Leviticus 25 Commentary
The Sabbatical year and year of Jubilee are detailed here. For the sabbatical year the key line is resting the land. The people were not allowed to eat anything resulting from cultivation – not even when the plants reseeded by themselves in the cultivated fields. The LORD would feed them off natural foods. The difficulty we sense in this command (and discomfort) is reflected in our unwillingness to let the LORD run our lives. It is a test of trust. It was for Israel. I don’t think Israel obeyed the LORD fully on this one!
Sabbatical year came every seventh year.
It would be easier to say, 49th year but the LORD is counting Sabbaths. So the detailed description of the period is necessarily long. When the Bible takes the long route in describing things, just know that there is importance in the long curve. The 50th year would be celebrated as the Jubilee year. It meant both freedom and restoration. To many this would mean a fresh start.
The chapter expands our understanding of Sabbath. The key line for Sabbath observance is rest. Man has to replenish before another fresh start. The land also needed rest. It is the year of Jubilee that interests us most. Slaves were restored to the community as equal citizens. Land was restored to people who had lost it due to poverty. Debts were forgiven. It represented rest: rest from slavery, rest from debts, rest from loss and rest from the burden of guilty. Real Sabbath comes when the LORD Jesus calls out: – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11verse 28.
The law may appear repressive. The many Sabbaths may appear burdensome. But it is only so because of our poor understanding of the concept of Sabbath. It means rest and a brand-new start to the saint – in full energy and blessing of the LORD. When the LORD rested after six days, it was in order that man takes it up from there – in the blessing of the LORD! For man this blessing is both physical and spiritual. Both must be replenished on the Sabbath. The Sabbath concept is super important and is repeated severally in these pages. This chapter unwinds the concept of Sabbath in a very beautiful way.
The economic implications are resolved. The land that would be surrendered within two years should not cost the same as land that can be kept for fifty years. The details are interesting. The LORD would pour a blessing of produce in the sixth year to cover the losses of the seventh year (enough to cover three years) when the land rests. Interesting!
The ancient laws appear to still bear even today. Land under the Zambia law isn’t exactly sold. It is merely rented for a period of 99 years. The president holds it on behalf of the people. Leviticus 25 gives us details of possible land transactions meant to both protect the land and also the ownership.
The last section deals with slavery amongst the people of God. It is not allowed. They may transact with pagan nations but enslaving a fellow Israelite is strictly forbidden. They are already slaves of God.
Isn’t the LORD God lord over all? Why do we have a distinction between Israel and the pagans in terms of slavery laws? Why should an Israelite tycoon be allowed to enslave others? Difference in rules?
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