1 The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai,Leviticus 25:1-12 & 18-22
2 ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you,
the land must observe a sabbath to the Lord.
3 For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards
and gather their crops.
4 But in the seventh year the land is to have
a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. . . .
8 “‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—
so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. . . .
11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you;
do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. . . .
20 You may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year
if we do not plant or harvest our crops?”
21 I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year
that the land will yield enough for three years.
22 While you plant during the eighth year,
you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it
until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.
I grew up on a small farm. Daddy worked in the local steel mill, but the farm provided most of our meat and vegetables. Our monthly trip to the grocery store yeilded two buggies full of paper products, cleaners, snacks and other necessities. Milk and eggs came from a full time farmer about a mile away, and we took the evening milking from the cow next door. During those years we even made our own butter!
I don’t live on a farm anymore. However, Leviticus makes me wonder about the faith it takes to observe the land sabbath. Many farmers rotate crops, leaving a field unplanted for a year to allow it to recover, but farmers rotate those plots of land so they still harvest every year.
It begs the question, “Do I have enough faith to allow an entire nation to give the land a Sabbath? Do I believe God can make the sixth year more bountiful?” I can imagine one out of every seven farms giving their land a Sabbath each year, but the entire country?
What if every farm in America took a year off planting? According to the International Grain Council, The United States produces about 32,000 tons of wheat each year. Add to that corn, tomatoes, lettuce, beans, barley, oats, soy and more. How could we ever recoup from a year with no harvest?
I can’t envision a scenario where an entire nation shuts down production for the year. It’s just too big and vast for me to absorb. But it puts into perspective how small a thing the request of the Fourth Commandment. Once every seven days, God asks us to take a Sabbath. The Creator knows we require rest. We need a day to focus on His love and care. Our bodies were created for a Sabbath. In Mark 2:27, Jesus tells us that man was not made for the Sabbath. The Sabbath was made for man. God doesn’t want our lives to be all work and no rest.
What if we each took the Sabbath more seriously? How would our lives change if we focused on taking a day to simply rest and worship? What if we limited our committee terms to seven years and then took a year off? Have you considered that taking a Sabbath is an act of faith? Do we trust God enough to believe He can provide enough time to do all He’s called us to do? When will you enjoy your next Sabbath?