International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday June 17, 2012
Purpose: To perceive where jubilee year principles are in operation today or ought to be
Scripture Text: Leviticus 25:8-12, 25, 35-36, 39-40, 47-48, 55
Leviticus 25:8-12 (NRSV)
(8)You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. (9)Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month—on the Day of Atonement—you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. (10)And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. (11)That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. (12)For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.
(25)If anyone of your kin falls into difficulty and sells a piece of property, then the next of kin shall come and redeem what the relative has sold.
(35)If any of your kin fall into difficulty and become dependent on you, you shall support them; they shall live with you as though resident aliens.(36)Do not take interest in advance or otherwise make a profit from them, but fear your God; let them live with you.
(39)If any who are dependent on you become so impoverished that they sell themselves to you, you shall not make them serve as slaves.(40)They shall remain with you as hired or bound laborers. They shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee.
(47)If resident aliens among you prosper, and if any of your kin fall into difficulty with one of them and sell themselves to an alien, or to a branch of the alien’s family,(48)after they have sold themselves they shall have the right of redemption; one of their brothers may redeem them,
(55)For to me the people of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
As God was preparing His people to inhabit the land he had originally given to Abraham, He gave them some rules to follow concerning the land. In Exodus 23:10-11 he said “(10) For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; (11) but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild animals may eat. You shall do the same with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.
Our lesson takes this an additional step and after seven of these “Sabbath years” they were to celebrate a year of jubilee beginning on the Day of Atonement. The Day of Atonement can be understood by reading Leviticus 23:26-32 (26) The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: (27) Now, the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you: you shall deny yourselves and present the Lord's offering by fire; (28) and you shall do no work during that entire day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. (29) For anyone who does not practice self-denial during that entire day shall be cut off from the people. (30) And anyone who does any work during that entire day, such a one I will destroy from the midst of the people. (31) You shall do no work: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your settlements. (32) It shall be to you a Sabbath of complete rest, and you shall deny yourselves; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening you shall keep your Sabbath. Today we know this day as “Yom Kippur,” and it is celebrated in September or October. This year Yom Kippur falls on Wednesday September 26th, in 2014 it falls on October 4th.
There are a few things you should keep in mind as you study and learn about the Jubilee Celebration, it begins with a day of atonement. The year of the Jubilee offers a second chance for many of God's people. One important part of the Year of Jubilee is it requires a kinsman or relative of a party that has fallen on hard times to redeem them from those non Jews that may hold them as slaves or bond servants. This is pointed out in the Book of Ruth, where Boaz becomes the Kinsman Redeemer for Ruth's husband’s family farm.
More importantly it is why Jesus Christ became one of us, and forsook the glory of heaven, becoming all of mankind’s “Kinsman Redeemer.” By God's law that he gave to Moses and the Children of Israel, God sent His only Begotten Son to redeem us from our slavery to wickedness and sin.
Just as the Children of Israel are called God's servants in verse 55, we are all servant s of God. Some of us do not like being servants, we want to be like God, or we want some lesser God that we can refer to as “the man upstairs” or we want God to be more like Santa Claus. God is the creator, and He expects those that are serious about following Him and pleasing Him to act accordingly. God does not wink at sin, or say that kind of thinking is not popular today, or living a holy life is just too hard. First, God knows it is hard and that is why He gave us an example like Jesus to follow and gave Jesus the power to be our kinsman redeemer when we fail. God expects us to follow the laws of the Sabbath, and the Day of Atonement, He expects us to rest ourselves and our land, He expects us to consider our lives and our failures and to ask for forgiveness.
How can we do a better job of fulfilling God's call for justice in today's society? God has put forth a plan, that plan involves you realizing you are not worthy of God's grace, and calls for repentance and restoration to the family of God, so that the Kinsman Redeemer can in fact redeem you. Faithful living may require sacrifice on our part.