The Seventh Year Of Release
Rev. Lily Lim | On 09, Jan 2019
Deuteronomy 15:12-14 (RSV)
V12- “If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you.
V13- And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed;
V14- you shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your wine press; as the LORD your God has blessed you, you shall give to him.
Twins, a sister and brother were talking to each other in the womb. The little sister said to the little brother: “I believe that there is life after birth!” Her brother protested: “No, no, this is all there is. This is a dark and cozy place, and we have nothing else to do but to cling on to the cord that feeds us.”
But the little girl insisted: “There must be something more than this dark place, there must be something else where there is light and freedom to move.” Still she could not convince her twin brother. Then after some silence, she said hesitantly: “I have something else to say, and I am afraid you won’t believe that either, but I think there is a mother!”
Her little brother now became furious: “A mother, a mother, what are you talking about? I have never seen a mother and neither have you. Who put that idea in your head? As I told you, this place is all we have so let’s be content.”
The little sister finally said, “Don’t you feel this pressure sometimes? It’s really unpleasant and sometimes even painful.” “Yes,” he answered, “What’s special about that?” “Well,” the sister said, “I think this pressure is there to get us ready for another place, much more beautiful than this, where we will see our mother’s face.
The pressure we are all experiencing in this life, with its suffering, abandonment, sorrow, struggle, pain, poverty, darkness, is there to get us ready for another better place. Theologically and corporately, all of us as born- again believers will be released like the twin from the dark womb of this world into the bright and shining place of Heaven where we can see the face of our Father and Jesus one day. Personally, it signifies that in whatever we are going through now in this fallen world, we won’t be stuck in the womb of darkness, pain and uncertainty forever. One day, a release will come that will push us all out of that “womb” into the glorious light called “life”.
Suffering and darkness are transitory. Wholeness, healing, joy and peace are permanent for they are part of the very nature of God.
Our Key Text is a section about a permanent slave in Israel and it mentions the seventh year – THE SABBATIC YEAR.
Deuteronomy 15:1- At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a RELEASE.
Every seventh year is a Sabbatical Year. In that year a release was to be made. God had already told the children of Israel that the land was to lie fallow every seventh year (verse 2). Now we learn about the release on the seventh year. The Israelite could not take a mortgage that went beyond seven years. There could be no foreclosure on a mortgage. When the seventh year came around, money that had been lent or mortgages that had been made were all to be canceled out. This was a great equalizer of the wealth. It gave every man an equal opportunity.
Self-imposed slavery could only continue, like for other debts, for six years. In the seventh year, the desperately poor man would be able to return to his own land and resume his life. His benefactor would be required at that time to RELEASE HIM. However, the problems that had caused him to sell himself in the first place might still be there and without some kind of stake he might soon be forced to endure such an experience again. To forestall that, the landlord or the employer was expected not to send the poor man away empty-handed. On the other hand, the newly liberated Hebrew was to be supplied LIBERALLY from the owner’s flock, the threshing floor and winepress. The standard by which these gifts were extended should be AS THE LORD YOUR GOD HAS BLESSED YOU.
It is the desire of God to grant release and relief to His people and He has ordained the seventh year as that year of release.
Year 2019 is the seventh year since our bitter break from Singapore and this seventh year brings along with it a spiritual significance and blessing to Etab. I would like to title my sermon this morning as “THE SEVENTH YEAR OF RELEASE”.
In my message this morning, I would like to share on 4 things:
• The Biblical Significance of the Number 7
• The Biblical Meanings of the Number 7
• The Seventh Year of Release as it applies to us
• The True Lord’s Release
(I) THE BIBLICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NUMBER 7
God uses signs, symbols and numbers to communicate great ideas. As for the number 7, the entire planet throughout history follows God’s pattern of 7 days in a week. Used 735 times, the number 7 is the foundation of God’s word. If we include with this count how many times “sevenfold” and “seventh” is used, our total jumps to 860 references.
