For the week of May 20, 2003 / 15 Iyyar 5763
Torah: Vayikra / Leviticus 25:1 - 26:2
Hartarah: Jeremiah 32:6-27
Note: Originally published May 20, 2000 / 15 Iyyar 5760


Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan (Vayikra / Leviticus 25:10).

As I read the Torah, I am continually struck at how it has such a different worldview from what most of us are used to. A worldview is a way of describing how someone or a culture looks at life. It is not that the Bible is irrelevant or outdated - far from it! For the issues it addresses are the same as the ones we face in our own day. But how it deals with those issues is often so different from what popular thought dictates.

This week's Torah portion is another example of this. God commanded that every fifty years would be a Jubilee. At that time everyone among the people of Israel was to return to their ancestral property. If someone had sold their land to someone else or lost it due to debt, they would just get it back.

The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants (Vayikra / Leviticus 25:23).

What a different way of looking at property. First, in ancient Israeli society, no one actually owned land. The Land of Israel belonged to God, not to the people. God allotted portions of the Land to the various tribal groups and specific clans. Because it was his to give, the tribal inheritances could not be lost permanently.

And yet as the people went about their daily business, they could lose their land temporarily. After 50 years the land would revert back to the original owners.

In God's economy, the highs and lows of economic fortune is balanced by the Jubilee. Every 50 years the nation would basically get to start over. This would have prevented the poor from becoming completely destitute and staying that way from generation to generation.

This reminded the people that what they had was entrusted to them by God, something that our society would do well to realize. We wrongly think that all we have has come to us by our own efforts, rather than by God’s blessing.

Something else that the Jubilee teaches us is that with God we can start over. We don't have to think that our future is dictated by the present. God is a God of restoration. He longs to see his beloved creatures restored to the place he intended for us.

Just like he provided a physical inheritance for the clans of Israel, so he has an inheritance for all people. He wants to restore each person to the quality of life he intended before our initial rebellion in the Garden of Eden.

When Yeshua first went public, he read a passage from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue. These words are reminiscent of the Jubilee:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor (Luke 4:18,19; quoted from Isaiah 62:1,2).

Through Yeshua every one of us can experience a Jubilee. No matter how destitute we have become, we can be restored to the kind of life that God originally intended.

As I read about the Jubilee, it appears that in order for someone to be restored to their land, they had to get up and go there. No one was forced to return to their God-given inheritances. Each person had to take it upon themselves to reacquire what was rightfully theirs.

It is the same for us today. We can experience God's restoration, but we need to receive it from him. Do you hear him calling you?

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