Chapter 27 is the last chapter of the book of Leviticus. It talks about Jehovah giving Moses the laws concerning people’s vows and dedications. The value that is set on each person when one makes a vow is not the same. A male has a higher value than a female, older people and children have a lower value (verses 1-8). If a man has already dedicated himself to the Lord, he must not exchange or substitute it. Although the animal and house that he dedicated can be redeemed, a fifth must be added to its value (verses 9-15). If a man who dedicates a field wishes to redeem it, he must add a fifth to its value. If he does not redeem the field, it can never be redeemed (verses 16-25). An animal’s firstborn must not be dedicated; he may repurchase the unclean animal after adding a fifth of the value to it. If he does not redeem it, it will be sold at its set value (verses 26-27). But nothing that a man owns and devotes to the Lord may be redeemed (verse 28). No person devoted to destruction may be ransomed (verse 29). A tithe of everything from the land belongs to the Lord. If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it (verses 30-31).
Leviticus 27:32-33 says,
32 Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the Lord. 33 No one may pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If anyone does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.'” (NIV)
The last verse says, “These are the commands the Lord gave Moses at Mount Sinai for the Israelites” (NIV, Leviticus 27:34)
One Christian who shared at the beginning of this meeting didn’t understand what verses 32-33 meant. Why couldn’t they pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution? And if anyone did make a substitution, the animal and substitute became holy and couldn’t be redeemed?
Although we have briefly outlined what Leviticus 27 is talking about, when people read the Bible, they often get confused and don’t understand what they are reading. Is this your experience when you read the Bible? I remember reading a survey about Christians reading the Bible. The first reason why Christians don’t read the Bible is not that they are lazy, but rather because they don’t understand it. Sometimes after reading the Bible, they don’t know what it is saying or how it applies to their lives.
If you have finished reading this chapter of the Bible, what do you think it’s talking about? I often say that our understanding of the Bible can limit the growth of our spiritual life. For example, how can a person who doesn’t understand the Bible or doesn’t usually read the Bible be changed by the Word of God? The spiritual growth of new believers is subject to the limitation of their knowledge of the Word of God.
On the other hand, a person can thoroughly read the Bible from cover to cover and only see it as words on a page rather than a living word. They don’t possess the spiritual experience of the Bible and have a limited understanding.
The Chinese are very wise in this area. Although Chinese people don’t have a long history of studying the bible, they have a lot of experience understanding the world. For example, the Chinese say that a person can only better understand the world and become a useful person if he/she “travels ten thousand miles and reads ten thousand books.” This is a very philosophical statement.
“Reading ten thousand books” is like the first example of when we read the Bible. We need to read more about the Bible and various spiritual works. We must also listen to other pastors’ teachings to help us understand the Bible and glean as much spiritual knowledge as possible.
“Traveling ten thousand miles” is like a Christian who regards prayer as essential and who enjoys pursuing spiritual truths. Through the Holy Spirit working in him and his circumstances, he learns how to deal with the flesh, control his mind, live in the spirit, and become deeply rooted in the Lord.
The two are inseparable and complement each other. Of course, I advocate reading the Bible more and reading it every day. I was saved in the Local Church movement and was taught to read three chapters in the Old Testament and one chapter in the New Testament every day. We can read through the whole Bible this way in a year. I still insist on doing this every day. Every morning, I read three chapters in the Old Testament and one chapter in the New Testament, and I find a verse that moves me. I use this verse to practice pray-reading, which is meditation during lunch break. It has been very beneficial to me. In addition to attending the meetings in the Local Church, I diligently read the spiritual works of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee. When the Lord led me to Pentecostal and Prophetic churches to learn the truths of others, I eagerly read a lot of books about them.
On the other side, through the circumstances that the Lord had prepared for me, I have learned to accept God’s dealings, and I have slowly experienced that the desires of my flesh have died or are dying. I have gradually grown in my spiritual life, and the many spiritual experiences and dreams given to me by the Lord have deepened my understanding of the Bible.
Therefore, in our meeting this week, I explained Leviticus 27 from the perspective of my personal spiritual experience. To a certain extent, it has helped our Bible study members studying this chapter to understand better what the chapter is talking about.
