In the previous three installments, we discussed the biblical regulations of the Land Sabbath (Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7, 18-22) and rejected extreme viewpoints which hold that either these regulations must be enforced today, literally and in their entirety, by the Church of God and its members, while others hold that they are no longer applicable today, not even in principle.
In the last two installments of this series, we discussed the views of numerous commentaries on the issue, and we saw from Scripture that the Sabbatical Year (also referred to as the Land Sabbath and the Year of Release; compare, for example, Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7, 18-22), as well as the Jubilee Year (compare, for example, Leviticus 25:8-14), were laws for the nation of Israel, which were related to the Land of Canaan. The Year of Release and the Jubilee Year included also the cancellation of personal debts and the restoration of all real estate to its prior owner. Land was not to be sold forever.
In this second installment on the questions raised, we are proceeding with answering whether those Old Testament institutions are still of any validity today. In last week’s first installment, we quoted the relevant biblical passages (mainly Exodus 23:10-11 and Leviticus 25:1-7, 18-22), and we cited numerous commentaries to show their understanding as to what these passages meant for the ancient Israelites. Now, we are beginning to answer the question as to what they mean for us today.
As this is a very broad subject, we will provide answers in several Q&As. This Q&A constitutes the first installment, to be continued next week.
The purpose of this first installment is NOT to answer most of the questions about the Land Sabbath and the Jubilee Year. Answers will be provided in future installments. In this installment, we will mainly be quoting from commentaries to show the different positions applied to the issues—which are somewhat reminiscent of SOME opinions and concepts which are occasionally raised by some Church members as well. In subsequent installments, we will discuss the substantive accuracy or inaccuracy of many of those statements.
In previous Q&A’s, we showed how the survivors of the modern descendants of the houses of Israel and Judah will be brought out of captivity and led to the Promised Land, where they will settle down. We discussed a subsequent invasion of Far Eastern nations into the Promised Land at the beginning of the Millennium, and how God will deal swiftly with these hostile armies. We also discussed the fact that Christ will come to bring spiritual and physical restoration for all peoples, but He will rule in Jerusalem over—at first--the Israelite nations. How, then, will “Gentile” nations come to and accept the truth?
Let us look very closely at both passages.
In Psalm 8:4-5, David wonders about the purpose of the creation of man. We read, in the New King James Bible: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and you have crowned him with glory and honor.”
David proceeds in the next verses to show that man has received dominion over the animal world (verses 7-8).
In John 11:35 we read the shortest verse in the Bible in the English translation: “Jesus wept”. It is only in the book of John that we read about the death and raising from the dead of Lazarus by Jesus.
Wikipedia states that: “In some places in the English-speaking world, including the UK, Ireland (particularly Dublin) and Australia, the phrase ‘Jesus wept’ is a common expletive, curse or minced oath spoken when something goes wrong or to express mild incredulity.”
Unfortunately, it appears that a number of authors also use this two-word-verse as en expletive in their writings.
Why did Jesus weep at this particular time? Many authors and commentaries have offered numerous ideas and explanations.
The Bible states that Christ will return to rule on this earth (John 14:3; Isaiah 9:6-7; Luke 1:30-33; Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:13-14), and born-again Christians will rule with and under Him (Daniel 7:27; Luke 13:28; Jeremiah 30:7-9; Ezekiel 37:24-25; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Isaiah 30:20-21; Luke 22:29-30; Matthew 19:28; Revelation 2:26-27; Revelation 20:4, 6).
We read in Leviticus 23:42 that ancient Israel was commanded to “dwell in booths for seven days.” God commanded Israel to build temporary huts or booths out of tree branches and live in them during the Feast of Tabernacles (compare Nehemiah 8:14-18).
What is a booth? In the Hebrew, the word is “sukkah.” It means, literally, a “covering or a booth,” but as we will see, it conveys more than that.
The word “sukkah” is translated 12 times as “tabernacle” in the Authorized Version. In most cases, it refers to the Feast of Tabernacles (compare Leviticus 23:34; Deuteronomy 16:13, 16; 31:10; 2 Chronicles 8:13; Ezra 3:4; and Zechariah 14:16, 18-19).
The story of Eli is recorded in the first four chapters of 1 Samuel. Eli served as priest; in fact, as High Priest in the house of the LORD in Shiloh (compare 1 Samuel 1:9, 24). Eli was also a judge over Israel (1 Samuel 4:18). Eli was a descendant of Ithamar, the fourth and youngest son of Aaron the High Priest (compare Exodus 6:23).
The account in 1 Samuel also introduces the story of Samuel—the one who replaced Eli as judge over Israel (compare 1 Samuel 7:6).
For Eli, serving as both priest and judge to Israel, a great sense of responsibility and accountability to God was required. Turning to a later account, consider what God said as it is recorded in the second chapter of the Book of Malachi concerning His priests:
"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden."-Matthew 5:14