Leviticus 25:1-25.

1866 129 The ordinances of God in the old time of the law will be found, in their materials, to have been very homely, such as had to do with the commonest transactions of human life; and yet, in their meaning, to have disclosed or shadowed forth the deepest mysteries of Christ: for instance, the ordinance of the servant with the bored ear. The material there was the common matter of hiring a domestic, a thing, we will allow, of the most homely nature; and yet in it was involved, and through it was shown forth, the mystery of the riches of the grace of Christ. So in the scripture I am now looking at. The subject or material is the sale and purchase of land, the price at which such bargains shall be regulated, and the term of years for which such transfers of property shall continue. But the truths conveyed through this ordinance are some of the profoundest and most interesting parts of the ways of God. This quality in the divine institutions only sets them off to greater admiration, while conveying to the soul the knowledge of Christ. The more homely they are in their materials, the more serviceable they must be to us, and the more welcomed they ought to be by us. We should afresh honour the skill of the Master who can teach so profoundly with such a book. And we have another beautiful illustration of that truth, "To the poor the gospel is preached."

The divine ceremonies are not ceremonial, if I may so speak. They are ceremonies, as being the due ways of the house. But they are not stiff and stately. They do not keep us at a distance, or require some special occasions for their display. The disciple learns them, and the worshipper observes them, in the midst of family or social life. Among these institutions or divine ordinances, I would now look a little more particularly at that enacted in this scripture, Leviticus xxv. 1-25. The great principles of the whole chapter will be found, I believe, in this portion of it; and therefore I look only at so much of it.

First, there is the principle of "earnest," a well-known principle, I may say, in the actings of God with us. The grapes of Eshcol were the earnest of Canaan to the camp of Israel while still in the wilderness or on the way. The Holy Ghost is now the earnest of the inheritance in the saint travelling on through "this present evil world" to "the rest that remaineth." And the sabbath of the land, enacted in this scripture, was the earnest of the jubilee, while the term of forty-nine years, the age of the confusion and disorder of man's way, was still existing. It was it bunch of the fruit of the jubilean year brought into the midst of the wilderness again. This sabbath did not do the business of the jubilee, but still it savoured of it; it did not anticipate it, but it witnessed it. (See ver. 1-7.)

In the next place, we find the principles of redemption by purchase, and redemption by strength in this scripture; and the gap or interval, which we know there is between the seasons of these two actions of the Church of God, is likewise beautifully intimated. The kinsman, according to this ordinance, was to redeem the sold possession by paying the proper price of it to the stranger who had purchased it. This was to be done during the forty-nine years, the ago of misrule and confusion, "man's day," as Scripture would call it. But then, also, in due season, or on the fiftieth year, the jubilee would, by its own native strength or virtue, restore every such sold possession, and with it every sold Israelite, to that place in the land and among the people appointed at the beginning by the Lord of the land and the people. Every man was then to return to his family and his possession. God's order, disturbed for forty-nine years by man's traffic, was then to be asserted and exhibited again.

These are some of the deep purposes of God in Christ. Paul speaks of "the earnest of the inheritance till the redemption of the purchased possession" (Eph. i.), thus disclosing the very principles we discover in this beautiful ordinance, as we have seen the earnest, the purchase, the full redemption or restoration, and the necessary interval between the purchase and the redemption. So again in Romans viii.; for there he speaks of "the firstfruits of the Spirit" in the saints, while they wait for "the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body.*

[* Redemption by purchase through the blood of Christ, we know, is the title of redemption by strength by and by in the day of jubilee or kingdom of Christ; and so, in this ordinance, the connection of the two is shadowed by the trumpet sounding on the day of atonement.]

And what (I pause for a moment to ask) is the living power of such mysteries in our own souls? Peace and hope dwelling there together with the taste or enjoyment of the Spirit's presence; the peace which the accomplished purchase by the blood speaks; the hope which the approaching jubilee or full redemption inspires; and the consolation of the indwelling Spirit who is the seal of the accomplished peace and the earnest of the expected inheritance. When peace and hope dwell together in the soul, and the indwelling Spirit is enjoyed, we do, in living experiences, understand the mysteries of this fine scripture.

Further, however, still. This ordinance tells us, that the Lord God, if I may so express myself, will not allow man to have the last word, or to take eternity into his hand and dispose of it as he pleases. Man has a term of years granted him, in which it is left in his power to disturb God's order. But that license is limited. It continues, as we have seen, only for forty-nine years. But "the land shall not be sold for ever," says the Lord, "the laud is mine." (Ver. 23.) In the fiftieth year the Lord will assert His right and restore all things according to His own mind. A time of "refreshing" that will be, a time for "the restitution of all things."

What a bright and happy truth thus shines in this verse of our chapter! "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof," is the fine proclamation of Psalm xxiv., as of this ordinance. And then the challenge gees forth, "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?" i.e., who shall take the government of this earth and its fulness? And the answer is made by another challenge to the city-gates, the seat of government, to lift up their heads to the King of glory, the Lord of hosts; a fervent style and form of words whereby to convey the truth, that the Lord in strength and victory, the Lord as Redeemer and Avenger, the Lord alone shall have the government in the ages to come, when man, as the corrupter of the earth, shall have closed his career.

How does the voice of this ordinance thus join in concert with other words of the same Spirit! And I may again say, What bright and happy truth thus shines through this ordinance touching the common matter of buying and selling land! No material or subject, I may also again say, could be more homely, no mysteries more profound and blessed. We cannot but admire the wisdom which thus teaches, which finds, as people have aptly said, "sermons in stones and words in the running brooks;" which leaves the memorial of the Lord and His counsels in the midst of the occasions and circumstances of every-day life.

But further still. There are moral admonitions and principles of godly conduct here, as well as deep and precious mysteries. The Jew was taught by this ordinance to measure the value of his worldly possessions by the year of jubilee; for his sales and purchases were to be appreciated by either the distance or the nearness of that season. All his trading or worldly business, therefore, of necessity reminded him of the fiftieth year, or God's approaching kingdom. All his traffic in the land measured for him how near or how distant that season was.

What a consecration of all the business of life was this! What a constant sense of God did this maintain in the hearts of the children of Israel! Just as the Spirit, through the apostle, seeks to maintain the same in us, saying, "the time is short; it remaineth that they that have wives be as though they had none, and they that weep as though they wept not, and they that buy as though they possessed not."

But I must speak still once more. This beautiful scripture exhibits the encouragements of the Lord in obedience, as well as the commandments or admonitions to it. For the Israelites are here animated in the observance of the sabbath of the land by a promise of great increase every sixth year.

How lovely this is as well as all the rest! and how significant of another well-known way of the Lord! For to this hour, in our own dispensation, encouragements of the highest character are given to the obedience of the saints. For to those who keep His words, the Lord says, "My Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."