Leviticus includes many of the laws or covenants that Jehovah gave to Moses. Leviticus is known as the book of the covenant. It is the book of the covenant between God and man. What is the covenant between God and man? Whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, God compares Himself to a husband and the Israelites as His wife, or the Lord Jesus as the bridegroom, and the church is His bride. The covenant between God and man is a marriage contract.
We all know that when Americans get married, there is a ceremony. When the minister officiating the wedding asks the bride if she is willing to marry the groom, she will respond with the words, “I do.” This “I do” is the most crucial sentence and the climax or end of this wedding. If the bride says, “I do,” basically this ceremony is a success. If the bride says “I don’t,” like the movie “Runaway Bride” or the “The Graduate,” it would be terrible.
Similarly, as in the book of the covenant, Leviticus ends with the Israelites saying, “I do.” This is the specific regulation that the Lord established in this chapter after He blessed the Israelites and cursed them for their rebellion against Him in Leviticus 26. These regulations mean that people are willing to dedicate themselves to God.
There are two great forces in the world. The first is the power of God’s destiny or election for your life. He has a pre-written plan for your life. Even if you are stubborn like Jacob or rebel like the prodigal son of Luke 15, God can save you. The second most incredible power is dedication. If people are willing to dedicate themselves to God, they will then become a great channel of blessing in God’s hands, which will bring blessings to countless people. Such examples are innumerable in the Bible – Abraham, Samuel, Mary (the mother of the Lord Jesus), etc. When they dedicated themselves, it changed the universe.
Abraham was called righteous when he offered his son Isaac to God. Hannah dedicated Samuel to God, which transformed an era. Mary, the Lord Jesus’s mother, dedicated herself to God, bringing in the birth of the Savior of mankind. Their dedication changed the world.
When the Lord Jesus was about to be crucified, Mary poured a bottle of perfume to anoint His feet. When the disciples objected, the Lord Jesus told them that this woman’s sacrificial anointing should also be preached wherever this gospel was preached throughout the world. Jesus valued this woman’s sacrifice and wanted her honored by making sure she was mentioned in the gospel message of his sacrifice for us.
Leviticus 27 is about the power of people’s dedication. This is closely related to Leviticus 26. Chapter 26 talks about how the Israelites rebelled against God and how they were punished. Chapter 27 revealed how the Israelites could overcome their sins and their own weaknesses, such as rebelling against God and idolatry. The answer to this is to give God authority or dedicate our lives to God and let him work in us and help us.
Let me give you an example of what this means. Genesis 12:7 records that Abraham built an altar after the Lord appeared to him. Then in verse 8, it says that he built another altar on the east of Bethel, where he called on the name of the Lord. In the Old Testament, we know that the altar represents one’s dedication because the altar is used to put the sacrifices and offerings (animals) on it. Calling on the name of the Lord is an act of spiritual dedication and worship. Because the Lord Jesus said, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24, NIV).
After this, something terrible happened. Abraham gradually went south, leaving the altar he had built for the Lord. In the end, he experienced a famine. Remember that the Bible doesn’t say that “Abraham moved south after the famine occurred,” but “the famine occurred after he moved south.” In other words, famine was a trial from God. It was reminding Abraham to return to the altar. But Abraham didn’t obey and continued to travel south to Egypt. In Egypt, He lied to Pharaoh about his wife Sarah, saying she was his sister, leading Pharaoh to almost have an immoral relationship with her. Of course, after God intervened and struck Pharaoh, he saved Abraham and Sarah. This matter is considered a weakness or a failure in Abraham’s spiritual experience. It is similar to the Israelites who rebelled against God in Leviticus 26, which we mentioned earlier. Of course, God blessed Abraham this time. In Genesis 13:3-4, it states that Abraham returned to Bethel after this incident, where he had previously built an altar for the Lord. There Abraham had called again on the name of the Lord.
Compared to the first time when he built the altars, his understanding of the name of the Lord had deepened. Why? He had experienced his own failure, as well as the salvation and faithfulness of the Lord. He experienced his own weakness, unbelief, and Jehovah’s unchanging promise.
