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Animals that are unclean according to the law are not be donated in fulfillment of a vow because they are not acceptable as sacrifices. They are taken to the market and sold; the money gained from the sale supports the priests and their service.
Eternal One: 14 If a man dedicates his house as a sacred gift to Me, the priest will determine its value—either high or low—and whatever he determines will be its price. 15 If the person who dedicates his house desires to buy it back, he must pay that price plus ⅕, and the house will be his once again.
16 If a man dedicates any piece of his property to Me, the value fixed must be in proportion to the amount of seed it requires for planting. Six bushels of barley seed is worth 20 ounces of silver. 17 If he dedicates his field during the year of jubilee, the fixed value still stands. 18 If he dedicates his field after the jubilee year, the priest will determine its value according to how many years remain until the jubilee and reduce it accordingly. 19 If the person who dedicates the property desires to buy it back, he must pay that price plus ⅕; then the piece of land will be his once again. 20 If he decides not to buy the property back, or if he has sold it to another person, then he forfeits the right to redeem it. 21 If the original owner releases the field in the jubilee, it must be treated as a holy gift dedicated to Me; then it will become the property of the priests.
22 If someone dedicates land to Me that he has bought and is not part of his ancestral lands, 23 then the priest will determine its value according to how many years remain until the jubilee. The man must pay that amount as his sacred gift to Me. 24 In the jubilee year, the property will revert back to the one who sold it, its original owner; it will be his once again.
25 All of your assessments should be based on the sanctuary’s weights: the basic unit is ⅖ of an ounce.
26 Firstborn animals already belong to Me, so no one is allowed to dedicate any firstborn animal—be it an ox or a sheep. It is already Mine. 27 If it is an impure animal—unsuitable as a sacrifice—then the person making the vow may redeem it for its value plus ⅕. If the owner decides not to redeem it, then it must be sold for its proper value and the sanctuary will keep the proceeds.
28 Surely nothing devoted to Me as an irrevocable vow, regardless of what it is—a person, an animal, or a piece of property—can be sold or bought back; it must be destroyed. Anything devoted in this way is most holy to Me and cannot be put to another use. 29 No person who is devoted irrevocably to Me[a] can be redeemed. He must be put to death.
30 One-tenth of everything the land produces—seeds from the ground and fruits from the trees—belongs to Me and is sacred to Me. 31 If a man desires to buy back a portion of My ⅒, he must pay its value plus ⅕. 32 Regarding your livestock, ⅒ of the herd or flock must be set apart for Me as holy. As you count them, every tenth animal that passes beneath the shepherd’s rod belongs to Me. 33 It does not matter whether the animals are good or bad, and one must not think about switching or replacing one for another. If he does, then the original and the replacement are both sacred and cannot be redeemed.
34 These are the commandments the Eternal gave to Moses for the people of Israel at Mount Sinai.
The people of the Lord have been out of Egypt for more than a year; and God has provided direction, instruction, and correction from inside columns of smoke, from on top of mountains, from anywhere His people were located. But now they have the special congregation tent—a complex, multilayered tent within an enclosed court, which they can take along on their journeys and set up anywhere. This is a holy place for the people of the Lord. It is the place for them to offer sacrifices; and inside this special tent, behind a heavy curtain, is the holiest place of all, where their spiritual leaders receive revelation from God. There are two Hebrew words used for this special place. One is literally “tent” while the other is “dwelling.” The word “tent” usually refers to the entire congregation tent, where any Israelite may come to the outer court and sacrifice. The word “dwelling” is used for that extra holy place or sanctuary behind the curtain, the residence of God or the place of His revelation where only certain priests were allowed.
Now the people are ready to begin the preparation to move into the land promised to them by the Lord. First, He sets about organizing this enormous band of escaped slaves.
1 Nearly two years after they had left Egypt, the Israelites were still in the wild desert area of Sinai. But on the first day of the second month, the Eternal One spoke to Moses in the tent of congregation.
Eternal One (to Moses): 2 Add up exactly how many Israelites there are, but don’t merely count them. Identify all the people by their clans and families, right down to the individual name of every male. 3 Furthermore, those who are 20 years old or older shall be considered potential soldiers. Aaron can help you organize them into groups and record them as armies. 4 Your leadership team will include someone from each tribe who is the head of his extended family. 5 They are: Elizur (Shedeur’s son) from the Reuben family; 6 Shelumiel (Zurishaddai’s son) from the Simeon family; 7 Nahshon (Amminidab’s son) from the Judah family; 8 Nethanel (Zuar’s son) from the Issachar family; 9 Eliab (Helon’s son) from the Zebulun family; 10 from the two branches of Joseph’s family, Elishama (Ammihud’s son) from the Ephraim family and Gamaliel (Pedahzur’s son) from the Manasseh family; 11 Abidan (Gideoni’s son) from the Benjamin family; 12 Ahiezer (Ammishaddai’s son) from the Dan family; 13 Pagiel (Ochran’s son) from the Asher family; 14 Eliasaph (Deuel’s son) from the Gad family; 15 and Ahira (Enan’s son) from the Naphtali family. 16 These are the tribal leaders and representatives of the extended families, chosen by the community. They are the heads of the clans that compose Israel.
