Resting the Land

Scripture: 25:4, ‘In the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.’


Observations: Every seventh day was to be a day for people to rest, and every seventh year was to be a year of rest for the land. What that meant was for six years the people could sow ad reap their fields (v3), but on the seventh year they couldn’t sow their fields, or prune their vineyards. They weren’t even to reap what grew or harvest the grapes of their untended vines (v5). However whatever else grew they could eat (v6-7). The purpose of the Sabbath year was two-fold. Firstly, it prevented overworking the land and gave it a chance to restore itself. In a sense it recognized that the land didn’t belong to them, but to God. They were to be good stewards of the land. Secondly, it was an act of trust that God would provide enough food for their family and livestock.


Application: Firstly, while we may not agree with the methods or motivation of environmentalists, as Christians we do have a responsibility to care for God’s world. As most of us aren’t farmers a Sabbath year doesn’t really apply to us, but the principle of living a sustainable life certainly does, although what a sustainable lifestyle is, is a complex question. What are you doing to live in such a way that shows you care for God’s world? Secondly, what things can you fast from that show that you trust in God not in your work? Maybe you could take unpaid leave to go on a mission trip to help orphans in Africa, or to volunteer an afternoon every week to feed the hungry, or to donate your expertise to help the poor (I know some lawyers who do this).


Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, You have given me so much, I never lack food to eat, or clothes to wear. Lord, may I not just consume things without any thought to my impact on Your world. Give me wisdom so that I can make decisions that will care for the environment in our society with all its complexities. Lord, help me trust in You and not just my ability to look after myself. Help me to use my time wisely, but also protect me from making my work my god, and thinking that it’s my work that supplies all my needs and not You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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