Research For the Land is God’s

Our series on the research for the Year of Jubilee. Today’s post focus mainly on the theme that THE LAND IS YAHWEH’S. This will involve the theological justification. One thing that I need to remember as a Christians is that all that I have been blessed with is God’s. I have done nothing to to earn or deserve any blessing. Yet, God in His grace has given me and all us so many blessings that I easily forget how much He does. I lose that gratitude and thankfulness. I let my human flesh get in the way and think it is mine, when in fact it all belongs to God.

  • The Year of Jubilee prevented the Israelites from oppression of one another (Lev. 25:17). It had a leveling effect on Israel’s culture by giving everyone a chance for a new start. It discouraged excessive, permanent accumulations of wealth and the deprivation of an Israelite of his inheritance in the land. Families and tribes were preserved by the return of freed bondservants to their own families. Permanent slavery in Israel was rendered impossible.[1]
    • This year was a constant reminder of God’s interest in economic freedom [2]
  • God’s designed arrangement was against both large estates and pauperism. The Israelites were repeatedly given the opportunity to begin anew, and the impoverished were enabled to maintain themselves in society. This year also reflected God’s provision for the soil’s conservation (Lev. 25:11–12, 18–21) During the year of Jubilee, the Israelites were once again taught that they were to live in faith, that the Lord would satisfy their needs[3]
  • It appears that the Year of Jubilee was a time of such complete remission of all debts that it became a season of celebration of freedom and grace. In this year oppression was to cease, and every member of the covenant family was to find joy and satisfaction in the Lord of the covenant. God had redeemed His people from bondage in Egypt (Lev. 25:42), and none of them was again to be reduced to the status of a perennial slave. God’s child was not to be oppressed (Lev. 25:43, 46); and poverty could not, even at its worst, reduce an Israelite to a status less than that of a hired servant, a wage earner, and then only until the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:40).[4]
  • The theological justification for the Year of Jubilee is based in Yahweh’s ownership of the land (Exod 15:13, 17). This concept is highlighted in Lev 25:23 which reads, “The land must not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are aliens and sojourners with Me.” The Israelites could not permanently sell land they did not own.[5]
    • While the land was a divine gift, safety and security in the land were contingent upon maintenance of the covenantal relationship (Lev 25:18). Yahweh’s judgment upon Israel ultimately meant expulsion from the land which was warned as early as Lev 18:24–28. The Year of Jubilee was to serve as a reminder that the land is special to Yahweh and a divine gift to the Israelites. The lasting ownership remained to the family which Yahweh initially chose to share ownership.[6]
    • The theological basis for this is found in v. 23: “for the land is mine.” He is the Lord of land and of economics.[7]
      • 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.
        • Parallel in the manna story of Exodus 16, where God instructs his people not to gather manna on the Sabbath, and instead he provides a double supply on the sixth day to carry them through the seventh. 91
      • Genuine reconciliation with God leads inevitably to a transformation of all other relationships.
      • Genuine holiness spills over into one’s relationship with others – in this case, especially the poor, the indebted, or the enslaved. 92
    • This special year reminded the Israelites that they did not really own the land but were tenants of God, the true owner (v. 23). Moses gave three cases in verses 25, 26-27, and 28 that explain how the people were to do this. A kinsman redeemer could recover the lost property, the seller himself could do so, and the year of jubilee would return it to him.
      • There are three Old Testament references to the responsibilities of a human kinsman redeemer (Heb. goel) in Israel. Additionally the psalmists and other prophets also referred to Yahweh as Israel’s redeemer.
        • When a person sold himself or his property because of economic distress, his nearest kinsman should buy back (redeem) the person and or his property if he could afford to do so (25:25).
        • Perhaps an Israelite could not afford to pay the ransom price so that he could keep a first-born unclean animal for his own use. In this case his nearest kinsman could do so for him if he could afford it (27:11-13).
        • When someone killed a person, the victim’s kinsman redeemer could take the life of the killer under certain circumstances (Num. 35:10-29).[8]
      • The provision of redemption by a kinsman (vv. 47-55) is a very important legal point in the Book of Ruth (cf. also Jer. 32:7-15). Boaz fulfilled the responsibility of a kinsman redeemer by buying Mahlon’s land for Ruth. Furthermore he fulfilled the duty of a levir by marrying Ruth.
        • The system of land ownership in Israel prevented complete capitalism or complete socialism economically. There was a balance of state (theocratic) ownership and private ownership.
        • We who live under the New Covenant also have a promise from God that if we put His will first He will provide for our physical needs (Matt. 6:25-33).[9]
        • “The acceptance of God’s sovereignty over his people and all their possessions leads to the magnanimous and compassionate treatment of the poor and the destitute, because at the end of the age everyone will be released from bondage.”[10]

[1] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Year of Jubilee. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[2] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Year of Jubilee. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[3] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Year of Jubilee. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[4] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Festivals. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[5] Babcock, B. C. (2012). Jubilee, Year of. In (J. D. Barry & L. Wentz, Eds.)The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Babcock, B. C. (2012). Jubilee, Year of. In (J. D. Barry & L. Wentz, Eds.)The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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

[8] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus,” Internet, available from http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/leviticus.pdf, accessed 22 November 2014.

[9] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus,” Internet, available from http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/leviticus.pdf, accessed 22 November 2014.

[10] Ross, Allen P. Holiness to the LORD: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, Baker Book House, 2002. 463

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