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The Fear of Jubilee
Leviticus 25:1-7.—Then shall the land keep a Sabbath unto the Lord. For a whole year the land ceased to be the property of the owner; he might not till the soil, neither gather its spontaneous produce; God asserted His ownership by this enactment, and manifested His providential sufficiency for His people by the guarantee of plenty in the harvest preceding. The fallow land acquired new productive powers by this year of rest, as man and beast gather fresh energy by the weekly sabbath. The sabbatic law is a boon to the whole word. They who would secularise the holy day are “madmen, casting firebrands, arrows, and death.” The Heaven given day’s rest is a solace to man’s fretting life: a quiet interval amid earth’s clamour for thought of his sacred interests; and a gentle admonition of his need of that spiritual rest which burdened souls should seek in Christ Jesus.
Leviticus 25:8-22.—Thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years. On the great day of Atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month, the sound of trumpets proclaimed the dawn of a Jubilee year of universal restitution and redemption. Prisoners were liberated, slaves were set free, debtors were absolved, ancestral heritages were restored, the land enjoyed rest from tillage, and its produce was the common lot of all. Beautiful symbolism: of the joyous proclamation of the gospel liberty and salvation following upon the sacrifice of the Redeemer; and of man’s emancipation by Christ from the tyranny of sin and Satan, and restoration to the glad liberty of a spiritual life. The restoration of inheritances effected the sharp distinction of the tribes, keeping the families intact. It also neutralised over-reaching and land greed. God’s promise of abundance (Leviticus 25:22-23) to compensate for the Jubilee year’s cessation of agricultural processes carries with it still the lesson that none are losers who serve God even in the face of seeming sacrifice; for “the blessing of the Lord it maketh rich” “ ’Tis mine to obey, ′tis His to provide.” The questioning spirit of distrust (Leviticus 25:20) is arrested by God’s assurance of prosperity following upon obedience. We may dismiss fear if intent on duty. The path of righteousness is always safe to tread, and none that trust in the Lord shall be desolate.
Let this supernatural fact in history be pondered. A miraculous year of super-abundance was guaranteed every fiftieth year, as a provision for the Jubilee Sabbath. If it had failed, what would have ensued? Moses would have been proved a deceiver. Pretending to divine inspiration as Israel’s legislator, the Jewish religion would have received utter refutation. The pledge of Leviticus 25:22-23 were a supernatural attestation every fifty years—easily verified or refuted—of the reality of the true religion, and of Jehovah’s personal superintendence over the order of nature and the experiences of man.
A whole nation, age after age, acted on the command to keep Jubilee because satisfied by the preceding sign that the ordinance was indeed divine.
Leviticus 25:23-34.—The land shall not be sold for ever, &c. The twelve tribes held the land of Canaan of Jehovah as His tenants at will, having no right or permision to barter with the soil, which was not their’s but His. It were well if all dwellers on the earth would consider that no sure or extended tenancy can be maintained by man in this transient abode. Though it is true “that the earth hath He given to the children of men,” yet “the earth is the Lord’s”: even as He gave Canaan by lots to the tribes, yet declared “the land is Mine” (Leviticus 25:23). Here we have no continuing city; men can call nothing their own; the day of restitution will reverse our possessions; the hour of relinquishment hastens for us all. Death will end all occupancy here. But there is “a better and more enduring substance” for us to inherit, by faith in Christ: and he only is truly rich in Heritages who “lays up for himself treasures in Heaven.”
Leviticus 25:35-38.—If thy brother be waxen poor. The poor always ye have with you: and the near of kin who have been unfortunate, “fallen in decay,” claim special commiseration and leniency. What have we that we have not received? Should we not, therefore, show generosity and kindness?
Leviticus 25:39-55.—Not compel him to serve as a bondman. An Israelite must be treated as became his dignity, however penurious and helpless he might be, for he was God’s ransomed and chosen child, a “son of Abraham.” Full redemption came with the Jubilee, from every contract and claim. And the day of our redemption draweth nigh: when “the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
Topic: A SABBATH OF REST UNTO THE LAND (Leviticus 25:1-7)
Agriculturists still recognize the value of this law of one year’s rest in seven for the land. Violation of this regulation will exhaust the richest soil, and bring sterility. [See Addenda to chapter, Sabbath.] This law proclaimed,
I. DIVINE OWNERSHIP IN THE SOIL,
Just as the reservation of the “seventh day” as a Sabbath asserted God’s claim upon man’s time, so this law affirmed His right to the soil man occupies and utilizes.
II. MAN’S HIGHEST INTERESTS ARE NOT MATERIAL AND EARTHLY.
He is here for nobler pursuits and more solemn concerns than to dig and toil, to buy and sell and get gain. For a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
III. NEIGHBOURLINESS AND BENEVOLENCE SHOULD BE CULTIVATED.
A common interest in all relationships of life (Leviticus 25:6-7), and a helpful regard one for another would be promoted. Release from the stern occupancies of life would also awaken those social instincts and foster those healthy friendships which render intercourse cheering and elevating. Men were designed for fellowship and affection; not for exacting from each other what each can be forced to produce. Cultivate brotherliness. [See Addenda to chapter, Benevolence.]