• God created the universe in 6 days and then rested on the 7th (Genesis 1).
• The Israelites were told not to sacrifice an animal until it was at least 7 days old (Exodus 22:30).
• Naaman was commanded to dip in the Jordan 7 times so as to be cleansed of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:10).
• Joshua marched around Jericho for 7 days, circled it 7 times on the 7th day then had 7 priests blow 7 trumpets before the walls came down (Joshua 6).
• 7 pairs of each clean animals were gathered for Noah’s ark (Exodus 25:37).
• The rainbow which was God’s covenant with Noah had 7 colors
• There are at least 7 men in the OT who are specifically mentioned as MEN OF GOD – Moses (Joshua 14:6), David (2 Chronicles 8:14), Samuel (1 Samuel 9:6,14), Shemaiah (1 Kings 12:22), Elijah (1 Kings 17:18), Elisha (2 Kings 5:8) and Igdaliah (Jeremiah 35:4).
• Isaiah listed 7 qualities found in our Messiah (Isaiah 11:2)
• The book of Hebrews uses 7 titles to refer to Christ. The titles are ‘Heir of all things’ (Heb 1:2), ‘Captain of our salvation’ (2:10), ‘Author of Salvation’ (5:9), ‘Forerunner’ (6:20), ‘High Priest’ (10:21) and ‘Author and Finisher of our faith’ (12:2).
• John mentioned 7 signs
• Proverbs 6:16-19 listed 7 things that are abominations to God
• In Matthew we find 7 parables (Chapter 13) and 7 woes (Chapter 23)
• 70 weeks were mentioned in Daniel’s prophecy
• Jeremiah foretold a seventy-year captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10)
• There are 7 annual Holy Days beginning with Passover and ending with the Last Great Day (Feasts of Tabernacles).
• The year of Jubilee was to follow the 49th year (7 times 7) (Leviticus 25:8).
• Jesus said He is the “I AM” 7 times in Matthew
• Jesus told His disciples to forgive those who wrong them seventy times seven times (Matthew 18:22).
• In the Book of Revelation, there are 7 churches, 7 angels to the 7 churches, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 thunders and 7 last plagues. The first resurrection of the dead takes places at the 7th trumpet, completing salvation for the Church.
(II) THE BIBLICAL MEANINGS OF THE NUMBER 7
7 is the number of COMPLETENESS AND PERFECTION OF AN EVENT OR THING (both physical and spiritual).
7 in the Book of Revelation connotes a COMPLETENESS, THE END OF THINGS, BRINGING ALL TOGETHER AS PLANNED.
It derives much of its meaning from being tied directly to God’s creation of all things.
The Bible as a whole was originally divided into 7 major divisions. They are:
1. The Law
2. The Prophets
3. The Writings or Psalms
4. The Gospels and Acts
5. The General Epistles
6. The Epistles of Paul
7. The Book of Revelation
The total number of originally inspired books was forty-nine or 7×7, demonstrating the ABSOLUTE PERFECTION OF THE WORD OF GOD.
(III) THE SEVENTH YEAR OF RELEASE
Our key text tells us that if you were Hebrew and you owed a person money and you couldn’t pay him, then he could take you in as a slave and make you work full-time until you paid him back. But every 7th year, if you were a part of God’s chosen people, you had a special advantage – YOU GOT RELEASED – no matter how much you still owed. In the 7th year, you were set free.
From this passage, we can see that God NEVER intends for His people to be A PERMANENT SLAVE TO ANYTHING. Yet many of us fail to know this truth. When we have struggled in an area for a LONG TIME, it is easy to think, “This is the way it’s always going to be. I’ll always struggle in my finances; I will never get any good breaks.” Too often we see it as PERMANENT.
E.g. You may be in debt today, but God did not intend that to last forever. You may be facing an illness today, but it is only temporary. You may be struggling with an addiction, but it is not going to keep you in bondage. You are in the 7th year. The 7th year is the year when you break free from any limitation that is holding you back: sickness, addictions, debts, constant struggle and defeat.
