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all represent how God has designated the people of Israel to be h
set apart for a special purpose.
Central to this section on holiness is a collection of ethical commands.
These commands embody the essence of why the Israelites have been
set apart—to demonstrate the just and compassionate character of
God. This collection includes commands on showing generosity to
the poor, treating the elderly and handicapped with dignity, paying
fair wages and on time, freeing people from exploitation, caring for
foreigners, and so forth. These practices would identify the covenant
community as God’s new model for humanity. They are meant to overcome the exhibitions of pride and selfishness that so often mark human
The fourth and final section of Leviticus explores a process known
as redemption, which means “buying back.” Redemption addresses
the critical issue of recovering something that has lost its holy status.
If something that was supposed to be “set apart” has been treated
as common, can it be reclaimed for its special purpose? The answer
is yes. Ancestral land, for example, can be reclaimed during a special
time of freedom called the Year of Jubilee. A possession given to God
in a vow may be repurchased. Israelites who were sold into slavery can
obtain their release.
At the end of the book, an important question is raised with regard
to the issue of redemption. If the Israelites forfeit their role as a holy
people through disobedience and are exiled from the Land of Promise, can they ever be brought back? Again we find that restoration is
possible: God declares that Israel can and will be brought back from
punishment and exile. This final section of Leviticus assures the nation
that God would never forget his covenant with them.
Repeatedly in Leviticus, God tells his people, “You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” Just as God is set apart, high
above anything in creation, he calls his people to be set apart in this
world. He chooses to accomplish his purposes for the world through his
people, and if necessary, God himself will redeem his people so they
can complete their work.