IV. RELIANCE ON GOD, IN IMPLICIT OBEDIENCE TO HIS WILL.
To desist from effort to provide for their own maintenance would
1. Elicit their faith in the fatherly care of God
2. Summon them to a religious use of the time which God had set free from secular toils.
3. Incite them to grateful thoughts of God’s dealings with them as His people, and win them to a renewed recognition that they were “not their own,” but His, who had redeemed and still cared for them.
V. SABBATIC REST: HEAVEN’S GRACIOUS LAW FOR EARTHLY, TOILERS.
Human life becomes a toilsome drudgery, unless God interposes restraints. He would save men from grinding degradation, from absorbing labours; and give them respite and rest. Man needs the Sabbath pause, in order to realise—
That higher possibilities are opened to him by God’s grace than to be a servant of the soil on which he dwells. He may live for a “better country, even a heavenly.”
That God desires of men the devotion of fixed seasons, and leisurely hours for sacred meditation and fellowship with the skies.
Topic: THE JUBILEE YEAR: ITS FOURFOLD SIGNIFICANCE (Leviticus 25:8-13.)
To the Hebrew the blessings of the jubilee year were local and literal; it was a year of rest and of restitution for the land; a year of release and rejoicing to every inhabitant. Liberty was regained by the slave; possessions in the soil reverted to their owners; agricultural toils were suspended that a whole year of relaxation and repose might be enjoyed. Every home was in enjoyment of plenty, every hand ceased from weary labours, and both man and beast dwelt in quietude and peace.
Glad, indeed, was the hour when the silver trumpet tones announced the arrival of the year of rest. It was like the prelude to a joyous anthem, and that anthem was the angels’ song over Bethlehem fields—“Peace on earth, goodwill among men.”
It was a richly symbolic institute, that Year of Jubilee, whose suggestiveness finds fulfilment in three distinct directions. It points to
I. THE CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION OF GOSPEL LIBERTY AND BEST. [See Luke 4:18-21].
II. THE BELIEVER’S PRIVILEGED LIFE OF SACRED RELEASE AND JOY. [Comp. Ephesians 1:13-14; Hebrews 4:9; Hebrews 8:12].
III. THE MILLENNIAL AGE, OF ESTABLISHED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE. [See Isaiah 66:18-23; Revelation 20:2-4].
IV. THE HEAVENLY STATE OF ETERNAL SECURITY AND SERENITY. [See 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 14:13; Revelation 21:4].
In the application of the Jubilee incidents to each of these grand fulfilments of its symbolism, the following facts stand out clearly:—
i. BOUNTY. God gave a supernatural abundance the year preceding the Jubilee, that in the enjoyment of vast supplies there should be no necessity for toil, no occasion for care—[See Leviticus 25:21]. And assuredly there is
1. Bounty in the provisions of the Gospel (1 Timothy 1:14).
2. Fulness of grace for the believer in Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:15; Titus 3:6).
3. Abundance of good to be enjoyed in the Millennial Age (Psalms 72:7).
4. Limitless bliss in the Heavenly land (Psalms 16:2).
ii. REST. That Sabbatic year was to be consecrated to repose; the land was to be allowed to rest; the toiler was to cease from toil. Every want was supplied without the weariness of labour. Equally true of the
1. Gospel rest which Christianity announces (Matthew 11:29),
2. Believer’s rest which faith secures (Hebrews 4:3).
3. Millennial rest for a wearied Church (Revelation 20:2-3).
4. Heavenly rest for Christ’s redeemed followers (Revelation 14:13). [See Addenda to chapter, Rest].
iii. LIBERTY. All bondservants were set free the moment the Jubilee trumpet sounded (Leviticus 25:39-44). And assuredly, this finds verification in the
1. Liberty which Christ proclaimed to souls enslaved in sin and fear (Luke 4:18; Hebrews 2:15).
2. Spiritual freedom realized by faith (Romans 8:15; John 8:36).
3. Emancipation from thraldom which shall distinguish the Millennial reign (Isaiah 49:8-9).
4. Glorious liberty of the children of God in Heaven (Romans 8:21; Revelation 21:24-25). [See Addenda to chapter, Liberty].
iv. RESTITUTION. If the Israelite had parted with his inheritance, its possession was restored to him in the Year of Jubilee, and that without payment (Leviticus 25:25-37). So
1. The redemption of Christ recovers for man all that sin had forfeited.
2. Believers in Jesus regain all the virtue, happiness, and hopes which the fall had ruined.
3. The weary and wronged world would enjoy paradisal gladness through Christ’s millennial sway.
4. Heaven will realize all which on earth had been desired, and restore all which death had desolated. [See Addenda to chapter, Possessions].
V. Let it be marked that the Jubilee, with all its blessings, was CONSQUENT UPON ATONEMENT. Not till the blood of Expiation had been shed, and the living goat had borne into the land of oblivion the sins which (ceremonially) had been transferred to it, did the silver trumpets peal forth their exultant notes, proclaiming liberty and rest, restitution and rectitude for the people. And it is because of Christ’s atonement that
1. Christianity has come to sinful man, with all its tidings of good and wealth of salvation (John 1:29; Ephesians 1:6).
2. Spiritual blessings are inherited by the believer in Jesus (Romans 5:11).
3. The Church will enjoy the Sabbatic millennial glory (Revelation 19:11-14).
4. Heaven will be the eternal possession of the redeemed (Revelation 8:4-7).
The cross is the source of all human good. All things are ours, because Christ has died. As the blood on the doorposts freed Israel from the plague of death in Egypt, so it is to us now and for ever the Blood of Christ which ensures all sacred good (Revelation 1:5-6; Revelation 5:9-10).
