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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, March 29, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Leviticus 25:1–19

The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. You may eat what the land yields during its sabbath—you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound laborers who live with you; for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food.

You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month—on the day of atonement—you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.

In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property. When you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not cheat one another. When you buy from your neighbor, you shall pay only for the number of years since the jubilee; the seller shall charge you only for the remaining crop years. If the years are more, you shall increase the price, and if the years are fewer, you shall diminish the price; for it is a certain number of harvests that are being sold to you. You shall not cheat one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.

You shall observe my statutes and faithfully keep my ordinances, so that you may live on the land securely. The land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live on it securely. (NRSV)

This is a beautiful vision of the fiftieth year, every fiftieth year: all people go free. “You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.” This is how we make a year holy—“You shall hallow the fiftieth year.” Everyone who has debt is released from their debt. Everyone in bondage is released from bondage. This is called the Jubilee.

Reading further along in Leviticus, another reason is given for the call to Jubilee. “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants” (Leviticus 25:23). Realizing this relationship of God to the land, and God to us, presents another aspect of how we can make a year holy—how to hallow a year. It can be liberating to recognize that what we think we own, we actually do not own. God owns it. All belongs to God. Whether we buy or sell, it’s only temporary, because in the grand scheme of things, all belongs to God.

This can change our understanding of what it means to be an alien and a tenant. God calls all of us aliens and tenants. And yet God loves us deeply and wishes justice for us. Justice for all. Including us.

Jesus references the Jubilee in the Gospel of Luke when he describes his own ministry. He recites Isaiah 61:1–2: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). Liberty and release. The year of the Lord’s favor is usually understood to be the year of Jubilee.

God of justice, God of love, thank you for the blessing and privilege to be a steward of your world. Guide my heart and hands toward justice and blessing, that I may be a channel for your grace in the world. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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