WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday June 17, 2012
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MAKING A FRESH START
(Make a new start using GOD’s economics)
In Leviticus 25, GOD gives Moses a set of unique regulations to take back to the Israelites from Mount Sinai. They are instructions that only those Israelites, who were willing to truly honor GOD, and share HIS concern for the land and the people, would adhere to faithfully. These instructions are given to teach us how to revere and honor GOD’s plan for our lives, to teach us to be sensitive to those in need, and to treat the needy with respect.
First of all, in verses 1-7 we see the institutionalizing of the “Sabbath Year Rest”, or “Sabbatical Year”, by GOD, the CREATOR. In as much as the people were to work only six consecutive days, and then, rest their bodies from their labors, so the land too must be allowed to rest and rejuvenate after a six consecutive year-period, of working by man. In the seventh year they were to do no farming of crops in the land for the entire year. Here GOD shows HIS concern that every so often, both the people, and the land, needed to be endowed with an automatic fresh, new start.
Here GOD is instituting a “Sabbath Year Rest” out of respect for the land HE created for our pleasure, and HE took it much more serious than man ever has. In fact, HE took it so serious that HE even based the length of Israel’s punishment in Babylon on how many consecutive Sabbath Year Rests that they had violated over a 490-year span. GOD sentenced HIS chosen nation to one year for every Sabbath Year Rest that they failed to observe over that time, amounting to a total of 70 years in captivity in Babylon.
Also in this passage, we can see yet another, very important aspect, being incorporated by GOD, and that is, HIS concern for the poor, and those foreigners who chose to live under HIS rules. In verses 5-6 GOD tells the Israelites not to store away the crops that grew naturally during the seventh year, but rather, they were to allow themselves, their servants, and the needy foreigners who lived among them to have their fill of what grew during that period. Also, the livestock could partake of the land’s bounty in the seventh year, but no one could store up what they took.
Next we see the institutionalizing of the “Year of Jubilee” (Vs. 8-23), which was to be observed every seventh “Sabbatical Year”. On the first day of the fiftieth year, GOD figured that a “Day of Atonement” should be the first order of business in a year that HE would “set apart” as “Holy”. It would be a time that, (you guessed it) people would be given a chance for a “fresh new start” at a better life. It would be a time of “releasing of burdens”, mostly of an economic nature, for every person, and, for the land also. Every person could return to the lands that belonged to their ancestors and rejoin their families as owners.
The Jubilee Year was also to be used as a measuring stick for the price of land, because when that year came, all land had to be returned to its original owner. In other words, the price of land would be based on the number of years left until the next Jubilee. The more years left until the next Jubilee, the higher the price that the seller could get for the land, the fewer the years, the lower the price. After all, the person selling the land is actually selling a certain number of harvests. The people were to show their fear of the LORD by not trying to take advantage of one another. And so land could never be sold on a permanent basis, because, GOD says, “The land really belongs to ME” (Vs. 15-23).
In this passage (Vs. 9-17) we’ll also do well to note these four elements;
· Repentance (v. 9) – Coming to the end of ourselves and finding the LORD, asking HIM for forgiveness for trying to live a life without HIM is always primary.
· Release (Vs. 10 & 13) – By the atonement of our sins and giving our lives to GOD, we release ourselves from a burden that we could not otherwise carry.
· Rest (Vs. 11-12) – We are then put in a place of rest and peace that we could not otherwise find.
· Restoration (Vs. 13-17) – We are restored into a right relationship with GOD, a new beginning, walking in the newness of life, that is, CHRIST JESUS.
And finally, in verses 24-55, we see “Redemption” being addressed. To “redeem” simply means to buy back. In this chapter of Leviticus it concerns the right to “buy back” family members, land, or other properties. Oftentimes, in the Old Testament days, when an individual had no resources with which to redeem his relative, land, or property, a “near relative” could legally redeem it for him. That can be likened to what CHRIST JESUS did for us through HIS vicarious sacrifice on the cross. HE was born of woman, so that HE could become a true human being, so that, as our near kinsman, HE could pay the cost necessary to bring us back to GOD.
Everyone, periodically, needs to be able to make a fresh, new start in life. And, in the case of “sinful man”, spiritually, a “new start” is exactly what JESUS affords us with. HE buys us back, and returns us to our original OWNER, our FATHER GOD, WHO art in Heaven.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
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