Topic: GLAD FACTS OF THE JUBILEE
I. GOD’S SOVEREIGN RIGHT TO THE EARTH. He determines when and whether its fields should be tilled and reaped. Man, in his pride, calls the lands his own; thinks and acts as if he were Creation’s lord. His fancy rears a throne and crowns himself the king. But this decree establishes God’s rule. We are dependant tenants of His fields. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof.”
II. GOD’S POWER TO PROVIDE. He wills, and crops abound. Thus through this year of rest no want is known. The marvel grows when it is considered that the Jubilee Year succeeds a Sabbath Year, in which no seeding or reaping had gone on. But God gave forth a treble harvest in each forty-eighth year. And, as the poor widow’s meal and oil, it proved an unexhausted feast. As Joseph’s well replenished store, it fed the hungry and never failed.
None can succeed without the Lord, and none shall want who truly follow Him. Faith works when God says, Work; it rests when God says, Rest; and thrives in obedience.
III. UNIVERSAL BEST ENJOINED AND ENJOYED. No hand should toil. Tillage and harvest sleeps. Repese is the one law—for man, beast, and soil. A Year long Sabbath reigns.
Emblem of soul rest in Christ.
IV. ATONEMENT USHERS IN THIS CONSECRATED YEAR. When the scapegoat has borne sins out of sight, when the High Priest has sprinkled the mercy-seat, this holy season begins. A light here shines upon the path which leads to rest—through penitence for sin, and reliance on the Victim.
V. THE TRUMPET SOUNDS THROUGHOUT THE LAND. In every place, by every year, the long-expected notes are heard. They tell no doubtful tale. “Glad tidings” are yours to proclaim, ye ministers of Christ. O, see that your lips publish rest in Christ. “Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God.”
VI. CAUSES FOR ISRAEL’S DELIGHT. The downcast debtor was now free. The bondman cast away his yoke. All forfeited estates returned. The oppressor might no more oppress. No servant trembled at his stern lord’s voice. The former owner claimed his father’s fields. The ancient landmarks were rebuilt, and liberty resumed its sway. In every house and heart there was consciousness of relief. Sorrow and mourning fled away. So there is all-deliverance in Christ.
1. We are poor debtors. Our debts exceed the moments of our lives; But Justice must have reckoning. There is no trifling with God. But hark! the Jubilee is come! Christ avails to pay. His ransomed ones are all free. No debt remains.
2. The Jubilee relaxes the ties of bondage. Each soul, apart from Christ, is a poor slave. Tyrants are many, and their yoke is hard. But Christ liberates from fetters (John 8:36).
(a) Satan enchains the soul. But Jesus vanquishes this despot, and the Jubilee sets free from Satan’s power.
(b) Sin rules the captive race of men. Till expelled by Christ, it must reign. But a new passion gains the throne when Christ comes in, and shews His dying love, His blood to attone.
(c) This world is a foul tyrant. Its smiles allure, its frowns deter, its fashions force compliance, its laws exact submission: it drives its millions to a slavish toil. But the grace of Christ emancipates from the world’s enthralling snares.
(d) Death, too, is a fearful tyrant. Its chilly features terrify. The stoutest quails. None can relieve but Christ.
3. The Jubilee restores inheritance. Sin drove man from a fair abode; forced him to a wilderness of desolation. God’s smile was lost; the blessing of communion ceased. But Christ re-instates with more than Eden heritage. He places us in a land of peace, where God is our joy for ever. More is found than was lost by sin.
Christ came, lived, died, reigns, to grant this Jubilee to souls. Hear His own words (Luke 4:18-19). He becomes His people’s life, their liberty, their ransom, their peace, their joy, their hope, their glory. The trustful soul reposes in a jubilee of joy. (Arranged from Dean Law’s “Christ is All”).
Topic: THE YEAR OF JUBILEE (Leviticus 25:8-14.)
This was the last and most remarkable of the Hebrew festivals. It bears unmistakable marks of Divine origin, of wise and benevolent design. The trumpet of jubilee sounded on the tenth day of Tisri, immediately after the great atonement had been made by the High Priest, and the sound of it went forth throughout the whole land. Every valley and mountain resounded with the soul-stirring notes, and the people knew that the acceptable year of the Lord had come. The Jubilee taught—(a) The dependence of Israel upon the bounty of Heaven. (b) The duty of mutual kindness, forbearance, and forgiveness. (c) The unique position Israel occupied among the nations. (d) The unity of their race. By its advent was proclaimed—
I. REST FROM MANUAL LABOUR.
The ordinary law with respect to physical subsistence was, “In the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread,” but in the eighth and fiftieth years the law was suspended, for no agricultural work of any kind was to be performed, the land was to lie fallow, and have perfect rest. Labour suspended for such a protracted period would restore the wasted energies of man, and secure renewed vitality to the soil. Such an arrest of the tide of busy life would suggest to the Hebrews the necessity of seeking the meat that endureth to everlasting life.
