FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
June 26, 2015
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER THREE – Part XIV
THE BIBLICAL JUBILEE
Even in his fallen condition, if only man humbly followed God’s simple plan to meet the basic needs and welfare of human society, particularly the poor and underprivileged, they were even assured that though earth itself was cursed as one of the first three caused by sin (Gen. 3: 17-19) it would not prematurely degrade through abuse and greed.
There would have been no bloody revolutions, social upheavals and class struggles between the world’s haves and have-nots because of exploitation of the underprivileged as well as lifetime indebtedness and slavery, etc. The grossly flawed ideologies and theories of redistribution of wealth in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital, arguing that the working class should carry out organized revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about a new order of socio-economic change would never have grained traction and the human tragedy and destruction it brought in its wake would have been unheard of in the scale that human history sadly chronicles.
Economic and political freedoms would not be uppermost in the minds of the world’s leaders, economic pundits, and scientists; they would have had other problems to deal with. Church charities and non-profits would have little reason to be constantly appealing for donations, some actually shameless scams, blasphemously “taking the name of the Lord God in vain.” Exo. 20:7; Deut. 5; 11; Rom. 2: 24.
Christ said that “the poor ye have always with you.” Matt. 26: 11. The Bible never justifies the Robin Hood mentality of “stealing from the rich in order to give to the poor and hungry.” Both the UN and World Food Programme report that about 25, 000 people die each year from starvation, mostly children—even before the current food crisis exacerbated by catastrophic and persistent drought conditions. God’s solution, taught in the Old Testament Jewish economy, included the Biblical Jubilee—the genuine Jubilee! Let’s consider its highlights which centered on God’s Care for the Poor.
Ellen G. White wrote in Patriarchs & Prophets, Pacific Press Publishing Asso., 1913, pp. 530-536, the following which we quote in full:
The Second Tithe. — “To promote the assembling of the people for religious purposes as well as to provide for the poor, a second tithe of all the increase was required. Concerning the first tithe, the Lord had declared [Num. 18: 21 quoted]. But in regard to the second tithe He commanded [Deut. 14: 23. 29; 16: 11-14 quoted]. This tithe, or its equivalent in money, they were for two years to bring to the place where the sanctuary was established. After presenting a thank-offering to God, and a specified portion to the priest; the offerers were to use the remainder for a religious feast, in which the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow should participate. . . . .
Every third year, however, this second tithe was to be used at home, in entertaining the Levite and the poor, as Moses said [Deut. 26: 12 quoted]. This tithe was to provide a fund for the uses of charity and hospitality.
And further provision was made for the poor. There is nothing, after their recognition of the claims of God, that more distinguishes the laws given by Moses [as given by God Himself] than the liberal, tender, and hospitable spirit enjoined toward the poor. Although the Lord had promised greatly to bless His people, it was not His design that poverty should be wholly unknown to them. He declared that the poor should never cease out of the land. [Why?] There would be ever among His people who would call into exercise their sympathy, tenderness, and benevolence. Then, as now, persons were subject to misfortune, sickness, and loss of property; yet so long as they followed the instruction given by God, there were no beggars among them, neither any who suffered for food.
The law of God gave the poor a right to a certain portion of the produce of the soil. When hungry, a man was at liberty to neighbor’s field or orchard or vineyard, and eat of the grain or fruit to satisfy his hunger. It was in accordance with this permission that the disciples of Christ plucked and ate of the standing grain [ears of corn] as they passed though the field upon the Sabbath day. [Matt. 12: 1-8].
All the gleanings of the harvest-field, orchard, and vineyard, belonged to the poor. [Deut. 24: 19-22; Lev. 19: 9, 10 quoted].
The Seventh or Sabbatical Year. “Every seventh year, special provision was made for the poor. The sabbatical year, as it was called, began at the end of the harvest. At the seed-time, which followed the ingathering, the people were not to sow; they should not dress the vineyard in the spring; and they must expect neither harvest not vintage. Of that which the land produced spontaneously, they might eat while fresh, but they were not to lay up any portion of it in their store-houses. The yield of this year was to be free for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and even for the creature of the field. [See Exod. 23: 10, 11; Lev. 25: 5.]
But if the land ordinarily produced only enough to supply the wants of the people, how were they to subsist during the year when no crops were gathered?—For this the promise of God made ample provision. ‘I will command My blessing upon you in the sixth year,’ He said, ‘and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.’ Lev. 25: 21, 22.
The observance of the sabbatical year was to be a benefit to both the land and the people. The soil, lying untilled for one season, would afterward produce more plentifully. The people were released from the pressing labors of the field; and while there were various branches of work that could be followed during this time, all enjoyed greater leisure, which afforded opportunity for the restoration of their physical powers for the exertions of the following years. They had more time for meditation and prayer, for acquainting themselves with the teachings and requirements of the Lord, and the instruction of their households.
In the sabbatical year the Hebrew slaves were set at liberty, and they were not to be sent away portionless. The Lord’s direction was: [Deut. 15: 13, 14 quoted].
