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Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Deuteronomy 15 : 1-11

“…. for the Lord will greatly bless you ……. - only if you carefully obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe with care all these commandments which I commanded you today." - Deuteronomy 15:4-5

God taught His people about the times and seasons of observance and rest: six days of work and the seventh day rest.  When we ponder about our working environment, we can see where it originated and who had designed it. God made it for the welfare and good of not only mankind but the entire nature. Even the human body is created in such a way as not to work like a machine continuously, but to take timely breaks and adequate rest; just as the other creation.

God’s unique Plan: A cycle of holy time known as ‘Sabbath.’  Like six days of work and seventh day of rest, God established - six years of cultivation and seventh year of rest (Exodus 23:10-11, Leviticus 25:1-7); six years of business (master / slave) and seventh year of giving freedom to the poor.  

It is appropriate to study the weekly Sabbath (Lev 23:3) as well as Sabbath Year (7th Year) and Jubilee Year (50th Year) mentioned in Lev 25.  

Weekly Sabbath: “Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation.  You shall do no work on that day; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.”

Sabbath Year:  God gave the covenant to Moses on Mount Sinai and instructions of observance to keep faith with God. God told Moses, the land which He give His people is a reminder that the land belongs to God- they lived in it by His grace and under His direction. All of the laws of the Sabbath year and the Jubilee were based on this promise. If Israel would follow God’s direction while occupying the land, He would bless them abundantly.  As the people rested weekly from their work; the land was to rest every seventh year from its cultivation.  

Jubilee Year: The fiftieth year is called as the ‘Year of Jubilee’ (Lev. 25:2-7), the Year followed after the Seven Sabbatical Years (49 years), would have meant two (2) years of rest in a row for the land.  Why is it called a ‘Year of Jubilee’?

The fiftieth year ushered in celebration and rejoicing for the Israelites. The ram’s horn blown on the tenth day of the seventh month started the fiftieth year of redemption. The Year of the Jubilee involved a year of release from all liabilities (Lev 25:25-38) and all types of bondage (Lev 25:39-55). All prisoners and slaves were set free, all debts forgiven, and all property returned to its original owners. All labor was to cease for one year, and those bound by labor agreement were released from them. One of the benefits of the Jubilee was that both the land and its people enjoyed rest.

We hear about natural calamities, the latest one in the State of Kerala in India, which could be an after effect of our non-compliance of what we are supposed to do with nature/land itself. If the land is maintained in the Maker’s desired perspective, we can be assured of staying clear of such natural calamities.

The Jubilee points to a beautiful picture of the New Testament theme of redemption and forgiveness in which Christ, the Redeemer came to set free those who are slaves and prisoners to sin (Romans 8:2; Galatians 5:1; 3:22). The debt of sin we owe to God was paid fully on the cross when Jesus died on our behalf (Colossians 2:13-14), and we are forgiven the debt of sin forever! We are no longer slaves to sin, having been freed by Christ, and we cease to labour in our own efforts to make ourselves acceptable to God and enter the rest God provides (Hebrews 4:9-10)!

To Ponder: “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” (Proverbs 19:20)

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