"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Wednesday, March 22, 2023


Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez, and James Fire

DEUTERONOMY 15: “DEBT PAID IN FULL” by Albert Lopez check out the complete teaching here!

INTRODUCTION: According to research online, if you ever had a debt it goes into “collections” it stays on your credit report. A credit report is a system that I think we all at one point or another get familiar with because we need good credit to possibly get a car a house or some other type of loan.

What happens when you don’t’ pay a loan? Debt collectors report accounts to the credit bureaus, a move that can impact your credit score for several months, if not years. ... Collector Calls. ... Credit Report Marks. ... Unfavorable Interest Rates. ... Job Hunting. ... Lawsuits. ... Collections are a continuation of debt owed and can stay on your credit report for up to 7 years from the date the debt first became delinquent and was not brought current.

There is much more to say on this subject; I’m sure some of you have much more knowledge on this but I say this to show you that it’s a possibility that maybe the seven years a debt is connected to and individual and their credit report; can somehow help us see what we are about to read.

The big difference is that this system that we will read about is not set up by any man-made financial institution or government. No, this system is set up by God himself for his people to remind them how they must treat each other and how they must Trust God!

1 "At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. 2 "And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the LORD'S release. 3 "Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother, 4 "except when there may be no poor among you; for the LORD will greatly bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance- 5 "only if you carefully obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe with care all these commandments which I command you today. 6 "For the LORD your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you

We are reading about how God’s people were to care for the underprivileged. These included the poor, the orphans, and widows.
A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows

“At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year and shall deposit it in your town. 29 The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
The Sabbath year involved much more than letting the land rest

VERSE 1: GRANT A REMISSION OF DEBTS: (Canceling debts, making a release)

The Sabbath year was earlier mentioned, whereby Israel was not to work the land every Seventh year. What we are reading about might be an expanded exposition of the 4th commandment. Remember the Sabbath day. God is telling his people to forgive debts. At the end of every seventh year, every creditor shall grant a remission of debts that their fellow Israelite had racked up.

Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, (DEUT 31:10)

VERSE 2: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor;

While the practice of debt forgiveness may seem unfair to the lender (especially if he were to lend money close to the Sabbath year) several points can be made in defense of this practice:

With God blessing the people, it seems like a sure thing that God would richly bless the lender for his obedience, even if it made no financial sense to forgive a loan made so close to the Sabbath year.

These verses also focus on the moral (not financial) principle behind the command to forgive loans: they were in reality debtors to God and morally responsible to likewise forgive debts to others. Mercy was to be extended to any Israelite who for whatever reason had taken out a loan.

VERSE 2 cont’d: he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, (exact - demand or collect payment)

What was a test of faith for some would be an answer to prayer for the poor and the needy! Think about it this way: The one’s whose faith is being tested is used to bless the poor and the needy to benefit both according to God’s purpose!

VERSE 4: there will be no poor among you,

As a result of complete obedience to the Lord and His commandments there would be no poor among them since the Lord would bless them in the land and there would be more than enough for everyone.

VERSE 6: you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow;

In fact, there would be so much abundance that they would be able to rule over many nations and make loans to them instead of the other way around.

Going back to VERSE 1: grant a remission of debts.

The idea that they were in reality debtors to God and morally responsible to likewise forgive debts to others.

This is also something we can take as the church in different applications: if someone owes you money, releasing debts is very much the same as when you chose to forgive someone of sin committed against you: because God has forgiven you and God continues to forgive you; so we should do the same. This is what Peter learned as Jesus told this parable:

MATTHEW 18:21-35
21 Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 "Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 "And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 "But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 "The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' 27 "Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. 28 "But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!' 29 "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' 30 "And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 "So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 "Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 'Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' 34 "And his master was angry and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses."

A Talent equals 15 years wages for laborer; so 10,000 talents owed would be an impossible amount to pay back.

