“‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you. You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.
- Leviticus 25:35-38
“In order to resolve these concerns, the rabbis sought to come up with ways of avoiding the Shemitah’s more radical requirements. One of these was based on the idea that the Shemitah applied primarily to Jewish-owned land. So in the year of the Shemitah, Jewish farmers would sell their land to non-Jews and continued to work. The selling would be done under an agreement in which the land would revert to the Jewish farmer at the end of the Shemitah year.”
- Jonathan Cahn, The Mystery of the Shemitah
As I wrote yesterday, for those wondering, Shemitah is pronounced “Shem- Mee’-tah” with the accent on the middle syllable. The Shemitah is the Sabbath Year as established by the Scripture above.
Rabbi Cahn talks of Elul 29, the day of nullification, where the debts are cleared. The entire chapter of Leviticus 25 talks of such things as selling the potential of crops for land as opposed to permanently selling the land. Leviticus 25:23 states that the land is God’s, and you have no right to sell the land. You are merely God’s caretakers. Thus, no one can sell something that is not his to own.
In writing to a friend who was writing a devotion on the Levitical sacrifices and how they pointed to Jesus, I related that I had just read this book by Jonathan Cahn, and how the Israelites preferred to work around the rules rather than understand them.
Understanding, at that moment, hit me.
I had watched an episode of Mark Lowry and Andrew Greer’s television show, Dinner Conversations, a couple of weeks ago when Point of Grace, the singing group, were the guests for dinner. The show often leaves the dinner table and visits other people. For this show, they visited a rabbi. As they had a conversation with the rabbi, the concept of ‘Grace’ was introduced. The rabbi had to admit that he really had no clue what the word meant. There was nothing in his Scriptures that expressed it.
Mark Lowry gave a beautiful definition, although a bit comical. He said something along the lines of this. “Suppose you are going down the interstate at 30-40 mph over the posted speed limit. A cop pulls you over. You expect a ticket, and you deserve one or worse. But instead, the officer hands you an ice cream cone and suggests you should slow down. That’s grace.”
The rabbi looked at him in disbelief. He finally asked, “An ice cream cone?”
Lowry shrugged and said it could be, or anything that you didn’t deserve.
In the year of Jubilee, every 49 years, each seventh Sabbath Year, the rules are to cancel the debts, set slaves free, and celebrate the goodness of the Lord.
The rabbi had ‘Grace’ spelled out in his Scriptures, but he did not recognize it. The debt was nullified. It was not paid off. It was a gift, freely given and not deserved. The slave did not deserve to be set free, but he or she was set free.
The doctrine of Grace is there. To paraphrase Jesus, the doctrine of grace is there ‘if you have eyes to see it.’
In his book, Rabbi Cahn speaks of repentance before it is too late, but what I see that is needed is to live by Faith and trust in the Grace that God gives us freely.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.