II. DELIVERANCE FROM CIVIL BONDAGE.
Liberty was to be proclaimed throughout the land, every slave was to be set free. In exceptional cases, where full freedom was not given, the condition of the most abject was ameliorated. Thus the common brotherhood of man was emphatically proclaimed, during the period of the jubilee all were on a level. This was an invaluable boon to men, and gave the dependent and downtrodden a fair and new start in secular life.
III. FORGIVENESS OF DEBTS.
Pecuniary liabilities that had been contracted in the transaction of business, and which debtors were unable to discharge, were remitted. No usury or increase was to be taken from the poor, the millstone of debt was to be removed from their necks. Thus the inequalities of social and secular life were readjusted, and society started afresh upon a reformed and revived basis.
IV. RESTITUTION OF LOST PROPERTY.
Of course, there would necessarily be inequalities in the social circumstances of the people; some would accumulate property that others would lose through misfortune or negligence, and wide gaps would be thus created between classes of the community. Those gaps would be filled up at the Jubilee, where all wicked or undue accumulation of possessions would be rectified, and a period put to boundless ambition and lawless aggression. Selfishness and greed would thus be cut up root and branch, and all men taught to be reasonable in their aims and claims.
V. REJOICING FOR THE PEOPLE.
The sounding of the trumpet, immediately upon the atonement being made, would inform the people that an acceptable offering had been presented for their sins; and that all the blessings promised in connection with the Jubilee might be enjoyed. A full tide of gladness would flow through the land, for the great national holiday had begun, and innumerable and inestimable blessings were available for all. The trumpet sound would set the joy bells in every devout Hebrew heart ringing with gladsome melody.
VI. EXEMPTION FROM CARE.
During the previous year the horn of plenty, with twofold richness, was poured into the nation’s lap, and as the people beheld the super-abundant stores provided in anticipation of their manifold wants, they would be relieved from care and anxiety while the land had the long rest. They would not need to watch the clouds, their well-filled barns and overflowing presses would calm all their anxieties and fears. In these arrangements would be seen the kind thoughtfulness of Israel’s gracious Father, the sovereignty of their eternal King.
VII. HOMECOMING OF FAMILIES.
However scattered through adverse circumstances from the old homestead, or exiled through debt, all could now return, domestic devotion and social love could now be completely restored. All this would tend to socialize and humanize the people, and foster home and national piety.
VIII. REGENERATION OF THE NATION.
Every Jubilee year the people started afresh with a renewed consciousness of the presence of the Lord in their midst, and of their intimate relationship to Him. He brought them out of Egypt, gave them the goodly fertile land; and every Jubilee they were reminded that the land was His, that it was not to be impoverished and exhausted, that the nation was not to decay or become disintegrated. The divinely appointed conditions upon which the people took possession of the land were restored, and they looked up to Jehovah as their merciful and bountiful Benefactor.
Regarding the year of Jubilee as a type of the gospel age which Christ came to proclaim, and of the latter day glory such reflections as these are suggested:—The gospel brings rest of heart for all who hear and obey its joyful sound. Deliverance from bondage of Satan, sin, and self. Recovery of our lost inheritance. Forgiveness of the debt we owe to God. Rejoicing because of good news and glad tidings of reconciliation and peace. Exemption from care about guilt of past, events of present, revelations of the future. Complete restoration to God.
It is man’s highest honour and joy to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. The day shall come when a weary world and longing Church shall be fully blest in enjoyment a Jubilee universal and perpetual.—F. W. B.
Topic: IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES CONTAINED IN THE JUBILEE REGULATIONS (Leviticus 25:8-28)
Not till God uttered His voice in Christ could men understand the Jewish institutions. We who have heard the voice of Christ and His apostles have come plainly to see that “the acceptable year of the Lord,” and “the times for the restitution of all things”—by which terms, and others, the year of Jubilee was described—have their fulfilment in the Gospel.
(1). The Jubilee began on the Day of Atonement, announced by trumpet blasts Following upon the expiatory services of the day, the gladness occasioned by the “joyful sound” was in accord with the truths symbolized in those expiatory services.
(2). The Jubilee was marked by a complete suspension of agricultural labour. Fear was quieted by God’s promise (Leviticus 25:21). God’s blessing upon the obedient is better than the sowing of the disobedient.
(3). The spontaneous fruits that grew during the suspension of agricultural operations were open to all. No man had the right to appropriate them. Thus the common dependence of all classes upon God’s bounty, and His equal regard for all was declared.
(4). The Jubilee restored to men their lost liberties (Leviticus 25:10). Every Hebrew whom poverty, or misfortune, or misconduct had deprived of freedom, regained all the rights and privileges of a free man.
(5). It brought back to their original or hereditary owners the family estates which had been alienated from them (Leviticus 25:10). Thus the consolation of misfortune, or the joy of old age, might be that one recovered at the Jubilee the home of his childhood from which he had been driven by sore stress of poverty.
