-This chapter deals with the Sabbatic Year in Israel where a remission of debts was given freely. Every creditor was to release what he had loaned to his neighbor in wiping the slate clean of any indebtedness. The LORD’s remission had been proclaimed (Deuteronomy 15:1-2). Debts could be exacted from foreigners, but the family of Israel was to have a total release from any bondage to money or service. God goes into the fact that the poor were to be taken good care of in this utopian society that He desired to create, since He would surely bless this land given to them as an inheritance and possession if they simply and faithfully obey His Voice observing His requirements. God guaranteed that they would be the lender nation and rule over nations as long as they worshipped Him alone and took good care of the poor among them. They were to never harden their heart towards those in need, nor close their hand from helping them, even near the Sabbatical Year. Generosity was the command to give sufficient and ample gifts to whoever lacked. And, their heart was not to be grieved when they gave abundantly, “because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings. In other words, they were to give cheerfully (Deuteronomy 15:3-10, 2 Corinthians 9:7). The poor would never cease to be in the land, and God deems it necessary and compassionate to provide for them freely in their distress (Deuteronomy 15:11, Matthew 19:21; 26:11, Mark 14:7, Luke 14:13; 18:22, John 12:8).
-Hebrew slavery, or maybe a better term is indentured servitude, is addressed here in Scripture. A six year sentence is the maximum under Hebrew law for someone to be under the authority of another. Again, the Sabbatical Year freed them, and they were not to be sent away empty-handed. They were to be liberally furnished with flocks and wheat from the threshing floor and from the wine vat. As the LORD had blessed them, they were to bless others graciously. They were to always remember that they had indeed been slaves set free by God Almighty when they were in the land of Egypt. He had redeemed them, and they were expected to pass that kindness along to others indebted to them. A clause is given for those who loved their masters and wanted to continue in obedient servitude. These were to be pierced through in the ear with an awl for a forever promise to labor for that master. Otherwise, slaves were to be freely let go without any hard feelings for they had given up to six years with “double the service of a hired man.” Obeying this command would ensure God’s continued blessing on their personal and national productivity (Deuteronomy 15:12-18).
-Consecration of the firstborn males in the herd or flock was then covered. These bovine were not to do any work and the sheep were not to be sheared. They were reserved for sacrifice and eating by the whole family in the place of worship in the land that God would eventually designate, that being Jerusalem later on. But, if there were ANY defect they were not allowed to sacrifice that animal. In that event, they were to eat it within their own city gates and refrain from eating the blood, which was to be poured out on the ground like water (Deuteronomy 12:15-16, 21-24; 15:19-23). In the same way Jesus poured out His blood onto the earth inaugurating the new covenant for the forgiveness of sin (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20). He was the ultimate Redeemer and Forgiver.
-*Application* Why do we find it so hard to generously give to those who are desperate in their time of need? I love the testimony I recently got from someone in our church who was adversely affected by some recent floods in our area. A friend of this person, who had a construction company, freely gave his company’s time, materials, and labor to fix the damages in this friend’s house that had no flood insurance. Now that’s compassion for those in need. Do you think God is going to bless that man’s company? Of course He will, and He will bless you too when you are generous to any who are in need.
Verses to Memorize: Deuteronomy 15:1, 7-8