Dear Friends of Israel
Nearly a half-million people throughout Israel took part in the last protest rally for social justice at the end of the summer. Beset by the massive protests, the government had no choice but to take steps toward that end. Therefore Emanuel Trajtenberg, a distinguished professor in the field of economics, was appointed to develop solutions for a more just social policy. When his proposals were presented to the government and the matter came to a vote, there was no consensus on how the government should proceed. A government crisis is now imminent. The primary issue is the dispute over the construction of public housing.
One minister proposed that state-owned land should be distributed free of charge for housing construction, so that the homes would be cheaper. In the past year, the Government has taken in over $8 billion in land sales, but unless there are guarantees that the homes will be cheaper, he will not agree to the "cosmetic" improvement proposals that have been presented so far.
Social justice is a topic that is as old as human civilization. Interestingly, God has already provided an outline for social justice in the Bible. It is so revolutionary that it will probably never be fully implemented or practiced in the Nation of Israel. It concerns the Sabbath Year and the Year of Jubilee, as they are described in Leviticus 25. There it says that the land is an inheritance and cannot be sold permanently, but only until the Year of Jubilee. In that year, everyone is to return to his own property. In Deuteronomy 15 the stipulations go even further, so it is worthwhile to read these two chapters carefully. There it says that in every seventh year, the sabbatical year, all debts should be cancelled, and that moreover no interest shall be charged among Israelites. These high demands of God would spell the end of today's banking system as we know it, and thus seem to be totally unrealistic. However, God wanted these regulations to ensure that there would not be any poor among His people, Israel. He also promised that those who act in accordance with His ordinances would be richly blessed richly (Deuteronomy 15:1-5).
It is hard to imagine a more incredible test of faith than when God commanded His people, Israel to neither sow nor reap in the Sabbath Year , and in the Year of Jubilee to even forego two years. But God promised Israel to bless the sixth year so richly that there would be enough food to last until the eighth year, and even to the ninth year when the Year of Jubilee occurred.
Today, there are relatively good arguments against agricultural practices in which every seventh year is neither sown nor planted, but the practice of social justice remains an eternally valid ordinance of God for all people. Anyone disdaining that ordinance will lose God’s blessing.
Of course one might also say that social justice as it was prescribed in the Bible is no longer feasible. Those high demands however show us what God intended, and that is how we should orient ourselves. When we strive to live according to His commandments, we can trust that he will carry out His promises and bless us abundantly.
May God grant the Israeli government the grace to act in the spirit of His ordinances, so that He can pour out abundant blessings on Israel.
Bound in Him, who richly blesses those who love and follow His ordinances, “Shalom.”