives as well by taking an entire year off from work, a sabbatical year. Which there is nothing wrong with if you felt prompt to do so. But it's not a biblical instruction. Our Biblical obbligation is only to keep Shabbat. And when we do that, in a seven year cycle - our weekly shabbats will add up to a year's worth of sabbath days which we have kept.
The commandment regarding the smittah is not for man, but with regards to land. The commandment with regards to the Shabbat is for all believers, not only the Jews and the believers in Israel, but for all mankind. However, the commandment regarding the smittah and the land that had to rest - we read in Scripture "when you enter the land (Israel) you shall make the land rest"... In other words this instruction was specifically given to the land of Israel. Not outside of Israel. Just like with people taking a sabbatical year even though we are not instructed to do so - there is nothing wrong with doing so. In the same way, there is no instruction given to us for land outside of Israel to rest once every seven years. But there is also nothing wrong should you feel prompted to or do it as a prophetic action.
According to the instructions given in this portion, there should be a "debt release" every smittah year. Every seventh year, the whole of Israel had to be debt free. Thus if you wanted to borrow money from someone, you had to repay that money by the seventh year. But if you come to someone and ask to borrow money the 4th year of the 7 year cycle, it means that you only had three years to repay the money. And you would give the land that you own as surety for the loan. Thus the person who lends you the money should take into consideration if you will be able to repay the money to them before the next smittah year. If they do lend you the money, they are not supposed to ask you any interest on that money.
The person who lends the money had to take things into serious consideration whether he should lend you the money or not. Because if you are unable to repay the money by the seventh year, he had to write that debt off as it was an instruction for the whole of Israel to be debt free.
Although this does not physically apply to us, there is a spiritual principle which does. Just like we no longer have / need a physical tabernacle, we know that spiritually we are the tabernacle.
This concept of 6 years of work and 1 year of rest for the land - is all a shadow / symbolic of us living on earth - the earth has been given to mankind for 6000 years and then for 1000 years / the shabbat's millenium we will reign with God. It's a shadow of us who are "in debt" with God. But Yeshua came to earth to set us free. Through His complete work on the cross, He writes off our "debt."
With these smittah years, they were instructed to have seven smittah's - in other words 7 x 7 years = 49 years of this cycle. Then the 50th year, is called a Jubilee. And when you come to the Jubilee - no one has debt, because in year 49, the debt would have been written of and the land had to rest. In the 50th year everyone had to be restored to their birthright.
In other words, say I borrowed money from you in year 47 and you see that I won't be able to repay you by year 48 (remember in year 49 the land had to rest) - you were able to work my land and get a harvest in an attempt to recover the money which I owe you. Because in the 50th year I had to be restored to my inheritance. Thus I must receive my land back and be debt free.
In this portion we learn about two concepts. About the smittah cycles. Every seven years we have to be debt free. And also about the jubilee. Where every 50th year there should be restoration.
No one worked in the 50th year. And the servants / slaves also had to be set free. Trade & sales of land as well as servants could be made throughout the 49 years. But in the 50th year the servants had to be restored. And the land had to be returned to the original owner. When the Israelites entered into the Promised Land, each tribe received a portion of land. Thus in the 50th year - that land had to be returned to the tribe to whom it was given when they entered the Promised Land.
That means that atleast once in every person's life (unless the obviously died prematurely) - they could experience restoration. When we understand this concept - when we read Isaiah 61 - it makes a whole lot more sense! What Isaiah refered to was all about this restoration which we as believers have access to. In Luke 4, Yeshua Himself confirms it!
God instructed this on Mount Sinai wayyy back then as an instruction to be kept. And Yeshua came and confirmed the spiritual importance of it again in the New Testament.
This portion also discusses the instructions regarding the sale of land and the prohibition of fraud and usary (interest).
The theme of this parashat is to release people from their debt and to restore them to their inherited land. Thus if you obtain the land in an unjust / fraudulant manner or you charge too much interest - you will disable that person to become debt free and experience reconciliation.
Spiritually we also have a piece of land to which this applies in our modern day and age. God has given us the earth and told us to live and work the earth. We are made in His image and His instruction was for us to be fruitful and multiply. This instruction goes so far beyond the literal meaning of bearing children. We need to be fruitful in all aspects of our lives. But through our sin and the sins of the people before us - we have become "barren." And therefore we need God's restoration in our lives if we want to be fruitful again!
If we want to receive our inheritance which Abba has in store for us - He has to restore us. And through Yeshua we are released from our sins (debt).
Abba's heart for each one of us is to be FREE and to walk in complete freedom. And the only way we can do that is through Yeshua Who releases us from our debt (sin) and restores us so that we can experience that freedom and walk into our inheritance which He has in store for each one of us!
The second portion of this week's double portion is called Bechukotai which means "in my statues." In this portion God told the Israelites that if they obey the instructions which He has given them, then they would have material prosperity and that they will dwell securely in the Promised Land.
