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God’s Statute of Limitations on Our Debts

Debt Free by Flickr User Simon Cunningham, CC License = Attribution with Request to Link to

Debt Free by Flickr User Simon Cunningham, CC License = Attribution with Request to Link to
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

So my nephew comes into the room tonight to warn me about this purge night that is supposedly going on in Louisville this weekend. His girlfriend has mentioned the possible need to stay indoors while people do various acts of violence in the theory that for 12 hours, nothing is illegal. The idea scared me, so I researched it and found a media campaign created by a couple of movies from 2013 & 2014 and set in the years of 2022 & 2023. In the night celebrated in the movie, people give in to their “natural” instincts of violence, there is no help from police or medical aid, and it’s 12 hours of chaos while people purge themselves of their baser instincts. Sadly, however, there are young people who don’t realize a media-induced frenzy when they hear or see it. (Now I can see how so much trouble came from the original radio broadcast of War of the Worlds.) Maybe they believe Richard Castle is a real book author too. 😉

I’m thankful it is just a big joke in reality, and anyone who looks up the group “New Founding Fathers of America” should realize it’s not real just by reading their statements about how the economy is strong and crime is down as a result of earlier purge nights. As of last check, crime is up and the economy is a mess. Still, I can see where the authors of the screenplay are going with their story in wanting a night where vigilante justice is not punishable, and in acknowledging that if such a night did take place, many would cross the line, and there would be criminal chaos. Such is the result when mankind tries to solve its problems according to the ways of our flesh instead of purging the world of sin and debt God’s way.

In tonight’s reading from Deuteronomy 15:1 through Deuteronomy 15:18, we will read about God’s plan of forgiveness and letting go, in this case about letting go of unpaid debts. God does it with a Statute of Limitations to keep from building up debts forever. We know from previous readings that God offered mercy even for some criminal behavior by the use of Cities of Refuge. We know from our own walk with Him that He still offers mercy for sin, and the limitation on the wages of death for our sins happens when we repent and turn to God. Now we will learn how He told Israel to deal with her debtors.

The reading begins by explaining that at the end of every seven years, there should be a sh’mittah which is Hebrew for “a release.” In that year, every creditor is to release whatever he has lent to his neighbor, and he is not to require a return or anymore payment for it. Foreigners are not included in the release, but all brethren of Israel are included.

Early in the instructions (right at verse 4), God comforts the people by telling them that even with the release, they will not have to worry about going broke or becoming poor. God’s promise to them is that He will bless them for their obedience to the point that they will lend to many nations and not have to borrow; they will rule over many nations, but none will rule over them. The instructions go on to warn them that there will always be poor people among them, and they are to care for them and treat them the same according to the laws of release. He warns them to give freely from their hearts, not grudgingly, and to not hold back in their giving just because the year of release is near.

The portion then turns to slavery and tells them how to let go of their Hebrew slaves during the release. They are not only to let them go freely, they are to send them away with goods to begin a free life. If the slave has decided he loves his master so much that he wants to stay with him, the owner will still set him free but will pierce his ear with an awl to mark him as a free servant. If a slave does want to leave, however, God tells the master to be grateful that he has had the service of this slave for half of what it would have cost him to hire an employee. God reminds the people of their own (unfair) slavery in Egypt, and then He reminds them that He is the one who blesses them in all they do.

Sometimes, it seems difficult to live in the current culture with its dishonesty and unfairness. It’s worse when it enters the church with people who act as if they are believers but are only there for the handouts. It makes it harder to be a giver, and even harder to give without a grudging spirit. But, we can be sensitive to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit, so we won’t hold something against a true brother or sister in The Lord to the point it becomes unforgiveness.

Think of it like this: Have you ever had an issue in your past where you forgot a debt you owed to someone? Maybe you thought that if you contacted them, they would hate you because of what they might perceive as your thoughtlessness. Maybe now you cannot contact them for one reason or other, so you can’t change anything. Imagine if we still had that year of release every seven years. Nothing like that would build up between brothers or sisters in Christ. We could live as we pray in The Lord’s Prayer to “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Doesn’t that seem like a better way to purge the mistakes of our flesh than of a night of criminal chaos? Of course, it’s always better when we do whatever we do, including getting rid of our sins and debts, God’s way.

August 14, 2014 - Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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