I experienced something similar to this when I was a child. As kids, we often went swimming in the river. There was an older boy who usually accompanied us. One day, a younger child would have drowned but was rescued by the older boy. The rescued child held the older boy’s hand and repeatedly shouted his name because he knew that he saved his life. The older boy’s name was something to look up to and esteem, unlike before the incident.
Similarly, after Abraham experienced failure in Egypt, he returned to the place where he built the altar. There he called on the name of the Lord again. The meaning of the name of the Lord was different for him. His understanding of the Lord’s name became deeper because he had experienced the Lord’s safeguard and care for him in Egypt. Although he was not faithful, God was still faithful.
Why did the Lord help Abraham even though he failed? The secret here is that the two previous altars Abraham built were his dedication to God. When Abraham dedicated himself to God, although he experienced failure later, the power of dedication enabled him to overcome his own weakness and failure. When we dedicate ourselves to God, the authority no longer belongs to us. Instead, it belongs to God. If I dedicate my life to Him and God still allows me to fail, then my failure isn’t only mine, but also His. God will surely guard us, allowing us to overcome the trials in our life. Every time I think about this, it makes me happy, especially when facing trials. I am confident that God will guard me because otherwise, my failure will shame not only me but also Him.
Abraham’s dedication to God came before his failure, not after. It was because of this that his dedication was of more value amid failure. So why did Abraham dedicate himself? It’s because the Lord chose him, or possibly it was a response to the Lord’s repeated appearances to him. As I said before, God’s destiny or election is the greatest power in the universe. But our dedication also has a lot of power, and it is a response to God’s destiny for us.
When Mary broke the alabaster jar and poured the perfume to anoint the Lord, the Lord accepted her dedication. Similarly, in the Old Testament, God hated Esau. But the reason for Him loving Jacob was because Esau did not make the right dedication when responding to God’s election. Esau only paid attention to his flesh. But Jacob was longing for the inheritance rights as the firstborn; therefore, he could please God. Abel’s offering pleased God, but Cain’s offering didn’t.
God’s election and dedication is a dynamic and dialectical relationship. God elects the best, so don’t ask whether his election or destiny for a person is right or wrong, good or bad. Once God has elected a person, others can’t evaluate the good or bad of His election. The lady at the beginning was disturbed by this statement. She mentioned that she did not understand what verses 32-33 meant. Why is it that no one may pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution? And if anyone does make a substitution, the animal and substitute must become holy and cannot be redeemed? Also, why is it that God commanded every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod be offered and be holy to Him?
Doesn’t this seem this unreasonable? Who will God choose in His election? Only one person will be elected for every ten people. What if His election is wrong? She said with emotion, “This seems to be accidental and also inevitable because God hides the inevitability in chance.” Yes. God, who knows the heart, arranges the boundaries of all things and people, so God can’t be wrong. She still didn’t understand the reason why God would not let anyone pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. Later, under the wonderful leading of the Holy Spirit, we talked about her child and her experience of the Lord dealing with her ways of educating her child.
She said that her child has a talent for art but is mediocre in other subjects. Her child is not a straight A or a well-rounded student. This mother has been a straight-A student ever since she was little. Therefore, when she teaches her child, she gets frustrated because she finds that her child doesn’t live up to her standards. Through God’s help, she eventually realized that her child was given to her by the Lord to help mature her. In the end, she was very grateful. She changed her approach to educating her child. She no longer asked her child to meet her standards. Instead, she learned to dedicate her child to God and teach the child according to God’s election and preparation.
What this mother experienced is not unusual. Many parents of Chinese families will face this problem. Our children may not have the same structural foundation as ours. Therefore, we often try to mold and make our children according to our image, and the result may suppress the child’s nature.
My situation is like this mother’s child. Since I was young, I was a daydreamer and not very good at math. When I was in high school, I ranked first in literature, history, and other subjects. But I ranked last in mathematics. Therefore my total score wasn’t very good. My sister happened to be my teacher in high school. Because my overall score was not good, she was ashamed of me. She often burst into tears and even wrote a 10+ page letter to persuade me to study hard. I am only good at certain subjects. My mother doesn’t have a high level of education. To a certain extent, my sister played a role in educating me. I still remember the tears that she shed for me.
