B’chukkotai (By My Statutes) Leviticus/Vayikra 26:3-27:34

1.Replacement theology is based on the premise that G-d rejected Israel because they rejected Him. His old chosen people were the physical descendants of Abraham. His new chosen people are the spiritual descendants of Abraham, in other words, not Jews but Christians. Do you find any verses in this Torah portion or other scripture to prove that is not correct theology? What scripture would you use if you talked to someone who believes in replacement theology to show them what you believe on the subject?

G-d keeps His word even if others break theirs. G-d does not, will not, abandon His people. The covenant with Abraham, given content at Mount Sinai, and renewed at every critical juncture in Israel’s history since, is still in force, undiminished, unqualified, unbreakable. 

In our Torah portion in Leviticus 26:44 it says, “And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor will I loathe them to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them; for I am the L-rd their G-d.”

There is no covenant anywhere in the Bible that is made with the church. The 31st chapter of Jeremiah talks about a “new covenant” that the L-rd will cut with the house of Israel, not with the church. There is no other new covenant mentioned in scripture. This new covenant brings forgiveness of sin. It brings knowledge of G-d and G-d’s law into the heart. In other words it brings salvation. And for those who no longer feel the “Old Testament” is valid today, read Hebrews 8:8-12. It basically states the same thing.

Gentiles who repent and believe can be brought into the commonwealth of Israel. Then they can share in the rights and responsibilities of the New Covenant. They can share in the benefits of the New Covenant but they cannot take it for their own. It was cut with the House of Israel. Gentiles must be grafted into it. An individual who truly separate from G-d’s covenants with Israel is, as Paul says, without hope and without G-d.” Eph 2:12, “At that time you were separated from the Anointed One, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and foreigners in regard to the covenant agreements relating to the promise. You possessed no hope. You were without G-d in the world.” 

(I am including scripture references that Donna included in her answers this week. Good work Donna. Lev.26:44, Malachi 3:6, Genesis 17:7-8, Galatians 3:13-14,29, Hebrews 6:13-20, Ezekial 36: 24-32, Romans 15:7-9, and Acts 3:22-26)

2.When you read chapter 26 what were the requirements for Israel to rectify their situation after they had sinned and been removed from the land because of their sin?

They had two choices on how to handle their situation. The first: “What did I, or we, do wrong?” The second: “Who did this to us?” It is not an exaggeration to say that this is the fundamental choice governing the destinies of people.

Focusing on who did this to me brings on a victim mentality or victim culture. It locates the source of evil outside myself. Someone else is to blame. It is not I or we who are at fault, but some external cause. 

The attraction of this logic can be overpowering. You may get a lot of sympathy. It is, however, deeply destructive. It leads people to see themselves as objects, not subjects. They are done to, not doers; passive, not active. The results are anger, resentment, rage and a burning sense of injustice. None of these, however, ever leads to freedom, since by its very logic this mindset abdicates responsibility for the current circumstances in which one finds oneself. Blaming others is the suicide of liberty.

Looking clearly at oneself, by contrast, is difficult. It means applying self-criticism.  Yet it is profoundly empowering. It implies that, precisely because we accept responsibility for the bad things that we have done and ask for forgiveness we can then, with G-d’s help, chart a new course for our life.  Leviticus 26:40-42 was the children of Israel’s answer to their situation. “‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors—their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me,  which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin,  I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.”

3.Israel’s success as a nation has always depended on one thing only. In some ways America has the same standard. What is it? 

Israel is a nation formed by a covenant with G-d.  Their success or prosperity has not depended on their power, their riches or any other thing. This Torah portion says  if Israel follows G-d’s decrees and keeps His commands, there will be rain, the earth will yield its fruit, there will be peace, the people will flourish, they will have children, and G-d will be in their midst. The results of disobedience is found in Leviticus 26:14-36.  Much of the warnings in these verses have come true for Israel in the past.

Israel is completely dependent on obedience to G-d’s direction for them as a nation. Do you agree that we too are a nation formed by a covenant, by dedication to a set of principles and by an exchange of promises to uphold and advance certain commitments among ourselves and throughout the world?

Those principles and commitments are the core of American identity. They make us a unique nation. But the other side of the conception contains a warning like the warnings spoken by the prophets to Israel: if we fail in our promises to each other, and lose our principles of the covenant, then we can lose everything.

A nation cannot worship itself and survive. Sooner or later, power will corrupt those who have the power. To stay free, a nation must worship something greater than itself, nothing less than G-d, together with the belief that all human beings are created in His image. Self-worship on a national scale leads to the extinction of liberty. 

In covenant societies it is the people as a whole who are responsible, under G-d, for the fate of their nation.  As far as what is happening today, the most effective measure that the modern State of Israel could take to improve their security situation is to turn back to the Torah and place hope in the Messiah.

4.Leviticus chapter 27 shows us another way of giving by making a vow or consecrating something. Can you think of stories in scripture that are examples of this? Can this be seen as a form of tithing? If so how is it different than what is done in congregations today?

In this Torah portion a number of things could be vowed. For example, a person could vow or consecrate his child.  We have two stories in Torah about devoting a child to G-d, Samson and Samuel.  

A person could dedicate his house, a portion of his field or a work animal to G-d. Most of these could not really be used in the running of the Temple. The Temple operated on money, silver. 

In this chapter we can read a detailed order of how, if a person wanted to redeem what they had dedicated, it should be done. But in redeeming an item, animal or person, 120% of the value was paid.

When a man dedicates a portion of all areas of his life to G-d, he is more aware that all he has comes from the Father’s hand. It is harder to get that all-encompassing picture when you drop 10% of your earnings in the offering plate each month.  We might not stop to think of how many ways G-d has blessed us unless we are purposely giving back to G-d in all areas of our life.

I expect we all have made a vow to the L-rd. Usually those kinds of vows are made under pressure and are forgotten when the danger or crisis passes. However, vows are not to be taken lightly. From G-d’s viewpoint, words are important and should be taken seriously. In Temple times vows or dedications were made in public with people around hearing the words. I would imagine under those circumstances a person would be more inclined to carry out his vow or redeem that item. I have been in churches where cards are passed out asking people to give toward a building program or support a mission project. Sometimes, after an emotional plea, people will pledge or vow to support the project with a certain amount of money.  But when they leave the building and go back to their busy lives they forget that pledge. G-d does not forget. Vows, pledges, promises to G-d are important.

My point in all this is that giving to the Temple far exceeded 10%. So, for believers today to think 10% will satisfy their obligation to G-d would be an error. This is not what scripture teaches us. For us to have a clear understanding of what G-d expects from His people we must read Torah, after all, it is what Yeshua taught from.