By Mike Willis
The Law of Moses demanded that the children of Israel have a year of Jubilee every 50 years. The instructions for how this year was to be observed are revealed in Leviticus 25. Among other things, the Law required that all debts be canceled and that all property revert to the families to whom it was parceled out when Israel conquered the land of Canaan. There are many good things that could be said about the concept of a year of Jubilee: (a) It prevented too large a concentration of wealth into the hands of a few; (b) It gave poor people something to hope for and an opportunity for a fresh start; etc.
However, one verse in this context draws our attention. In explaining why a person’s inherited property could not be sold forever, but could only be sold for the period until the next year of Jubilee, the Lord said, “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land” (Lev. 25:23-24).
Notice what the Lord said in these verses: (a) The land is mine; (b) You are strangers and sojourners. I suspect that we need to be reminded of these two truths.
The Land Is Mine
Sometimes we act as if we own our possessions. The truth is that we are granted the opportunity to use them for a brief span of time. After we are gone, the land will continue and someone else will have the use of it for a span of time. The land continues; men come and go.
In some countries in a previous time, a person took on the name of the estate on which he lived because the land would continue, but he would soon pass from this earth.
Even during the time that we have use of land, we need to remember that it belongs to the Lord.
You Are Strangers and Sojourners With Me
We are just guests on the Lord’s property. A stranger or sojourner was someone who was not a citizen of a given country but was an alien living in another land. We are like military personnel who are stationed in such far away countries as Japan, Bosnia, Germany, and other places. They do not apply for citizenship in the land where they are stationed. Generally, they do not learn its language or its customs because they know that they will be there for a short time.
Christians are to accept their life on earth as a pilgrimage and sojourney. Peter wrote, “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” (1 Pet. 1:17).
The writer of Hebrews wrote, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (11:13-16).
One of our songs says, “Here we are but straying pilgrims; Here our path is often dim; But to cheer us on our journey, Still we sing this way-side hymn: Yonder over the rolling river, Where the shining mansions rise, Soon will be our home forever, And the smile of the blessed Giver Glad-dens all our longing eyes” (“Here We Are But Straying Pilgrims”).
Do your view your life as a pilgrimage and sojourney?
The Old Law has passed away but we still look for “heaven’s jubilee” when our redemption comes. The years of our pilgrimage will end and we will be taken away to our eternal home, Even as the poor Jewish man looked forward to the year of Jubilee when all of his debts would be canceled and he would be reinstated to his inheritance, so also we who are Christians look forward to our year of Jubilee. Our debt of sin is canceled and we will be given our eternal home.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 19, p. 2
October 3, 1996