In fact, at any given time, the proximity of the Jubilee determined the value of a person’s land. If it were just a few years away, the land would sell for less since it would soon be returned to its rightful owner.
In other words, though land could be sold, it could only be sold for a limited period of time.
Although this type of land ownership may seem foreign and impractical, the intent of this law is to convey the truth that the Lord is the real owner of Israel’s real estate; therefore, it cannot be permanently sold.
“The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is Mine and you reside in My land as foreigners and strangers. Throughout the land that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.” (Leviticus 25:23–24)
We might liken this concept of land ownership to a lease, with the Jewish People being God’s tenants.
This law was for everyone, rich and poor alike. It was designed to protect the rights of each person and prevented land and wealth from being accumulated in the hands of a rich few, while the majority remained poor.
What’s more, this law really brings home the fact that no one—no leader or politician or individual—has the right to sell, divide or give away God’s land for any reason.
Not even for the purpose of a supposed peace deal with those determined to destroy the Jews in Israel. God will execute His judgment on all those who attempt to divide up His land. (Joel 3:2)
The Hope of Jeremiah: The Hope of Israel
“Houses, fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.” (Jeremiah 32:15)
Haftarah Behar (the corresponding Prophetic portion) echoes the theme found in the Torah portion of the purchase and redemption of land.
This portion opens with a rather bizarre situation.
King Zedekiah has imprisoned Jeremiah in Jerusalem because he had prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the Jewish People.
Jerusalem is under siege by the Babylonians who will soon overtake the Land. Nevertheless, the Lord tells Jeremiah that his uncle will ask him to purchase his field, and God instructs Jeremiah to accept the offer.
“Buy my field in Anatot, since you have the right of redemption to purchase it.” (Jeremiah 32:7)
This seems like an absurd thing to ask of Jeremiah! What? Buy a field that will soon be Babylonian property? Ridiculous, especially for a man rotting in jail.
But this is no ordinary purchase. It is a prophetic act.
Despite Jeremiah’s accurate predictions of Jerusalem’s destruction, he retains the ability to see hope in the face of desolation.
Even though he knows that the city is about to be destroyed and the rest of the land conquered, in obedience to the Lord, Jeremiah redeems the land.
In doing so, he affirms his faith in the Eternal who promised the redemption of Israel—that houses and fields would once again be bought in the land. (Jeremiah 32:15)
This prophetic act displays his refusal to give in to hopelessness.
He trusts in God’s mercy. One day, God will bring His people back home to the Land and to Himself.
“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)
The exiled people of Israel did rebuild Jerusalem and again inhabited Israel, as God promised. However, after AD 70 the Romans scattered them, although a remnant has always remained in the Land.
Yet, God promised that a second time, He would return His people to His land—not from Babylon but from the four corners of the earth to never be dispersed again:
“I will bring my people Israel back from exile. ‘They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them.’” (Amos 9:14–15)
Our generation is witnessing the fulfillment of the hope of many prophets—the miraculous restoration of the nation of Israel and the regathering of its people from the four corners of the earth.
We have yet to see the fulfillment of the promise that the Jewish People will turn back to God and be re-united in the Land under the sovereign rule of the Messiah, sitting on the eternal throne of His father, David.
Just like in the Year of Jubilee, when debts were forgiven and the Hebrew slaves set free, the day is coming when all of Israel will recognize that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah who forgives us and releases (shmitah) us from slavery to sin.
“We know that our old self was put to death on the execution-stake with Him, so that the entire body of our sinful propensities might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. … so now offer your various parts as slaves to righteousness, which leads to being made holy, set apart for God.” (Romans 6:6, 14)