Mission of GOD – 3

Wright moves on now to speak of GOD’s “model of restoration”. Of how things should be restored to something better than what they are.

This focuses on the concept of Jubilee – something that sprang to global (by which I mean Western global – poor people don’t know who Bono is) attention with the Jubilee 2000 debt campaign.

The system set out in Lev 25 (have you ever read Leviticus? Weird book. Good but weird) was essentially an “economic institution” (how we love those these days) that was to have a big role in the governance of how Israel conducted it’s affairs.

the primary purpose of jubilee was to preserve the socio-economic fabric of multiple-household land tenure and the comparative equality and independent viability of the smallest family-plus-land units. In other words, jubilee was intended for the survival and welfare of the families in Israel.

Let’s make this clear – from our point of view this is pretty radical stuff. If someone got into debt and had to sell the ancestral land then when 49 years were up – it would return to them. Giving the younger generation the chance to make a better go of it. It effectively stopped the rich getting richer. Unless of course they simply stepped out of the covenant commandments and let greed win the day.

GOD’s purpose in this had many factors, not least the “comparative equality” but also included the message that the Israelites did not own the land. It was GOD’s land before they arrived on it and GOD wanted to them to live as resident aliens, just as the resident aliens of the pagan peoples lived amongst them.

He quotes one guy talking about how jubilee subverts what we believe about money and robs it of its claims to eternal life. Wealth is no more permanent than life.

Wright looks at how jubilee crops up during the Bible and summaries its role thus:

At the level of fairly explicit allusion and implicit influence, the jubilee serves both as a symbol of future hope and as an ethical demand in the present.

Jesus’ own adoption of these subverting principles is part of what resulted in him on the cross. The declaration that JESUS is Lord implied Caesar wasn’t. He was not crucified because the Roman’s thought he was a religious nut, he was crucified because all that he stood for was a challenge to the status quo.

To quote Wright

… in all societies, political power depends on conventional acceptance of the way things are and always should be

Christianity in its best moments pulls the very foundations away from that.

The chapter ends with a plea not to divide the gospel into parts. The first, a gospel that only deals with peoples spiritual condition before GOD and the second a gospel that brings good news only to the political and socio-economic position. History (including Northern Ireland’s)  is full of examples of how this ends badly.

I read this book about 2 years ago which was built on long work by the Lausanne conference (who I think are meeting again this year) and it covers a lot of similar points. They have the very simple statement of:

the whole church taking the whole gospel to the whole world

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