17 Moses and Aaron gathered these chosen leaders by name; 18 and on the first day of the second month, they brought the whole community together to register by their clans and extended families and to specify individuals who were 20 years old and older. 19 This Moses did in the wild desert area of Sinai, just as the Eternal One had directed him to do. 20-21 This is the tally of the twelve clans by extended family, identifying those for battle (20 years old and older): from Reuben’s tribe (Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob, whom God renamed “Israel”)—46,500; 22-23 from Simeon’s tribe—59,300; 24-25 from Gad—45,650; 26-27 from Judah—74,600; 28-29 from Issachar—54,400; 30-31 from Zebulun—57,400; 32-35 from Joseph, the Ephraim tribe—40,500; from Joseph, the Manasseh tribe—32,200; 36-37 from Benjamin—35,400; 38-39 from Dan—62,700; 40-41 from Asher—41,500; 42-43 from Naphtali—53,400. 44 This is the organization that Moses, Aaron, and the heads of the twelve clans recorded according to their extended families. 45 Those who were 20 years old or older and could fight in the army 46 totaled 603,550.
Three times God calls the Israelites to count their people. In Exodus 30, they count the population to develop an orderly funding program for the construction of the congregation tent. Here God tells them to count the men eligible for fighting in their militia; and in chapter 26, after a plague has ravaged the people, they will once again determine the size and makeup of their fighting force. It is interesting to note the change in the number of warriors within each of the extended families. Some tribes experience a tremendous loss in the number of fighters, and other tribes have a considerable increase:
47-49 The Levites were not included in this registration and organizing of the extended families’ tribe members because the Eternal One had expressly told Moses not to count them.
Eternal One (to Moses): 50 You will make the Levites responsible for the congregation tent that houses the terms of the covenant, its furnishings, and accoutrements. They will be the ones who carry all of it, maintain it, and camp around it. 51 When it’s time to move, it will be the Levites who pack up that tent; they are the ones who shall set it back up. If any outsider tries to get involved, he will be killed. 52 The rest of the Israelites will camp according to their troops, each extended family under its own banner. 53 Remember: only the Levites shall camp around the congregation tent that houses the terms of the covenant, guarding and servicing that place to spare the Israelites an outbreak of My wrath.
54 The Israelites did all this, exactly as the Eternal One had commanded through Moses.
Few people in the Gospels show as much persistence and eagerness in their desire to be healed as blind Bartimaeus. He is not about to be swayed from his efforts to attract Jesus’ attention. The discouragement from everyone around him only makes him shout louder, determined to get the attention of the healer he has heard about.
The blind man’s actions demonstrate his faith. Beggars in first-century Palestine would spread a cloak on the ground in front of them to collect donations from compassionate passersby. It probably isn’t much, but for Bartimaeus, his cloak is all he has. He throws it aside without a thought—probably along with the coins he collected that day—because he is certain that once he meets Jesus, he will not need to be a beggar anymore.
11 When they had gotten close to Jerusalem, near the two villages of Bethphage and Bethany and the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of His followers ahead of them.
Jesus: 2 Go to that village over there. As soon as you get into the town, you’ll see a young colt tied that nobody has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it back to Me. 3 If anybody stops you and asks what you’re doing, just say, “The Lord needs it, and He will send it back right after He’s done.”
4 Everything happened just as Jesus had told them. They found the colt in the street tied near a door, and they untied it.
Bystanders: 5 What are you doing?
6 They answered as Jesus had instructed and were allowed to take it, 7 so they brought the colt back to Jesus, piled garments on its back to make a comfortable seat, and Jesus rode the animal toward Jerusalem. 8 As they traveled, people cast their cloaks onto the road and spread out leafy branches, which they had brought from the fields along the way. 9 People walked ahead of them, and others followed behind.
People (shouting): Hosanna! Rescue us now, Lord! Hosanna!
Blessed be the One who comes in the name of the Eternal One![a]
10 And blessed is the kingdom of our father David, which draws closer to us today!
Hosanna in the highest heavens!
Jesus enters Jerusalem, but this time He radically redefines the people’s every expectation. His descriptions to His disciples of where they will find the colt He is to ride and how they shall get it has an air of prophecy and supernatural knowledge. He rides a donkey instead of being carried into town on the backs of servants (in a litter as a conquering king would do), fulfilling the prophecy that the King will come riding a donkey (Zechariah 9:9). After all, donkeys are a poor man’s mount, and even in this triumphal entry, Jesus makes it clear He does not intend to conquer and rule in a worldly way. Now, for the first time, He allows the crowds to voice their excitement about who He is and all that He has been doing.
