Sunday, February 10, 2013

God as Manager: Lev 24-25

As a community planner, I've often wondered what it would look like for God to order and manage a country.  This is what we see in these chapters:

Ownership:  The key to God's management style is in Lev. 25:23:  “The land must never be sold on a permanent basis, for the land belongs to me. You are only foreigners and tenant farmers working for me."  Since all land was owned by God and allotted to tribes, land couldn't be sold as if it belonged to the people.  It doesn't.  "Selling" property was actually a limited term lease and the cost of the lease had to be tied to the amount of time remaining until the Jubilee year.  The Israelites themselves were also owned by God and therefore couldn't be sold.  They could only be hired for a specific period of time.  The only exception was land within a walled city.  Later, after the captivity, people were assigned to cities by lottery and generally had land that was allotted to them by God elsewhere.  That land was not specific to any tribe (other than the Levitical cities which couldn't be sold at all). 

Patriotism:  God is the chief identity of the country.  Blaspheming Him carries a death sentence.  He warned them ahead of time.  His name is sacred and they treated it as sacred (at least from then on).

Principles:  Fairness is the primary guiding principle for all rules.  Losses must be restored or have an equivalent punishment. 

Management:  The beginning of ch. 24 shows part of the payments obligated to the Lord.  The bread is left for God but it is the priests that get to eat it--similar to taxes.  The priests are God's representatives to the community, just as government workers are representatives of their agency and ultimately their government.  The taxes paid support the management of the community.  (Puts a new spin on government work.)

Agricultural Management Principles:  In the south we discovered that crop rotation was absolutely necessary.  Without changing the crops, the nutrients in the soil would become depleted and later crops would yield less each year.  God understood this and incorporated it into the management plan for the land.  The 6th year's crops would provide for the people through the 9th year, but the 7th year, the land was not to be cultivated.  Wild plants would intersperse with the leftovers from previous years and renew the soil.  This principle was so important that after 490 years without sabbath rests, God required that the people be removed from the land so it could have its rest--70 years worth in Babylon.  Those in Babylon experienced great success and heartache.  Those in Israel were tormented and unsuccessful.  God made sure the land got its rest.  It makes me wonder since it's been over 60 years since Israel has been reinstated and it still hasn't had any rest years. 

God's management of the land shows great wisdom (no surprise).  What of His principles can you incorporate into your lives?

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