This mother needed to focus on the child’s strengths knowing that God always sees the good and has a purpose and destiny unique to each individual. The problem is that people can’t accept it and end up having doubts. But when this woman tried to replace God’s election by her own efforts by molding the child into someone she likes, she was bypassing what God wanted the child to be. In the end, her way was impossible, and she realized that she needed to not only dedicate her child to the Lord but herself as well. This, in turn, made God’s election or destiny and her substitute holy.
I mentioned my experience because I also want to talk about this. I was born in a rural area, and I failed a lot when I was growing up. My educational foundation wasn’t very good, plus, as I said earlier, I’m only good at certain subjects, which resulted in me having to take the college admission test three times to pass. Plus, I experienced a lot of failures over the years. When I was first saved, I was defeated and felt utterly worthless. Later, in 2004, the Lord appeared to me. He asked me to dedicate myself to Him. After struggling, I dedicated my life to Him. In a previous study, I mentioned that I was saved in 2002, and in 2004 the Holy Spirit inspired me to attend a special meeting where they encouraged everyone to dedicate themselves to the Lord. I didn’t want to, but the Lord urged me through the Christians at that meeting. I prayed and said in the evening, “If Jesus reveals the truth about His second coming to me, I will dedicate myself to Him.” At that time, I was still in doubt whether the Lord Jesus would really come again. I dreamed that night that two people were fighting for my heart. One man was stronger, and he won. I think that was the Lord. The next day, I dedicated myself to Him.
Later, I prayed and dedicated my marriage to Him. In 2006, my wife and I met each other in the church and got married. But after marrying, we experienced a lot of tough times. We experienced a lot of struggles financially and emotionally. These hardships once again knocked me down. In 2008, I hit rock bottom. I didn’t have a job, and I lost my work permit. Money was scarce, and I saw no future for myself. This situation caused more arguments with my wife. She said, “Look, you can’t earn money, you don’t have a green card, and you don’t care about me.” These hurtful accusations from my wife caused me to have a breakdown.
At that time, I was serving in the church. We went to Plano, Texas to attend a special meeting. Because of my service and some other things, my wife and I argued again. Her words made me feel like I was a loser. I walked down the street in Plano until the early morning before returning to my host family. I felt very depressed. The next day, the brother who was serving in the church said, “If God can get 50 people who will fully dedicate themselves to Him today, He can change the world through them.” He called those people who were willing to dedicate themselves to God to stand up. I had nothing at the time, but I was willing to stand up and dedicate myself to God. Unexpectedly, after this, the members of my church discovered that I had changed a lot. A man in our congregation recognized that I had the gift of being able to express people’s thoughts. I often spoke out even before they started to share their thoughts. I also had discovered that the Holy Spirit had baptized me at that meeting and helped me understand the Bible.
I gradually began to learn to lead a Bible study group. On the one hand, my wife was surprised that God often spoke through me. On the other hand, she also curiously asked: “Why you?” In this way, I continued to grow up in the spirit of God’s grace. But I still couldn’t overcome the shadow brought by my past failures. I often felt that I couldn’t complete God’s call for my life because I felt inadequate. I said to God many times, “I know that you have a call on me, but I really can’t accept this call because I am not wise enough. I have made so many mistakes, and I have a lot of character flaws.” And I often heard the voice of the enemy saying, “you don’t deserve to be elevated by God.” “You have a lot of shortcomings, and you’re stupid.” If you serve God on a larger scale, not only will you not bring glory to God, you may also bring a lot of shame to Him.” Of course, I recognized that this was the voice of the enemy, but because what he said made sense, and he often reminded me of my weakness, it was disconcerting. I had been struggling with this pain for years. Until one day, I read the story of how D.L. Moody dedicated himself to God.
