Leviticus 25:1-55 The Path to Positive Money Management
The Stewardship Continuum (Leviticus 25:1-55)
Let’s start with the middle of the continuum. At this point, it can go two different directions. These directions are based on our view of money management, or stewardship. One can have a poor view of stewardship, which ends in slavery. One can have a positive view of stewardship which leads to release, rest and restoration.
Let’s start with the poor view of stewardship. This is illustrated with the phrase:
POOR VIEW OF MONEY MANAGEMENT: POVERTY
A poor view of money management, or stewardship leads a person to become poor. There are three possible situations which can cause someone to become poor. The first situation is that a person becomes destitute, or gets into debt.
““If your brother becomes destitute and cannot sustain himself among you, you are to support him as a foreigner or temporary resident, so that he can continue to live among you.” (Leviticus 25:35, HCSB)
This verse tells us that some people become poor. They become poor because of a variety of reasons, but the end result is that they cannot sustain themselves. The Bible teaches that if they are brothers, the church is called to support these people. This may include widows, or people who are temporarily in a financial bind.
As a church, we make an effort to help these people. We have a benevolence fund for this purpose. We help people. The first priority are “brothers,” or people in God’s family.
At the same time, notice that for various reasons people get into debt. Depending on how they approach money management, they can go from being in temporary destitution to financial slavery.
Let’s look at the next step down into poor money management. This is when I go from being temporarily in debt, to being a slave in debt to someone else.
The Bible warns us that how we treat people who have financial difficulties should involve mercy and grace. We are not responsible with what people do with our help. However, we do have an obligation to help others whom God puts in our paths.
“Do not profit or take interest from him, but fear your God and let your brother live among you. You are not to lend him your silver with interest or sell him your food for profit.” (Leviticus 25:36–37, HCSB)
The reason is because God was gracious to help us when we were in debt to Him.
“I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.” (Leviticus 25:38, HCSB)
As a side note, the journey from poor money management to positive money management parallels the journey of the children of God from Egypt to Canaan. Egypt was the land of slavery. Canaan is the land of salvation and promise.
SLAVERY TO A BROTHER
““If your brother among you becomes destitute and sells himself to you, you must not force him to do slave labor.” (Leviticus 25:39, HCSB)
God’s laws didn’t establish slavery; they regulated it and actually made it more humane.1 Although we have abolished slavery for decades, many people are still slaves, they are just slaves to corporations. One of the ways, we can help people overcome their slavery to debt is to give them dignity.
We don’t force people to be slaves to us financially. We don’t enable people to continue in financial slavery. Instead, we help them get where they need to be in positive money management.
The problem here is that there is an enormous amount of shame inflicted with this kind of slavery. This is why God developed this “Year of Jubilee” process for the people of Israel. It prevented the country from becoming what we have today in America: the 99% versus the 1%.
Some people have done more than just get into some debt. Some people are not just indebted to their family. Many people are indebted to foreigners.
SLAVERY TO A FOREIGNER
““If a foreigner or temporary resident living among you prospers, but your brother living near him becomes destitute and sells himself to the foreigner living among you, or to a member of the foreigner’s clan,” (Leviticus 25:47, HCSB)
As a country, we have developed this mentality for years. We have encouraged people to get into debt to have what they want now. We have encouraged this poor view of money management. We have people who struggle trying to pay their bills. We have people who have tried to find a solution outside of God’s provision. They have used foreign sources of provision and this has led them to poverty.
In summary, the Jubilee Year would prevent the massive accumulation of wealth by a small portion of the population. If a member of the community lost family land and freedom by falling into debt, restoration was granted in the Jubilee Year. 2
The Jubilee Year teaches us the idea of a positive view of money management.
POSITIVE VIEW OF MONEY MANAGEMENT: PROSPERITY
The first key to a positive view of money management, which was illustrated through the Year of Jubilee and fulfilled through Jesus Christ, is the idea of redemption.
Redemption, or to buy back, is the way to get out of debt. Spiritually speaking, Jesus said He would do this for His people.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18–19, HCSB)
Jesus was called to bring people out of poverty. He knew that the poor would always be around.
“For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”” (John 12:8, HCSB)
Yet as a principle of financial stability, one must learn to pay back what one has borrowed.