Macaulay tells how Warren Hastings, “when under a tropical sun he ruled fifty millions of Asiatics,” was haunted with the wish to recover the ancestral manor of Daylesford. “He would be Hastings of Daylesford.” This purpose, formed in infancy and poverty, was steadfastly cherished. “And when his long public life, so chequered with good and evil, with glory and obloquy, had at length closed for ever, it was to Daylesford that he retired to die.”
The Jubilee recalled to the remembrance of the nation the fact that the land was God’s, and they but “strangers and sojourners” therein (Leviticus 25:23); and that institution gave back, as with the hand of God, to every man from whom it had been alienated the inheritance of his fathers. By the two great blessings it gave him—the recovery of his freedom and of his family inheritance—every one was given a new start in life, and the nation as a whole made a fresh beginning on an equal footing, as if they entered anew the promised land, and experienced afresh in all their fulness the privilege of the original covenant of grace.
Important principles, in their germs, were contained in this institution:—
I. MAN’S NEED OF OCCASIONAL REST FROM TOIL.
By the emphasis given to rest, God hallowed it as being a duty and a privilege. Man was not to give himself to a ceaseless course of grinding toil, or to unrelaxing endeavours to keep up riches. Such confinement to labour is deadening to the best faculties of the soul. It destroys the elasticity of the heart and the sweetness of the spirit.
Christianity repeats the old lesson. Mary pausing from her work to listen to Jesus is a better model than Martha ceaselessly toiling. “Come ye apart and est awhile.”
II. ALL MEN ARE ENTITLED TO A SHARE OF GOD’S BOUNTY.
What grew in the fields in the Jubilee year was God’s harvest, free to all. It as to be distributed, like other pure bounties of His hand, the rain and sunshine, all alike. This happened every Sabbatic year as well as in the Jubilee. It asserted that man’s share in producing any harvests is very small, that God is its chief agent, and therefore that it rightly belongs in great part to Him, and ought to be largely employed for the general weal.
Christianity endorses it. The early believers “had all things common.” christian charity urges that we contribute to the happiness of the community.
III. THE WELFARE OF SOCIETY IS IMPERILLED BY THE ACQUISITION OF LANDED ESTATES.
The operation of the Jubilee was to prevent the accumulation of land in the hands of a few. The public good demanded its general division among the people. Great Britain may be said to be suffering because of the absence of such a rule. Ireland is rocking as with an earthquake because the land is held in the grasp of a few rich landowners, while the mass of the people, stripped of their ancestral fields, are sunken in extreme poverty. Because of a similar evil the French Revolution overturned the government of France.
The doctrines of Communism find no support in the reasonings of a wise statesmanship, or in the teachings of Christianity. But Christianity suggests a remedy for the evil. Let property be held and administered on Christian principles: “Be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.”
IV. THE DIGNITY OF MAN VIEWED AS A RANSOMED CHILD OF GOD.
The Jubilee proclaimed the equality of men in the sight of Jehovah, and forbade their tyrannizing over or holding another in slavery. The ground of the prohibition was the same as that which forbade the absolute sale of land—God’s ownership of them. “They are My servants,” etc. (Leviticus 25:42). The Jubilee made the slave a freeman, and the poor man a property owner.
How Christianity emphasizes this truth! It forbids contempt or oppression of any man for whom Christ died. He may be poor, ignorant, or even wicked. But for him also the scheme of redemption was planned. For his sake Christ laid aside the regalia of heaven and came down to earth. For him He made atonement for sin. For his regeneration He shed forth His Holy Spirit. There is joy in heaven when he repents; and when he dies, if he dies in faith and submission to God, he is carried by angels to the realm of the blessed.
By these things the dignity of man as man is proclaimed. He is to be treated, therefore, with consideration and kindness, with love and forbearance; and in the judgment Christ will say, “Inasmuch as ye did it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me.”—ALBERT H. CURRIER.
Topic: CANAAN, THE LORD’S LAND FOR EVER (Leviticus 25:23-24)
“The land is mine!” How decisive this claim by Jehovah on the soil, to the possessions which He secured for Israel and settled upon His people for ever! It is to be marked that the land is never called theirs; always called His; for though God gave it into their occupancy He claimed it as His peculiar possession. “He will be merciful unto His land” (Deuteronomy 33:23); “I will pluck them (Israel) up by the roots out of My land” (2 Chronicles 7:20); “Lord, Thou hast been favourable unto (well pleased with; margin) Thy land” (Psalms 85:1); “Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people” (Joel 2:18; Psalms 3:2).
I. IN THE LAND OF CANAAN JEHOVAH’S MOST WONDROUS DEEDS ALL CENTRED.
“There He set up His throne and sanctuary; there His priests stood to minister continually before Him. There the voices of His prophets were heard testifying of present ruin and future restoration and glory; there the Baptist began, continued, and ended his career as the forerunner of the Messiah; there the Blessed One was born of a woman; there He was baptised; there He preached and taught; there He laboured and died; and thence He ascended in triumph to the right hand of God; thither God the Holy Ghost descended, in Pentecostal power; and thence the overflowing tide of gospel testimony emanated to the ends of the earth; thither the Lord of glory will descend, ere long, and plant His feet “on the Mount of Olives”; there “His throne will be re-established and His worship restored.”—C. H. M.
