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Releasing Others and Ourselves (Deuteronomy 15)

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CHAPTER 15 Apr. 28 
The Year for Cancelling Debts
At the end of every seven years you must make a release. 2This is the method of the release: every creditor shall release that which he has lent to his neighbour. He must not demand it of his neighbour and his brother because Yahweh’s release has been proclaimed. 3Of a foreigner you may exact it, but whatever of yours is with your brother you must release. 4However there shall be no poor among you, for Yahweh will surely bless you in the land which Yahweh your God gives you for an inheritance to possess it 5if only you diligently listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, to observe to do all this commandment which I command you this day. 6For Yahweh your God will bless you, as He promised you, and you will lend to many nations but you shall not borrow; and you will rule over many nations but they shall not rule over you. 7If a poor man, one of your brothers, is with you within any of your gates in your land which Yahweh your God gives you, you must not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, 8but you must surely open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, that which he lacks. 9Beware that there is not a wicked thought in your heart saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand, and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing and he cries to Yahweh against you, it is sin to you. 10You must surely give to him, and your heart must not be grieved when you give to him, because for this Yahweh your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you put your hand to. 11For the poor will never cease out of the land, therefore I command you, saying, You must surely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and to your poor, in your land.
Freeing Slaves
 12If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you must let him go free from you. 13When you let him go free from you, you must not let him go empty. 14You must furnish him generously out of your flock, out of your threshing floor and out of your winepress; as Yahweh your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. 15You must remember that you were a bondservant in the land of Egypt and Yahweh your God redeemed you, therefore I command you this today. 16If he tells you I will not go out from you because he loves you and your house, because he is well with you, 17then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever. Also to your female servant you shall do likewise. 18It must not seem hard to you, when you let him go free from you, for he was worth double the hire of a hireling; he has served you six years; and Yahweh your God will bless you in all that you do. 
Firstborn Animals Belong to God
19All the firstborn males that are born of your herd and of your flock you must sanctify to Yahweh your God; you must do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. 20You must eat it before Yahweh your God year by year in the place which Yahweh shall choose, you and your household. 21If it has any blemish, is lame or blind or has any defect whatever, you must not sacrifice it to Yahweh your God. 22You must eat it within your gates. The unclean and the clean shall eat it alike, as the gazelle and as the hart. 23Only you must not eat its blood. You must pour it out on the ground as water.


15:2 He must not demand it of his neighbour and his brother because Yahweh’s release has been proclaimed- The final release was in the death of Christ releasing us from all our sins, which are likened to debts in the New Testament. We are therefore not to “demand” recompense for sin from others because of the great release proclaimed. Jesus foresaw the difficulty of doing this, and urges us to pray constantly that we forgive or release our debtors (Mt. 6:12). The year of release was proclaimed on the day of atonement, in the same way as the cross has initiated a time of release from sin. The idea of ‘proclaiming’ this release or forgiveness is behind the language Luke uses to record the great commission, to proclaim this wonderful news to absolutely everybody- that their debt is cancelled. 
15:4 Moses knew that there would always be poor people in the land, even though if the Law was properly kept this would not be the case (:4, 11). Having reminded them that if they were obedient, “there shall be no poor among you; for Yahweh will surely bless you”, Moses goes on to comment that “the poor will never cease out of the land”- and he gives the legislation cognisant of this (Dt. 15:4,11). Moses realized by the time of Deuteronomy that they wouldn’t make it to the blessings which were potentially possible. And yet he speaks so positively of how they would inherit the Kingdom. God recognizes that His people won’t totally make it spiritually nor receive all the blessings they could, and yet this doesn’t mean they won’t be saved. This is a comfort for us in our spiritual incompleteness; and it also means that we shouldn’t expect the community of God’s people to be perfect. Even God doesn’t expect that, and the very structure of His own law foresaw that.
15:15 One of the most repeated themes of Moses in Deuteronomy is the way he keeps on telling them to "remember" all the great things which God had done for them on their wilderness journey, and especially the wonder of how he had redeemed them as children (his audience had been under twenty years old when they went through the Red Sea). He really wanted them to overcome the human tendency to forget the greatness of God as manifested earlier in our lives and spiritual experience. Our tendency as the new Israel is just the same- to forget the wonder of baptism, of how God reached out His arm to save us.