â€“ Henry Neufeld
But the land shall not be permanently sold, because the land belongs to me, and you are strangers and resident aliens with me.Â — Leviticus 25:23 (HN)
I’m always alert for the various ways in which God’s grace is presented in the Old Testament.Â Many people have the false impression that the Old Testament is all about anger, and the New Testament is all about grace.
But here is one of many cases in which we see God’s grace proclaimed in the Old Testament.Â In fact, the foundation of New Testament grace is built in the Old Testament.
In the discussion of the sabbatical years and the year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25 we have repeated emphasis on the need for the Israelites not to oppress one another.Â The reason given is that they were once slaves, and God provided them with freedom.Â But in addition, God points out that they are now strangers, aliens who are residents on his land.
For it’s by grace that you are saved, through faith.Â And it’s not something that comes from you; it’s God’s gift.Â It’s not by works, so that nobody can boast.Â For we are something he has made, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we could live in them.Â — Ephesians 2:8-10 (HN)
We are all beggars.Â As Christians we have nothing to claim for ourselves, nothing to boast about.Â We have nothing that God has not given us.Â We are, as Leviticus says, strangers and resident aliens in Godâ€”in God’s grace.
That tells us that we can’t boast about anything, we can’t set ourselves up above anyone else.Â We all are in the same condition, all totally dependent on God.
But grace takes another step.Â If we go back to the proclamation of the year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25:10, we see that people are called to go back to their own property.Â So how do you read it?Â Do we own something or don’t we?
You can find the answer in 1 John 3:2â€”Now we’re children of God.
We earn nothing, we’re owed nothing, but we have everything.