Leviticus: V. Rest

Fiction By Kyleigh // 4/11/2011

{this is the second-to-last installment of "Leviticus." The final one is a poem... to come... sometime. It's written now but we've been really busy lately with Irish dance and orchestra and hospitality and school}

 

5. Rest

 

Leviticus 23-27. 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.

 

 

Part One: The Merchant of Israel

 

            I weighed the bag of silver in my hand. Yes, it had been a productive week of trade. Tiring though it was, I never wanted it to end. My business, my trade with the nations around us, was finally on its feet and making more than enough to support my growing family. Six years it had been, six years of hard work. The Sabbath day was always a welcome rest. My wife reminded me each week of the goodness of Adonai in resting on the seventh day of Creation week. She would also gently remind me to put away my thoughts of business and remember that our lives, time, and possessions were His.

            But today I wanted to grumble about the Sabbath. The pagans still traded on the Sabbath. Imagine how much more I could make if I worked seven days a week! I looked out across the fields of Israel. They were thick with the fruits of labor, waiting to be harvested. There was far more than usual, for the next year would be a Sabbath year, for a year for the land to rest.

            Even so, it would only be a partial rest. We must still work to please Him, to be a holy people so He may dwell with us. Day after day, there were sacrifices that had to be made, and laws that had to be followed. It was tiring, but it was worth it for Him to be with us. But we all longed and prayed for a day where we could truly rest, enough of striving and law – we wanted true rest.

            I turned and gazed toward the neighboring lands. They had no Sabbath year. They did not stop for days at a time to celebrate the Passover or the feast of Booths. Couldn’t we remember Adonai’s help and provision without refraining from work?

            I then realized the irony of that thought. The feasts commemorated Adonai’s provision, yet here I was not trusting the very aspect of His character we celebrated.

            I must trust Him, not what my hands can do, I thought ahead to years from now when we would celebrate the year of Jubilee. That would be two years without any trade. My wife’s words entered my head.

            “We will have to give up our worldly goods one day,” She always said. “Rest today, let the pagan frenzy cease in our home.”

            I thought of the ways the nations lived. I pictured my sons, then the sons of the pagans. They were so different! I often heard the pagans I traded with talk about us. They shook their heads at our laws and lifestyle. We were peculiar to them; our days of rest were just one example of that.

            The nations could not rest as we could, because they did not have our holy God, only false deities. I thought of the promises Adonai had given us. If we lived as He commanded – if we rested, sacrificed, worshiped – according to His laws, He would walk among us. He would dwell with us, His people.

            But if we did not follow His laws, if we became like the nations, judgment would come. I feared His judgment, because I knew I was guilty, and would suffer His wrath if the blood of animals was not spilled in my place. I thought of my rebellion and hostility against the Sabbath year. The bag of silver felt heavy in my hands. I looked at the setting sun. It was time I was home for the Sabbath meal.

            I had one thought more before I turned to leave. Adonai would take us back from our rebellion, if we repented.

            Repent I must, I thought, and did. From then on, I did not labor in a frenzy like the pagans, but rested on the past provision of Adonai, and His promises for the future.

 

Part Two: The Rest of Christ

 

            It was endless, I thought, closing the scroll. I would not have survived were it not for the Sabbath. I imagined life in Israel before Christ – though perhaps I should really say long before captivity, before Israel turned from the laws of God. Ritual, sacrifice, labor, and feast. There would have been so much to remember! And at such great cost if something was forgotten! I thought of Nadab and Abihu, who had died worshiping in a way God had not commanded. His wrath was fierce, but His grace was ever-present in His provision. He had initiated and instituted a way of atonement for Israel, a way He could dwell with them. The feasts and sacrifices were permanent reminders of God’s goodness to Israel, so they wouldn’t forget and turn from Him. Israel was set apart. I pulled another scroll out of an urn. It was one of the prophets.

            Israel was supposed to be set apart, I corrected. They did not keep God’s laws, and became indistinguishable from the pagan’s. And so they were exiled. In deep-seated hostility, they kept not the Sabbath year, which meant there was no year of Jubilee, no year of redemption and forgiveness. They ignored God’s gracious warnings, and did not repent. Judgment and curses came upon them, as God had promised.

            The same would be upon me, I knew, but for one thing.

            The only reason I was not like ancient Israel was Jesus Christ.

            Christ, in whom all of the feasts were fulfilled – He was the Passover lamb, He was the provision of the feast of Booths… He was the Jubilee: freeing captives, setting at liberty the oppressed, and giving sight to the blind. It was because of Him, His death and appeasement of God’s wrath that God gave Israel a second chance – another way Christ was the Jubilee. He was a second chance for our debt of sin, because His blood paid that debt. Christ is our Sabbath rest. In Him we have rest from all the labors of our hands, the endless rituals that never go the job done.

            We rest from trying to please God, knowing that Christ has already done so.

            We rest from worrying, because this worldly life we have denied in following Christ. Our treasure is not on earth in money, but above, in Christ. We are set apart from the world, whose heart is on earth. But we can only be this way because of the God we serve, because of His provision of a Jubilee, of rest, of atonement.

            He is all of life. Remembering His greatness permeated the calendar of the Israelites, and the death of His Son permeates the life of His church. Christ’s atonement allows the only real joy, only real rest, only real peace, because in His death, Christ bore God’s wrath. I no longer must strive to fulfill every sacrifice, every Sabbath, every law, because Christ fulfilled the law for me.

            God can dwell in me, because Christ’s righteousness lives in place of the sin that separated me from God. Now, instead of being set apart from God, I am set apart from the world. I am strange to them, because God is strange to them – because they are not like God in their worldly passions.  They will laugh, thinking I live peculiarly, follow overly-strict morals, and have no pleasure. But I have greater pleasure than they, who toil and strive after vain things. 

            I rest in the Jubilee of Christ, the work of my Savior that has freed me from the burden of sin and made me right with God. And so I live not for me, but for Him, according to His standard of Holiness.

            I rest.

 

 

Comments

Wow

Very well-written and moving

Julie | Mon, 04/11/2011

Formerly Kestrel