Leviticus 25

Sunday Evening Bible Study

November 2, 1997

Introduction

A lot about the Jewish calendar is based upon sevens.

There were seven annual feasts, three of them in the seventh month, and the seventh day of the week was the Sabbath, a day of rest.

Now we will see that the seventh year was to be a year of rest for the land, the people, and their animals.

Leviticus 25

:2 shall the land keep a sabbath

Origin of our word "sabbatical".

Every seven years, the Israelites were to give the land a rest. The fields were to lie fallow for an entire year.

Today, farmers practice this to some extent with crop rotation.

Weíve learned that if you keep sowing the same crop year after year after year, sooner or later youíll deplete the soil, and it will be good for nothing.

We know from Deut. 15:1-11, that personal debts were absolved on the Sabbath year, and indentured servants were released as well.

In addition, Deut. 31:9-13 indicates that there was a national "Bible Conference" where the people were to get together and have the Word of God read and taught to them.

:5 That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap

Meaning an organized harvest.

You were allowed to gather from the fields, but only as you needed, just like the poor of the land.

:5 the grapes of thy vine undressed

Literally: "your grapes of Nazirite vines you shall not gather"

Nazir (ie Nazirite) meaning untrimmed, like Samsonís hair.

Itís almost as if the vines were dedicated to the Lord, as the Nazirite was.

:6 the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you

It wasnít like the land wouldnít produce any harvest, but the "volunteers", the crops that came up from left over seeds, would produce a harvest that would feed the people.

Lesson:

Follow Godís direction, and Heíll provide.

"Where God guides, God provides"

This required a certain amount of trust on the people of God, in that God would provide for them while they let the land take its sabbath.

They had a similar lesson with the manna.

In the wilderness, the manna would come every day, and each day they would collect one dayís worth of food.

But on Friday, they would be allowed to take two daysí worth of food, so they didnít have to work on Saturday, but could rest.

We see it in the New Testament, concerning giving to others in need:

(2 Cor 9:6-8 KJV) But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. {7} Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. {8} And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Iíve heard Greg Laurie say that at his church, they have found a correlation between a familyís giving record and their asking for financial assistance.

He says that theyíve never had to give financial assistance to a family who was a regular in their giving to the church. Iíve never had that checked at our church, but it sure is a curiosity.

Did Israel ever obey these Sabbath years?

2Chron. 36:21 indicates that they didnít, and the Babylonian Captivity was in part brought about to give the land the Sabbaths that were owed to it during the 500 years that it was neglected.

:8 seven sabbaths of years

The Jubilee was to take place after 49 years, on the fiftieth year.

:9 the trumpet of the jubilee

This was the "sho-far", the ramís horn

This was different from the silver trumpets that were to be blown at the first of every month, and on special occasions (Num.10:2)

This was thought to be the trumpet that was blown on the first of the seventh month, for the "Feast of Trumpets".

(Lev 23:24 KJV) Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.

Later, around 500 b.c., the rabbis (according to Chuck Missler) added a second day to the feast of trumpets. The actual celebration starts 29 days earlier, with over 90 trumpet blasts.

On the first day, the left horn of a ram was blown, call the "first trump", on the last day, the right horn was blown, called the "last trump".

Some have suggested that this is whatís being referred to in Ė

(1 Cor 15:51-53 KJV) Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, {52} In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. {53} For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

It was this ramís horn that was blown for the Jubilee.

Interestingly, the Hebrew word for Jubilee (yobel), is also means "ramís horn".

Itís of interest to note that Israel became a nation in 1948, so weíre coming up on a "jubilee" of sorts.

:10 proclaim liberty

To us Americans, this almost sounds kind of patriotic. In fact, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof" is inscribed on the Liberty Bell, which hangs in Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

deror - a flowing, free run, liberty

During the Jubilee, all property reverted back to its original owner family, determined when they first got into the Promised Land.

Prophetically, this year of Jubilee is what the coming Kingdom is going to be all about when Jesus sets up His reign in Jerusalem Ė

(Isa 61:1-3 KJV) The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; {2} To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; {3} To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

:15 according unto the number of years of the fruits

Since the land went back to the original family during the Jubilee, it wouldnít be very fair if you sold a piece of land and charged the same price for it as you would after the Jubilee. Price was to be based on the number of years of crops the land would be able to produce before the next Jubilee.

If we had twenty years left until the next Jubilee, I would take a guess as to how much a person would make with twenty years of crops, and base my selling price on that.

If I waited ten years, I would have to drop my price in half.

