Deuteronomy 15 (English Standard Version)
The Sabbatical Year
1“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release.
In Israel, money was always loaned with the understanding that every seventh year, debts would be canceled. So there was no long-term debt in this sense — money could never be borrowed, or owed, for more than six years.
2And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the LORD’s release has been proclaimed. 3 Of a foreigner you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release. 4 But there will be no poor among you;
. . . because of the Lord’s reward for obedience (vv. 4-6), and because of the Sabbath-year arrangement (vv. 7-11). This “year for cancelling debts” (v. 9) gave Israelites who had experienced economic reverses a way to gain release from indebtedness and so, in a measure, a way to equalize wealth.
notes from The NIV Study Bible
for the LORD will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess— 5 if only you will strictly obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. 6For the LORD your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.
Reflections on generosity:
Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting.
We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
7“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. 9Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and you be guilty of sin. 10You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. 11For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’
12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 13And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. 14You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the LORD your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.
Even as debts were to be canceled every seventh year, so were slaves to be freed. The slaves thought of here are those who have had to sell themselves into slavery because of their debt. This made certain that a “bankruptcy” did not harm an Israelite all their life. The worst that could happen is they would have to serve someone without pay for six years. And God commanded generosity to the departing slave, giving him something to start his new life with.
16 “But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well-off with you, 17then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. And to your female slave you shall do the same.
18 “It shall not seem hard to you when you let him go free from you, for at half the cost of a hired servant he has served you six years. So the LORD your God will bless you in all that you do.
HERE is “Set Me Free,” by Casting Crowns. Galatians 5:1 — It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
The Firstborn Animals
19 “All the firstborn males that are born of your herd and flock you shall dedicate to the LORD your God.
This was for three reasons. First, because Israel was God’s firstborn (Exodus 4:22), and this honored that fact. Second, because the firstborn was thought to be the best, and the best was always given to God. Finally, it was to be a reminder to all generations of when God redeemed Israel, His firstborn.
You shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. 20 You shall eat it, you and your household, before the LORD your God year by year at the place that the LORD will choose. 21 But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the LORD your God. 22You shall eat it within your towns. The unclean and the clean alike may eat it, as though it were a gazelle or a deer. 23 Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.
Psalm 40:6-8 (NIV)
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced;
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll;
I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.