Just a quick reflection, during our trip, we heard much about the Temple, and the need for unblemished sacrifices. And the natural, connection to Jesus’ fulfilling the final offering as the sinless lamb offer in our place for God’s judgment.
Act 15:19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
Act 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
Act 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
As for the main points of this chapter, we can do well to reflect on the message about the poor.
We see this noted in the NT, in a few places.
Mat 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
Note v11 below.
Luk 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Luk 6:20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.
Joh 12:8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.
Gal 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Though we are not to encourage lazy poverty….
2Th 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
2Th 3:11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
There are many more.
As you read the full text consider how Israel might have followed these laws.
John Gill writes about this.
At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. Not of servants, for they were not to be dismissed from their service until they had served six years, as is directed to in a following law; for if they were to be set free whenever a sabbatical year came, they might be discharged when they had not served more than a year, or than half a year, or than a month or two. Indeed when the year of jubilee intervened, they were released be it at what time it would; but not in a sabbatical year, which was a year of release of debts, as the following verses show, as well as there was, then a rest of the land from tillage, Lev 25:2. Now this was done at the end or extremity of every seventh year; not at the latter end or extremity of it, for if the debt of a poor man might be exacted of him in the year, and until the end of it, it would not in this respect have been a sabbatical year, or a year of rest and quiet; but this was done at the first extremity of it, at the beginning of it, as Aben Ezra and Ben Melech observe; though Maimonides (b) asserts it to be after the seven years were ended; for he says,”the seventh year releaseth not monies but at the end of it,”according to Deu 15:1 that as in Deu 31:10 after seven years is meant, so the release of monies is after seven years.
(b) Hilchot Shemittah & Yobel, c. 9. sect. 4.
And this is the manner of the release,…. Or the rules to be observed in making it:
every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; that is, forgive the debt, or free the debtor from any obligation to payment. Some think this was only a release of debts for this year, in which there was no ploughing nor sowing, and so a poor man could not be in any circumstances to pay his debts, but might be exacted afterwards; but it rather seems to be a full release, so as the payment of them might not be demanded, neither this year nor afterwards; indeed, if a person afterwards should be in a capacity to pay his debts, he would be obliged, in conscience, duty, and honour, to pay them, though no reserve was made in this law, which nowhere appears:
he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother: he might receive it, if payment was offered, but he might not demand it, or sue for it; or give his neighbour or brother, whether in a natural or religious sense, any trouble about it: the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it,”his brother, an Israelite;”one of the same nation and religion with him, though he might not be related in the bonds of consanguinity:
because it is called the Lord’s release; appointed and commanded by him, and was for his honour and glory, as a God gracious and merciful to the poor, and beneficent to those creditors; and which was proclaimed in his name, by the civil magistrate, according to his order; so the Targum of Jonathan,”because the house of judgment, or the sanhedrim, proclaimed it a release before the Lord.”Now this was typical of a release of debts, or of forgiveness of sins, which is an act of God’s grace through Christ, and for his sake. Sins are called debts, not what men owe to God, for then it would be right to commit them, and they might be committed with impunity, yea, with praise, since it would be doing what is fit and right, and well pleasing to God; but men are debtors to fulfil the law, and in case of failure, or a breach of it, are bound to the debt of punishment; and these debts are very numerous, and men are incapable of paying them: and by a release of these is meant not a liberty of sinning, nor a freedom from the being or bondage of sin, but from the guilt of it, and from obligation to punishment for it; and is properly the forgiveness of sin, which is expressed by various phrases, as a non-imputation, a non-remembrance, a covering, blotting out, and removing of sin, and here typically a release of debts; see Mat 6:12, and God only can make it; he is the creditor, sin is committed against him, and he only can forgive it, which he does freely, fully, and at once, see Luk 7:41.
Interesting the connections to forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer.
Mat 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Luk 11:4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver usfrom evil.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The Sabbatical Year
Deu 15:1 At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release.
Deu 15:2 And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the LORD’S release.
Deu 15:3 Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release;
Deu 15:4 Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it:
Deu 15:5 Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day.
Deu 15:6 For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.
Deu 15:7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:
Deu 15:8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.
Deu 15:9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.
Deu 15:10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
Deu 15:11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.
Deu 15:12 And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee.
Deu 15:13 And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty:
Deu 15:14 Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.
Deu 15:15 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day.
Deu 15:16 And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee;
Deu 15:17 Then thou shalt take an aul, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise.
Deu 15:18 It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou sendest him away free from thee; for he hath been worth a double hired servant to thee, in serving thee six years: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest.
Deu 15:19 All the firstling males that come of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thy bullock, nor shear the firstling of thy sheep.
Deu 15:20 Thou shalt eat it before the LORD thy God year by year in the place which the LORD shall choose, thou and thy household.
Deu 15:21 And if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the LORD thy God.
Deu 15:22 Thou shalt eat it within thy gates: the unclean and the clean person shall eat it alike, as the roebuck, and as the hart.
Deu 15:23 Only thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour it upon the ground as water.