Regulations Concering Debt Cancellation

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Debt

In this chapter Moses states that during this seventh year the Israelites were not to be pressed to pay their debts. This does not mean that the debts would be completely eliminated but simply that the time of payment was extended for one year. The Israelites were allowed to press foreigners during this time for payment of loans; but were not allowed to press their brethren (v. 3). Moses gives the regulations concerning the sabbatical year or the year of debt release.  The law of “debt cancellation” is stated in verse 1 and explained in verses 1-11. To cancel the loan could mean the loan was to be completely eliminated or it could mean it was to be cancelled only during the seventh year. Regardless, the payment could not be demanded in the seventh year, but  it would seem that after the seventh year the loan would still have to be repaid. The borrower would  receive an extra year for paying back the loan and the person making the loan would lose interest for one year. The law of debt cancellation was intended to instill a spirit of generosity within the Israelites and thus the freedom from the love of money and things.

God told the Israelites to help the poor among them when they arrived in the Promised Land (vv. 7-11). Since there will always be poor people, Israel was commanded to open its heart and hand to them. Therefore, an Israelite was guilty of sin if he refused, out of fear, to loan to a poor brother (v. 7) or a needy brother (v. 11), immediately before the year of debt release. Being hardened or tight fisted meant he was not trusting the Lord to bless. Moses summarized the attitude the Israelites should have toward those in need by telling them to be  “open handed” (vv. 8,11).

Application

I want to be especially careful to never create indebtedness on things that depreciate. I do not want to over spend on things that I do not really need. Also I need to be more conscious of the poor and needy and look for ways I can help them with what you bless me with.

Deuteronomy 15:1-11 (English Standard Version)

"At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor. He shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the LORD's release has been proclaimed. Of a foreigner you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release. But there will be no poor among you; for the LORD will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess-- if only you will strictly obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all this commandment that I command you today. For the LORD your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you. "If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, 'The seventh year, the year of release is near,' and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the LORD against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, 'You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land."'

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