|Church School Lesson: Creating An Equitable Economy|
"Creating an Equitable Economy"
May 20, 2018
Background: Leviticus 25; Print: Leviticus 25:1-12;
Key Verse: Leviticus 25:10; Devotional: Psalm 50:1-15
Leviticus 25:1-12 (NKJV)
1 And the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying,
2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD.
3 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit;
4 but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the LORD. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.
5 What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land.
6 And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you,
7 for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land--all its produce shall be for food.
8 'And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years.
9 Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land.
10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.
11 That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine.
12 For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field.
Leviticus Chapter 25 (Commentary)
25:1-7: The Sabbath year provided one year in seven for the fields to lay fallow (unplowed). This was good management of natural resources and reminded the people of God's control and provision for them.
25:1-7: These special sabbatical laws begin with a reminder to give the land a rest every seven years (Exod. 23:10-11). The land was to be worked for six years, then allowed to rest for an entire year. During that year of rest, the Israelites were not allowed to sow their fields or prune their vineyards. They should not till or reap their fields. The idea was that the owner was not formally to reap and gather his crops during the seventh year, but to allow the field or vineyard to provide food for the common man or beast. The purpose of this law was to give the land itself rest much the same way the weekly Sabbath provided rest for the worker.
The regulations for observing the sabbatical year raised some questions. How could they expect to live off the crops while not tilling the land? To remedy this the Lord would provide an abundant harvest the sixth year to provide for their needs until the harvest of the ninth year was gathered in (since they wouldn't sow during the seventh year).
25:8-17: The Year of Jubilee was meant to be celebrated every 50 years. It included canceling all debts, freeing all slaves, and returning to its original owners all land that had been sold. There is no indication in the Bible that the Year of Jubilee was ever carried out. If Israel had followed this practice faithfully, they would have been a society without permanent poverty.
25:8-24: As the land Sabbath afforded the earth rest from cultivation, so the Jubilee granted those who fell upon tough times a fresh start. Following the seventh Sabbath (or forty-nine years), the Lord instituted a Jubilee year during which land that had been sold off reverted to its original owners. The passage assumes the main reason for selling the land in the first place was that people had been compelled through poverty to do so. The Jubilee would begin on the Day of Atonement of that year. On that day the blowing of the trumpet signaled a return of the land to its original owners and liberty to any who were enslaved. In this way the land was never permanently sold off. This would have upset the balance of land among the tribes.