B’Chukotai – “In My Statutes”

This week’s parasha is titled, B’Chukotai, which means, “In my statutes” and covers Leviticus, chapter 26:3 – through 27:34.  This passage is end of the book of Leviticus.

Chapter 26 is a reminder about the blessings of following Adonai’s teaching and the curses that happen when Adonai’s statutes are disobeyed.  A very similar reminder occurs later in Deuteronomy, chapter 28.

The blessings of following Adonai include rain that allows crops to grow and abundance that will mean plenty of food for the people.  In addition, there will be peace in the land, Five Israelis will chase one hundred enemies and one hundred will chase ten thousand.  There will not even be the need for fear from wild beasts as they these will be eliminated.

But the opposite is true for disobedience.  Seed will be sown uselessly since it will be devoured by Israel’s enemies.  The land will not yield or produce fruit.  Beasts will roam the land causing grief to households both in terms of attacking people and cattle.  There will also be attacks by enemies and pestilence (disease) will become rampant.  Towards the end of this section, there is a warning that things will get so bad that cannibalism, a great sin by any understanding, will take hold.  What terrible consequences for ignoring or disobeying the Lord’s statutes.

However, from verse 40 to the end of this chapter, if the people confess their iniquity and disobedience of the Lord’s instructions, He will not forsake them, but remember them and His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even if they are being held in foreign lands by enemies.  Adonai will not forget His people.

Chapter 27 contains rules concerning valuations and this is a difficult concept for us to understand in the modern world.  The valuation discussed in chapter 27 occurs when a person makes a vow regarding an individual, himself or others, an animal, a house or land.  Now, remember, a vow is a gift that is freely given to Adonai.  As such, that person was expected to follow through on the vow of commitment to Adonai throughout the period of the vow, which might even be for their whole life.  We see this type of vow in Numbers, chapter 6 where we have the Lord’s instructions regarding the vow of the Nazirite, a special period of consecration and service to the Lord through a vow, which is outlined in verses 2 – 8.  We can also see the terrible consequence of vows such as in Judges 11:29 – 40 where Jephthah vows to offer the first person that comes out of the door of his house as a burnt offering in return for victory over the sons of Ammon.  Well, his daughter is the first person out of the door and after a 2 month mourning period, she returns and her father fulfills the vow.

However, in chapter 27, we are talking about making a symbolic vow, in other words, a vow that can be redeemed by a valuation, the payment of money.  The valuation on individuals is based on the age.  For example, the valuation of a young child was less than that of a young adult because the work that could be done by an adult is much more than that which can be done as a child.  This type of valuation extended to animals, rules of differentiation between clean and unclean animals as well as houses and land.  The valuation for land was additionally complicated because the land that was being symbolically consecrated might not even be owned by the person making the vow.  It might have been purchased from another family, but based on the statutes of the Year of Jubilee, that land would be returned to the original owner so the valuation had to take that into account who owned the land as well as how long until the Year of Jubilee.

Some comments about today’s parasha:

First, we have the same choices today regarding obedience or disobedience to the Lord.  We can willfully choose to ignore or reject these blessings.  One of the greatest disobediences that we see in the world today, which has occurred since the first century, is the rejection of Yeshua as the Son of God.  There is such a flippant disregarding for our Messiah today.

Additionally, as I was thinking about obedience or disobedience to the Lord’s statutes, it occurred to me that when this is mentioned in the Old Testament, obeying the Lord and the blessings that follow are listed first.  I did not do an exhaustive search, but the passages that I looked at indicate this:  Obedience, and the blessings that ensue come before the mention of disobedience and its negative consequences.

And, it occurred to me how right that is.  For example, as a parent, when you speak to your child and tell that child that following parental rules means…. you list the positive outcomes.  That is because this is what you want your child to do because you know that it is the most beneficial for your child and you want your child to have that blessing.  You give the consequences of disobedience later because you know that disobedience will be negative or hurtful to your child.  The obedience and the blessings are the primary objective.  In the same way, Adonai wants us to receive His blessings through our obedience to Him.

And, we are reminded in chapter 27 how sacred vows are, even if they are taken for symbolic purposes.  When you commit yourself to the Lord, you must commit not just your words, but your actions.  In the modern sense, when thinking about committing ourselves to the Lord, we must do this through our time, our talents and our treasures.  This type of worship is active, not passive.

Messiah knew all about commitment and being obedient.  He left heaven to walk among us knowing that the reconciliation that He would provide for us to return in a right relationship with Adonai would involve human pain and suffering, so much so that it would require His death on the Cross to achieve.  Yet, He did it willingly, in full commitment and purpose and demonstrating the ultimate obedience that He had for Adonai, His Father, and also His great love for us.