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Message Text

Deuteronomy 15:1-18 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. 2 And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord’s release has been proclaimed. 3 Of a foreigner you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release. 4 But there will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess— 5 if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. 6 For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you. 7 “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. 9 Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. 10 You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. 11 For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ 12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 13 And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. 14 You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. 16 But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well-off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. And to your female slave you shall do the same. 18 It shall not seem hard to you when you let him go free from you, for at half the cost of a hired worker he has served you six years. So the Lord your God will bless you in all that you do.

Message Notes

When God used Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, He created a new, free people. The Israelites that walked out of Egypt had never known what it was like to live under their own rules and culture. God, through Moses, goes to great lengths to establish the culture He intended them to live by and bless them by. All through the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, God is establishing His culture among His people.

One of those principles would be the idea of the Israelites living in a state of permanent debt. They had been delivered from slavery in a miraculous way - supernaturally protected and provided for all through their journey into the land that God had given them. It would have been counter to God’s design for His people to get to the land He promised and made possible only to become permanently indebted to each other. God did not set them free only to be permanently enslaved again. To prevent this, God handed down specific instructions that if followed, would keep His people free from a permanent state of debt.

1. Rest is an important part of working.

God established a day of rest on the 7th day and a year of rest for the land every 7 years.

Before sleep studies and the knowledge of the rewards of good rest, God was setting up His people to succeed. This principle also applied to land before the idea of crop rotation was studied.

God was adamant about the work-rest cycle and His ability to provide when it was adhered to. Rest cannot happen when a person is burdened with debt. The debt of sin will keep you from rest, and financial debt will keep you from rest.

Philippians 4:6-7 The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

2. God’d desire is to free us.

“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release.” The Israelite economy was based on rest and release, not constant debt. The value of land was determined by how many 7-year cycles were left before the year of Jubilee. Value was set at how many crops could be harvested every 6 years with a 7th year break. That was the amount of money that could be borrowed, and at then end of the 50-year cycle, the land would return to the original owner. This was a lease system that would keep people out of perpetual poverty. It was not a forgiveness of debt but a system of borrowing that would be forced to be paid off in intervals and remove the proclivity for systematic poverty.

Every 7 years the servant had to be released. If someone had incurred a debt and indentured themselves, they would be released every 7 years unless they decided themselves to stay.

12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 13 And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. 14 You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. 15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today. 16 But if he says to you, ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he is well-off with you, 17 then you shall take an awl, and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. And to your female slave you shall do the same. 18 It shall not seem hard to you when you let him go free from you, for at half the cost of a hired worker he has served you six years. So the Lord your God will bless you in all that you do.

3. Following God’s design will produce blessing in your life.

4 But there will be no poor among you; for the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess— 5 if only you will strictly obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. 6 For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.

Determining to live free, the way God intended, and living according to His instructions will produce blessing in your life.

Practical freedom:

A. Discipline my desires - Restless desires produce restlessness.

1 Corinthians 9:27 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

There is never an end to new things we can obtain or desire. They key to contentment is discipline. Can we rest in what we currently have?

B. Pre-plan - I know what I have and where it is going.

Plan to pay what you have committed to. Plan to provide for those you have made commitments to. Plan to save for what you can’t plan for. Plan to be generous towards others. Plan to not be burdened by debt.

C. Persevere

Freedom from debt is a process that rarely ever happens overnight. It will be hard at times. It will seem unrewarding at times, and at times it will even seem impossible. Perseverance is the act of moving through something difficult to gain a benefit that wouldn’t be possible any other way. Living free from the burden of debt is always worth the perseverance it takes to accomplish.

D. Kill the cycle.

God’s design for His people was not a cycle of debt, freedom, debt, freedom. It was a system to keep them from being permanently burdened. There was no requirement to go back into debt and neither is there any such requirement for us. Once you experience freedom, don’t turn back.

Real wealth is produced when we are free from the burden of debt. Living in freedom requires us to think past today and our desires today. Real wealth is produced from long-term thinking. God established 50-year patterns to produce long-term results in his people. Debt will keep you burdened with a short-term mindset.

There is no real evidence that Israel ever successfully followed God’s command in this area, but that is no indicator that God’s plan wasn’t perfect. We can make the decision to live in freedom and rest by following the perfect design God has given us.

Connect Group Discussion Questions

1. How does God’s plan for rest compare to our culture’s approach to work?

2. What is the result if we try to live up to our culture’s standards about work and debt instead of God’s?

3. How can we remember that God’s commands are for our good when they conflict with our culture’s influence?

4. Why does indulging our desires result in more desires instead of contentment and satisfaction?

5. How do we balance a healthy pursuit of improvement with being content with what we have?

6. How can we keep our eye on the goal and stay the course during a long period of self-discipline?

7. When is a time you stayed committed to a long-term challenge and found that all the hard work was worth it in the end?

8. What are steps we can take to take to make sure we don’t fall back into old spending habits once we gain freedom from debt?

9. How can our testimony about following God’s plan for financial freedom help others who are caught in the trap of debt?