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God's Labor Laws, final

Aug 22, 2018

As the Creator, God is the owner of all land and has always retained the right to regulate its use. God did not sell any of His land to anyone. When He gave the land to the Israelite tribes and families, He make it clear that if they misused the land or if they used their labor in a lawless manner to do evil, He would remove them from the land and give it to others.

Land laws and labor laws are closely intertwined, because labor is property, and land is just one form of property. This is most clearly seen when we understand that our bodies are made of the dust of the ground. We are part of the land which God created. Therefore, God owns us, and we are subject to the same land laws. All of our labor is done on God’s land (our bodies), and we are all subject to God’s laws that regulate the use of our bodies.

The Basic Law of Redemption

One of the most important land/labor laws is the law of redemption. Leviticus 25:23, 24 says,

23 The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me. 24 Thus for every piece of your property, you are to provide for the redemption of the land.

Because “the land is Mine,” God says that we are to follow the law of redemption. The law of redemption gives men the right to redeem land that has been sold previously. If the man cannot redeem his land, it still returns to him in the year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:28).

The law goes on to tell us how to calculate the value of land when land is sold. Its value is calculated according to the number of years leading to the year of Jubilee. Land has value only insofar as its ability to produce crops is concerned. When a sale is contemplated, they must figure out how many years of production yet remain until the year of Jubilee. Sabbath years were excluded, of course, because in Sabbath years, no one was supposed to plant or harvest crops.

To put it in modern terms, if the production value of the land is set at $10,000 per year, and there are ten production years leading to the Jubilee, then the property is sold for $100,000.

After selling one’s land, the original owner (steward) has the right to redeem his land at any time prior to the year of Jubilee—as long as he has the means to redeem it. Each year that passes, the amount of money that is needed to redeem the land decreases by $10,000. Yet once the year of Jubilee arrives, redemption becomes irrelevant, because the land reverts back to him automatically. The law of redemption is superseded by the law of Jubilee.

Rights of Kinsman Redeemers

The circumstances behind a land sale may vary from person to person. In ancient times, most people sold their land only as a last resort. There might be a drought or some other disaster which bankrupts the family estate. Or someone might be sentenced in a court of law to pay restitution that is beyond his means, and so not only is his land sold but he and his family may also be sold to pay the debt.

Just as land sales are subject to the laws of redemption, so also are slaves subject to the same laws. Leviticus 25:47-49 says,

47 Now if the means of a stranger or of a sojourner with you becomes sufficient, and a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to him as to sell himself to a stranger [foreigner] who is sojourning with you, or to the descendants of a stranger’s family, 48 then he shall have redemption rights after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him, 49 or his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or one of his blood relatives from his family may redeem him; or if he prospers, he may redeem himself.

It is presumed that a foreigner would probably not show the same regard for the slave that a family member would. Hence, the foreigner would probably work the slave as hard as he could in order to make more money. So God’s law gives redemption rights to the slave’s blood relative, who is known as a kinsman redeemer.

If a kinsman redeemer can come up with the money necessary to redeem his relative, the foreign slave owner has no choice but to sell the slave in question. A kinsman has redemption rights that mere friends do not have. If a friend of the slave offered to buy him, the foreigner had the right to decide whether or not to sell the slave.

If a kinsman redeems a family member from slavery, the slave is not set free but is required to work for his redeemer in order to pay off the debt. Of course, the kinsman has the right to forgive the debt—or any portion of it—but as far as the law is concerned, the kinsman has the right to expect repayment from the redeemed slave, either through labor or by money (property).

Here is where redemption laws intersect with labor laws. A redeemed slave becomes the servant of the kinsman who redeemed him. So Leviticus 25:53 says,

53 Like a man hired year by year he [the redeemed slave] shall be with him [the kinsman redeemer]; he shall not rule over him with severity in your sight.

The law defines rights. A redeemer has the right to receive the labor of a redeemed slave, even if he is a kinsman, until the debt is paid or until the year of Jubilee arrives.

There are times, however, when a slave has no kinsman redeemer and must labor for his master until the year of Jubilee. The slave owner does not have the right to claim the slave’s labor beyond the tenth day of the seventh month when the trumpet sounds in the year of Jubilee. Leviticus 25:54 concludes,

54 Even if he is not redeemed by these means, he shall still go out in the year of Jubilee, he and his sons with him.

These basic principles of God’s law set forth the property rights of all men. Debt limits one’s rights, because the creditor has a lawful claim on the labor and property of the debtor. Yet the law of God ensures that debt itself is limited by the law of Jubilee, so that no one is a perpetual slave. Hence, James 2:12 calls God’s law “the law of liberty.” The law of liberty is not an extra law that overrules the law of God. Liberty is the ultimate purpose of the law of God. The law of God respects the property rights of all men and takes into account the rights of creditors to be repaid by their debtors; however, the law limits debt and, in the end, sets men free.