II. OVER THE LAND OF CANAAN JEHOVAH’S MOST JEALOUS WATCHFULNESS IS EXTENDED.
There is no spot in all the earth like unto the land of Canaan in the divine estimation. His eyes and His heart are there continually; it’s dust is precious in His sight; it is the centre of all His thoughts and operations, as touching the earth; and it is His purpose to make it an eternal excellency, the joy of many generations.
III. UPON THE LAND OF CANAAN JEHOVAH’S MOST EMPHATIC CLAIM IS SEALED.
“The land is Mine.” It might not be sold for ever. It dwells in the keeping of the Omnipotent. It has been a coveted object through many ages, and by many earthly dynasties; and will yet be, if prophecy is rightly read, the scene of cruel war and sanguinary strife. But Jehovah maintains, and will perpetuate His claim. Inalienably, “the land is Mine.”
For what purpose, and for whom, does God claim and keep that land? It is to be the inheritance of His covenant people; to be re-occupied by those to whom He entrusted it by an everlasting covenant; and when “the fulness of the Gentiles” ends, and its present era of downtrodden abuse, which symbolises also the oppressed and outlawed lot of “lost” Israel and “dispersed” Judah is closed, then He who hath “not cast away His people” will require the land for Israel’s re-possession. [See Isaiah 66:12-23.].
Topic: EXALTED PHILANTHROPY
“Ye shall not oppress one another,” etc.”—(Leviticus 25:14; Leviticus 25:35-38).
In the Jubilee year the ambitious and affluent among the Israelites were to surrender their possessions on terms that would lift up the unfortunate, and better the condition of the poor. All overreaching and oppression were to be abandoned. What faith in God, obedience to His commands, time for thoughtful meditations, incentives to human kindness, etc., the year of Jubilee would inspire! The spontaneous produce of the land became public property, the poorest Israelite, even the stranger and the slave, enjoyed liberty and fared liberally. The poor have always been the objects of divine concern, and attention has been called to the amelioration of their condition. Let us consider.
I. SOME OF THE CAUSES OF POVERTY. Hereditary or acquired weakness, obscure origin, ignorance, extravagance, idleness, incompetencey, misfortune, calamity, or sometimes divine chastisement, as in case of Job.
II. SOME OF THE MISERIES OF POVERTY. Exacting, unremunerative labour; degrading surroundings; deficiencies in necessaries of life; indisposition for physical, mental, and moral improvement. Poverty has a bitter cry, hunger a sharp thorn. Under such circumstances life scarcely seems worth living.
III. SOME OF THE AMELIORATIONS OF POVERTY. Industry; economy; cleanliness; sobriety; sympathy; charity; above all, the uplifting, cheering influences of the gospel, which are peculiarly adapted and specially intended for the poor. The gospel will fire men with a landable ambition, which will lift them in the social scale, or will make them happy in their unavoidable, lowly circumstances. On the basis of common brotherhood, and the universal Fatherhood of God, the temporal as well as spiritual interests of the poor should be cared for and ministered unto, not by patronising indiscriminate charity which fosters idleness and begets hypocrisy, but under the guidance of sanctified intelligence and Christly charity.—F. W. B.
OUTLINES ON VERSES OF CHAPTER 25
Leviticus 25:3.—Theme: THE SABBATICAL YEAR.
The institution of the sabbath of the seventh year taught that the Lord was the sovereign King of the people, and the sole Proprietor of the land; very appropriate that the law concerning it should be pronounced amid all the solemn scenes and sanctions of Sinai. The Sabbatic year inculcated the lessons:
I. THAT THE LORD WAS THE SOLE PROPRIATOR OF THE LAND.
In all the promises made respecting Canaan, it was constantly kept before the people that the land was the Lord’s; and that He would give it to the people—give it as He gives all His other gifts, to be used according to His good pleasure and revealed will. The people were tenants, and must obey the Lord of the land; for, while “the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof,” Canaan was to Him the most holy place. The land would be as His most gracious land, which He would open or shut as He saw fit; and the people would see that they were in His land, and dependent upon Him, as the seasons rolled in their annual round.
II. THAT THE LAND HAD RESTING UPON IT, CONTINUALLY, THE FAVOUR OF THE LORD.
The land was to be ordinarily fertile every year; but, the sixth year was to be exceptionally fruitful, yielding enough for the seventh; so that, in it, the land, as well as the people might repose. Each sixth year would exhibit in an extraordinary manner the unfailing and inexhaustible resources of God, and show how His smile and blessing rested on the soil. Canaan would look like a second Eden, as she appeared decked in her rich and beautiful garments. When the waters of the flood subsided, God said to Noah, “I will no more curse the ground for man’s sake,” and the fertile earth shows that the Almighty crowns the year with His goodness and that His paths drop fatness.