By the time of the last year, you wouldnít be able to sell the land for very much, because it would all be coming back to you in a year.

:17 Ye shall not therefore oppress one another

If you fear God, you wonít wrong another person.

Fearing God has to do with understanding who He is, and understanding that He is our judge.

(Col 4:1 KJV) Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

(James 2:12-13 KJV) So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. {13} For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

:21 I will command my blessing upon you

I love the sound of that. Can you imagine God saying to His angels in heaven, "Thereís Richard down there. Letís order up a nice big helping of blessing for him..."

If Godís people would follow Godís guiding, then in the sixth year, the fields would produce three times the fruit, to last the sixth year, then the seventh sabbath year, and into the eighth year when you would be planting your fields again.

:23 the land is Mine

Lesson:

It belongs to God.

We need to look at all our possessions and stop calling them "mine". All we have belongs to God. We are only stewards, caretakers of what God has entrusted to us.

This goes for children, family, possessions, even our time.

I think that this is one of the basic reasons, one of the basic principles behind the whole "Jubilee" thing. God is trying to teach us not to put our eyes on our possessions, but to put our eyes on Him.

Back in those days, you wouldnít be able to become some big land baron, owning entire counties and such. At least not for more than 49 years.

:23 strangers and sojourners with Me

Lesson:

Donít get too comfortable in this world.

What is an "alien"? (not with green skin...)

An alien is a person who doesnít belong. They arenít a citizen with full citizenship privileges.

Weíre to be aliens in this world.

HEB 11:13-16 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that {country} from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better {country}, that is a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

If youíre in a group of people (whether non-Christians or "so-called-Christians"), and theyíre talking about, or doing worldly kinds of things, you ought to feel a little bit uncomfortable.

If youíre watching TV and the hero of the show is committing adultery, you ought to feel a little bit uncomfortable, you ought to feel a little out of place.

When you find yourself getting too comfortable in worldly settings, you better make sure you check your citizenship papers.

:24 ye shall grant a redemption for the land

Whenever a piece of property was sold, there was to be a provision made in the sale that the property could be bought back by the original family (vs.24)

If you were too poor to buy back your property, a close relative (kinsman) could buy it back for the family.

gaal (or, goe_l) - kinsman, close relative, redeemer.

We see something similar to this in the book of Ruth, where Naomi the widow needs to raise some money, so in selling the land, she sells it to a relative, Boaz. The property is kept in the family. Rather than sell it to an outside party, and then to have a family member buy it back, she simply offers it first to someone in the family.

RUT 4:3 Then he said to the closest relative, "Naomi, who has come back from the land of Moab, has to sell the piece of land which belonged to our brother Elimelech.

These type of transactions took place at the city gates, before the elders of the city.

Itís all just like what happens in Revelation 5, when there is a gathering before the elders in heaven, and no one is found "worthy" to open the book, the title deed to the earth.

Jesus, as our kinsman redeemer, would buy back the world, which had been sold into sin, as the Lamb of God.

If there was no kinsman, then the property remained with the new owner until the Jubilee, when it automatically reverted back to the original family.

:28 in the jubilee it shall go out

If someone in your family, or even if you yourself become able to buy back the property you sold, you were allowed to do so.

Yet even if you were unable to buy it back, it came back to the family in the jubilee any way.

:30 shall be established for ever to him that bought it

If you lived in a walled city (like Jerusalem), and you had to sell your house, you could buy it back up to one year later.

So you sell your house and move. But a couple of months later the kids are all complaining, "We wish we hadnít moved...", then you could still go back and the buyer would be required to sell your house back to you.

At the end of the year, the house passed permanently into the possession of the new owner.

:31 houses of the villages

These were considered as fields, and had full redemption rights. They would also revert back to the original owners at the Jubilee.

:34 it is their perpetual possession

All houses in Levitical cities, walled or not, had redemption rights and reverted on the Jubilee. (:32-33)

The Levites were not allowed to sell their pasture land around the cities at all, not even for later redemption.

:35 thou shalt relieve him

You are to "sustain" him

You arenít to turn your back on poor people

The way the poor were taken care of was by allowing them to glean in the fields. (Lev. 19:10)

:36 Take thou no usury

Usury - The act or practice of lending money at excessive interest rates.

They were not allowed high interest in their loans to fellow Israelites.

In fact, they were not allowed to charge any interest at all to their fellow Israelites.

LEV 25:37 ĎYou shall not give him your silver at interest, nor your food for gain.

