Rest and Restoration

Laurie Buffo, Volunteer Writer, South Barrington | January 12, 2024

But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.
Leviticus 25:4

Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines.
Leviticus 25:9-11

How would it feel to know that your wealthier extended family would be required to help you get on your feet if you fell on hard times? Conversely, how would it feel to be obligated to help relatives who were struggling financially? Leviticus 25 outlines these laws. If you needed to sell your land to make ends meet, a relative would buy it at a fair price. You could buy back your property later. If you could not afford to do so, the purchaser would return your land to you during the Jubilee year. The Jubilee happened every 50 years. If selling your land was not enough relief, you could get an interest-free loan from a relative. Any unpaid balance would be canceled within seven years (in the sabbath year). As a last resort, you could sell yourself into servanthood to a member of your extended family. They were required to treat you well. They would free you in the Jubilee year or when you paid your debt.

God gave these laws to keep the land from being sold outside the tribe and prevent any clan or household from becoming more wealthy and powerful than another. It demonstrated that the Israelites were not to take advantage of one another. Such generosity required faith in God’s provision and understanding that the land belonged to Him.

The Jubilee would liberate the poor, oppressed, and brokenhearted. When Jesus read Isaiah 61:1-2, He declared the Jubilee had arrived (Luke 4:16-21). Jesus came to cancel our debt of sin, heal our spiritual poverty, and liberate us from evil. In doing so, He enabled us to be just and merciful.

Poverty and social divisions are two significant sources of injustice. Exhibiting a Jubilee-type spirit, the early church members pooled their resources to provide for  members in need. They spent time in fellowship with believers from all social classes (Acts 2:42-47). The early church is a taste of what the new creation will be like. Social dividing lines will no longer exist, and sharing will be easy.

Determining the right balance between generosity and enjoying the resources God gives us is hard. On the one hand, we have the tithe; on the other, we have the more challenging example set by the early church. The Jubilee is a reminder that all we have belongs to God. Though difficult, we need to hold our resources loosely and be willing to give more than we are comfortable with. We are wise to keep God’s generosity in mind and remain open to His direction. 

Next Steps

Can you relate to any of these attitudes toward wealth?

  1. Though not required, willingness to give away all we have acknowledges our resources belong to the King, and we need to submit to His will (Luke 18:18-25).
  2. Some give impressive amounts, but since they are wealthy, it does not require much faith in God’s provision (Luke 21:1-4).
  3. Sometimes, we foolishly hoard the resources God has given us (Luke 12:16-21).