Due to low educational attainment, Moody became a shoemaker in his early life. When he found out that he had a calling from God, he struggled between the conflict of his low level of education and the greatness of God’s calling. He was very insecure about his low education level and didn’t know whether he should accept God’s call. One day, a preacher from the United Kingdom said, “The world is yet to see how God can use and will use a person who is absolutely consecrated to God to change the world.” This statement greatly encouraged Moody because there was no mention of a person without high educational attainment who could not be used by God. I was also greatly encouraged and dedicated myself wholly to the Lord. I entrusted my “lack of wisdom” to Him and trusted His leading. I just followed His leading and dedicated myself to Him again. These experiences are just like Abraham’s repeated experience of building the altars, and each dedication was more profound than the last one.
The trials that I encountered didn’t end. In 2010 I found out that we couldn’t have children. We had been married for ten years before God showed up and miraculously healed us and blessed us with a baby girl in 2017. During this trial, my wife and I experienced countless arguments and tears. The circumstances forced me to further die to myself. I was driven into a corner. I remember once, I could hardly keep going. I said to the Lord while I was walking, “If You don’t give me strength now, I can’t keep going. I will fail and fall. I might bring shame to your name.” As I finished praying, I experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was like an electric current. It baptized me from head to toe. I immediately got the strength in God’s grace. I was then able to overcome my weakness and keep going.
Looking back at these experiences, although I can’t go into detail, I found a pattern. Once we dedicate ourselves to the Lord and give our authority to Him, He will surely keep us from falling. As it says in Psalm 91:11-12 (NIV), “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Although this verse is widely known because Satan quoted it to put the Lord Jesus to the test, it applies not only to Jesus but also to “whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High” (Psalm 91:1, NIV).
In addition to the power of God’s destiny or election, dedication is the greatest force in the world. Psalm 110:3 says, “Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy splendor, your young men will come to you like dew from the morning’s womb.” (NIV)
If we are willing to dedicate ourselves to God, God can do wonderful things and change the world through us. Often, the church cannot change the world because it is full of people who haven’t dedicated themselves to God. If all Christians would dedicate themselves to God now, I believe that God will accomplish his will soon.
We might think that it’s only necessary to dedicate ourselves to the Lord when we have reached a place of importance, like the man given five talents in the Bible. That is wrong thinking. We need to dedicate ourselves while we only have one talent, and it will grow to five. The Lord Jesus said, “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” (Matthew 25:29, NIV). The more you dedicate yourself to the Lord, the more God will expand the gifts and measure in you. Of course, the Lord also said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48, NIV).
At the beginning of Leviticus 27, everyone’s value before God was different. The value of a male between the ages of twenty and sixty was fifty shekels, and the value of a female of the same age bracket was thirty shekels. For a person between the ages of five and twenty, the value of a male was twenty shekels, and the woman was ten shekels. For a person between one month and five years, the value of a male was five shekels, and the value of a female was three shekels. Infants less than one month of age were not counted. The value of a male sixty years old or more was fifteen shekels, and the value of a female sixty years old or more was ten shekels. This is a valuation. It is a ballpark figure. Just like the US property values. If your county calculates your house price and gives you a figure, and you disagree, you can file an appeal. The same is true here. If you feel that you’re not worth the money or if you can’t afford this valuation, you can argue with the priest and reassess your value according to the ability that you wish.
To give people a chance to visit, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the United States provides a “you name the price” in addition to the recommended fare. I tried it once. I paid the full price, and I paid one dollar for my friends from China, which they had gladly accepted. The same is true of Jehovah’s command to Moses. God is willing to give everyone the opportunity to dedicate themselves to Him. Although He gives everyone a suggested price, people still have the freedom to choose a price that they think is appropriate to them. So with regards to dedicating to God, you have no reason to say that you are not qualified. This is why Jesus was so angry about the person who buried his one talent.
As we said in the beginning, Leviticus 27:32 (NIV) says that no one may pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution on every tithe of the herd and flock that the Lord chooses. If anyone does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed. This is a special case because it talks about the fact that God’s election’s authority cannot be denied. Verse 26 also says that no one may dedicate the firstborn of an animal since the firstborn already belongs to the Lord.
