There is this fascinating account in Leviticus 27 about how the priest would place a determinate value on people, animals, houses, and fields. The whole chapter describes how the valuation process took place.
If it were a man 20-60 years old, their value would be 50 shekels of silver. If it were a woman of the same age, it would be 30 shekels (Vs. 3 -4) For the male 5-20 years old, their value would be 20 shekels. For the female of the same age it would be 10 shekels (Vs. 5) If the baby were male, then his value would be 5 shekels. If she were a girl, her value would be 3 shekels. (Vs.6) For the male 60 years old and above, their value would be 15 shekels. For a female of the same age, it would be 10 shekels. (Vs.7)
The priest would also set a value for an animal depending on whether it was good or bad (Vs. 12) And if the owners wanted to redeem it themselves, then they would have to add 20% to the priest’s valuation.
If it were a house, the priest would set a value for it. (Vs. 13) The house whether good or bad would get a valuation from the priest. And if the owners wanted to redeem it themselves, then they would have to add 20% to the priest’s valuation.
Much like what happens in the real estate business of modern-day. Usually, the estate agents visit a house on open day and evaluate the home. They put a price on the home based on a variety of factors. Once the value is determined they list the house and buyers can now buy the house.
A field’s valued was based on the seed it produced. (Vs16) In the year of Jubilee, the priest’s valuation would stand. And if the owners wanted to redeem it themselves, then they would have to add 20% to the priest’s valuation.
This is the interesting bit for me
If the person was too poor to afford the valuation payment, then they would go to the priest and the priest would set a value for them. (Vs. 8) This is fascinating at least for me. Too poor means you couldn’t pay for your own valuation.
Literally, the priest determined the value of everything and anything.
Women and the world of self-esteem
I think it is essential for us to know our value because if we don’t the world will determine our value. The world’s valuation system is usually based on money, materialism, and emotions and nowadays it’s also based on your sexuality.
Women in particular are so prone to this kind of valuation. Walk through a supermarket or bookshop and see the laundry list of magazines and books that offer women advice on dieting, exercise, relationships, money, religion, love, career development and even motherhood. Usually, an air brushed photo of a celebrity dons the cover as proof that they did what is being offered.
Our young women experience tremendous pressure from social media, advertising companies, media and even the church on how they should look and feel. Hence, the rise of anorexia and bulimia as they try to morph into what the world. This is so wrong. And what is the motivation behind this whole industry? Profits!
Modern day slavery
Who would have thought that slavery still exists in modern times? We all thought it was an ancient practice eradicated by advances that human beings have made especially in the area of human rights. Modern day slavery and human trafficking is horrendous because human beings are valued in terms of money. People are trafficked all over the world for the sake of profits. According to the ILO, the modern-day human slavery market is worth $150 billion dollars. Girls, women and children bear the brunt of this evil and wicked practice.
So both labor and self-esteem are on the same side via the modern-day slavery markets, social media and advertising companies and do the same thing but albeit in different ways. Bottom line – profits
How does Jesus value us?
Leviticus 27 then has to be interpreted in light of what Jesus did and what He continues to do for us. It’s amazing that when you put on what I call the “Jesus lenses”, everything becomes clearer – precisely because Jesus is hidden in the Old Testament but revealed in the New Testament. A common adage would be this – the Old is the New concealed and the New is the Old revealed.
In Leviticus 27, we have a priest. He sets the value on the person, animal, field, or house whether they are good or bad.
In the New Covenant, Jesus is our high priest. Jesus our high priest is from the order of Melchizedek. A different lineage. (Hebrews 5:6,10) So then we who are of the New Covenant have to get our valuation from our High priest who in this case is Jesus Christ. He is the one that sets our value. He sets a value on us.
In the Old Covenant, the value is given in monetary terms. The valuation is in shekels of silver depending on the age, gender of the person, the goodness or badness of the animal, field or house. Silver in bible interpretation is the metal for redemption.
In the New Covenant, we have not been redeemed by silver and gold but by the precious blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18-20) Jesus who had no blemish or spot in him laid down his life for me.
He purchased me by His blood. Therefore, I am worth what His blood cost.
Are you poor?
If the man or woman were too poor to pay for their valuation, then the priest would set a value for them. The priest would decide their value. It’s possible to read such a verse and not see it for what it is.
You and I were poor when we were presented to Jesus our high priest. Me? Poor? No way. Yes ways dude! You were poor. See that’s where the problem is. We think we were somewhat rich or doing well when Jesus met us. We usually think we were good people. We weren’t like the drug dealers, prostitutes, murderers or those fanatics that blow themselves up. Nah, we were good people. Or so you think. From Jesus’ perspective all of humanity is poor. That’s how He sees us.
How did we become poor?
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) We lost the glory when our first parents sinned in the Garden of Eden. Since then, we all are poor. We literally lost everything – our position, prestige, wealth, and access. We lost it all. This is how Paul describes us in Ephesians 2:12 – we were strangers, aliens, had no hope and without God.
So when we think that we are good we are actually poor people thinking that we are good. It is from God’s vantage point that He sees us poor. Even in our best day, we are still short. We are still poor.
This is why grace is all Jesus and none of us. We bring nothing to the table and he brings everything to the table. He buys the food, cooks the food, sets the table for us and invites us to eat with him. Grace is Jesus the wealthy rich guy, paying off our debts and then accepting us into his family as one of his kids.
Jesus our high priest sets the value on us because we couldn’t afford our own valuation.
Are you good or bad?
The Old Covenant priest set the value for the animal, house or field depending on whether it was good or bad.
Our high priest Jesus has set a value on us regardless whether we are good or bad – whether we got our act together or not – whether our performance has been good or bad. Is this good news? Indeed! It does not matter whether your behavior has been good or bad, what matters is the value that Jesus has placed on you.
Now, I’m not going to tell you what the world says. The world tells you that you are bold and beautiful, strong, wise, independent, rich, etc. The world says look into you inner being and discover your meaning and significance. The world says you have potential and power and you have a destiny to fulfill. That’s what the world says to you.
In the gospel we look into who our high priest is and that determines our value. This is the counterintuitiveness of the gospel. The gospel and the world are juxtaposed in this area. We don’t look for value inside of ourselves. We look outside to Jesus our high priest for our value and affirmation.
1 John 4:17 boldly declares that as Jesus is so are we in this world. There is so much truth in this little unknown scripture that has suddenly burst to life in the church world.
Hey, refuse to allow the world or even the church to determine your value or worth.
You are not your experiences – whether good or bad
You are not your educational level.
You are not your career achievements.
You are not your relationship status – single, married or complicated
You are not your sexual orientation – straight or LGBTQI
You are not your title – Dr./Mr./Mrs./M.D/Founder/Apostle/Chairman/Bishop/Honorable etc.
You are not the color of your skin black, white, Indian, coloured, or brown.
You are not your bank balance.
You are not your years of spiritual duties and activities – church attendance, tithing, leading worship, speaking in tongues, all night prayer vigils, fasting etc.
You are not your vision, purpose or destiny.
You are not your weight, diet or exercise.
You are not your gender – male, female or transgender.
Who sets my value? Who determines my worth? My high priest – Jesus – I am who he is. What did he pay for my valuation when I couldn’t do it myself? He paid it with his life. He shed His blood for me.
You are who your high priest says you are. He set the value on you. He purchased you with His blood. He points at you and says to you, “You are me.”
That’s what grace looks like