This didnít mean they couldnít charge interest in loans to non-Israelites, but only to Israelites.

They had problems with this.

Nehemiah 5 -

When the people had come back to Israel after being captive in Babylon, some of the poor people had to start taking out loans to make ends meet, even just to pay their taxes.

Their own fellow countrymen were glad to loan them money, but were charging high interest rates, then repossessing the lands as the people couldnít pay.

Nehemiah made them give back the property.

:38 I am the LORD your God...

The reason they were to act this way in loaning money to others was because Yahweh was their God.

Lesson:

Your relationship with God should influence your business dealings.

The Israelites are Godís people. They represent Godís ways of dealing with others. God wants them to be accurate representations of Him.

Does God charge us interest and drive us to ruin in His dealings with us?

No. Instead He gives, and gives, and gives, and rarely receives anything in return. What He often receives is very small with what He gives in the first place.

ROM 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Does God care for the poor?

Yes. The poorest of all are the widow and orphan.

EXO 22:22-24 "You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. 23 "If you afflict him at all, {and} if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; 24 and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

If you are claiming to be a Christian, there should be a difference in the way you conduct your business.

Being a Christian affects more than just going to church. It affects your whole life.

:42 they shall not be sold as bondmen

Israelites couldnít become actual slaves, but could become something more like indentured servants.

They are not to make slaves of each other.

At the year of jubilee, Israelite servants were freed.

We are in the context of the passage on the Jubilee, thatís why itís mentioned here.

But Hebrew servants were actually allowed to go free after serving six years. On the seventh they went free. (Exo.21:1-11; Deut.15:12-18)

They were not to be treated cruelly.

:46 they shall be your bondmen for ever

The pagan nations around Israel were to be the source of permanent slaves.

Foreigners living in Israel could also become slaves.

These slaves could become permanent slaves, not being freed at the jubilee.

These slaves could even be willed from one generation to the next.

Whatís all this slavery stuff?

This is kind of tough stuff to be reading about, especially in our day and age, having come out of the civil war, freeing the slaves, and more recently, civil rights.

Is the Bible teaching that slavery is okay?

Wiersbe: During the Civil War era, some Americans used passages like these to prove that it was biblical and right for people to own and sell slaves. But it must be noted that Godís laws didnít establish slavery; they regulated it and actually made it more humane. Slavery was an institution that had existed for centuries before Moses gave the law, and the Law of Moses forbade the Jews to enslave one another. God had to eliminate slavery in Israel before He could deal with it in the Gentile nations. Had the Jews treated one another as the law required, Israel would have been a testimony to the Gentile nations of the grace and kindness of the Lord. Instead, Israel failed to obey and eventually became slaves themselves, as recorded in the Book of Judges.

Pulpit Commentary: "Slavery was not forbidden in respect to non-Israelites. The world was not yet ready for it, as it was not ready in the days of St. Paul."

The Old Testamentís standards for Gentile slaves were far different than other pagan nations. They werenít just nice to Israelite slaves.

They were required to take a Sabbath rest (Ex.20:10; Deut.5:14)

They werenít to be mistreated (Ex.21:20-21)

The New Testament paved the way for the end of slavery.

The New Testament revolutionized the way slaves and masters were to relate to one another.

EPH 6:9 And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.

COL 4:1 Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.

Nobody should become a slave.

1CO 7:20-24 Let each man remain in that condition in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. 22 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lordís freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christís slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, let each man remain with God in that {condition} in which he was called.

A part of the worldís understanding of slavery included class and racial distinctions. The New Testament does not recognize these distinctions.

GAL 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

:47 sell himself unto the stranger

An Israelite could become enslaved to a foreigner who lived in Israel, but there were some restrictions. (vs.47)

There had to be a right of redemption. (vs.48)

An Israelite slave could be bought out of slavery by a relative, even by himself. (vs.49)

Value was calculated by how long until the year of jubilee. (vs.50-52)

If you had five years left, then you had to pay the owner five yearsí worth of wages to buy a person out of slavery.

Israelite slaves were not to be treated with cruelty. (vs.53)

These Israelite slaves were also freed, along with their family, on the year of jubilee. (vs.54)

:55 My servants

The bottom line, the Israelites werenít to become full slaves because they already had a "slave-master", God. God had purchased them from Egypt.

Lesson:

Serve the Real Master.

COL 3:22-25 Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who {merely} please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.

Even though we are in a sense "slaves" to our bosses at work, in reality we have another Master, and Heís the one we seek to please.