III. THAT THE DIVINE FAVOUR PROVIDES FOR THE WELL-BEING OF EVERY LIVING THING.
This is a general and world-wide truth; but it was especially seen in the Sabbatic year. During its months, every stranger in the land, and every beast, had abundant provision in the stores laid up, and the spontaneous growth of the soil. The great God of Nature pays respect to the wants of the minutest creatures His hands have made; and the directions given about brute creation would show that He was kind to them, and would suggest to men to treat them kindly. He “is good to all and His tender mercies are over all His works”
IV. THAT OF EVERY LIVING THING, MAN IS THE NEAREST AND DEAREST TO THE GREAT CREATOR.
During the seventh year the poor were to be fed, and the bound set at liberty; thus lessons of kindness and forgiveness were taught. The year was not to be passed in luxury and idleness, but time was to be spent in reading the whole Law; it was a Sabbath to the Lord, when He could be pleased and glorified with the prayers and praises of His people. To man alone are directions given for worship—He is the offspring of God, made in His image and capable of worshipping Him. Not only one day in seven, but one year in seven, was to be kept as a sabbath, showing how God looked for man’s devoted service.
V. THAT THE GREAT CREATOR TEACHES MORAL TRUTHS TO MAN BY MEANS OF WORKS OF NATURE.
All the processes and phenomena of nature are intended to illustrate and enforce spiritual things. Hence the Bible is full of references to correspondences and analogies between the kingdoms of nature and grace. The extraordinary provision made for the Sabbatic year would inculcate lessons of faith, obedience, reverence, love. In the fulness of time the great Teacher by His inimitable parables threw a flood of light upon similitudes between the outer and inner courts of divine revelation. To devoutly study and practice these lessons will ensure exquisite pleasure and eternal profit.—F. W. B.
Leviticus 25:9—Theme: LESSONS OF THE JUBILEE
I. ITS PECULIAR FEATURES
1. It was a great boon to all sorrowing ones.
(1.) Every captive was liberated.
(2.) The exiled wanderer returned.
(3.) The oppressed debtor was released from his debts.
(4.) The unfortunate poor were restored to their ancestral heritage.
(5) Families that bad been separated were now re-united.
(6.) Every estate reverted to the families to whom they were originally allotted in the conquest of Canaan.
2. All this was intimately connected with the DAY OF ATONEMENT. It was on the day of atonement, every year, that the trumpet was sounded in every corner of the land, reminding the people of the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:9).
3. It was to be a year of perfect freedom from toil (Leviticus 25:11-12).
4. Every business transaction had reference to the year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:16). Prices were regulated by its nearness or distance.
II. ITS TYPICAL MEANING.
1. It had special reference to the millennial glory of Israel in the land which Jehovah keeps for them through all generations.
(1.) God claims Canaan as He does no other.
(2.) God has honoured Canaan as He has no other.
2. It is a beautiful and correct type of heaven.
(1.) Where every believer will enter upon his inheritance, and enter into his rest.
(2.) Where all exile, captivity, separation, poverty and oppression will for ever cease, and God will wipe away all tears from our eyes.
III. ITS PRACTICAL LESSONS.
1. That which the Jubilee year restores, and the rest and joy and plenty it brings, prove the graciousness of God.
(1). The sorrow, poverty, oppression, exile, etc., which occurred between two Jubilee years show the workings of human selfishness and sin.
(2). That which the Jubilee restores shows the workings of divine grace.
2. The unspeakable blessedness of the world’s Jubilee in the millennial period (Isaiah 25:6-12; Isaiah 33:23-24; Isaiah 35:1-10; Isaiah 55:13; Romans 11:25; Romans 8:18-22.).
3. The more glorious and more enduring bliss of heaven (Revelation 21:1-27; Revelation 22:1-15).—D. C. Hughes.
Leviticus 25:9-11.—Theme: THE JUBILEE A TYPE OF THE GOSPEL.
I. ITS PRIMARY PURPOSE.
1. It was kind and benevolent: showing that, by remedying the evils the Israelites entailed on themselves, God took an interest in their welfare.
2. It was wise and politic. A people thus regulated would be kept distinct as to their various tribes and families, while an affectionate and dependant spirit would be promoted
3. It was good and beneficial. The insolvent debtor delivered, &c.
II. ITS TYPICAL REFERENCE.
1. The Jubilee of grace. This finds us deeply in arrears to divine justice, and fully remits all our debt. It reverses our state of spiritual bondage, restoring to us the rights and blessings of freedom. And it invests us with a new title to our forfeited inheritance opening to us the kingdom of heaven (Acts 10:43; Romans 6:14; John 8:36; Ephesians 2:12).
2. The Jubilee of glory.
III. ITS JOYFUL COMMENCEMENT.
This was announced by the sound of trumpets throughout the land on the day of atonement. Our jubilee also, which begins in the great atonement, is now proclaimed among us, and is the joyful season of God’s grace, mercy and salvation.
“Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound” (Psalms 89:15).—Wm. Sleigh
Leviticus 25:18 Theme: THE DUTY OF OBEDIENCE.
“Wherefore ye shall do My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell on the land in safety.”
Man not a machine, but a responsible, free agent; therefore conditioned on obedience. Herein, seen the dignity of man, the righteousness and holiness of God. God had right to command Israel under obligation to obey, for
I. HE WAS THEIR SOVEREIGN RULER. Lord, King, Almighty, Absolute, Eternal.
II. THEY WERE HIS DEPENDENT CREATURES They derived all from Him, were defended, delivered, by Him.
III. THE PATH OF OBEDIENCE WAS SAFE. Whatever might befal them when doing the will of God would be overruled for their real good. No weapon formed against them could prosper, while they enjoyed the approving smile of the Lord.