E.g. Ever since I returned from France to Iloilo in 2012, I never had a good helper. While I was away in France, a widow and her daughter were recommended to me as stay-in helpers to serve Pastor Toh Nee. After I returned two months later, I was aghast to see my house in disarray with all the toilet bowls of the CR coated with rust and molds. The widow was the worst helper I ever got. It was her stubbornness, laziness and argumentative spirit with me that almost caused me to want to slap her. Thankfully I didn’t. From that year onward, it was spiral downturn for 6 years to the point I almost believe a lie from the devil that I would never be blessed with a good helper. And that my lot in life was having bad helpers. I decided to get part-timers with the contract to start work at 8am and end at 4pm. But all of them came late at 9am and went home before 12 noon. One of them stole two I-pads from my house plus our two wedding rings; another kept stealing my food and rice and was caught red handed several times, yet without remorse. Those who did not steal, did a poor job cleaning up my house to the point I develop lung ailment, giving me a pseudo scare of lung malignancy by the doctor. Then there were those who kept borrowing money or asking for advance from me unceasingly, even resorting to concocting lies about fake sickness of relatives. Just last November, this slavish torment by the helpers culminated with this helper who just quit without any responsibility or advance notice and thereby plunging my domestic affair into disorder. Ptr Toh Nee out of frustration decided to engage the recruitment agency in Manila for a stay- in helper. Pastor Ephraim advised us against it. Instead, Pastors Carlos and Anelene began to call up our church planters at Antique to help us to find one. Finally, Ptr Shiela recommended one from Barbaza. Initially we weren’t used to having a stay- in because we were accustomed to having part timers only. But when our new helper came last November – Oh My – she was such a relief and blessing to us. Without my instruction, she took her initiative to clean up my entire house, my cabinets and scrub every crook and cranny which those previous part timers had neglected. For 6 years, I was tormented by bad and disobedient helpers. Last Nov was almost close to the 7 years. And God granted me release from bad, lazy and recalcitrant part time helpers and bless me with a good one. I give God all the glory.
It may look like things and circumstances never change and they all look PERMANENT. But then at God’s appointed time, the Son of God can set us free. There is an appointed time when the Son of God releases us and that appointed time is the 7th year.
Application: What are the various things that enslave you today? Do you recognize the meaning and the significance of the 7th year – the year of release? Do you want to experience this release from your slavery?
HOW TO EXPERIENCE THIS YEAR OF RELEASE?
A. AGREE WITH WHAT GOD SAYS IN HIS WORD
Many of us are not agreeing with what the Word of God says about our slavery and our bondages. We have assimilated lies, negativity and fatalistic thinking into our system. Before we can agree with what God says in His Word about our slavery, we have to identify all those negative and fatalistic thinking that disagree or contradict what God says and rid them from our mind and system.
Negative and fatalistic thinking go like these:
“I have always been negative, that is just who I am.”
“I’m never going to change.”
“This is the lot in my life.”
“The medical report says that I am chronically ill and so I have to learn to live with it. The sickness is permanent.”
“I am stuck in my career and I have reached my limit.”
“I will never lose weight, break that addiction, own my own house.”
“I am poor forever.”
If we are already convinced in our minds that things are never going to change, then the first place we are going to lose the battle is in our own thinking. If we think it is permanent, then it is. If we think we have reached our limits, then we have.
We have to change our thinking and align them with what God says. We need to see everything that is holding us back, every limitation, addiction, sickness as temporary. It didn’t come to stay. It shall pass. The moment we accept it as norm and decide, “This is my lot in life”- then it shall take root and become a reality. A stronghold in your mind can keep you from your destiny. God is not limited by our education, nationality and background. HE IS LIMITED BY OUR THINKIING.
The greatest battlefield is in our mind.