A Denarius- 1 days wage and thus: 100 denarii - 100 days wages; this is also a lot but not compared to first slave; it’s nothing! This could conceivably be paid back. The first debt could never, ever be paid back!

Just like the Jews, these slaves in the parable are also debtors – debtors to God, and so are we yet He forgave us but not only forgave us but credited us Jesus’s very own righteousness, so He put us in the positive when our account was negative. We too should have God’s heart of forgiveness!

On another occasion He was telling a Pharisee named Simon of another story involving two debtors (comparing Simon’s sin to those of this sinful woman).
LUKE 7:47 (see from vs. 36 to get the context)
For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
This also tells us that since we have been forgiven much by God; we should also forgive. God has forgiven you so much that he has spared your soul. How can we not forgive a wrong doing or a debt owed to us?

7 "If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, 8 "but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. 9 "Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, 'The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,' and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it becomes sin among you. 10 "You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. 11 "For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.'

The Sabbath year and the Year of Jubilee were part of God’s wise plan to balance the economic scales in the nation so that the rich could not exploit the poor or the poor take advantage of the rich.

Interesting thought: The rich could not exploit or take advantage of the poor but I think many don’t think that the poor can take advantage of the rich- After all the rich were required to forgive and release the debts of the poor.

Paul when writing to the church at Thessalonians set the example and then exhorted people who were being busybodies and not working:
…nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example.

For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.
Finally, he says this: But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

Just like God wants us to judge righteously according to his Word, God also wants us to deal fairly with each other.

VERSE 7: you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother;

If the wealthier Israelite closed his heart and his hand to the needy man, he would hurt his brother and grieve the Lord who had given him all the wealth he had.

The same can be said about us, and the bible tells us:
So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
VERSE 8: Regarding the poor man: but you shall freely open your hand to him,

The Sabbath year was a test of faith, but it was also a test of Love: Suppose a poor Jew need a loan and the Sabbath year was only two years away. The borrower would then receive an extra year for paying back the loan and the loaner would lose interest for one year!

If the loaner looked at the loan strictly as a business proposition, he would turn it down!

There is no return on investment, as they would say today! However, this was the attitude the Lord wanted to correct! The Lord wanted them to see: It wasn’t a business proposition; it was a ministry to a brother!

Pastor Dan (of Drexel Heights Baptist Church) reminded us that the Church is lacking humility in his message, Repent of your Spiritual Pride. The reason is that we sometimes fall into the attitude of this business mentality instead of having a serving/ministering mentality. We should not be thinking; what’s in it for me but instead How can I love on my brother or sister?

VERSE 10: You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand.
He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor.
You ever wonder how we can do away with the world’s poverty? I do, and I think that if God’s people would have followed this system of releasing people from their debts and opening their hands when they were in need; This would have been the answer:

VERSE 11: For the poor will never cease to be in the land…

There seems to be a contradiction between verse 4: “There shall be no poor among you” and this verse “The poor will never cease to be in the land” but this is explained by paying attention to the context:

During the Sabbath year, the lenders were to cancel the debt or the interest owed by their poor Jewish brothers. Unless there were no Jewish poor people who owed them money; Then there would be no poor – IF THE PEOPLE OBEYED GOD’S LAWS. Any Jewish brother who was not poor was expected to pay his debt during the seventh year, and the lenders could collect from foreigners in the land.

If a Jewish borrower could afford to pay and didn’t, he would be exploiting the person who loaned him the money and defeating one of the purposes of the Sabbath year. I believe this goes back to the idea of treating each other fairly.
Do unto others as you would like done unto you.

Because Israel would not consistently obey these laws, the Lord knew there would always be poor in the land.

Jesus himself confirmed this saying:
For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me.
It’s a possibility if you think about it that God was setting up a perfect system where there would be no poor. This system if followed by Israel could have been a blue print for no poverty among the people and could have extended everywhere to the Jews and could have continued with Gentiles. We sadly see that as Jesus said and as we read we will always have the poor in the land because it was not obeyed then and it may just have gotten worse as time went by.

