Leviticus 25:55 (HCSB)
55 For the Israelites are My slaves. They are My slaves that I brought out of the land of Egypt; I am Yahweh your God.
This chapter contains guidance on issues pertaining to social and economic issues: specifically the observance of the Sabbath year and the redemption of people and property. The overall theme of the chapter is justice, restraint from abuse of God’s people, and the covenant loyalty.
First, it seems clear that there is an intention to keep some sort of social equity in place within the Israelites. The Jubilee, the 50th year, allowed for a clean slate, a fresh start for each and every Israelite, on their land owned through the generations. The exception being homes within walled towns. It would seem clear that these homes would likely be just homes, not land. Therefore it would seem that there is a special enduring value inherent in the land: agriculture being something that would allow man to survive and therefore protected to ensure the social equity mentioned.
Leviticus 25:23 says, “The land is not to be permanently sold because it is Mine.” It would not be much of a stretch to consider social equity just one goal of this chapter. The idea that the Israelites are to observe this super-Sabbath, the Jubilee, and the ramifications that accompany it, i.e. that permanent selling of land is forbidden, means the Israelites are to honor the covenant with God. And observing this covenant means a recognition of God’s supreme status, and His ultimate ownership of all His creation. In the end, man has no right to sell land, because that land is not truly his!
Not only does this premise apply to land, but it applies to people themselves. Just as land is the creation of God, so are men. And just as God ultimately owns the land, so He owns those who He has created. And in the case of His chosen people, the Israelites, the Jubilee applies to them as well, allowing them to be freed from indentured service. And we should note that the rule applies to God’s people, the subject of value, the slave. For it is a binding law not just for the Israelite owner, but also for the foreigner who owns an Israelite.
Now to circle back to what initially seems like the least interesting part of this chapter: the law to leave the land fallow for a year, every seventh year. At first this seems to simply be a practical law that will allow for the land to “rest” and be rejuvenated minerally in order that is will continue to produce crops. It would seem no different than the system of crop rotation used to accomplish the same. But Leviticus 25:20-22 suggests a much deeper lesson. This is an issue of trust and reliance on God, and again, an adherence to the covenant between God and His people. I cannot help but wonder if today we have enough faith to trust that God will provide enough in the sixth year to sustain us through the seventh, or do we too quickly decide that God is not up to the task and attempt to provide for ourselves instead? Do we live as though we are God’s slaves, whom He has saved?
Lord, thank You for being our God, and for saving us. It is difficult at times to fully rely on You, even when You tell us to. I pray for Your strength and will to do so, to trust You rather than ourselves. Amen.