Abba's intention is never for mankind to suffer. It never was and it will never be. And the enemy feeds us this lie to make us question the goodness and faithfulness of God. God always has and He always will keep His promises to His children.
However, what we have to understand is that there are conditions connected to His promises. In order to experience and walk into the blessings which He has in store for us, we have to walk according to His instructions. We can't be mad when we don't experience His blessings as long as we are unwilling to surrender our lives to Him and walk according to His instructions. Obedience brings forth blessing.
In this portion, Abba not only gives this blessing, but He also says that when they do not keep His instructions - that they will go into exhile. When we don't walk according to Abba's ways - there will be consequences. That does not make Him an bad / unfaithful God, it makes Him a God of order. And all throughout Scripture we see that whenever the Israelites were disobedient, God didn't send them straight into exhile. He always showed them mercy first and gave them a chance to repent and turn back to Him. And then, only then, when they failed to do so - He kept His Word, like He always do, and sent them to exhile.
Abba treats us the same way. When we don't live according to His instructions, He still extends His mercy and grace to us. But when we harden our hearts - continue in our sin, refuse to listen and turn away from the sin and back to God - then we will also experience "exhile" in our lives. May I again remind you that God's not mean or unfair. Anything but! He is always fair and always the same. WE are disobedient and we reap the consequences of our disobedience.
Despite showing mercy and grace to us when we fall away from His instructions. Abba also promises the Israelites in this portion - that even when they are in the land of their enemies (exhiled), that He will not cast them away nor abandon them nor destroy them. Even when we go astray, Abba's heart is still to protect us and to call us back to Him.
This takes us right back to Exodus 6, where God made a promise to Israel when they left Egypt. He told them that He would make them His people and He will be their God. And now He says that even if they turn away from Him, the He will still be there for them. Wow! What a blessing! God never changes. Which means that this promise is still available to us today!
The portion ends off where they determine the value of different pledges that people make to God. And they also confirm the whole concept of tithing - even though we only read about the instruction in more detail regarding tithing in the book of Numbers.
The tithing was a law that was given in the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible). And people these days are very quick to say that we are free from the law and thus we no longer have to tithe. However, tithing is a principle of life.
The late Gerrit Nel from Kol Kallah shared it in such a beautiful way! He said that in every fruit there is seed. And if you eat the seed as well, there will be no fruit anymore. Thus the seed is there to sow - so that you can have fruit to eat! Even before this law (actually instruction) was given - Abraham followed this principle as we can see from Scripture.
In this portion it's discussed how tithes should be calculated and done. And establishing the fact that tithing should be done from a place of righteousness.
In the book of Numbers we will see that the tithes became the inheritance of the Levites (tribe of the priests). Remember that they didn't inherit land, thus the tithes went to them. If it went well with the other tribes, it went well with the Levites. And if the other tribes were struggling, the Levites also struggled. In this way, it ensured that the Levites did their job and abide by the instructions which Abba has given them. Part of the priests' (Levites) jobs were to bless the people. And thus we can see this continious cycle of events when everyone do what they are supposed to do. When the Levites blessed the people like Abba instructed them to, the people were blessed. And when they were blessed, so were the Levites through the tithing.
From this portion we can learn that Abba's heart is to bless the people and also to bless the priests. And even when we don't do what He has instructed us to do, He will still bless us because of the covenant He has made with us.
He promised them that He wil give them rain and that they will live in security. It's not about our abilities and the safety measures we take - Abba is the one Who secures us.
Regardless of what's going on around us in the world and no matter how scary things might seem - we can rest in the knowing that He will take care of us and secure us. The only thing we need to be concerned about it about whether we are doing what God intended me to do. As long as I live according to His instructions - I will experience and get to live in the fullness which He promises to those who believe in Him and live according to His instructions. That means that I have nothing to worry about. That I can experience His Shalom (peace) that goes beyond our fleshly understanding.
The amount of peace we experience in our lives is not determined by our circumstances, but by our level of commitment and obedience. If we are obedient, it doesn't matter what we go through in our lives - Abba will be right there with us and like He promises in Exodus 14:14 - we can be still because He Himself will fight the battle for us.
If we are truly obedient, Abba's presence and provision will be visible in our lives. When we are obedient, the way in which Abba will come through for us will be so tangible that even non-believers will be able to see something different in you and your life!
We can use this portion as a reminder to keep ourselves holy, because He is Holy. It's a reminder for us to walk according to His ways, because then we will get to experience the blessings and promises which He has in store for us. It's about making a deliberate choice to serve Him and nothing and no one else but Him. A choice to pursue Him and transform my life so that my life can testify of His goodness. It's a choice to live in this covenant and to stay away from anything and everything that will not pursue life. It's about speaking life! Living a life as a priest with my heart staying fixed on Abba. And as a result - I will get to live in His provision and promises.
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Portion 29: Behar / Bechukotai (This blog you are reading now)