Stand against these LIES OF PERMANENCY. Dismiss these defeating and enslaving thoughts. Renounce them. These negative thoughts may be there temporarily but that is not where it is staying. Don’t take ownership of all these wrong thoughts and negative things – arthritis, diabetes, financial difficulties, failures, depression. Don’t give it a permanent address. In your mind, don’t let it move in and take up residency. We need to have one of those signs out that says, “No vacancy here.”
God already states in His word that the seventh year is the LIMIT of our slavery. You must agree with what God says and not what your negative minds and negative situation warrant you to believe.
E.g. The devil loves to lie to us and prolong our slavery beyond the seventh year. When we were under the employment of Singapore, they took up education insurances for our two daughters under Prudential Insurance. Nobody told us that the maturity date was at the 18th birthday of my daughters. I thought since Singapore bought this insurance quite late for my kids, I would only be able to claim it after Joy turned 21. When Joy turned 19, she was already in Singapore studying. And for the last one year, we had been living in financial strait not knowing that our insurance money had matured and we could claim a hefty sum. Worse was Prudential Insurance or the agent did not even call us up to inform and we kept living below our entitled blessing.
Application: Many of us are like that. There is a limit to our slavery and yet we ignorantly believe that we have to suffer more and longer, not knowing that we have been released from our slavery into blessing. KNOW THE TIMETABLE FOR YOUR SLAVERY OR DEBT. Be like the “sons of Issachar, men who understood the times with knowledge of what Israel should do (1 Chronicles 12:32).”
God is saying, ‘IT IS NOT PERMANENT; IT IS TEMPORARY. IT DIDN’T COME TO STAY. IT SHALL PASS.”
Agree with God and declare:
“God, you have promised that I am not going to be a permanent slave to anything. I agree with your declaration. I agree with you that I am into my 7th year. It is my time to break free, every chain has to be loosed, every stronghold has to come down. I know I have been released into increase just like your word says that the Hebrew slave were released into freedom but not before they were given liberal gifts by their owners. I declare I have been released from slavery into increase.”
“God, you can do what medicines cannot do. You are not limited to the natural. It doesn’t matter how long it has been that way or how impossible it looks, when I come into my seventh year, all the forces of darkness cannot stop what God wants to do.”
Application: Is there something in your life you think is permanent? Those are the lies. God is saying, “You need to get ready, you are coming into your seventh year.”
The seventh year is a year of RELEASE FROM SICKNESS, DISEASE, CHRONIC PAIN, DEPRESSION, WORRY, ANXIETY, BAD HABITS, ADDICTIONS.
It is not only a release from LIMITATION, it is also a RELEASE INTO INCREASE. God is going to release us into new opportunities, good breaks, new levels. He is going to release ideas, creativity, sales, contracts, businesses
The 7th year is when you get released into OVERFLOW- MORE THAN ENOUGH. It is when dreams come to pass.
We must align ourselves with God’s declaration and timing and let our spirit rise up in agreement with the word and promises of God.
The release of the seventh year is only for those born again, who know that things have shifted in their favor on the seventh year – that every limitation is temporary and they are entering into the seventh year.
The release of the seventh year will not come upon people and so-called Christians who are the unrepentant, the rebels; the troublesome; the wicked; the unforgiving; the proud and the scorners. Are you one of these? God will only release those who are His and not those who are against Him. Don’t expect divine release if you are not on the Lord’s side because divine release is the dividend that God pays on our dependence on Him.
There are some 7th years in your future, what you think could never happen: “I could never afford that property, get well, meet the right person.” NO! Get rid of such negative thoughts. Align with God’s thought and declare, “God is going to do more than I could ask or think. This is my 7th year. God is going to exceed my expectations. It is going to be bigger, better, more rewarding that I thought possible. God is going release me from leasing into owning; from debt into abundance, sickness into health, from constant struggle into an anointing of ease.”
