Once In a Lifetime
Dear Lord, it is more comfortable to pray for peace. However, I need the fire of the Holy Spirit, flooding me, cleansing me.
Consider: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Gal. 5:1).
The idea of the Sabbath ran through Israel's experience. Not only was it observed weekly, but every seven years the land was given a rest (1-7). Then, after 49 years, the whole nation was to practice a Sabbath writ large. During the previous years some of their neighbors would have fallen into poverty and, if all attempts to rescue them (see 25-53) failed, they would find themselves enslaved until their debts were paid. The horror of slavery ran deep in Israel's psyche because of their experience in Egypt. So God introduced the Year of Jubilee during which all debts would be cancelled and people would return to their family property (12,13,54,55). The year started with the blowing of a trumpet and the proclaiming of liberty throughout the land on the Day of Atonement (9,10).
God's approach to economics emphasized compassion. The Year of Jubilee was designed to prevent the rich from become richer and the poor poorer. Israelites were never to "take advantage of each other," especially when someone had become financially vulnerable (17). God was concerned about family stability and knew the value of families having roots. Property ownership was obviously permitted, but Israelites were only ever stewards of their land, managing it on behalf of God. They were never to regard it as theirs by right.
As well as making good financial and social sense, these verses epitomize the wider heart and ways of God. When Jesus read Isaiah 61 at Nazareth, he was proclaiming that with his coming the ultimate Jubilee had arrived (Luke 4:14-21). Through him, the poor received good news, the blind their sight and prisoners were set free. We live in Jubilee times, so let's proclaim liberty (10).
What are the practical implications of the teaching about jubilee for our economies? How does it help us to appreciate the Good News of Jesus more fully?
Loving Father, Your heart is tilted towards the disadvantaged, the marginalized, and the needy. I confess at times I don't share that perspective. Open my heart to Your heart, a heart of love.
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