But when it came to people’s volunteer dedication, it involved a variety of factors. For example, if you dedicated animals, house, and field, they could not be replaced, but they could be redeemed. But the price of the redemption was the value set by the priest plus one-fifth of the value. And unclean animals coudn’t be dedicated. They must be redeemed, and a fifth must be added to its value. If you didn’t redeem it, you’d have to sell it. What does this mean? This means that you need to pay the price when you dedicate yourself to the Lord. What I said is true. A person who totally dedicates themselves to the Lord understands the personal price that must be paid. This is also true for a person called by God. For example, why did Moses struggle so hard when God called him to dedicate his life to Him? You need to pay a high price when you accept God’s calling and when you dedicate to Him. Sometimes, we don’t understand what it will cost us.
Luke 9:57-58 (NIV) says: a man said to the Lord, “I will follow you wherever you go.” But Jesus said to him, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” This sentence was to remind this person that although he said that he would follow the Lord at any cost, he would endure hardships and pay a high price. Peter said boastfully to the Lord, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” (Matthew 26:33, NIV). But the Lord told Peter, “before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” (Matthew 26:34, NIV).
In the next verses, Luke 9:59-60 (NIV), the Lord asked another man to follow him, but the man said, “I would first bury my father.” The Lord Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” This person’s heart towards the world was dead but was not completely cut off. The Lord then helped him to overcome the world. In Luke 9:61 (NIV), another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62, NIV)
Look at the three examples above. In the first and third example, they took the initiative to dedicate. The Lord tells them the value of their dedication and the price they’ll pay. But the second example is that the Lord Jesus called the man to dedicate. Although the man bargained, the Lord did not permit him to negotiate. This shows that the Lord’s authority is something that people cannot resist. I remember Watchman Nee made the statement: “God only used soldiers recruited by conscription. He does not use enlisted soldiers.” In other words, when God uses certain vessels to perform specific tasks, He made the choice. It’s not just people volunteering themselves. Of course, if people are willing to dedicate themselves, then God will often remind them of the price they have to pay so that they won’t regret it. Because God is a great God, He never forces or manipulates people to dedicate themselves. Instead, He asks them to think clearly about the price they’ll pay.
I heard a story that touched my heart and still moves me every time I hear it. There was a Chinese Christian man who was arrested and sent to prison by the police. He could face years in jail, so he was reluctant to go. He looked back at his wife and young children as he walked. The wife was also a Christian. She didn’t cry but instead, she told him, “Just go. No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” She told him not to worry about her and their children and not worry about the price he had to pay. No doubt, the price he had to pay was high. But if he wasn’t willing to dedicate himself to God, he would not only lose the blessings on earth but also lose the rewards in heaven. This woman was strong spiritually. She raised her children on her own with help from her church while her husband remained in jail for many years. This is a true story told to me by a Chinese Christian that I know. It’s a story of dedication. China will have a great spiritual revival in the future, but these people are all pathbreakers. Undoubtedly, without their dedication and sacrifice, only a few people would be saved, and God’s work in China wouldn’t go forward. I believe that they will indeed receive rewards in the Kingdom of God in the future.
Leviticus 27:28 (NIV) says that nothing a person owns and devotes to the LORD may be redeemed. Once a person dedicates himself, whether a human being, animal, or family land, it cannot be sold or redeemed. Everything devoted is most holy to the LORD. But if you dedicated a field that was not eternally devoted, there are two options. One was to dedicate your family’s land. This was okay because it wasn’t an eternal dedication. The price was based on the years left until the next Year of Jubilee. But if he does not redeem the field or has sold it to someone else, it could never be redeemed. In the year of Jubilee, the buyer must sell the land. The land would not be given to him. It’s like the field devoted to the Lord; it would become His property and the property of the priests. The second option was if a man dedicated to the Lord a field he bought, which was not part of his family land, the field would revert to the person from whom he purchased it in the year of Jubilee. Don’t these two seem contradictory to the verse earlier? The earlier verse said if I sold the field to someone else, it could never be redeemed. But in the latter verse, it said that the buyer would revert the field to the person from whom he bought it.
