SQUID: Vacations, Refugees, and Leviticus 25

August 31, 2016  |  Craig St. John

We hope that, by now, you’ve heard of the True Story Project, which we announced in each of our services on August 14th and 21st.

Here, Pastor Jim Mullins, who played a major role in the development of the project, shares an example of the corresponding SQUID approach to help guide you as we gear up to begin our church-wide year through the Bible on September 5th.

What do family vacations, planting gardens, Syrian refugees, and backyard furniture have to do with Old Testament agricultural laws in Leviticus?

This morning, I was prayerfully reading Leviticus 25 and working through the #SQUID approach. Here’s a little overview of how I worked through it. For some of you, this could be done at a much deeper level, or for those with less time and experience with the Bible, it could be done in a simpler way. But, to provide an example, here’s how I worked through Leviticus 25:1-7.

1) S – Summary: Creatively summarize this part of God’s Story in a way that helps you remember and retell it to others.

God commands Israelite farmers to productively work their land for six years and then let it rest by not planting or harvesting anything during the 7th year. This is the Sabbath Year.

The family and all of the workers who were dependent on that land were to live off of the abundance that God provided in the former six years.

2) Q – Questions: What questions do you have about this part of the Story?

Does the land need a rest? Why?

What would happen if they ran out of food?

What would they have done with all of the free time?

3) U – Understood – Imagine how the original audience would have understood what God was revealing.

The Sabbath Year would be thrilling to God’s people. It would be a time of rest, celebration, and abundance. However, it would be richer than a simple vacation, as each person would experience the vulnerability of depending on God. Each bite of food would be a reminder of God’s provision.

Israel would have seen God as distinctly greater than Pharaoh. Rather than forcing them into slave labor, God gives them a society of both dignified work and abundant rest.

The Pharaoh robbed the Israelites of their excess through slavery and harsh quotas, but God gave them an excess of food so that they could have a year of feasting, celebration, family time, and experiencing God’s provision. Pharaoh took; God gave.

It wasn’t just the powerful who were able to rest and enjoy the abundance, but all of those in the community who were dependent on the productivity of that land, including the hired workers and the immigrants from other countries. The landowners would be keenly aware of God’s provision for them, and they would have felt the responsibility to be a conduit of provision for others.

4) I – Implications: What are the implications for all of life?

Since we aren’t living in the time of the Old Testament but are living in a different part of God’s story, we need to look for the implications of this text for our lives today, rather than a straight application of mandating all farms to take a year off. There are so many implications, but here are a few that came to mind:

  • Work and Rest: In a world that idolizes either work or rest, God’s intent for the world is to worship him with both. To be truly human is to engage in productive work and restful celebration of God’s provision.
  • Refugee Crisis: This text reveals God’s heart for the vulnerable, specifically displaced peoples, like refugees. They joined the landowners in the abundant year of celebration. Therefore, our efforts in walking with refugees should be more than just helping them “get by,” as we should be champions for them to have flourishing lives of dignified work and restful celebration.
  • Environmental Stewardship: The earth belongs to God, and we need to steward it faithfully. On one hand, this stewardship challenges those who flippantly waste or destroy the earth’s resources. On the other hand, it challenges those who treat the productive cultivation of the land as inherently bad. The earth isn’t better off when left alone; it was made to flourish through the productive work of human hands, and humans are God’s stewards who are given the task of caring for it.
  • Financial Stewardship: Saving money and trusting God aren’t mutually exclusive. Sometimes God provides for the future through the provision of the present. However, God’s people were called to not just provide for their own means by setting aside some of the harvest, but rather through the abundance, others are also provided, like vulnerable sojourners. Therefore, it’s wise and consistent with God’s heart for our budgets to include both that which we save and what we generously give.

5) D – Do: How is God inviting you to respond?

As I prayed and reflected on the passage, an idea came to mind, which I sense is something the Holy Spirit is prompting me to do. I’m to print off my bank statement and calendar from last month and pray through these questions:

  • How has God provided for my family? Give thanks!
  • How has my family been a means of provision for others? Have we been spending time/money that should be spent on pursuing the flourishing of the most vulnerable?
  • How can our house be a place of celebration and rest for both my family and also for my friends who have been displaced for whatever reason and are far away from their families?