Look at MOSES. The Israelites had been in slavery for many years. It looked permanent like it would never change. Moses had a son when he was a fugitive in the land of the Midianites. He named his son “Gershom, for he said, “I have been a stranger in a foreign land.” (Exodus 2:22). When Moses named his son, he was making a declaration of faith, saying, “We are in slavery but slavery is not our norm. This is not our permanent address. We are foreigners in this land.” Every time he called out the name of his son, Gershom, he was reminding himself, “This lack, this trouble, this slavery is not our normal state.”
Application: When we are in tough times and it looks like we are never going to break out, we have to be like Moses by reminding ourselves, “I won’t be staying here long. I am a foreigner. I don’t have citizenship here. I am not a citizen of depression, lack or cancer. This disease is alien to me. It is not my norm. It may be where I am but it is not who I am. I am blessed, healthy, strong, victorious.” Anything to the contrary, we need to see it as FOREIGN, TEMPORARY. IT IS NOT OUR PERMANENT ADDRESS.
Rid all the lies and negative thoughts from your mind and agree with what God says about your situation.
B. BELIEVE THE WORD OF GOD
When you believe the Word of God, you must act like it is so.
In Isaiah 38:2-5, Hezekiah was told about his impending death. In distress and in great faith, he cried to God. “Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life (verse 5).”
When Hezekiah got the news that his life would be extended, he didn’t feel any better or look any different. The only thing that had changed was that God said that his life would be extended. Hezekiah didn’t wait for his health to turn around before he gave God praise. He didn’t wait until he felt better before he started talking like he was going to live and thinking like he was well.
Faith says, “You’ve got to believe it and then you’ll see it. You’re coming into your seventh year.”
Application: We can look at the circumstance to improve first before we dare to praise God. If that is the case, then like Miriam in the Bible, we are praising God at the wrong side of the sea. Miriam led the children of Israel to praise Yahweh after He opened the Red Sea for them to cross over. Prior to that, the whole population was blaming God and Moses. It is not FAITH when we can only praise God AFTER our prayers are answered. When there is faith, we can praise God first BEFORE anything changes and OUR PRAISE IS WHAT ACTIVATES GOD’S FAVOR. Praise is one of the practical ways we can act like the Word of God is true. When we have this boldness like Hezekiah and say, “God, I don’t see how I could get well, the medical report doesn’t look good; I don’t see how I could ever meet the right person; how I will ever own my own home, but God, I believe You have already made a way and so I am stepping into a new season of favor, my 7th year that every limitation has been broken. So, Lord, I just want to thank you for Your goodness in my life by praising you.”
When you think, talk, act and praise like it is going to happen, that is when God says to the angels, “turn around, go back and tell them they are coming into their 7th year. I am going to do what they are asking, change what look permanent.”
Sadly, for many of us, instead of taking our praise to God, we are taking our problems to God. It is so easy to turn our prayer into a complaining session but God already knows our needs. We don’t have to tell God everything that is wrong, what we don’t like and how long it has been that way. It is much better to take your praise to God rather than your problems.
Instead of complaining, why not pray, “Lord, thank you that I am getting healthier, stronger, better every day.”
PRAISE GETS GOD’S ATTENTION, NOT COMPLAINING.
C. CONFESS THE WORD WITH YOUR MOUTH
Romans 4:17-as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”- in the presence of God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.
The power of life and death is in your tongue. You must declare or confess the Word of God.
Many times, we are announcing and declaring the wrong things, “I have been single so long, I’ll never meet the right person; prices are so high- I don’t see how I’m gonna make it.”
That is announcing defeat and declaring mediocrity.
We have to change what is coming out of our mouth.
Start announcing freedom from anything that is holding us back- freedom from loneliness, depression, addictions and constant struggle.
Dare to boldly declare that God’s favor is coming:
Prophesy to our future. Set the tone for our lives with our words.
For those who have been struggling for a long time, declare to your spirit – “It is not permanent. I am coming to my 7th year. This is the new day; the tide of the battle has turned. Every chain has been broken. Every stronghold has been shattered. Every limitation has been broken. I am released to a new level. God is releasing me into increase, opportunity, favor, healing, breakthrough and the fullness of our destiny.”