Redemption by a family redeemer:
“If your brother becomes destitute and sells part of his property, his nearest relative may come and redeem what his brother has sold.” (Leviticus 25:25, HCSB)
At times, one has to rely on a member of the family to pay back a debt. The prosperity of a family member helps me get out of debt.
How man of us have had a family member help us out in a bind. This is the principle behind this idea.
Spiritually, our family redeemer is Jesus Christ. As established in the Book of Ruth, only a close relative could help a family and pay their debt to make them free. Jesus paid our debt to sin to make us free. There is also a second way redemption can happen.
Redemption by prosperity:
“If a man has no family redeemer, but he prospers and obtains enough to redeem his land, he may calculate the years since its sale, repay the balance to the man he sold it to, and return to his property.” (Leviticus 25:26–27, HCSB)
Definition of prosperity
Let me illustrate my point in another way. One day a man was in the desert and was very thirsty. It had been a long time since he’d found anything to drink. Up ahead of him, he saw a small hut next to a well. The man knew that he would die soon if he did not get some water.
A small jar rested next to the well with a note beside it. The note read,
Stranger, the water in the jar is not to drink. It is to prime the pump
of the well. When you prime the pump, you will get more water than
you can ever drink. When you are done drinking, leave the jar full of
water for the next person.
The man was in a catch-22. He could drink the water in the jar and survive for a few more days. Or he could risk losing the water altogether if he tried to prime the pump and it didn’t work. But if the pump worked, he would have more than enough water to survive as long as he needed it.
After thinking it over, the man decided to pour the water into the pump. This would expand the leather of the pump, allowing it to grip and begin producing water. When he began to pour the water in, though, nothing happened. He poured more water and still nothing happened. The man began to break out into a cold sweat because he was pouring down a hole the very thing that could save him.
Then just before he was about to run out of water altogether, he saw water begin to gush out of the pump. The man was able to fill up anything and everything he could find that would hold water because the pump never ran dry.
Friend, God has more resources and money than you could ever need. He has a well that is bigger than your wildest dreams. Yet, He is asking you one thing: Are you going to prime the pump with what He’s given you? Or are you going to keep it for yourself? You are allowed to keep it for yourself if you want. It’s just that—when it’s gone—it’s gone. But if you prime the pump by giving back to God what is already His, He will supply more than enough for you.3
Prosperity includes material gain but is not limited to it. It includes balanced growth and multiplication in all areas of life.
The accumulation of wealth is something that you can do without God. You can engage in the various means of acquiring worldly goods and leave God out of the process. You only need to look around at our world today to see that many people are doing just this.
But you cannot be prosperous without God. You cannot have a fully balanced, fruitful, and joyful life without God. To be truly prosperous, you must be spiritually prosperous—your faith and relationship with God must be growing and fruitful. That can’t happen apart from God.
Both rich people and poor people are miserable without God. But prosperous people—whether they start out with five talents or one talent—are joyful, productive, and enthusiastic people. Why? Because prosperous people are growing. They have a sense of accomplishment. They are bearing good fruit. They have balanced lives and therefore have a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.4
When we shift our money management into this positive direction, there are advantages which we will see.
Once we have paid back our debts, we learn to repent of our habits of poor money management.
“Then you are to sound a trumpet loudly in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month; you will sound it throughout your land on the Day of Atonement.” (Leviticus 25:9, HCSB)
The day of atonement, known today in the Jewish Calendar as Yom Kippur, is the one special day when the people would repent of their sins for the previous year. This idea of repentance is also important if we are to develop a path to positive money management. We must repent of our attitudes about money management. We have to decide to change and let God lead us in our financial decisions.
“You are to consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim freedom in the land for all its inhabitants. It will be your Jubilee, when each of you is to return to his property and each of you to his clan.” (Leviticus 25:10, HCSB)
““In this Year of Jubilee, each of you will return to his property.” (Leviticus 25:13, HCSB)
At the start of the Year of Jubilee, the people were commanded to release their indentured servants so that they might return to their own lands and families. 5 In the same way, we must be willing to release ourselves from financial slavery. If we are loaded down with credit card debt, it is hard to get released from financial bondage. There are things which we must release ourselves from in order to have positive money management. We need to release ourselves of the temptations for wants which we don’t need.
