Biblical Principle #269: Seven-Year Debt Cancellation

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Principle

The Law of Moses instructed Israelites to cancel the debts of fellow Israelites every seven years.

Explanation

Because GOD is love, He is concerned about the burdens we carry. He cares about your and my concerns. And He cared about the weight of debt of His children, Israel.

And because Israel had once been in debt (slavery) and GOD had graciously set them free, He expected the children of Israel—the descendants of those who walked across the Red Sea on dry ground that night—to remember, to be thankful for what GOD had done for them, and to pay it forward by showing kindness to each other.

Thus, GOD told Moses:

1 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts. 2 So the order of the remission is as follows: every debt your neighbor owes you, you shall remit; you shall not demand it back from your brother, because a remission is proclaimed for the Lord your God. 3 You may demand it back from a foreigner, but you shall grant remission of your brother’s debt, 4 except when there may be no poor among you; for the Lord your God will greatly bless you in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance— 5 only if you carefully obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe with care all these commandments I command you today. 6 For the Lord your God blessed you in the manner He told you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.

Deuteronomy 15:1-6 OSB

So to summarize:

  • After every 7 years, Israelites must forgive all debts of fellow Israelites.
  • This did not apply to debts owed by Gentiles.
  • The reason was because GOD proclaimed a remission of debts upon Israel at this time.
  • Continuation of these promises was contingent upon Israel’s faithfulness in following the Law. Primarily, Israel had to remain committed to loyalty to Yahweh rather than following other gods.

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