Deuteronomy 15-16, Psalm 58
I was born the last of five children, my parents being much older, (44 and 49), when I was born. Every Christmas I would run into their bedroom and wake them up so that I could open my presents. This was probably around 6 am. Being a bit older, they entered into an agreement with me, I could open one present whenever I woke up, but then I had to leave them alone until 9am. Getting up early and greedily shaking each package to get the most out of this first choice, I decided on the largest package. When I opened it, it was a winter coat. So I disappointingly watched Davey and Goliath on television for the next few hours wearing my winter coat. When my parents made this offer it was given in absolute terms, not relative. Do you notice that in Scripture, God always speaks in absolutes. There is never anything vague in His promises. If the people will faithfully trust, then He will bless. In the well known Proverb 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths”. Notice the words all and shall. The Lord never says might, maybe, possibly, etc. He is a God who speaks in black and white, absolutes.
In Deuteronomy 15:1-6, the people are commanded to forgive debts every 7 years. We read in Deuteronomy 15:1, “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts.” This ties into the command in Leviticus 25 to observe the Shmita or Sabbath year of rest for the land. Because they were to let the land rest every seven years, they didn’t earn money in the seventh year, and so they weren’t required to make payments. The debt was not forgiven just held for that year. This command was not a request but spoken in absolute terms. Though God promised to bless if they trusted, they chose not to follow this command whether due to a lack of trust in God or their own greed. We will see in 2 Chronicles 36:20-21, that due to the fact that the nation of Judah chose not to trust God and observe the Shmita year for 490 years, they were sent into Babylonian captivity for 70 years (one year for every Sabbath year that they failed to observe). In Leviticus 25, they were also commanded to observe a year of Jubilee every 50th year. There is no evidence that they ever obeyed this. They did this despite the promise of God in Deuteronomy 15:4-6, “…for the Lord will greatly bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance-only if you carefully obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe with care all these commandments which I command you today. For the Lord your God will bless you just as He promised you;”.
As we continue to move forward through the One Year Bible Challenge, may we learn from the examples set before us of a people who didn’t fully trust. Before we look too critically at the Israelites, do we think we would have done much better? Do we follow His commandments unquestionably now? If not for His unending mercy and grace we would all be in a bad position. We must remember there is no real thing as partial trust. For partial trust is distrust. As in the above Proverb, may we learn to acknowledge Him and trust Him in every area of our lives. Then He will direct all of our paths.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: