Leviticus 25

Carl Belcher
Carl Belcher

I must confess that when it comes to dipping into the Bible, Leviticus is not on my top 10 list of dip into books. My heart goes out to Moses who rather reluctantly agrees to lead this mass of bickering, stubborn people with a case of chronic amnesia when it comes to the past ways in which God has guided and provided for them. If I was Moses (and boy, you're very fortunate that I wasn't!) I'm sure that when he was beckoned by God for a divine encounter in the tent of meeting, I would be expecting God to unleash His master plan in the form of a 5 point mission statement. Something along the lines of ;

1 - I'm God.
2 - You're my people
3 - Here's where you've come from
4 - Here's where we're going
5 - Any questions?

Instead He tells Moses to teach the people to obey a huge list of very detailed instructions. What at first glance can quite easily appear to be a rather boring and confusing list of instructions actually turns out to be a fantastic example of God's intricate care and concern for His creation. Now there's loads that can be said here about the reasons for such detail and has indeed been written about by many people far more clever than I am so I won't even go there!

One particular bit did catch my eye however in Chapter 25 when God speaks to Moses on Mount Sinai. He tells Moses that He's so big on the whole Sabbath deal that even the fields they grow crops in should have a rest now and again! Grow crops and prune the vineyards for 6 years then let them have a year of rest. Not only that, but when you have done this 7 times i.e. 49 years, when it comes to the 50th year you are to consecrate it to God and celebrate a jubilee. Now this is far more than just getting out your national flag for a bit of a wave saying "whooo another 50 years gone by!" It is a major moment in history when oppression and injustice is responded to and the poor are helped.

I don't know if you ever play monopoly or games similar to that, but I remember sometimes playing it with my brother. Occasionally in our extreme excitement at the prospect of complete property domination, one of us would get too excited and knock the board clean off the table making all the little houses, property deeds and each players pile of cash fall into a heap on the floor. Needless to say it was impossible to remember exactly who had which property, number of houses or amount of cash, so we had a rule that we would start all over again with an equal amount of cash etc. Now I must confess that if it looked like I was going to loose, I would occasionally have a twitchy leg which *accidentally* knocked the board over! (how sad)

This is exactly what happened in Moses' time. Every 50 years God's people were to make sure that if someone had to sell their house and land due to poverty, it would be returned to them in this jubilee year. How cool is that?! No matter how bad things get, God makes sure that everyone gets a chance to start all over again.

Now just like my *accidental* knee jerks, there were some people who were thinking of taking advantage of others by forcing people to sell their houses to them permanently so that they wouldn't get it back in the Jubilee year. God is already one step ahead and says this in Leviticus 25: 23-24:

'The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.'

Did you get that? Everything we have already belongs to God. We are just looking after it for a while. That means that I have no right to say to someone who really needs my help "I'm sorry but it belongs to me and I'm not letting you have it."

I was really encouraged to hear of this principle being worked out on a Global scale last week in addressing world poverty. Prime minister Tony Blair met with President George Bush ahead of the forthcoming G8 meeting to discuss what to do in tackling world poverty. Here's a bit from CNN's coverage of the meeting (http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/06/07/bush.blair.africa/)

"We ... agree that highly indebted developing countries that are on the path to reform should not be burdened by mountains of debt," Bush said at a joint news conference with Blair.
"Our countries are developing a proposal for the G8 that will eliminate 100 percent of that debt," Bush said.
How fantastic would it be to eliminate 100% of the poorest countries debt?
With this in mind I want to challenge you to 3 ways in which you can respond.
1. Lobby your local MP and European politicians to make this into a reality and encourage others to do likewise.
2. Embrace Jubilee as a lifestyle principle in your own life, remembering that everything you have belongs to God in the first place.
3. Don't play monopoly if you aren't a gracious looser! CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.