Actually, it is not contradictory. There is a constant dedication process here. When we are sinners, it is like selling the field (which represents our inheritance), and when it is Jubilee, the field must be returned to us. Ephesians 4:8 says that the Lord Jesus’ led captive those taken captive.” This means plucking us from the hands of the enemy and offering us as a sacrifice to God in the ascension of Christ. The Lord Jesus came to preach our Jubilee. We, who were bound by sin and didn’t know God or the glorious inheritance that we were called into, will be released by God in the year of Jubilee. We were also offered as a sacrifice to God by Christ. Paul mentioned this in 2 Corinthians 2:15 (NIV), “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” This is the first stage of the experience, meaning once we are saved, God will “rescue us from the dominion of darkness and bring us into the kingdom of the Son he loves” (Colossians 1:13). Whether it is Christ, Paul, or other preachers who helped us receive salvation, we are their sacrifices or offerings to God.
But are we willing to dedicate ourselves to God as a sacrifice? This is the further experience in Romans 12. Paul even said in Romans 12:1 that we should offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. Since we are all saved and brought into the kingdom of the Son he loves, why should we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice? This is a deeper dedication. But it’s not necessarily an eternal dedication.
Exodus 21:1-6 (NIV) records that if you buy a Hebrew slave, he must serve you for six years, and he shall go free in the seventh year. But if he marries his wife given by the master and gives birth to a child while he was a slave, and declares that he does not want to go free because he loved his master and his wife and children, the master will pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life. This is an eternal dedication. God gives people the free will to redeem before a person eternally devotes himself. To provide a simple example, the Mormon Church encourages young people to dedicate two years of their lives to their missionary program, which involves preaching the gospel in various places. This involves a temporary dedication but is not for eternity. I went to Dayton, Ohio, a few months ago to participate in intensive learning at a theological seminary. I took an Uber, and the driver was from a Mormon family. He told me that his brother had participated in the two-year missionary program, but he did not participate. The church where I was saved also encourages this. It encourages many young Christians to dedicate two years of their lives to training and serving the Lord. After their two years, many return to their professions. However, many are determined to serve the Lord for life. This is like the eternal dedication here. Of course, we are using modern examples just to make an analogy. This is not to say that only full-time preachers totally dedicate themselves to God, and other professions don’t. No matter what profession we are in, we can fully dedicate ourselves to God.
Previously we mentioned that if you didn’t redeem the field or sell it to someone else in the year of Jubilee, it could never be redeemed. It’s the same story in Exodus 21. The redemption price represents paying a high price, which is the price for breaking the contract. We established a new covenant with God. The Lord Jesus paid his life as a ransom and redeemed us back to God, giving us a glorious inheritance in Him. This covenant is extremely important. Therefore, we must treat this covenant with caution. The covenant of life between the Lord and us will never be broken, but the personal and ministerial covenant between Him and us is agreed upon by the Lord and us. The Lord gives us the free will to choose, but once we decide to dedicate to God, we can be free if it is short-term when the agreement is over. If the agreement is not over, and we break the contract, we need to pay the redemption price. If, after our initial agreement, we declare that we love the Lord, do not want to be free, and are willing to serve Him forever, then we have made an eternal dedication. Eternal dedication cannot be redeemed. Of course, if God sovereignly elects someone, such as Peter and John, others cannot say anything to them, either good or bad. For example, you aren’t permitted to say that Peter was only a fisherman, so he wasn’t qualified to be the Lord’s top disciple. Peter asked the Lord what would happen to John. The Lord said to Peter, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:22, NIV). Each individual has a unique path lead by the Lord that can’t be interfered with by others. I repeat, except for God’s election, dedication is the greatest power in the universe. The reason why the church has no power it is too caught up in the world. It lacks dedication. Many Christians aren’t truly dedicated to the Lord because their lives are focused on their own desires and lifestyles. If God’s people would individually dedicate and commit their lives as living sacrifices, He could use us to change the world. The picture of Leviticus 27 should be an inspiration for us to dedicate ourselves more to God. May the Lord bless you and lead you to dedicate your life to Him.