The Fourth Commandment Part 2
This is my twelfth post on the Ten Commandments using Buddy Dano’s study: FOR THE LAND OF THE FREE: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF FREEDOM and part 2 of 2 dealing with the fourth commandment.
The fourth commandment deals with both the Sabbath year and the jubilee. After going through this study it is the jubilee year that really caught my attention. I would like to make a point about the jubilee that struck home for me when reading this short study. In the U.S., and around the world, many people are struggling right now because of the recession. While I have seen many economists, columnists, politicians, and layman arguing about the details I haven’t seen much disagreement that much of the downturn was caused by a mountain of unsustainable debt. Once this house of cards started to collapse no one could seem to stop it until a lot of damage was done.
What if there was a system where every fifty years all debt was forgiven, ancestral homes were returned to the families who originally had title to them, and everyone was given a fresh start? I can see two outcomes. First, lenders would not lend so much money knowing that at a fixed time in the future (no more than 50 years) the debts would be wiped clean. Secondly, no family would be permanently bankrupted or destroyed economically. Right now both of those sound pretty good.
I have read many people who deride ancient Israel as a “theocracy” and make that sound either scary or crazy. But, if you think about it, it sure seems like ancient Israel was a lot more caring and gracious to its citizens than our modern “compassionate” society is. Jubilee is a show of grace from a gracious God. The wise will always chose God’s grace over man’s “compassion” any day.
Here is Pastor Dano:
THE PRINCIPLE OF THE SABBATICAL YEAR.
The sabbatical years belonged solely to the Age of Israel, and has no counterpart in the Church Age. Exodus 23:10, 11, ‘‘And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.’’
Leviticus 25:3, 4, 26:3-6, ‘‘Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.’’ ‘‘If ye walk in My statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.’’
It is not a part of the Ten Commandments. Under an agricultural economy, the Jews were to stop all agricultural production in order to give the people and the land a rest, and to live off the production of the previous six years of work. It was essentially a test of their faith in the promises of God and resting in them for capacity. The question was, could they trust the Lord to provide for them in the seventh year? Well, the Jews failed the test. For 490 years they failed to observe the sabbatical year. God based the length of the fifth cycle of discipline, or national discipline, on this figure of missed sabbaths. So they went into captivity for 70 years, from 586 B.C. to 516 B.C.
THE YEAR OF JUBILEE.
LEVITICUS 25:8-24. ‘‘And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.
And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession.
‘‘And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbor, or buyest ought of thy neighbor’s hand, ye shall not oppress one another: According to the number of years after the jubilee thou shalt buy of thy neighbor, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee: According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee. Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the Lord your God.
‘‘Wherefore ye shall do My statutes, and keep My judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, 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. The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is Mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with Me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land.’’
Another feature of the sabbath concept, the year of Jubilee, was also designed by God to teach GRACE to the nation Israel. It too is non-operational during the Church Age.
After they had observed seven Sabbath years during a 49 year period, the Jews were commanded on the 50th year, the year of Jubilee, to return all real estate to the original owner, to free all the slaves, and to return all businesses to their former owners. In short, everything reverted to the status of ownership that had existed 50 years previously.
Also, anyone working under some bondage system was freed immediately, and whatever portion of the land had been allotted to him by tribe and by the system was returned to him.
The principle taught by observance of the year of Jubilee was that everything acquired was their’s on a lease basis. It was God’s way of teaching the nation Israel to depend upon Him and His Plan for everything.
‘‘PROFANING THE SABBATH.’’
This was associated with idolatry and the apostasy of the Jews. Ezekiel 23:37-39, ‘‘That they have committed adultery, and blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto Me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them. Moreover this they have done unto Me: they have defiled My sanctuary in the same day, and have profaned My sabbaths. For when they had slain their children to their idols, then they came the same day into My sanctuary to profane it; and, lo, thus have they done in the midst of Mine house.’’
Sabbath violation, which occurred after the restoration of the Jewish nation in the land, is discussed in Nehemiah 13:15-21. ‘‘In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.
‘‘Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath. And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day. So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice. Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.’’
THE SABBATH IN THE CHURCH AGE.
Believers in this dispensation are not under the laws pertaining to sabbath observance. These have been set aside since the beginning of the Church Age. See the whole book of Galatians and Colossians 2:16, 17. ‘‘Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.’’