Jesus our Redeemer

Paul says in Romans 7:14, “we know that the Law is spiritual.” In other words, the law is not carnal, and the law applies in the spiritual realm as well as in an earthly kingdom. When Jesus came to redeem us (Galatians 4:5; Titus 2:14), He followed the laws of redemption. In order to have the right of redemption, He came as a near kinsman, for we read in Hebrews 2:11-13,

11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 saying [in Psalm 22:22], “I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise.” 13 And again [in Isaiah 8:17], “I will put My trust in Him.” And again [in Isaiah 8:18], “Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me.”

Jesus came not only as a near kinsman to Israelites but also to all who are flesh and blood. So Hebrews 2:14, 15 says,

14 Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

The author goes on to explain that Jesus did not come as an angel, but as flesh and blood, in order to be near Kinsman to all men. In addition to that, He came as a descendant of Abraham in order to be a near Kinsman to Israel. Hence, He was a near Kinsman on two levels in order to have the lawful right of redemption as the Redeemer of all men.

In the law, all sin is reckoned as a debt. When Adam sinned, he incurred a debt that he could not pay, and so he and his children were sold into debt-bondage (Matthew 18:25). Furthermore, because “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), all have been reckoned as debtors on a personal level as well as in Adam. Adam’s estate (creation) was sold into slavery, for which reason “the whole creation groans” (Romans 8:23), hoping eventually to be “set free from its slavery to corruption” (Romans 8:21).

Hebrews 2:14 implies that “the devil” plays the role of the slave master to whom creation was sold into bondage. As a spiritual being, the devil is a foreigner—not flesh and blood. The law commands near kinsmen to redeem their relatives from slavery. Jesus came as a near Kinsman to redeem all of his brethren, Abraham’s seed and all who are partakers of flesh and blood.

The price of redemption was enormous, because the total debt includes the penalty for every sin ever committed, past, present, and future. But the blood of Jesus was more than sufficient to cover the cost, for His blood is priceless. Further, as a near Kinsman, Jesus had the right of redemption. The slave master had no choice in this matter, as long as the Kinsman had enough to pay the entire debt.

Since Jesus paid the debt for the entire world (1 John 2:2), He is not satisfied until He claims all that He purchased with His blood. Why? Because "God so loved the world" (John 3:16). His love for creation motivates Him to claim His lawful rights to redeem all mankind. The outworking of this great redemption takes time, but He will succeed in the end. Today we live in the days of redemption, and those who have faith in Him and in His blood are the redeemed ones.

The redeemed ones are not free to do as they wish. They have been bought by their Kinsman Redeemer, and so now they are required to serve Him (Leviticus 25:53). So the Apostle Paul says in Romans 6:17, 18,

17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Paul was referring to the law of redemption, which commands a redeemed slave to serve his redeemer. This too is one of God’s labor laws.

Many have been redeemed, but some of Christ’s slaves have mistakenly believed that Christ died to give them the freedom to sin. But Christ did not die to give any man the right to sin. We have been bought with a price, and, like Paul himself (Romans 1:1) we are now bond slaves of Jesus Christ. In other words, we are no longer subject to the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2) but are now free to serve the law of God (Romans 7:25).

The Jubilee

The days of redemption will come to an end eventually, at which time the law of Jubilee will take over, cancelling all remaining debt (liability for sin). At that time all who yet owe a debt to sin will be released by grace, whether they deserve it or not, so that all men may return to the inheritance that was lost in Adam. Leviticus 25:54 will then be fulfilled,

54 Even if he is not redeemed by these means, he shall still go out in the year of Jubilee, he and his sons with him.

There will be a Creation Jubilee at the end of time. I believe this time will arrive after 49,000 years of earth’s history. Prophetically speaking, a day or a year is as a thousand years when viewed in the broad context of God’s plan for creation.

This is part 8 of a series titled "God's Labor Laws." To view all parts, click the link below.

God's Labor Laws

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Category: Teachings
Blog Author: Dr. Stephen Jones