Torah Portion: Behar (On the Mountain) Leviticus 25:1-26:2
HafTorah: Jeremiah 32:6-27
Let us start with a question. What do the concepts of Shabbat, Shmitah and Jubilee have in common? What do they teach us spiritually? Two of the three have the same root in Hebrew. Shabbat and Sabbatical or Shmitah come from the word to rest. The Shabbat comes once each week and the other once every seventh year. Even Jubilee teaches us the same principle. G-d is our provider. All things belong to Him. He expects us to live in a way that reflects Him in society. We tend to compartmentalize life and in doing that relegate G-d to certain places and time. We may only relate to Him in this meeting or one like it. Some of us may allow Him into our personal lives. We don’t hurt people, we try to live upright lives but fewer are those who let Him into our business or pocketbooks. We may say, “I’ll pray, I’ll study scripture but really business is business. I can’t take off a day or a week much less a year. I can’t tithe. That’s a lot of money. What would I do without it? Everybody cheats a little especially with Uncle Sam. I need it more than they do.”
These concepts we look at today have much to teach us about all of this. G-d requires us to trust Him. He in turn is able to take care of us. G-d asks us in Isaiah 50:2, “Is My hand too short?” So what do these times of rest teach us? G-d is in control. He is our provider. All things belong to Him.
An example might be, say you bought something and the time comes to pay for it. But to do so you must take G-d’s tithe to make the payment. What do you do? Say you have a chance to take a second job to cover all your bills but it will require you to work on Shabbat every week. What do you do?
One last point. All three of these concepts today teach us also that we don’t just sleep all day or go to the beach all day in order to rest. G-d gives us this time that we may spend them with Him. We get to know our provider better. Our faith and trust grows so we can have an easier time dealing with these issues that come up.
James 1:22-25 gives us a good idea here. Be doers not just hearers. If not we are like a person who looks at himself in a mirror but forgets who he is when he walks away. Who we are is born out by what we do in our lives. Do we reflect G-d or are we a face in the crowd just like everyone else. This is one of those things that make us holy – our words do not. What we do does make us holy and what we do comes from our relationship with G-d through Yeshua.
In Leviticus 25:10 we read of the Jubilee Year. The word for liberty here is “dror”. It is only used one other time in the Torah. Exodus 30:23 It is flowing, uninhibited, free flowing. That is such a picture for us. G-d has a freedom for us that is unhindered by things but one that is completely built on trust in Him for everything. Why in Leviticus 25:55 does He tells us we are His servants and are to do His will. We are to be not the slaves of anyone or anything else. So Jubilee teaches us that we are to be the redeemed servants free to serve the King.