Theme: This passage pictures the glorious liberation of the saints at the return and millennial reign of Jesus.
This chapter speaks of things that God said while the people were still before Mount Sinai (v. 1); but it speaks of instructions that they were to keep when they arrived in the land of Promise. It illustrates the full “rest” that the saints are to enter into in Christ (Hebrews 3:7-4:10); which will be fully realized when we receive our full inheritance at the return of Christ to this earth (1 Peter 1:3-5). It pictures for us the glories of the reign of Christ on this earth with His saints. It will be . . .
I. A TIME OF REST (vv. 1-7).
God commands that, just as the people were to have a sabbath rest, so was the land on which they lived. They were to work the land for six years; and allow it to lay fallow on the seventh. They were to allow all to eat the produce of the land; but they were not to work it. It would be a time of remarkable rest every seventh year. The failure to keep this command was one of the reasons why the people later went into captivity into Babylon (2 Chron. 36:21).
II. A TIME OF RESTORATION (vv. 8-17).
After seven-sevens of years, a Jubilee was to be announced; and everyone was to be allowed to return to their inheritance. (Basically, the complete economy was begun anew every fifty years.) It would be a great time of joy; and everyone who was downtrodden or separated from their inheritance would listen eagerly for the sound of the trumpet to announce their restoration. Note that it came on the day of atonement; because there is no restoration or rest without the atonement that came through Christ's cross.
III. A TIME OF PLENTY (vv. 18-22).
The people did not have to fear allowing the land to lay for a year; because God promised to provide for them. He would bless the produce of the sixth year; so that the people would eat during the year of rest and the year of replanting. The “rest” of the millennial reign of Christ is a time of glorious plenty and provision from God.
IV. A TIME OF REDEMPTION (vv. 23-34).
In our day, people accumulate land because they believe that they own it. But here, God makes it clear that He owns the land (v. 23); and His people are simply tenets living on it by His grace. Anyone who lost their portion to another could redeem it—or be redeemed to it by another. It was always restored to those to whom it was given on the Jubilee. The reign of Christ will be a time of release for those who have been held in bondage. The situation for the Levites was different; because their land was a perpetual gift to them from God.
V. A TIME OF MERCY (vv. 35-38).
No one was to be taken advantage of. Each man or woman of Israel was to be treated kindly in their time of need while dwelling in the land of His promise. God was the one who released them from their bondage; and no man would be permitted to place them under bondage again. (See Neh. 5:1-13).
VI. A TIME OF LIBERTY (vv. 39-46).
If a man of Israel, because of necessity, sold himself into bondage, he was not to be treated as a slave, but as a hired hand. They were not to be ruled over with rigor; because God is their liberator.
VII. A TIME OF DIGNITY (vv. 47-55).
If a man, because of necessity, had to sell himself to a foreigner, it was the duty of his brethren to buy him out of his bondage. God thus established the principle of the kinsman-redeemer—of which Jesus is the great example to us. The reason God gives for this is because “the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God” (v. 55).