12 "If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 13 "And when you send him away free from you, you shall not let him go away empty-handed; 14 "you shall supply him liberally from your flock, from your threshing floor, and from your winepress. From what the LORD has blessed you with, you shall give to him. 15 "You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today. 16 "And if it happens that he says to you, 'I will not go away from you,' because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you, 17 "then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also to your female servant you shall do likewise. 18 "It shall not seem hard to you when you send him away free from you; for he has been worth a double hired servant in serving you six years. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all that you do.

Jewish debtors unable to repay their loans could become indentured servants – but never slaves - in the household of the man whom they were indebted and in that way work off the debt.

VERSE 12: If your brother… Hebrew woman is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free.

The Jews were not allowed to enslave their fellow Jews, although they could have slaves from other nations.

Male servants were to be released after six years of service, whether the Seventh year was the Sabbath year or not. This law assumes that the man’s six years of service without salary had repaid the loan.

VERSE 13: When you set him free, - This tells us that it was a sure thing, you shall not send him away empty-handed.

Once again the Lord commanded generosity, for the masters were to send their servants away bearing gifts that would help them start life over again, including livestock, grain, and wine.

VERSE 15: You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt,

In case anyone wanted to complain about this, the Lord reminds them. After all, when the Jews left Egypt, they received expensive gifts in return for their years of enslavement.

The Lord treated them well as they were exiting Egypt
EXODUS 12:35-36
Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; 36 and the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus, they plundered the Egyptians.
And he wanted them to treat each other the same way. God was saying I have been good to you and provided for you. Bless your brother graciously

VERSE 16-18

We go from Indentured servants paying off a debt to the willing servant. Why willing? Because he has paid off his debt, working the 6 years required but wants to stay!

VERSE 16: ‘I will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household, since he fares well with you;

During the six years of service, the debtor might come to love the host family and want to stay with them. Or he might have gotten married during that time. He has a family now and wants to stay with them.

VERSE 17: Then you shall take an awl and pierce it through his ear…

If this was the decision he made, then his master would pierce a hole through his ear to mark him as a willing servant for life.

Reminds me of how the apostle Paul would constantly say that he was a bondservant to Christ: (ROM 1:1)

This word “servant” also is very closely related to minister. Remember Church, we are called to serve and minister to God and each other! Just like this servant decided to be a servant (referred to as a doulos in the New Testament) for life: We should love our Lord so much that we should want to serve him willingly and gladly all of our lives. We must never look upon our service as slavery but instead look at it as a privilege.

“I love my master and I don’t want to go free” is a wonderful confession of faith and love!

Just like the awl pierced and made a hole through the ear: We all need the open ear to hear God’s will. And we also need a pierced ear that announces we love Him and are ready to obey His every command.
PSALM 40:6,8
Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; my ears You have opened; 8 I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart.”

ISAIAH 50:4-5
The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. 5 The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not disobedient Nor did I turn back.
When the people saw the pierced earlobe it would testify to others that the servant had relinquished his personal rights. Do we strive to do the will of the one who freed us and bought us out of the slave market? We are not hirelings or temporary servants, but slaves having made a lifetime commitment.

19 "All the firstborn males that come from your herd and your flock you shall sanctify to the LORD your God; you shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. 20 "You and your household shall eat it before the LORD your God year by year in the place which the LORD chooses. 21 "But if there is a defect in it, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the LORD your God. 22 "You may eat it within your gates; the unclean and the clean person alike may eat it, as if it were a gazelle or a deer. 23 "Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it on the ground like water.

As we have come to the end the emphasis in this chapter is on faith that produces generosity. I pray we are able to see that if we are hardhearted or tightfisted, it’s evidence that we may not believe that God keeps his promises and provides for those who give to the needy.

Jesus became poor that He might make us rich and He blesses us so that we might be a blessing to others.

Jesus who is our Sabbath completely paid the debt that we could not pay and He set us free of any debt giving us his riches and righteousness.

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