God’s Provisions for his people

Today, we will look at how God provided for His people. This is a continuation of our Jubilee series. One of the things to remember of this Jubilee is not only the freedom we can experience in Christ, but how we can trust God. Jesus gives us rest by His peace that is beyond all understanding. We can experience freedom from the disfunction of our human flesh, freedom in the Spirit to live, and freedom that allows us to stand firm in the promises of God. My hope in showing this post is to be a reminder that just as God provided in the past, He will do so again. it may not be the same way, but He is worthy of trust. Let go of the worry (speaking to myself more than anyone!), experience God’s freedom today, and see how He provides.

Jubilee Provisions

Yahweh specified three main provisions for this year of joy and freedom in which the people and the land were to be sanctified. These provisions were: the land was to rest, all land was to revert back to the original owner, and finally all the Israelites who were slaves were to be set free.

Similar to the year proceeding Sabbatical and Jubilee years, God instructed the Israelites to give the land rest and trust Him to provide the sufficient resources for this year. God gives His assurance that if the Israelites remain faithful to keep His command to give the land rest, they will not lack any food. Yahweh will bless the sixth year so much that it will produce a crop sufficient enough for the next three years including the crop of the sixth year, the following year when the land is resting and a third year while the people wait for that crop to come in.[1] “The unattended growth of the field was for the poor to glean and for the beasts of the field (Ex 23:11).”[2] In a way beyond the Sabbatical Year, in the Jubilee observance God is putting his people in an even more potentially devastating situation in which they needed to trust him.[3] The directions for Israel parallels Exodus 16 where God instructs his people not to gather manna on the Sabbath and instead He provides a double supply on the sixth that will give them enough for the seventh.[4]

“The land must not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are aliens and sojourners with Me” (Lev 25:23). Yahweh owns the land and the Year of Jubilee was to remind the Israelites that the land is God’s divine gift to them.[5] The Israelites were stewards of the land, they had no right to sell it permanently. All the land was to revert back to the original owner with the original distribution of land to remain intact. This would also allow families to have their land restored to them that were forced to sell it (that had not been redeemed) by way of the Year of Jubilee. The kinship structures were to prevent the control of land leaving the original owners; however if the land was sold, it was to be sold commensurately with the number of years remaining until the Jubilee, for then it would be returned to the original owners.[6] This is, the land of promise that is sufficient for all, its bounty is to be shared and these laws for Jubilee command a concern for the landless classes.[7]

As the land belongs to God so do His people, the Israelites, and as such they cannot be held as permanent slaves. The liberation of slaves reflects the redemption of God and preserves the freedom he has given.[8] “Presumably the return of land coinciding with slave release would give freed slaves the resources to make a new start.”[9] This provision did not apply to foreign slaves, but if the Israelite were a slave to a resident alien, the right of redemption applied.[10] This law reminds the Israelites that as God redeemed them from the harsh slavery of the Egyptians (Lev 25:55), they are servants of God and all slaves should be treated generously not cruelly.

Summarily, God designed the Year of Jubilee as a way for preventing oppression on others. It was a time to start anew and discouraged excess wealth. Slaves were set free and could return to their families thus permanent slavery was rendered impossible. The Israelites were taught that they were to live by faith trusting in the sustaining power of God to satisfy all their needs. This was to be a celebration of freedom and grace because all debts were paid and God had redeemed His people. God is the Lord of land and of economics. “The Jubilee legislation found in Leviticus 25 presents a vision of social and economic reform unsurpassed in the ancient Near East.”[11] There is no clearer statement to be found that affirms the role of Israel as the blessed, yet undeserving vassal whom God had graciously brought into covenant fellowship with Himself.[12] “The cancellation of debt and restoration looks forward to the full and final redemption of the people of God.”[13]

[1] Christopher Bruno, “’Jesus is Our Jubilee’…But How? The OT Background and Lukan Fulfillment of the Ethics of Jubilee,” in JETS 53/1 (2010), 86.

[2] C. Brand, et al, eds., “Festivals.”

[3] Victor P. Hamilton, Handbook on the Pentateuch, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 291.

[4] Ibid.

[5] B.C. Babcock, “Jubilee, Year of.”

[6] Christopher Bruno, “Jesus is Our Jubilee”, 87.

[7] P.A. Barker, “Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee,” 702.

[8] Martin H. Manser, “Year of Jubilee.”

[9] P.A. Barker, “Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee,” 703.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Robert Gnuse, “Jubilee Legislation in Leviticus: Israel’s Vision of Social Reform,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 15:2 (1985): 43.

[12] Eugene Merrill, Everlasting Dominion: A Theology of the Old Testament, (Nashville: B & H, 2006), 373.

[13] P.A. Barker, “Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee,” 703.

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