DEBTORS AND CREDITORS
Lord, help us to develop a generous eye.
Read LEVITICUS 25:8–17
The Year of Jubilee
8 “‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath 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. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
13 “‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.
14 “‘If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other. 15 You are to buy from your own people on the basis of the number of years since the Jubilee. And they are to sell to you on the basis of the number of years left for harvesting crops. 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 is really being sold to you is the number of crops. 17 Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Our world is full of nominally religious people who bother the true child of God with their insincere professions (cf. 12:2). Let’s make sure we’re not one of them.
There is a national social and economic reset at Jubilee. Bad debts are written off, indentured servants are set free, and family lands sold or forfeited are repossessed. This process re-establishes relative equity in the system, so that the rich do not continue getting richer while the poor get forever poorer. It underlines the principle that all Israelites are free to live on the land graciously provided to them by God and none should be subjected to perpetual exploitation. Wealth in the form of goods, cattle or cash is not redistributed.
“Land is not part of the wealth we inherit from our ancestors but part of the debt we owe to our descendants,” according to an African proverb. Not surprisingly, its use and disposition are carefully regulated by God’s law. For example, intercropping, which could easily exhaust the soil, is forbidden. Here we see how the land should be made to lie fallow and rest every seventh year, and twice the period at Jubilee (1–12). God always keeps his side of the bargain: if Israel obeys, there will be enough food produced in preceding years to feed the nation during the lean years (18–22).
Among the most successful efforts to live out these principles in modern times has been the Jubilee 2000 Movement. Based on the teachings of this chapter, it championed the cancellation of debts owed to rich nations as we entered the new millennium. It was argued that these debts were unjust and they were not really payable. At its 1999 meeting in Cologne, the G8 countries agreed to cancel debts worth $100 billion. Jubilee 2000 has subsequently evolved to become the Jubilee Debt Campaign, which continues to champion the cause of specific indebted countries such as Greece. Are there such Christian initiatives you could support?
How can you work out the demands of this text in your own circumstance, with regard to land or debt or something else?
Lord, thank You for the example You have inspired in this chapter that motivates charitable deed far beyond its immediate scope.