At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord's release has been proclaimed. Of a foreigner you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release. But there will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess— if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. Deuteronomy 15:1-5
In Leviticus, God gave commands for the land. He instructed the Israelites to sow the fields, prune, and gather for six years, but in the seventh year, the land should have complete rest. The Israelites question this, but God assures them He will provide from the work they had done in the six years with enough to sustain them until the new crops from the 8th year of work are sown. It is another way for the Israelites to continue to step into obedience and trust God. Just as we are to trust God with the Sabbath command to do our work in six days and rest on the seventh.
God is a God of freedom. He doesn’t want His people in poverty or bondage. He says if they follow His commands there won’t be poor or enslaved among them. He doesn’t promise there will be no poverty, but He provides a way for it.
In this passage we see God make a way for freedom and provision, declaring a Shemittah (“to release”) year every seven years – a Sabbath, a year of rest and renewal -- where debts are canceled and servant workers set free. What joy as every seventh year rolls around. What freedom as the debt burdens are removed. Those formerly enslaved walk a little lighter, a little jump in their step. Freedom. A new start. But that doesn’t even come close to the freedom Jesus gave us when He paid for our debts on the cross. The heavy burden of guilt, shame, eternal punishment rolled off our shoulders and onto His. Freedom. A new start.
Question: Imagine a world where everyone obeyed God’s commands and there were no poor or in bondage among us. How would everything look different?