20–26 March 2016.
We have all gone through bad times in our lives. In ancient Israel, when people were in trouble they often made a vow to God, a promise to give some great offering if God would only hear their prayer and save them. Sometimes vows were also made during happy times. When celebrating good news, people may express their thanks to God by promising a gift of some sort.
In ancient Israel, the things most often vowed as a sacrifice to God were people, animals, or property. But when the disaster is past, and the time to fulfill a promise comes, not everyone still wanted to pay. So Leviticus 27 outlines the price that people should pay to buy back their promise.
We can understand offering property and possessions to God. But sacrificing people seems like a horrible thing to do. While we know that ancient Israelites did offer human sacrifices to God, most of the time those people were substituted for a cash payment. So how much was each person worth?
When we look at the price list, we notice a big difference between the way Israelites spoke and the real way they treated others. Israel’s creation stories speak about men and women both having God’s image, but on the price list women were only worth half the value of a man. Today not much has changed. We say we value women, and our pop songs sing nice words about women, but in reality women are still treated very poorly in our society.
The Bible also talks about respecting wise elders, but on the price list we see how cheap elderly people were valued. Today too, how many elderly people get pushed aside and forgotten, or treated like they lack value?
And even though biblical figures desperately wanted children, when it comes to paying real money children (especially girls) were almost worthless. Today we also claim that children are important, but they tend to be the first who are abused and abandoned.
This isn’t how Jesus wants us to behave, treating others on a scale of worthlessness. So this week, let’s do our best to treat everyone we meet the same: as a valuable and loved child of God!
Pastor Stephen Lakkis