Prayer Focus: Benin

Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 12-15

Scripture

At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. (Deuteronomy 15:1-2)

Observation

I had a hard time focusing on what to bring to you with this passage today.  I’m not a strong enough bible scholar to catch all the nuances that I can sense swimming in the deeps of this scripture.  So forgive me if I swim the shallows with what I have to offer today.

That said, I love how God uses patterns.  The pattern I see here is that of the Sabbath.  God was active in working /creating for six days and then on the seventh, he rested.  The Ten Commandments tell us to follow that example and reserve that day for the Lord and to do no work.  To rest.  If you take a step back from counting time in weeks, and do it in years, you see the same pattern.  The seventh year all debts are cancelled, slaves set free and even the fields are to go fallow on the seventh year.   That verse in Deuteronomy calls it “The Lords Time.”

Here is what I see:

The lender in this scripture has to trust God for the stability of his business or his family (depending on if he was a public or a private lender).  His investment is in a cycle that is short-term and weighted in favor of the lender in the long-term.  What trust he has to have that God will provide his needs!

The borrower (or slave) now has hope; a chance at a “do over”.   This would be an amazingly powerful testimony to the world coming from a nation of people who were subjugated to Egypt!  There is a verse in the gospels of the New Testament, pertaining to a woman who was anointing the feet of Jesus with her life-savings, in the form of perfume.  He said to his disciples, who were indignant at her excess (thinking it could have been better spent on the poor), “he who has been forgiven much, loves much.”

Application

There are lots of political places (especially in an election year) that someone could take this section of scripture and talk about the ills of our modern, western society.  They could incorporate our welfare system, human trafficking, government bailouts, reverse mortgages and agricultural damages of over farming and pesticides…  I’m not savvy enough to pull that off.  (Maybe someone who is will do that in our comments.)

Here is what I can take home with me from this passage though:  The Sabbath.   Do I take that day and worship God with it as a day of slowing down, relaxing, recreating?

Will I guard how far I allow myself to fall into debt?  This culture will allow me to owe many times more than I can pay, and what it says in Proverbs 22:7 is true, that “the borrower is servant to the lender.”

The idea behind it all, is to be free… free to serve him, free to move when he tells you to move, free to give to those in need, free to serve others.

Jubilee.

Prayer

Father, forgive me for getting caught up in the American Dream of acquisition.  I desire to be free, to own less stuff and more of you.  I confess that I need to sit on these ideas and concepts longer, that I’ve only scratched the surface of what you have to teach me.  America is so far away in time and geography from the people you were speaking to in this scripture that I need your help in navigating the principles and practicals of application for my life.  I feel like I’ve missed something vital in the translation from the “there and then” into my “here and now”.  All I know is that you have forgiven much in my life, and I want to show my love in return.

I am closing my prayer in the echo of words in a song: “Speak Lord to me, for your servant hears.  Share with me your word.  I’m waiting here with a ready heart.  Speak Lord to me, I’m yours.”

Amen.

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