Today’s reading begins with the listing of festivals and concludes with the procedure for redeeming a poor member of the people of Israel from indentured servitude.
Although today’s reading covers a number of different topics, I wanted to focus on just one. The year of Jubilee was a very unique aspect of Hebrew culture. The year of Jubilee occurred once every 50 years and it was the year in which those who were indentured were freed from their servitude and land that had been sold was returned to its owner.
The year of Jubilee speaks to God’s desire for His people to be free and that what He has given them should always belong to them. God was leading His people to a land that He had promised them and made it a point to ensure that they would always have the land and that it wouldn’t be slowly sold away to the surrounding people groups. For a person who didn’t have the means to support themselves or had fallen on hard times, the Jubilee represented God’s perpetual blessing that would return in time.
In the United States, citizens have the right of personal property ownership, but this ownership is conditional on their ability to keep up with their financial obligations and pay any requisite taxes assessed against the property. If a property owner isn’t able to afford to keep the land, the land can be sold. Once sold, however, there is no guarantee that the land will ever return to its previous owner.
The freedom and blessings promised by God to His people were written into the social contract of the people of Israel. God’s ultimate desire for His people would be that they would be free and that they would be blessed. I think it speaks to the nature of the God who is often mischaracterized as vengeful and angry, rather than One who is loving and ultimately desires freedom and blessings for those who call on His name.