"At the end of every seven years, you must cancel debts." (vs 1) I have always been intrigued by the number seven and the way it is used in the Bible. I think it must be God’s favorite number. It seems to carry the idea of perfection, wholeness, completeness. There are lots of significant things that happened in the Bible regarding the number seven: Noah took seven of the clean animals into the ark, Jacob worked seven years each for Leah and Rachel, Egypt had seven years of plenty and seven years of famine, and Jesus cast out seven demons from Mary Magdalene. Even the multiples of seven have some significance in the Bible. For instance, many great Bible men came from generations that were a multiple of seven: Enoch (7), Abraham (21), David (35), and Jesus (77). Wow, double seven!
In this chapter of Deuteronomy, the number seven was associated with freedom and release — particularly from financial burdens and slavery. In other words, in the seventh year, the Israelites experienced rest from the things that might have been plaguing their lives up to that point. If they were in debt, their loans were cancelled. (Hey, who said everything in the Old Testament should be obsolete! Let’s bring that rule back, shall we?) If an Israelite had sold himself into slavery/servanthood in order to pay a debt, he had the option to be released in the seventh year if he wanted to pursue another line of work.
I don’t think it’s any accident that every seventh year was associated with rest and freedom, because God has seen to it that every seventh day is also associated with rest and freedom. In the Sabbath, He gave us the reminder for all time that (1) He is the Creator and (2) He has given us freedom from everything that enslaves us. Because of the life and death of Christ, we know that God holds no unpaid account over our heads. Jesus revealed God as one who loves and forgives, even before He is asked. It is only this knowledge about our wonderful God that can bring the kind of spiritual rest and freedom that our sin-riddled souls crave.
So, the next time you wish that all your loans would magically disappear every seven years, remember to take time on a regular basis to reflect on how God has lifted all your spiritual burdens. Don’t spend another moment fretting over how to repay God the debt you may think you owe. He wants you to rest and enjoy your freedom in Him!