October – The Law of Jubilee

A Wise Jubilee

There are many things in the Bible that seem just too wise to have been thought up by a merely human mind.  This thought struck me once again as I listened to a radio debate about whether market capitalism has been allowed too free a rein in this country.  The fact that this economic system tends to concentrate property and wealth in just a few hands has been blamed for the growing gap between rich and poor.  The trouble is, of course, that the alternative to a free market is State control and this brings its own problems, including the waste and inefficiencies that result from the lack of competition and the disincentive for individuals to work diligently because of the disconnect between their labour and the profits of that labour.

 

In the Old Testament, God gave rules for land and property ownership that are so much wiser than these human schemes.  In the book of Leviticus Chapter 25 we read that each family was allocated land and was free to use this land as it wished.  If it suited them, they could even sell that land to other families.  However, after fifty years (possibly 49 years, there is some debate) all land was returned the original owners free of charge.  What a wise scheme!  Whilst families were motivated to work hard because they would personally benefit from their labours, those families that fell on hard times and were forced to sell property would not remain in this position for long enough to become hopelessly impoverished.  Likewise, under this system there was no incentive for those families who were doing well to buy up excessive amounts of land and become powerful enough to exert control over their neighbours and to oppress them.  Thus, this Law of Jubilee would regulate the economic and social system, bringing both efficiency and equity.  Sadly, the Israelites did not keep God’s laws for long and they were condemned by God for adopting the oppressive practises of the surrounding nations and which we still see in many countries today (Micah Chapters 2 & 3).

 

There is hope however!  The Bible tells us one day God will intervene again and that there will be justice and fairness as He intended there would be.  “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute judgement and justice in the Land” (Jeremiah 23 verse 5. RV).