Prayer Psalm: 80
Prayer Point: The writer of Psalm 80 looks out at a broken world and implores God, the Good Shepherd, to restore us and return us so that we might be saved (see verses 3, 7, 14-15, 19). What has broken your heart about our world. Pray that God will heal the brokenness. Pray also for Jesus’ kingdom to invade our world (the son of man of verse 17).
Jesus often told stories, parables about the kingdom he came to earth to establish. These parables drew from images of everyday agricultural life. The explanation of the parable will come with this week’s readings, but take a stab at the meaning of the parable. You’ll be able to check your answers as you read on in chapter 13.
Who is the farmer? The seed? Why do you think there are four different types of soils, four different outcomes for the seeds that are planted?
Jesus spoke in parables to the crowds, but he explained them when he was alone with his disciples. Why did Jesus speak exclusively in parables to the crowds? Look at the Jesus’ use of the prophet Isaiah’s words in verses 13-15 for the answer. What is Jesus giving the disciples by explaining the parables to them?
Ultimately the parable of the sower is a story about the secrets of the kingdom of God (verse 11). Keep this mind as Jesus explains the meaning of the story in tomorrow’s reading.
The book of Colossians is a personal letter from Paul and Timothy to the church in Colosse, whom Paul planted and dearly loved. What does Paul ask God to do for this church? What kind of life does he want the Colossians to live? Who will provide the power to live in this way? What has God done for us that causes us to respond with such a life (see verses 12-14)?
Verses 35-38 urge the Israelites toward charity. How are they to treat the less fortunate Israelites among them? (“… Help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.” (Leviticus 25:35 NIV))
How are the Israelites to “help” the less fortunate? (“Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your God, so that your countryman may continue to live among you. (Leviticus 25:36 NIV))
What is the other prohibition concerning interest in verse 37? (“You must not lend him money at interest or sell him food at a profit.” (Leviticus 25:37 NIV))
Why the interest in interest? (One should not “capitalize” on the hardships of one’s brothers.)
Why did the LORD bring the Hebrews out of Egypt? (“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. (Leviticus 25:38 NIV))
There were strict rules as to how an Israelite may engage a Hebrew who sells himself as a slave. How is the Israelite slave to be treated by his Israelite master? (“He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you.” (Leviticus 25:40 NIV))
Notice how the “Year of Jubilee” presents itself here. Regarding the Hebrew slave, how will the Year of Jubilee affect him? (“… he is to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. Then he and his children are to be released, and he will go back to his own clan and to the property of his forefathers.” (Leviticus 25:40b-41 NIV))
Why may not the Israelites be sold as slaves? (“Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.” (Leviticus 25:42-43 NIV) The LORD is very sensitive toward slavery because of the slavery the Israelites suffered for over four hundred years at the hands of the Egyptians.)
Since the LORD frowned upon enslaving the Jews, from whom may the Israelites buy their slaves? (“Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.” (Leviticus 25:44 NIV))
From whom else may the Israelites buy their slaves? (“You may also buy some of their temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.” (Leviticus 25:45 NIV) I think it is important to understand that the resident aliens and temporary workers in Israel were to be treated just as the Hebrews themselves. The resident aliens had always been treated by the LORD no differently than the Israelites. The only exception was with respect to partaking of the Passover feast – only the circumcised may take of the Passover meal.)
What if the “shoe is on the other foot”? What are the laws regarding the alien or temporary resident whom a Hebrew sells himself? (What applies to the Israelite applies to the alien and resident temporary resident. “If an alien or temporary resident among you becomes rich and one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells himself to the alien living among you or to a member of the alien’s clan, he retains the right of redemption after he has sold himself. One of his relatives may redeem him: An uncle or cousin or any blood relative in his clan may redeem him.” (Leviticus 25:47-49a NIV))
In verse 48 we are introduced to the term “redemption”: “he retains the right of redemption”. Redemption referred to the policy of one being able to “buy himself back”. On a larger scale, the redemption of mankind by Jesus was the consummate demonstration of absolute redemption. He bought us back by the blood of his cross. There is poignant display of redemption in the book of Ruth when Boaz “redeems” Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi.
Verses 50-53 discuss how redemption is to be figured with respect to the Year of Jubilee. The time and cost were to be “pro-rated”: i.e., the longer the time to the Year of Jubilee, the higher the price; the nearer to the Year of Jubilee, the lower the price.
What is the good news regarding redemption in the Year of Jubilee? (Like it or not, everyone who had sold himself to an Israelite up to the Year of Jubilee will be released in the Year of Jubilee. It is a sad note but the Year of Jubilee had never been practiced in Israel. You may appreciate that this practice would be counter to the world’s notion of good economics.)