(IV) THE TRUE LORD’S RELEASE
The Sabbatic year was in many respects a year of mercy to the poor. The beautiful name given to it here – “The Lord’s Release” suggests gospel ideas. It finds its higher counterpart in that “acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:19) which is the true “Lord’s release.” Christ came “to preach the gospel to the poor.” and “to preach deliverance to the captives” (Luke 4:18). This “accepted time” is the period of God’s forbearance with our sins (2 Cor 5:19). It is the time also of forgiveness of sins to those who believe – a “Lord’s release” indeed not from money debts but from spiritual ones, not temporary but eternal. It is the time of the setting free of slaves – Satan’s captives – those held in slavery by evil. Jesus “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:7-8). Jesus could have gone out free. He owed no debt of sin. He was not a slave to anything or anyone. He had no penalty to pay. But He loved us and He gave Himself for us. He became a slave for you and me so that you and I today can experience the LORD’S RELEASE and make 2019 the ‘ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD’.
2019 is the seventh year of Etab after we have moved out of Quezon into our own land and after we have been released from persecution by our sending church.
This 7th year for Etab will usher in …..
• The YEAR OF RELEASE from all our slavery
• It is year of release from all our LIMITATION
• It is a year of release into INCREASE
• It is a year of release into OVERFLOW – more than enough
As a servant of God and as a Co-Pastor of this church, I declare to all of you year 2019 to be a YEAR OF RELEASE, COMPLETENESS, PERFECTION, WHOLENESS, ACHIEVEMENT AND INCREASE.
MY TESTIMONY: This church follows the cycle of the 7 years for release from slavery to a higher level. Evangel Tabernacle was birthed in May 1986 and our venue of worship was at Amigo Terrace Hotel. Our rental was only P6000 per month. On the 7th year- 1993, we were pressured by Amigo Hotel to move out and that was when we found Mr. Charlie Ho’s building at Quezon Street and the rental rose up to P16,000. Evangel Tabernacle was the one who shouldered this rental. Another 7 years passed and in year 2000, Etab’s attendance was released from a stagnant number of 250 for 14 years to 500. Another seven years later -in year 2007, Etab hit the targeted attendance of 1000. It was around 2005 that problems between Singapore sending church and us were brewing over the land issue and the persecution started to escalate to the point I cried buckets of tears. At the height of my brokenness, I wanted to resign but God told me to hang in there. I remember too THE 50 TIMES I replayed the praise song by Michael Smith “I will carry you” in the middle of the night when my soul was so enslaved to depression and despair. God promised me that my suffering and persecution were temporary and by the seventh year, He would free me from my oppression. And this release was fulfilled in May 2012 (7 years after 2005) and on September 23, 2012, that was the date we signed the legal contract with the contractor to construct this new sanctuary. Corporately, 7 years after 2007 which was 2014, Etab officially aborted the slavish quota based G12 system and implemented the process-based SIMPLE DISCIPLESHIP CHURCH paradigm.
We moved out of Quezon in the year 2012. It was in the year 2012 when we were “emancipated” from “slavery”. Today is 2019. 7 years have passed since our break with Singapore and I personally believe that this is the year the Lord will break us free as a church from being a slave to enemies’ slanders, enemies’ attack, enemies’ ravages, enemies’ oppression, enemies’ ridicule and enemies’ curses. We are no more bondsmen to bitterness, inferiority complex, fear, shame and reproach. Above that, we don’t have to go free empty. We can summon our creditors, our owners or to whoever and whatever that used to own us to compensate us liberally. We will not be released empty-handed but to be endowed liberally by whatever that used to enslave us. This is our right and this is what God says. Agree with what God says. Believe it and confess and you will be launched into this seventh year of release – no more a slave but a free man! Hallelujah!!!!!
PREACHED AT ETAB ON 6 JAN 2019 AT 1ST ENG SV