IV. THE ONLY CRITERION OF CHARACTER IS OBEDIENCE. Faith, love, loyalty, sincerity, consecration, evinced and vindicated by unquestioning, cheerful, self-forgetful, constant obedience. The law of Christ confirms this test, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Revelation closes with declaration of same truth. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”—F. W. B.
Leviticus 25:25.—Theme: THE KINSMAN’S RIGHTS.
The tale is simple. One of Israel a sons in destitute His goods, his lands are torn away. The creditor demands, the claim is just, all must be yielded.
But is there some kinsman whose heart feels pity, and whose means abound? Then he has right to pay the price and buy back the forfeited estate. He may not be denied. Redeeming privilege is his.
Such is the statute of the Jewish realm. But it shows far more than civil remedy for helpless debt. It is a bright transcript of the work of Christ.
I. NO ONE BUT A KINSMAN COULD REDEEM US.
The needy ones are offspring of earth; dust is their origin, the worm their brother, the clod their home.
But to redeem requires a kindred birth.
Yet Jesus is God; an infinite distance divides Him from men. One sits enthroned in highest glory, the other grovels in earth’s lowest mire. Jesus may love, but, as God, He cannot redeem, cannot claim a kinsman’s right Are then the destitute beyond relief?
Since the Redeemer must be Man, Jesus connects Himself with human ties. A human form is marvellously framed; and the virgin mother bears the heavenly child. The God-Man becomes a kinsman to redeem.
II. THE KINSMAN ALSO NEEDS WEALTH BY WHICH TO PAY THE PRICE.
Family ties are not enough. Much is required for the redemption of souls. But His deity imparts sufficiency. The price is boundless; the payment far exceeds. “In whom we have redemption through His blood the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
The sinner, appalled at his debts, may approach the Saviour, and plead His near kindred, may tell Him that He is one of our family, and remind Him that He alone has the redeeming right and redeeming might.
Then, being redeemed, let your life proclaim that you are no more your own but “bought with a price.” The kinsman claims your heart, your love, your all.—Dean Law.
Leviticus 25:55.—Theme: ROYAL SERVICE.
“For unto me the children of Israel are servants.”
All things serve the Lord, but there are gradations of service. Man occupies a sphere only second to angels. Israel chosen to cooperate with Jehovah in communicating His will to the world, in winning back a prodigal race to Himself.
I. THE SERVICE HE EXPECTS. (a) Intelligent, higher than that rendered by inanimate and irrational things. Thoughtful, reasonable, conscientious. (b) Spontaneous. The outcome of free and deliberate choice, of preference for Him above all others. (c) Grateful. Remembering deliverances vouchsafed, benedictions bestowed. (d) Lifelong. Not spasmodic service, nor a course marked by withholdings, backslidings, shortcomings, or apostacy. He demands fidelity unto death.
II. THE REWARD HE BESTOWS. (a) His gracious approval; (b) improvement in holiness; (c) promotion to higher service here; (d) admission to perfect blessed service hereafter. In heaven His servants shall see and serve Him. Service there will be ineffable rapture and rest, because not beyond the strength, nor against the will, but in complete harmony with the renewed and immortal faculties.—F. W. B.
ILLUSTRATIVE ADDENDA TO CHAPTER 25
“Then none was for a party;
Then all were for the state;
Then the great man helped the poor,
And the poor man loved the great.
Then lands were fairly portioned;
Then spoils were fairly sold;
The Romans were like brothers
In the brave days of old.”
“Beneficence is a duty. He who frequently practises it, and sees his benevolent intentions realised, at length comes to love him to whom he has done good. When, therefore, it is said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, it is not meant, Thou shalt love him first and do good in consequence of that love, but thou shalt do good to thy neighbour, and this thy beneficence will engender in thee that love to mankind which is the fullness and consummation of the inclination to do good.”—Kant.
SABBATH. “Sin keeps no Sabbaths.”—
“Yes, child of suffering, thou might well be sure,
He who ordained the Sabbath loves the poor.’
“A world without a Sabbath would be like a man without a smile, like a summer without flowers, and like a homestead without a garden. It is the joyous day of the whole week.”—H. W. Beecher.
“We never knew a man work seven days in a week who did not kill himself or kill his mind.”—Anon.
“No lamkin by its shepherd borne,
No dove its mate caressing,
No bondman freed, no pilgrim worn
The grateful shade possessing;
No child clasped to its mother’s heart,
No sick man when his pains depart,
No warrior home returning;
No man can know such perfect rest
As that which ends our weary quest,
Our gracious Lord discerning.”
“A man, till he be in Christ, is a slave; and the more free a man thinks himself to be and labours to be, the more slave he is. Why? Because the more he sins the more he is enthralled to sin.”—Sibbes.
“The end of Christian liberty is, that being delivered from the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear,”—Westminster Catechism
He is the freeman, whom the truth makes free,
And all are slaves besides.”
“How shocking must thy summons be. O Death!
To him that is at ease in his possessions:
Who, counting on long years of pleasure here,
Is quite unfurnished for that world to come.”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Leviticus 25". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11