Open to Lev 25
Today, take a break from Hero’s-
we are going to read about God’s heart for people through a principle called Jubilee.
How in God’s Kingdom, everybody matters.
And I mean everybody.
In our world, you have to have something to be considered important
Power, or money or both,
But In God’s Kingdom, you don’t have to have anything to be important.
And that is why, In this chapter 25 of Lev,
God is going to lay out for His people, some principles regarding how they are to live so they don’t forget to honor people.
The principle is called Jubilee,
Leviticus 25:1-7 (NIV)
1 The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai,
2 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the LORD.
3 For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops.
4 But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.
Leviticus 25:8-12 (NIV)
8 "'Count off seven sabbaths of years--seven times seven years--so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years.
9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.
So there is a Sabbath, a day of rest every 7 days.
Then every 7 years there is a whole year of rest, or Sabbath for the land,
Then every 49 years,
the 10th day of 11th month of that year-called
“The Day of Atonement.
On that day- blow a trumpet and declare that the next year, The 50th year, the whole year, is to be a year called the Year of Jubilee.
Outline has Two parts
Part A: What the Old Covenant principle of Jubilee is all about.
Part B: How To Be An Agent For The Spirit Of Jubilee In The New Covenant.
Part A: What the Old Covenant principle of Jubilee is all about.
1. A time for forgiving debt and setting prisoners free.
Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.
Liberty is the same as freedom, being set free.
this verse is engraved on the Liberty Bell
Because For us it was freedom from the tyranny of Britain.
For the Israelites, freedom from prison.
You see in those days people were not in prison for the same reasons we have people in prison today.
In our day many are in prison because they have done some really bad things, and we would not want to simply open the doors and set everyone free every 50 years.
But back then, prisons were debtors prisons.
They were in prison because they couldn’t pay back their debts.
It was’t like they didn’t have the kind of bad people we have today, they did.
They just dealt with them by another rule.
It was called stoning.
you could be stoned to death for simply talking back to your parents.
Which makes me glad I live under a New Covenant, I wouldn’t have lived this long.
Leviticus 25:39-43 (NIV)
39 "'If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave.
40 He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you; he is to work for you until the Year of Jubilee.
41 Then he and his children are to be released, and he will go back to his own clan and to the property of his forefathers.
Now, in our day, we have a way of distengihing between the have and have nots
We determine that by the number of credit card offers you get in the mail
I recently got this one:
Dear Mr. Osborn
The road to financial success has many milestones marking how far you’ve come. You have just reached a new milestone. You are pre-approved for our card.
( and when you read that you think- I’m not just approved. I’m pre-approved! I haven’t even done anything yet, and they already approve of me. My own mother doesn’t pre-approve of me, but they do.)
It goes on to say:
You should know pre-approval status is not easily achieved, but with your history, our decision was really very simple…
We want you as a card member.
Now, what if I got that credit card, and I maxed out my limit, and then stopped paying them?
what are the odds that they would write me another letter which says
“Jubilee” on the outside of the envelope?
On the inside says:
Dear Mr. Osborn
We are sorry you are having trouble paying us and we just want you to know that we have declared this to be a year of Jubilee for you, and we’re canceling your debt.
What are the odds of ever getting a letter like that? Huh?
But God says, there needs to a chance for the poor to get a fresh start.
In Deut 15 God gives clarification about the attitude you should have in applying this rule
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 (NIV)
7 If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.
8 Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.
9 Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: "The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near," so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin.
10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.
11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. (pretty clear)
The second thing that Jubilee is about
2. Have enough respect to not take advantage of someone else’s misfortune.
a. Have fair prices.
Leviticus 25:14-17 (NIV)
14 "'If you sell land to one of your countrymen or buy any from him, do not take advantage of each other.
15 You are to buy from your countryman on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And he is to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. (prorated)
16 When the years are many, you are to increase the price, and when the years are few, you are to decrease the price, because what he is really selling you is the number of crops.
17 Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the LORD your God.
b. Don’t charge interest.
Leviticus 25:35-38 (NIV)
35 "'If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.
36 Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your God, so that your countryman may continue to live among you.
God repeats this in Exo 22 and Deut 23 so they understand very clearly, that they are not to profit from another’s misfortune
By the way,
Other ancient civilizations like the Babylonians, and their Hammurabi Code, allowed for exorbant interest rates
The Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible says there are records of interest rates as high as 33% on food and 20% on money in the Babylonian culture.
The point is, God cares about greed and apathy toward the poor
The third thing that Jubilee is about
3. A rule for restoring what debt has taken away.
In our day, wealth can be expressed in property, but it can also just be paper wealth, but then all wealth was tied to property ownership.
And if someone got sick and couldn’t pay their bills and had to sell their land, in the Year of Jubilee that land was returned to the original owner
You can read about it in vs 25-28
Leviticus 25:25-28 (NIV)
25 "'If one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells some of his property, his nearest relative is to come and redeem what his countryman has sold.
26 If, however, a man has no one to redeem it for him but he himself prospers and acquires sufficient means to redeem it,
27 he is to determine the value for the years since he sold it and refund the balance to the man to whom he sold it; he can then go back to his own property.
