MONDAY, NOVEMBER 7
SCRIPTURE: Deuteronomy 15
BY: Jeremy Witt
This chapter deals with the Sabbatic year, a foreign concept to us in the Western world. The Sabbatic year occurs every 7 years which cancels out the debts of those how have borrowed and taken out loans. The purpose of this is found in verses 4-5 so that there will not be any poor among you, since the LORD will surely bless you in the land. Verse 6 goes so far as to state the nation will lend to other nations but not take out loans from anyone else. Let’s remember God’s purpose for Israel was to be priests to the nations, to point them to the LORD God. This speaks trusting God in everything, especially financially. By not borrowing from neighbors, but trusting in God, Israel would be financially stable as well as generous to their neighbors so that they could impact their neighbors for God. The key is verse 5, “if only you listen obediently to the voice of the LORD.”
This Sabbatic year referred to the people of Israel not the foreigners. Read verse 3 to see that interest was allowed to be charged to foreigners. Leviticus 19:33-34 speaks to this as well. The purpose of this concept was to help the Israelites to help their brothers in times of need. The Sabbatic year was to keep the people from living in debt and keeping them shackled to the spiraling debt that we see today. This is yet another example of God’s grace and provision.
We see in the New Testament how people assumed the rich were blessed by God. When Jesus spoke how difficult it was to enter into heaven and referred to it in Matthew 19:24 when He said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.” People have assumed the rich are blessed and the poor are cursed for centuries. Yet God does not see us as mankind sees each other. We must remember this!
Yet God makes a promise to those who generously lend to their brothers. In verses 9-10 God cautions not be greedy towards your poor brother and offers a special blessing to the lender. Things happen in this life that affects us financially. An injury, a sickness, a business being forced to close, a bad choice by a boss, fellow worker, etc are many examples that could affect someone going into debt that had nothing to do with them. So God made provision for the Jewish people to take care of each other.
Verse 12 speaks of extreme circumstances where a Jew would have to go into service of another Jew, but in the Sabbatic year or 7th year, they would be set free, but not sent away empty-handed as verse 13 states. This showed the people dignity, respect, and gratitude for working together. It also reminded the people that they were once slaves and by helping each other, they would be reminded of their heritage and how they are blessed from God. Again, taking care of each other is God’s purpose and design for the people. In case someone does not wish to be set free, that person may choose (not forced to) to remain with the lender for life by piercing their ear.