Blueprint For A Better World
THIRD QUARTER 2019
SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #2
JULY 13, 2019
“BLUEPRINT FOR A BETTER WORLD”
And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them. Deuteronomy 28:13
I marvel at the blueprint God gave to Israel! Oh what glorious things He wanted to do for and through Israel! They were to be a shining light in the midst of darkness. God was the architect of Israel’s economy.
The Sabbatical Year: Our economy is largely dependent upon nonrenewable resources. Global warming, deforestation, overfishing of our oceans, urbanization, and environmental pollution are major threats and concerns. Contrast our consumer society to the agrarian society of ancient Israel. God ordained that the land would abundantly supply their needs. The laws God gave them provided for the protection, rest, and renewal of the land.
The observance of the sabbatical year was to be a benefit to both the land and the people. The soil, lying untilled for one season, would afterward produce more plentifully. The people were released from the pressing labors of the field; and while there were various branches of work that could be followed during this time, all enjoyed greater leisure, which afforded opportunity for the restoration of their physical powers for the exertions of the following years. They had more time for meditation and prayer, for acquainting themselves with the teachings and requirements of the Lord, and for the instruction of their households. PP 532
The Year of Jubilee: Safeguards were established to prevent the disparity between the rich and the poor. The cancelation of debts and restoration of the land to the rightful possessors put a check on the massive accumulation of property and wealth. Oh, the many wars and revolutions that have resulted because of great economic disparity between the haves and the have nots!
Without some restraint the power of the wealthy would become a monopoly, and the poor, though in every respect fully as worthy in God's sight, would be regarded and treated as inferior to their more prosperous brethren. The sense of this oppression would arouse the passions of the poorer class. There would be a feeling of despair and desperation which would tend to demoralize society and open the door to crimes of every description. The regulations that God established were designed to promote social equality. The provisions of the sabbatical year and the jubilee would, in a great measure, set right that which during the interval had gone wrong in the social and political economy of the nation. PP 534
The people were taught that God was the true owner of the land, and they the stewards. Yet families were allotted their own territories. The land was viewed as a valued and treasured inheritance. (1 Kings 21:1-3)
Those in Need: God gave detailed instructions concerning the treatment of the poor and disadvantaged. God had freed His people from slavery and oppression. They in turn were to model God’s mercy and compassion, particularly to the most vulnerable of society.
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:33-34. Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. Exodus 22:22. If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and a stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Leviticus 25:35.
The poor were free to satisfy immediate hunger from their kinsmen’s vineyards, orchards, and fields. (Matthew 12:1) They were also provided for by “gleaning” (Ruth). In this way their dignity was preserved and they were sustained in a practical way. Work is a blessing!
“Although God had promised greatly to bless His people, it was not His design that poverty should be wholly unknown among them. He declared that the poor should never cease out of the land. PP534 Gifts benevolently bestowed and gratefully received point us to the God who lives to bless. The art of both receiving and giving speak to us of the gospel. (John 12:1-8).
Tithes and Offerings: I remember returning to church as a young adult. One of the first convictions that took hold of me was that of tithing. I thought at the time I was in for a financial hardship. Wrong! Incredible material and spiritual blessings followed! Before long I was following the example of my father, who had given a second tithe to support our local church and missions. Blessings multiplied! I could share so many stories of the wonderful ways God has blessed. Giving increases our faith, gratitude, and joy. It also teaches us to be wiser stewards with that which God entrusts to us.
The system of tithes and offerings was intended to impress the minds of men with a great truth--that God is the source of every blessing to His creatures, and that to Him man's gratitude is due for the good gifts of His providence. PP 525.3
The Sanctuary and the Yearly Festivals: There is so much that could be said here. The sanctuary and the yearly festivals are prophetic and have much to teach us about the plan of salvation. Their truths center on our Redeemer-kinsman. The spring festivals prophesied of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and High Priestly enthronement. The fall festivals point to events centered on Christ’s Second Advent. Consider this amazing statement. The significance of the Jewish economy is not yet fully comprehended. Truths vast and profound are shadowed forth in its rites and symbols. The gospel is the key that unlocks its mysteries. COL 133
The Law and the Gospel: There are always beautiful biblical truths that lie hidden below the surface, but at times our cultural and personal biases can be a hindrance to understanding and appreciating Scripture. It is important to keep in mind context, setting, and culture. God meets humanity in time and place.
It is of interest to compare ancient laws of the surrounding nations with the Law of Moses. Take for example the Code of Hammurabi. Jonathan Sarr comments on some of the differences between Hammurabi’s laws and the laws God gave to Israel:
Sanctity of human life. The Code of Hammurabi represents a lower view of human life than Moses. For instance, in The Code of Hammurabi, the consequence for theft is to repay ten- to thirty-fold. If that’s not possible, the thief is executed. That’s never the case in Moses.
Favoring the privileged vs. protecting the oppressed. Protection of the oppressed is near to God’s heart; not so much with Hammurabi. Many of Hammurabi’s laws favor the free and wealthy.
Justice. Though some of The Code of Hammurabi is just, much of it is eminently unjust. There is no injustice at all in the law of Moses.
Mercy. The notion of mercy is exceedingly rare in Hammurabi, but appears with regularity in Moses.
The focus of the laws. The vast majority of The Code of Hammurabi concerns money, property, and business transactions. While these are addressed in Moses, the focus on moral laws, loving and honoring God and taking care of man’s relationship to God are strong emphases in Moses. (Jonathan Sarr (Evangel Classical School, September 27, 2012)