The hire of a laborer was to be promptly paid: [Deut. 24: 14, 15 quoted].
Special directions were also given concerning the treatment of fugitives from service: [Deut. 23: 15, 16 quoted].
To the poor, the seventh year was a year of release from debt. The Hebrews were enjoined at all times to assist their needy brethren by lending them money without interest. To take usury from a poor man was expressly forbidden: [Lev. 25: 35-37 quoted]. If the debt remained unpaid until the year of release [the seventh year], the principal itself could not be recovered. The people were expressly warned against withholding from their brethren needed assistance on account of this: [Deut. 15: 7-9, 11, 8 quoted]. “None need fear that their liberality would bring them to want. Obedience to God’s commandments would surely result in prosperity. [Deut. 15: 6 quoted].
After ‘seven sabbaths of years’ ‘seven times seven years,’ came the great year of release,—the Jubilee. [Lev. 25: 9, 10 quoted].
On the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement,’ the trumpet [not bells!] of the jubilee was sounded. Throughout the land, wherever the Jewish people dwelt, the sound was heard, calling upon all the children of Jacob to welcome the year of release. On the great day of atonement, satisfaction was made for the sins of Israel [see particulars on Leviticus chapters 16 & 23; Heb. 9], and with gladness of the heart the people would welcome the Jubilee.
As in the sabbatical year, the land was not to be sown or reaped, and all that it produced was to the regarded as the rightful property of the poor. Certain classes of Hebrew slaves —all who did not receive their liberty in the sabbatical year—were not set free. But that which especially distinguished the year of the Jubilee was the reversion of all landed property to the family of the original possessor. By the special direction of God, the [promised earthly Canaan] land had been divided by lot. After the division was made, no one was at liberty to trade his estate. Neither was he to sell his land unless poverty compelled him to do so, and then, whenever he or any of his kindred might desire to redeem it, the purchaser must not refuse to sell it; and if unredeemed, it would revert to its possessor or his heirs in the year of the Jubilee. [Lev. 25: 23 quoted]. The people were to be impressed with the fact that it was God’s land which they were permitted to possess for a time; that He was the rightful owner, the original Proprietor, and that He would have special consideration made for the poor and unfortunate. It would be impressed upon the minds of all that the poor have as much right as a place in God’s world as have the more wealthy.
Such were the provisions made by our merciful Creator, to lessen suffering, to bring some ray of hope, to flash some gleam of sunshine, into the life of the destitute and distressed.
The Lord would place a check upon the inordinate love or property and power. Great evils would result from continued accumulation of wealth by one class, and the poverty and degradation of another. Without some restraint, the power of the wealthy would become a monopoly, and the poor, though in every respect fully as worthy in God’s sight, would be regarded and treated as inferior to their more prosperous brethren. The sense of this oppression would arouse the passions of the poorer class. There would be a feeling of despair and desperation which would tend to demoralize society, and open the door to crimes of every description. The regulations that God established, were designed to promote social [not economic] equality. The provisions of the sabbatical year and the Jubilee would, in a great measure, set right that which during the interval had gone wrong in the social and political economy of the nation.
These regulations were [divinely] designed to bless the rich no less than the poor. They would restrain avarice and a disposition for self-exaltation, and would cultivate a noble spirit of benevolence; and by fostering good-will and confidence between all classes, they would promote social order, the stability of government. We are all woven together in the great web of humanity, and whatever we can do to benefit and uplift others, will reflect in blessing upon ourselves. The law of natural dependence runs through all classes of society. The poor are not more dependent upon the rich than are the rich upon the poor. While the one class as a share in the blessings which God has bestowed upon their wealthier neighbors, the other need the faithful service, the strength of brain and bone and muscle, that are the capital of the poor.
Great blessings were promised to Israel on condition of obedience to the Lord’s directions. [Lev. 26: 4-17 quoted].
There are many who urge with great enthusiasm that all men should have an equal share in the temporal blessings of God. But this was not the purpose of the Creator. A diversity of condition is one of the means by which God designs to prove and develop character. Yet He intends that those who have worldly possessions shall regard themselves merely as stewards [not masters] of His goods, as entrusted with means to be employed for the benefit of the suffering and the needy. . . . .
If the law given by God for the benefit of the poor had continued to be carried out, how different would be the present condition of the world, morally, spiritually, and temporally! Selfishness and self-importance would not be manifested as now, but each would cherish a kind regard for the happiness and welfare of others; and such wide-spread destitution as now seen in many lands, would not exist.
The principles which God has enjoined, would prevent the terrible evils that in all ages have resulted from the oppression of the rich toward the poor, and the suspicion and hatred of the poor toward the rich. While they might hinder the amassing of great wealth, and the indulgence of unbounded luxury, they would prevent the consequent ignorance and degradation of tens of thousands whose ill-paid servitude is required to build up these colossal fortunes. They would bring a peaceful solution of those problems that now threaten to fill the world with anarchy and bloodshed.” –
(Continued next week)