Since Scripture is clear that God’s original idea was to severely curtail lending, and especially consumer lending, it follows that his original idea was also to severely curtail borrowing. This fact speaks volumes to today’s commercial credit lifestyles. It is clear that God never meant us to live on other people’s money, but to live on our own. Consumer borrowing as a way of life and consumer lending as a business have no basis in Scripture. Living on credit cards and time payment plans or long easy terms or the like are devices that never existed for God’s people in biblical times. And these devices are a snare today. They are the means of producing an illusion of wealth, a fiction, a belief that we can own or do own those things which, in reality, we do not truly own or cannot obtain. These are the sparkling instruments of pride and vanity. They are the ultimate temptation: wealth without money and appearance without reality—demons in the garb of angels.6
“The fiftieth year will be your Jubilee; you are not to sow, reap what grows by itself, or harvest its untended vines. It is to be holy to you because it is the Jubilee; you may only eat its produce directly from the field.” (Leviticus 25:11–12, HCSB)
Like the Sabbatical Year, it was a year of rest to the soil (Leviticus 25:11). Thus two idle years came together every fifty years, and God promised by special providence to give such a plentiful harvest during the sixth year that there should be enough until the harvest of the ninth year could be gathered 7
Think of this. You plant every six years. On the seventh year, you let your soil rest and you live on the produce of year six. You had to trust that there would be enough produce in the sixth year to make it to year eight.
Now imagine that it is the forty-eight year. God tells you there is a Sabbath year coming up to celebrate (the forty-ninth year.) Following that year is the Year of Jubilee, another year of rest for the land. Think of this, in year forty-eight, you are being asked to trust God essentially for three years. God says, let the land rest and I will take care of you.
““This will be the sign for you: This year you will eat what grows on its own, and in the second year what grows from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit.” (2 Kings 19:29, HCSB)
You know what happened with the Jews? They never trusted God in this way. This was the reason they were sent to Babylon for seventy years. Because they did not let the land rest for seventy years, they were forcibly removed to let the land rest.
“This whole land will become a desolate ruin, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon for 70 years. When the 70 years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation’—this is the Lord’s declaration—‘the land of the Chaldeans, for their guilt, and I will make it a ruin forever.” (Jeremiah 25:11–12, HCSB)
“This fulfilled the word of the Lord through Jeremiah and the land enjoyed its Sabbath rest all the days of the desolation until 70 years were fulfilled.” (2 Chronicles 36:21, HCSB)
So the Jews could not or would not trust God. God punished them for the inability to trust Him. So the question is: Will you rest in God’s provision?
This takes us to the next step in positive money management:
“You are not to cheat one another, but fear your God, for I am Yahweh your God.” (Leviticus 25:17, HCSB)
For parents to care for their families, they had to have land to cultivate, and the private ownership of property gave stability to the economy. The Lord owned the land and only loaned it to His people. He wanted them to have a sense of proprietorship and responsibility in caring for His property. People usually take care of what they themselves own.8
Two maxims underlie the Bible’s principles of financial responsibility: the earth and its resources belong to God (Lev. 25:23; Job 41:11; Pss. 24:1; 89:11; Hag. 2:8), and they have been entrusted to people to use wisely (Gen. 1:29–30; 9:1–4). The overall message of the Bible regarding finances is one of personal thrift combined with generosity toward others. 9
The financial principle is that you take care of what God gives you. You give back to Him some of what He gave you. This is the tithe. Then you take care of what God gives you. You become as productive as you can to make the money necessary to take care of your family.
1 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Holy, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 129.
2 Gary W. Demarest and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Leviticus, vol. 3, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1990), 247.
3 Tony Evans, Living in Financial Victory (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013).
4 Charles F. Stanley, Understanding Financial Stewardship (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1996).
5 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Holy, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 125.
6 H. Wayne House, Christian Ministries and the Law: Revised Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1999), 190.
7 James M. Freeman and Harold J. Chadwick, Manners & Customs of the Bible (North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 160.
8 Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Holy, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 126.
9 Paul H. Wright, “Financial Responsibility,” ed. Chad Brand et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 575.