What does it say?
God commands that the lampstand must burn continually and that the bread must be continually refurbished on table in the tabernacle’s holy place (Lev 24). A half-Israeli/half-Egyptian blasphemer is taken outside the camp and stoned to death for blaspheming God’s name.
God’s ceremonial calendar extends beyond a single year (Lev 25). Every seventh year the people are to rest the land completely. In the fiftieth year of Jubilee Celebration, properties revert back to the original tribal leases. Further legislation relates to other issues of property ownership and redemption of those who sold themselves into slavery due to economic distress.
What does it mean?
The attention to the fire in the lampstand and bread on the table points to the state of continuous worship God desires of us.
Capital punishment for a blasphemer sounds outrageous today, but certainly underscores the seriousness of blaspheming God’s name. Much more than what we call cussing, blaspheming God’s name is an attack in some way on God’s very nature. Old Testament capital punishment is not offered as an universal solution for serious crime, but as an appropriate response in the historical, cultural context to guard respect for law, life and humans created in God’s image.
The command to rest the land every seventh year is a bit of impressive ecological stewardship. In essence, the Year of Jubilee was like a giant reset button returning economy and society to their default states. Most seriously, it stands as a constant reminder that no one really owns the land, but is granted use of it by God (25:23).
How will I respond?
The instructions about the lampstand and table of bread convict me of God’s desire for consistency in my life. Where is consistency in my life lacking? Am I developing consistency in my prayer and Bible reading? How about consistency in my ministry service? Can God and others depend on me and on my word? What step might I take today to address this issue? Sometimes it’s a matter of deciding to be responsible in self-discipline, but if this is a continual problem, I should probably seek wise counsel or ask for help from my small group or circle of safe friends.
Though not under the law, I do want to live in submission to God and bring glory to him. Do I ever dishonor him by thoughtless language or actions? Do I use racial slurs or otherwise use language, humor or gestures that may be offensive or even harmful to others and thereby dishonor the God I serve?