11 To the sound of this chanting, Jesus rode through the gates of Jerusalem and up to the temple. He looked around and saw that evening was coming, so He and the twelve went back to Bethany to spend the night.
12 The next morning, when they departed Bethany and were traveling back to the city, Jesus was hungry. 13 Off in the distance, He saw a fig tree fully leafed out, so He headed toward it to see if it might have any ripe fruit. But when He reached it, He found only leaves because the fig season had not yet come.
14 As the disciples listened, Jesus pronounced a curse on the tree.
Jesus: No one will ever eat fruit from your branches again.
This is the only time recorded in the Gospels when Jesus uses His supernatural power to destroy. The tree is “fully leafed out”—a stage that usually comes after figs are ripe and not before. Because the tree looks as though it ought to have fruit but doesn’t, it is a perfect illustration of people who believe they have the good fruit of righteousness even though their actions are void of true compassion and love, as empty and useless as leaves. And so Jesus curses the fig tree, not out of anger with the tree itself, but as a warning to hypocrites who think their appearance is more important than the fruit of their actions.
15 They continued into Jerusalem and made their way up to the temple.
Upon reaching the temple that morning, Jesus dealt with those who were selling and buying animals for sacrifices and drove them out of the area. He turned over the tables of those who exchanged money for the temple pilgrims and the seats of those selling birds, 16 and He physically prevented anyone from carrying anything through the temple.
At the temple, Jesus responds in shock to the scene before Him. He acts decisively and with great emotion against those who have turned God’s house into a place where pilgrims are exploited. He has a message and, like the prophets of old, this message is better seen than heard. Because the temple leadership has allowed profiteers and merchants to set up shop in the court of the Gentiles, they are making ridiculous profits. For the people who come long distances to worship, it is a normal practice to have merchants selling animals for the pilgrims to sacrifice. What is not normal and what is immoral is where and how they transact business. Jesus takes issue with robbers profiteering in His Father’s house.
18 The chief priests and the scribes heard these words and knew Jesus was referring to them, so they plotted His destruction. They had grown afraid of Him because His teachings struck the crowds into astonishment.
19 When evening came, [Jesus and His followers][d] left the city again. 20 The next morning on the way back to Jerusalem, they passed a tree that had withered down to its very roots.
Peter (remembering): 21 That’s the fig tree, Teacher, the one You cursed just yesterday morning. It’s withered away to nothing!
Jesus: 22 Trust in God. 23 If you do, honestly, you can say to this mountain, “Mountain, uproot yourself and throw yourself into the sea.” If you don’t doubt, but trust that what you say will take place, then it will happen. 24 So listen to what I’m saying: Whatever you pray for or ask from God, believe that you’ll receive it and you will. 25 When you pray, if you remember anyone who has wronged you, forgive him so that God above can also forgive you. [26 If you don’t forgive others, don’t expect God’s forgiveness.][e]
This song is attributed to the sons of Korah. It praises God for His strength and protection and for Jerusalem and its temple where God uniquely dwells. It invites the world to witness a future when wars and striving will cease and all the nations know and worship the one True God.
1 God is our shelter and our strength.
When troubles seem near, God is nearer, and He’s ready to help.
So why run and hide?
2 No fear, no pacing, no biting fingernails.
When the earth spins out of control, we are sure and fearless.
When mountains crumble and the waters run wild, we are sure and fearless.
3 Even in heavy winds and huge waves,
or as mountains shake, we are sure and fearless.
4 A pure stream flows—never to be cut off—
bringing joy to the city where God makes His home,
the sacred site where the Most High chooses to live.
5 The True God never sleeps and always resides in the city of joy;
He makes it unstoppable, unshakable.
When it awakes at dawn, the True God has already been at work.
6 Trouble is on the horizon for the outside nations, not long until kingdoms will fall;
God’s voice thunders and the earth shakes.
7 You know the Eternal, the Commander of heavenly armies, surrounds us and protects us;
the True God of Jacob is our shelter, close to His heart.
8 Come, gaze, fix your eyes on what the Eternal can do.
Amazing, He has worked desolation here on this battlefield, earth.
9 God can stop wars anywhere in the world.
He can make scrap of all weapons: snap bows, shatter spears,
and burn shields.
10 “Be still, be calm, see, and understand I am the True God.
I am honored among all the nations.
I am honored over all the earth.”
11 You know the Eternal, the Commander of heavenly armies, surrounds us and protects us;
the True God of Jacob is our shelter, close to His heart.
23 Mischief is the sport of fools,
but wise actions bring joy to a person with insight.