“But if he does not have sufficient means to recover it, then what he sold shall remain in the hand of the buyer until the year of jubilee. In the jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his property,” Leviticus 25:28 ESV.
After reading through Leviticus about God’s regulations for how the Israelites were supposed to live as His people, we are reminded in Leviticus 25 of the purpose for it all. God was calling His children to holiness and establishing rhythms of rest and restoration to distinguish them from the surrounding nations. After God rescued the Israelites from slavery, He knew it would be hard for them to remain distanced from the Egyptian culture they had been saturated in as slaves.
The Israelites were to be a set apart people who displayed the character of God in how they lived and cared for others. This involved a pattern of a seven-year Sabbath rest followed by a fifty-year Sabbath called, The Year of Jubilee. This jubilee year was specifically designed to remind the Israelites of who was in control and providing for their needs. It was a time for God’s people to proclaim their freedom from Egypt by honoring Him with their praise and showing grace to those who had fallen on hard times.
As an agricultural society, the people depended on their land for survival. God set up a plan that in the fiftieth year, regardless of debt, the land was to be returned to its original owner. This celebratory practice went further than the seven-year Sabbath in cancelling debt, freeing slaves, and restoring equality and justice to allpeople (Leviticus 25:35-55).
Can you see the beautiful, redemptive thread being woven, pointing to the end of the sacrificial system, canceling all our sin debt, freeing us from our slavery to sin, and one day restoring all that is broken in the world?
In our text, the Israelites are given instructions on how to carry out this jubilee year regarding the property God lent to them. They were sojourners in this land as they made their way to Canaan, their promised land. This fiftieth year illustrated God’s gracious, freedom-giving power as a foretelling of our own redemption through the sacrifice of Christ.
As believers, we, too, are traveling to our promised land. We, too, are dependent on God for our daily provisions and care. And we too, are all given the same grace to come and find rest in Christ. That is why the Israelites were to blow the trumpets and rejoice in the Year of Jubilee, because it pointed to a future hope like none of us can imagine.
In Leviticus 25:23-34, a holy God set the standard for grace. He taught the Israelites to treat others with equality and justice regardless of how poor, vulnerable, and faulty they were. The jubilee made space for the humanness of His people, and it foreshadowed God’s plan through Christ to offer forgiveness to all who live in the holiness of God.
We don’t have sufficient means to recover our relationship with God on our own, but Jesus does. All that is required for our redemption is to accept His gift of grace. Christ buys back and restores all that was lost. What a jubilant truth!
Is there an area of your life where you withhold grace from people God loves? Is there a part of your heart that rejoices over the misfortune of others? We are called to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44,20:7, 21:8, I Peter 1:16). Today’s passage teaches us that we can’t honor God and oppress people. Let’s ask God to help us extend grace and mercy in the same way He showers it on us.
My Personal Reflection:
I struggle to display God’s holiness when I begrudge giving to people who have made irresponsible choices in my eyes. If God prompts me to help, I need to be obedient, and we are called to forgive seventy times seven and not become puffed up in our own eyes. Lord, help me to love and forgive as you have shown me through my own salvation.
Additional Thoughts About Leviticus 25:23-34:
The Year of Jubilee allowed for the redemption of an owner’s land, despite how they lost it in the first place. God reminded the people that all the land was owned by Him, and they were temporary stewards of His property (25:23). Guidelines for protecting the poor and dealing fairly with the new owners were given as follows in Leviticus 25:
The price of the land to be bought back had to be prorated based on the number of years before The Year of Jubilee since in that year, all debts were to be forgiven (25:27).
If a person fell into poverty, a family member could redeem it back for them. Family was to care for family (25:25).
Regardless of ability to pay, the land must be returned to the original family in The Year of Jubilee (25:28).
No interest was to be charged to the poor. The rich were not to take advantage of the misfortune of others (25:36).
God’s holiness does not allow us to live between greed and equity, or selfishness and justice. The Year of Jubilee is a beautiful picture of how God rescues us from our sin even when we don’t deserve it.