28 But if he does not acquire the means to repay him, what he sold will remain in the possession of the buyer until the Year of Jubilee. It will be returned in the Jubilee, and he can then go back to his property.
What I want to do is ask: Why is God telling them to do this?
What is the point in all this?
To understand why you have to back up to verse 23
Leviticus 25:23 (NIV)
23 "'The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants.”
Stop here to say, in case some of you think I am making a political statement here, let me add this quote from
The Through the Bible Commentary says:
/This was not a choice between communism and capitalism, but it was God’s plan. He retained ownership of the land and Israel held it in perpetuity This prevented any one individual or group from getting possession of most of the land while the rest became extremely poor. It preserved a balance in Israel... /
Do you get the Sense that if you have debt Jubilee is a good thing?
a very good concept?
God wanted them to learn that the other side of the equation was good too.
Jubilee on the giving side was to be joyful too.
First a way of remembering that everything they have came from God in the first place,
and He was just letting them manage it for a while
Second: a way to be constantly reminded of their dependence on God,
Third: a way to be reminded to not allow things to become more important than people
What is interesting to consider, is the fact that this command of God was largely ignored.
It was not practiced much
The Pulpit Commentary says:
/The law of the sabbatical year was so hard of an observance by an agricultural people, that it was seldom or never acted upon until the Captivity (see 2 Chron. 36:21) (see Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ xi. 8, 6; xiv. 10, 6; xiv. 16, 2; xv. 1, 2; 1 Macc. 6:49; Gal. 4:10; Tacit., ‘Hist.,’ v. 2, 4). /
For some reason, when people get a hold of stuff, they just want to hold on to it
But this is not the way God wants us to live.
God promises through the prophet Isaiah He is gong to send His Son, the Messiah
He is going to form another community of people who will live out the spirit of this principle of Jubilee.
Lets open to Luke 4 and read about it.
read about the fulfillment of God’s promise that He was going to bring Jubilee to the whole world through His Son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Luke 4:16-30 (NIV)
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.
17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." (another name for Year of Jubilee)
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,
21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked.
23 Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.'"
24 "I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown.
25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land.
26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. (of course He talking about God blessing other people groups other than them, even their enemies.)
27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed--only Naaman the Syrian."
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.
29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.
30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
This is the first sermon Jesus ever given and this is how they respond.
Sometimes after the service if Linda has been working in the children’s department, and so wasn’t in the sanctuary for the message, she will ask me, “So how did it go?”
I have never had to day, They tried to kill me.
Sometimes it goes well,
Sometimes it’s just OK.
Sometimes not so OK.
But no one has every tried to kill me
In the time we have remaining
Since we are Followers of Jesus
Ambassadors of Christ
I want to talk to you about
Part B: How To Be An Agent For The Spirit Of Jubilee In The New Covenant.
1. Get clear about where you want your heart to be.
You see the real reason why the Children of Israel didn’t live out the law of Jubilee is because they couldn’t decide where they wanted their heart to be.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)
19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
I have come to think of this as the Motel 6 principle.
And Jesus tells us it works like this:
Let’s say you are on vacation, you are in another state or even another country.
And you are staying at the local Motel 6
What kind of attitude would you have about your room?
You would want to be comfortable, you would hang up your clothes and put your toiletries out and any thing else you needed.
But you wouldn’t spend all your money redecorating room would you?
Why, it’s not home, because you are just staying there for a short time.
And Jesus is saying, sure you need to enjoy it, make it comfortable, but don’t put too much into to it because it’s not really your home, it’s the Motel 6 compared to your real home.
Jubilee people get clear on where they want their heart to be.
Second way to be an agent for the spirit of Jubilee
2. Get clear about what lasts and what doesn’t last.
Matthew 25:31-33 (NIV)
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.
32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Matthew 25:34-36 (NIV)
34 "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
Matthew 25:37-40 (NIV)
37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
The first church really got this
Their proactively toward the poor was so prevalent that a Roman Emperor in the 300’s, named Julian the Apostate, tried to copy the “secret” of their growth
So he wrote to a priest in their religion of Roman paganism, and gave him this instruction: …create hostels for immigrants and foundations for the poor” …(because)…the Christians have by such means won their present dominance.
Julian the Apostate
They took the Jubilee thing very seriously
They owned it as one of the primary purposes of the church named after Jesus
The third way to be an agent for the spirit of Jubilee:
3. Get systematic about pooling your resources.
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 (NIV)
1 Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.
2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
turn a garden hose into a fire hose.
A cup into a barrel.
4. Get clear about the bottom line, that you can’t have Jubilee (the Day of Atonement) without Jesus.
That is why there was another name for Jubilee, the Day of Atonement.
You see there is only one thing that separates an organization that helps the least of these in our world, from an organization that is only a social service agency.
Luke 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
You see when a person who is poor spiritually realizes in Jesus He is adopted into the family of God and made an Heir to the riches of heaven, that is when the poor really are made rich.
When a person is set free from the bondages of sin by wonder of God’s grace, that is when the prisoners are really set free.
McGee, J. Vernon: Thru the Bible Commentary. electronic ed. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1981, S. 1:ix-440
 Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Hrsg.): The Pulpit Commentary: Leviticus. Bellingham, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004, S. 392