The 50th Year (25:10-13)
One of the questions we should all wrestle with is, “How can I own my things rather than my things owning me?” In a very material culture this is a constant battle of the heart. We want to “get ahead” or “be prepared.” Retirement is looming. Yet in spite of that we want to enjoy the moment, see our kids grow up, and rest in God.
The Year of Jubilee is one way God helped Israel balance these things. It was not just that twice in your lifetime you would “get a year off,” but that Jewish commerce and social customs were built around this calendar. For example, the price of a field was determined by the distance from the Year of Jubilee (25:15). Combined with the regular Sabbath, this made for a much more balanced life than the average modern American.
Reflection: How have you begun to be owned by your things? How does this show up in your work habits? What would you have to change in your budget and/or social lifestyle in order to rest in the way God prescribes? How does your attitude toward your things change the way (attitude, ethics, or amount of time) you relate to God and other people?
But Fear Your God
Three times in Leviticus 25 the motivation given for avoiding sin is fearing God (v. 17, 36, 43). In each case the reader is being exhorted to display self-control and sacrifice. The internal question of the reader would be, “Why shouldn’t I use this situation to my advantage, if I planned or prepared better?” Each time God’s general response is, “Do not take advantage of your brother, but fear your God.”
Our struggle is that we often forget about God in the “practical” parts of life (i.e., land sales, giving a loan, work environment). God is not saying, “Shake in your boots because if you do these things wrong I will zap you.” God is simply saying, “Do not forget that your first duty in all things—no matter how practical or trivial—is to model my character?”
Use the following steps to help you grow in the fear of the Lord.
- Make a list of the major areas of responsibility in your life.
- Under each area of responsibility make a list of people you interact with and decisions that are in your jurisdiction.
- Evaluate how you naturally define success in each area of responsibility.
- Now go back and think about God’s objectives for each person and area of jurisdiction.
- Put this list in the place where you regularly have devotions so as you study Scripture and pray you can make notes about what “fearing God” looks like in each area of life.
Hopefully you can see that fearing God, when understood correctly, is more exciting than intimidating. It brings eternal significance to the moments we often view as trivial. As we see how to live in the fear of the Lord it can bring our time of daily Bible study and prayer to life.
A Bold Promise (25:20-22)
Think about it, if you skip a year’s worth of planting that requires three year’s worth of food and faith. The old cycle was crop-food-seed. Now the cycle would have to be crop-food (year 6)-food (year 7)-food (year 8)-seed (year 8)-crop again. That is a big promise for God to come through on.
More than this, the Year of Jubilee was to be a time of celebration – not fear. It would be incredibly difficult to celebrate God’s goodness in year seven knowing we had to wait for the harvest of year eight before anything new went in the pantry.
Reflection: When you read the promises of God do you also consider the faith that is necessary to experience the joy intended in God’s promises? Do you read that last question with a sense of guilt (“I knew I wasn’t doing it right”), fear (“what if I can’t do my part right”), or enthusiasm (“God allows me to participate and grow in the fulfillment of His promises”)?
Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.