Creating an Equitable Economy

(Remembering with Joy)

Leviticus 25:1-12

 

MAY 20

 

Devotional Reading: Psalm 50:1-15

Background Scripture: Leviticus 25

 

Keep in Mind:

 

“Ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” Leviticus 25:10 

 

Lesson Aim:

 

EVALUATE the implications for land ownership in Israel in the year of jubilee;

ASPIRE to reflecting biblical values in giving; and

DESIGN plan for faithful sharing of personal wealth. 

 

Background

 

Leviticus is a book filled with Laws that governed how the Israelites, and particularly the priests, were to approach God.  It is about holiness and how an unholy people could have a relationship with a holy God.  These laws included instructions for how to offer sacrifices and also for how to remain ritually clean in various circumstances.

 

The book also contained laws concerning the required feasts and holy days in the Israelite community.  Leviticus 25 speaks of one of these holy days: the Year of Jubilee.  In the Year of Jubilee, giving the land rest and freeing others from bondage is not only good, it is also a requirement for communal holiness.  In God’s eyes, we must take are of the land and our brothers and sisters. 

 

Lesson Commentary: 

Give the Land Rest (Leviticus 25:1-5) 

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,

2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the Lord.

3 Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof;

4 But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.

5 That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.

 

Moses is speaking to the people of Israel regarding the command for them not only to personally take a Sabbath, but also grant the land a time of rest as well.  For six years, the Israelites are to work the land, and on the seventh year, the land is supposed to have rest, without plowing or sowing, nor pruning or gathering of the harvest.  The land is supposed to lie still.

 

This rest was to happen for a whole year.  This Sabbath rest for the land was a display of  the reality the Israelites’ position as stewards of the land and not its owners.  God gave them the land as a gift, and therefore they were charged to take to take care of it.  Christians are to have this perspective in every area of life; we are stewards and do not own anything.  This should cause us to pause and remember the God who is the source of all of our gifts.

 

1.     Do you think the abundance of laws turns people off from reading the book of Leviticus?  Why or why not?

2.     Since most of us do not have an agricultural lifestyle, how can we practice this command of allowing the land to take a Sabbath?

3.     Under what conditions does God expect us to apply the Jubilee principle today, if any? Why?”

4.     Life is not about hoarding and accumulating goods for our own personal gain.  What can we do to make sure everyone has enough? 

 

Let God Provide for You (Leviticus 25:6-7) 

6 And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee.

7 And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.

 

While the previous verses state that no gathering was supposed to happen, many commentators have reflected that organized agricultural practices is in view.  Otherwise, the allowances of verses 6-7 contradict what the Israelites are commanded to abstain from in verses 4-5.  What Moses is saying to the Israelites is that they are to abstain from organized agricultural production and only eat from the fields what is necessary for sustaining their lives.

 

These verses are a reminder that God has provided everything necessary for us.  Our task is not to slave and grind constantly in order to live.  Many of our endeavors are driven by selfish ambition and greed.  God provides for all of His children and we are to enjoy and remember that He, not we, sustains life.

 

1.     Would it be hard to obey the command to cease work?

2.     Life is not about hoarding and accumulating goods for our own personal gain.  What can we do to make sure everyone has enough?

 

Testimony After the Test (Leviticus 25:8-12) 

8 And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.

9 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.

10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.

11 A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.

12 For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.

 

The Israelites are to not only give the land rest, but also proclaim liberty to the enslaved.  After seven Sabbaths of years (49 years), they were to blow the trumpet on the Day of Atonement and signal an emancipation of all laves and the return of property taken payment for debt.  This Year of Jubilee would have the same instructions regarding the land as other Sabbath years, no organized agricultural labor was to take place, but the people would eat from the uncultivated increase to sustain life.

 

No record of biblical history indicates that the Israelites actually practiced the Year of Jubilee.  In fact, the prophet Jeremiah says that punishment from God came to Israel because they failed to give the land rest.  The command to practice a Sabbath of Sabbaths highlights the importance that God places on the common good as opposed to the selfish pursuit of individual gain.

 

1.     Do you believe it would be beneficial to have a national program to free people from debt?  Why or why not?

2.     In light o the instructions to the Israelites regarding the Year of Jubilee, what would God’s Jubilee include in our time?

3.     How does this lesson motivate you to care for the earth of fight for economic justice?

 

 

Lesson to Live by:

 

Economic equality and vary or the earth are very controversial topics.  As African Americans. These issues are very important to our history and our present.  As descendants of slaves, we have been overlooked when it comes to a collective share in our country’s wealth.  Many have advocated for reparations to no avail.  At the same time, our standard of living is higher than most of the world’s just by virtue of living in the United States.  Additionally, our country exploits other communities globally for resources and labor in order to provide luxuries to satisfy our greed.  

 

Daily Bible Readings

 

Monday: Keeping the Sabbath Yields Good CropsLeviticus 26:3-6
Tuesday: Lands and Houses Shared with All
– Acts 4:32-37
Wednesday:
Bear Each Other’s Burdens – Galatians 6:1-5
Thursday:
I Will Maintain Covenant with You – Leviticus 26:9-13

Friday: Fairness in Buying and Selling Property – Leviticus 25:13-17
Saturday:
Helping One Another Face Difficulties – Leviticus 25:35-38
Sunday: Sabbatical Year and Year of Jubilee
Leviticus 25:1-12

 

 

 

 

Sources:

 

Achtemeier, Paul J. Harper's Bible Dictionary. 1st ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985.

Biblical Studies Press: The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press, 2006.

Brown, Raymond E., S. S., Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S. J.; Roland E. Murphy, O Carm. The Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Dummelow, J. R., M.A. Rev. The One Volume Bible Commentary. New York: The Macmillan Company Publishers, 1961.

Harris, L.R. Leviticus, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary vol 2. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1990.

Hartley, J.E. Word Biblical Commentary: Leviticus. Dallas: Word Books, 1992.

Morris, William, ed., Dictionary of the English Language, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981.

Rooker, Mark F.: Leviticus, electronic ed. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001, c1994 (Logos Library System; The New American Commentary 3A)

Spence, H. D. M.: The Pulpit Commentary: Leviticus. Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004; 2004

Strong, James, Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries, Electronic Edition STEP Files, QuickVerse, a division of Findex.com, Inc., Omaha Nebraska. 2003.

Vine, W.E. Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Edited by Merrill F. Unger and William White Jr., Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996.