What is in your wallet? Do you check way too often, like I do? Do you love budgeting or do you hate it? Do you have any idea what’s in your account? Do you even want to know? I care way too much about my money, and although most people aren’t as anal as I am, I’m not alone. Everyone cares about money. It’s how we function. It’s on all our minds. It’s one of the main stressors in our lives and our marriages. People say “money isn’t everything”, but it’s pretty darn close!
Which is part of why Leviticus 25 is so weird. It describes “The Sabbath Year” and “The Year of Jubilee”. Both are shocking and, if read by some of the world’s millionaires and billionaires, would certainly make the reader feel light-headed. The Sabbath Year happened every seven years, and during that year no farming or pruning or planting was done. The land just sat there. No one was allowed to do anything to their gardens. People still ate, but they only ate what naturally grew out of the ground. On top of that, there was the Year of Jubilee. During this year, which happened only every fifty years, the Israelites had to return all property – land, houses (unless they were in the city – verse 30), and even servants! Anything you or your family bought from someone eventually had to be returned. It was called a year of “jubilee”, but was anyone really joyful? Did anyone want this?
The Treasures Within:
Bye-Bye, Mr. Monopoly Man
Don’t knock it until you try it! Today we live in a world of monopolies, big business, and powerful corporations. Companies become “too big to fail”. Huge corporations commit all kinds of privacy violations, beat out small businesses, and control entire marketplaces, but no one does anything about it because they all get most of their goods and services from that same company! So many movies have been made about greedy businesses. So much wealth has been piled up because someone took advantage of someone else. All of this, literally all of this, would not exist under the laws in this chapter of the Bible.
Say some Israelite with dreams of becoming a landlord wanted to buy a bunch of land and rent it out to people. Couldn’t last, because once the year of Jubilee came around, he had to give all of that land back to the original owners. Say a particularly evil Israelite wanted to own a lot of slaves and make money trading and selling them to other tribes and nations. That also wouldn’t work, because a) Israelites couldn’t buy and sell each other as slaves (verses 39-40) and b) in the year of Jubilee, all of those people had to be set free. Imagine that! No more “big business”. No more working for “the man”. So much about our society would be completely erased if capitalism were replaced by these laws.
The Meaning Of Life
What was it like? The Bible talks about making purchases and sales, and how the buyers and sellers had to remember that the Year of Jubilee was coming up, changing all the prices. But even without all the mercenary considerations, these rules changed everything. Instead of thinking about how to get rich or how to increase their wealth, people focused on taking care of their families. Instead of finding new ways to take from someone else for their own benefit, Israelites helped each other, giving generously to the poor (verses 17, 35). Money is such a big part of our lives and even our societal values. We idolize money and wealth. We measure our success and the success of others by our bank accounts. We decide our happiness by how much money we have. Without capitalism, what would we focus on? What would our goals and dreams look like? How would we measure success? What qualities would we admire in each other? What would bring us joy? What would our world look like if money really wasn’t everything?
God’s Message To Us:
“Fix your eyes on Me.” The very last verse in this chapter brings it all home. “For the Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” God commanded that everyone was to release their servants in the year of Jubilee because no human can truly own another – only God can do that. And He commanded that everyone give back their property in the year of Jubilee because no human can truly own anything – only God owns all things. If we weren’t all slaves to capitalism, slaves to wealth, slaves to financial “success” – maybe we would instead be slaves for Jesus. Maybe instead of working our butts off, hoping and praying that one day we can sit on a stack of cash and fully serve ourselves – we’d serve God. Maybe instead of thinking about ourselves and what other people think about our clothes, our cars, our houses, and our vacations – we’d think about God and what He thinks of us. Maybe instead of languishing on this earth, trying and failing to one-up each other, chasing after dreams that won’t really satisfy us – we’d spread the gospel and look forward to leaving this earth to go to heaven, where every dream, every desire, every longing and, yes, everything, will be found in our Savior, forever.
What do you think? What would your life look like under these rules? What message did God put in this chapter just for you?