The grace of God facilitated the provision of the Jubilee year (described in Lev 25). The pull of sin toward greed and the accumulation of wealth and power made Jubilee a necessity for such grace.
The law itself could afford some degree of accountability, but sin could even infest the administration of law resulting in inconsistent enforcement (Isa 5:23), or a total lack of institutional enforcement (Judges 21:25). The grace of God was needed to provide not only the Jubilee year itself, but also the motivational power for the people to implement its provisions. Supernatural empowerment was needed because of the comfort of power facilitated among some who would be disadvantaged by the restoration of land to families originally holding the land. These original families were in turn only holders of the land because it ultimately belonged to the Lord (Lev 25:23).
From a more contemporary perspective, this “comfort of power” can be expressed in terms of “creative destruction.” In their book, Why Nations Fail,Fear of creative destruction is often at the root of the opposition to inclusive economic and political institutions. Acemoglu and Robinson cite the work of Joseph Shumpeter for an understanding of this term. Opposition to economic and political transformation as in a Jubilee situation can arise.
They replace the old with the new. New sectors attract resources away from old ones. New firms take business away from established ones. New technologies make existing skills and machines obsolete. The process of economic growth and the inclusive institutions upon which it is based create losers as well as winners in the political arena and in the economic marketplace. Fear of creative destruction is often at the root of the opposition to inclusive economic and political institutions (p. 84).
At the risk of projecting contemporary economic interpretation into this Old Testament institution, sin still could be manifested in the desire to maintain land, material wealth, and social power. The land holders who grew in wealth would not easily divest themselves of this wealth and power. If such an embrace of greed attained a critical mass of allegiance among the people of God, the gracious provision of the Lord could be essentially negated. The threat of the judgment of God could motivate some to do what was just for the disadvantaged among the people, but it would take transforming grace to empower a larger population to follow through with the Jubilee provisions. The cyclic nature of God’s judgment on his people throughout the Old Testament was affected by the rebellion of the people in general, but the lack of Jubilee implementation along the way may have contributed specifically.
Today, such power for Jubilee-like sacrifice and forgiveness is available to Christians through the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:16-17). Whether these can be manifested by believers in business relationships and administration of government policies is a more complex matter. The possibility of Jubilee at these levels calls for awareness, strategic planning, and divine grace in immense proportions.
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