Leviticus 25: Sabbath and Jubilee

Leviticus 25 introduces two unique concepts that remain significant (and still unique) for our world today: rest and redemption.

What does this tell me about God:

  • God is both systematic and extraordinary.

God commanded the sabbath year to be observed every 7 years, allowing the land and the people to rest from work and production. God promised an extra-abundant year for the 6th year, every rotation. This abundance would provide for the year of rest, and for the year of starting over (the 8th year). God reveals his consistency with the promise of seasonal provision. Participating in the 6th year harvest must have been a humbling experience for the Israelites, seeing the abundance of harvest compared to the last 5 years. God certainly deserved the credit for sustaining the Israelites through this foreign practice of rest. In fact, that is one of the purposes God ordained for the Sabbath year: to remember that God is the provider, not man’s efforts.

  • God is the owner, provider, and ultimate sustainer of everything.

The year of Jubilee, happening once in 50 years, was a call to celebrate, restore, and proclaim freedom for the people and the land. In this a special sabbath year, the people were to return to their clans, reclaiming the property God had originally assigned to them. Imagine the family reunion!

People who had fallen on hard times would have sold themselves into slavery. The year of Jubilee was a blessed occasion where all debts were canceled, all properties restored (except those within the cities), and all slaves set free! No other civilization that I know of has ever had or has today such a total-redemptive concept among its people.

How can I live in light of this:

  • I should be intentional about God-honoring rest.

Studying Breathe, by Priscilla Shirer, alongside Leviticus, has greatly helped me understand the concept of Sabbath and rest. Shirer reminds me that sabbath is not about kicking my feet up, taking a load off, and zoning out. True rest is about recognizing God as the creator and provider, and finding satisfaction in His work in and through and for me.

  • My perspective of time, space, property, and stuff can shift from “mine” to “His.”

This is a tough one for a Wyoming-born gal. We are “self-made people” here in the West. As a culture, we tend to avoid asking for help, and gravitate to pride in our accomplishments. The Jubilee was set up to remind the people that ALL property and people belong to God. He makes us stewards of His space and stuff, but I should never adopt the mentality that “I worked for it, I keep it.”

Sometimes, this means I leverage my stuff for God’s kingdom: using our home hospitably, offering to give rides in my car, etc. Sometimes, this practice means I freely give away my possessions. We credit God for the over-abundance of baby clothes we have received through hand-me-downs in our community. And as soon as our babies have grown out of a size, we passed the entire lot of clothes on to someone else in need. We could have stored the clothes for future children, but we are trusting God for that kid too, and hoping to help other babies and mommas in the meantime.

If I live Jubilee in my day to day life, I will be listening to God, whom I recognize owns it all, to stay in touch with what He wants to do with it.

  • I need to repeatedly acknowledge my roots.

“It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan.” Leviticus 25:10.

I think the Bible is clear that our “clan” in Christ is the believers who we call brothers and sisters, the sons and daughters of God. We can honor this Jubilee concept by sharing the stories of our “roots” to those around us. Does my family know my testimony? Could my kids trace back their spiritual heritage? Have I expressed my gratitude to the one’s who shared the love of Jesus with me initially?

Other thoughts or questions:

  • How many times in their up-and-down national crises did the Israelites actually celebrate Jubilee?

How do you observe rest and restoration in your life?