Deuteronomy 15 is rather interesting because it deals with the concept of the year of Jubilee. Essentially, the idea was that if you owned a Hebrew slave, you had to release him or her during that year. However, there was more to it than that.
Deu 15:13 And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty:
Deu 15:14 Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.
Deu 15:15 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day.
Even though this kind of seems like an odd setup, it makes sense in a way.
Inevitably, people end up going into debt. Sometimes it is not necessarily their fault, but it still happens. Now, this year of Jubilee is somewhat of a compromise. Yes, the person does need to work to pay off his or her debt. However, there is a limit to the amount that the person can work, and once that time is over, he or she would be able to return home and start over.
In fact, it wasn’t just about starting over. The former owner needed to give the former slave possessions as well. In a way, I think that this would help prevent the same person from falling into debt again. They would actually have some semblance of wealth now. If they had just been freed, they would probably fall into debt again if they had no possessions. After all, what would they use for money without any type of possession?
This makes me think of the ultimate freedom which is salvation through Jesus. If you think about it, we could be given salvation, and it is a wonderful gift. I don’t want to discount that at all. However, by giving us the Holy Spirit as well, God is giving us a way to change our ways. The Holy Spirit can help people begin to transform their lives.
That is part of the process of being a Christian.
We need to constantly be striving to become more like Jesus.
At the beginning of the chapter, he had just been sold into slavery by his brothers. Then, he got sold to Potiphar who was a high-ranking official in the government.
He soon proved to be a very good servant, and he was put in charge of virtually the entire household. Even though he was still a slave, it was obvious that he was highly valued and cared for by the master of the house.
Then, trouble started to brew when Potiphar’s wife fell in love with Joseph. He resisted her for a long time, but at one point when he was running away from her, she grabbed his robe and virtually used it to frame him.
Gen 39:17 And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me:
Gen 39:18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.
Gen 39:19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled.
Gen 39:20 And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.
In one day, his life went from pretty good to prison on an entirely made-up charge.
If this story stopped right there, it would be easy to think, “Where was God? Why would a good God allow something like this to happen?”
That first question is answered in the next verse, and the rest of the answer will be found in the near future.
Gen 39:21 But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
God was right there with Joseph the entire time even though something that seemed bad happened. Going to prison on a false charge would make me pretty mad. However, that wouldn’t be a healthy reaction.
Think about the Shepherd’s Psalm.
Psa 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
The shadow of death must be pretty grim times, but we don’t need to fear it because God is always with us. Similarly, Joseph was in a very tough situation, but he didn’t need to worry because he knew that God was right there with him.
If you’re ever tempted to wonder where God is when things go wrong, remember that He is right there beside you. There is no problem that we need to go through alone when we lean on God and trust in His plan. (The answer to the second question will be posted in two days in case you’re wondering).