A Drash on Parashat Behar
The Prophet Isaiah talks about Adonai accomplishing His Word in chapter 55:6-11.
“Seek Adonai while He may be found, call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous one his thoughts, let him return to Adonai, so He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” It is a declaration of Adonai. “For as the heavens are higher than earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without having watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to sow and bread to eat, so My word will be that goes out from My mouth. It will not return to Me in vain, but will accomplish what I intend, and will succeed in what I sent it for.”[i]
This is an absolute truth, Adonai is faithful to His word. This is repeated in 2 Tim. 2:11-13, “Trustworthy is the saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”
However, God is not bound to what we think “logically follows” His Words.[Read Lev. 25:1-13]
- When we read a passage of Scripture like this, how do we apply it to our lives?
- How should we?
- When we read about the year of Jubilee, what do we think of?
- Do we immediately apply it to our lives?
So what does the year of Jubilee mean? Verse 2 says that the “land shall keep a Sabbath”. Just as Adonai provided rest for mankind once every seven days, so also the land requires rest once every seven years. “Modern” science has slowly caught up with this, and farmers continue to rotate their crops., and legumes are sown, and ploughed back in to rejuvenate the soil.
- Perles states concerning this passage, “Just as the freedom of the individual was a fundamental principle of Torah, so was the freedom of the land from the absolute ownership of man.” In all of the parables that Yeshua told, who was the land owner? . . . Was it not always G-d, and mankind were the stewards?
And just as the Sabbath day is not only for rest, but also a day dedicated to Adonai, so also the Sabbatical year was to be devoted to Him.[Read Deut. 31: 9-13]
Here in Deut. We read that the one of the purposes of the Sabbatical year, was to study the Scriptures. Josephus says that while the best knowledge in olden times was usually treated as a sacred doctrine, it was the glory of Moses that he made it current coin. F.Verinder in My Neighbour’s Landmark, writes, “To place within the reach of the English worker, once every seven years, a year’s course at a University in science and law and literature and theology, would be something like the modern equivalent for one of the advantages with the Sabbath-year offered to the ancient Hebrew.”
The Jubilee year, a Sabbath of Sabbath years was to be the great equalizer. The land was returned to its original owners. The permanent acquisition of land in the hands of a few was prevented, and those whom fault or misfortune had thrown into poverty had a ‘second chance’.[ii] Also all Hebrew servants with their families were freed and their family property returned to them.
But here is the question I would like to ask: Can we then apply the Jubilee Year specifically to today? . . . No I don’t think we can. But can we generalize about it? Possibly.
There are only 2 references, other than Lev. 25-27, concerning the Jubilee in Scripture, Num. 36:4, which had to do with a practical application, and Eze. 46:17. By Ezekiel’s time, the name had been changed to “the year of liberty”.
I started out studying this passage wondering where it would lead me. There are not many references to Jubilee, and I have heard a lot of discussion about when exactly the next Year of Jubilee will be. Originally I was going to conclude by talking about the difference between deductive and inductive interpretation of Scripture[iii] , and then conclude that there is no specific fulfilment for the Jubilee. However, as we read this next passage, ask yourself if all the parts of the year of Jubilee are included in it.[Read Isa. 61:1-3]
After reading this passage in Isaiah, Yeshua states in Luke 4:20-21, “He closed the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue were focused on Him. Then He began to tell them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your ears.’”
Yeshua is the fulfilment of all the promises that the year of Jubilee held. No matter what I study, it all seems to come back to Yeshua. When we say that He is the Word made flesh, do we really understand what this means? This reminds me of a story that Ed Miller told. He was asking his professor what the key to the book of Revelation was. His professor told him that he would show him, and asked him to start reading Rev. 1 out loud until he said to stop. Mr. Miller started reading, “The revelation of Jesus the Messiah, which God gave Him …”
“Stop” said the professor. “Don’t you see?”
“Read it again.”
“The revelation of Jesus the Messiah, which God gave Him to show to His servants the things that must soon take place.”
“Stop, do you see it now?” His professor said, “If you read the book looking for Jesus you will see Him everywhere, but if you read it to try to predict the future you will get hopelessly lost.”
I think that the whole of Scripture is like that. I think that Romans 10:4 summarizes this well in saying, “For Messiah is the goal of the Torah as a means to righteousness for everyone who keeps trusting.”
[i] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from the Tree Of Life Version (TLV), 2014.
[ii] Hertz, J.H., The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, (2nd ed., Soncino Press, 1960), 533