Do you remember the feeling of the first day of summer? School was out, all the pressure was off, and almost three months of sunny carefree days stretched in front of you? Of course, school would return with its own unique joys and challenges, but for a moment, there was nothing but rest, a contented sigh after the panting breaths of work and study.
In Leviticus 25:1-19, God commands the ultimate summer vacation, for the land and for the people of God. God is giving instructions to Israel via Moses on Mt. Sinai that they are to follow once they have entered the Promised Land. They are to plant their fields and harvest for six years, but on the seventh year they are told to let the land rest. They will be sustained by what the lands yields unaided. The instructions continue. Every 50 years, seven Sabbath years, the Israelites are once again to allow the land to rest. But during this special year of Jubilee, they are to proclaim liberty to all the inhabitants, the implication being that those who sold themselves into service of others must be freed. Those who have purchased land from a fellow Israelite must return that land to its original owner. Once again, they are to eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
These commands make little sense to us, as programmed as we are to strive and strain for success and abundance lest we ever be found wanting. The suggestion that the land not be productive, or that once a generation the slate of debt, servitude, and inequity be erased seems unfair to our minds so oriented around efficiency and output.
God is intentionally disrupting the system. Our fallen nature lures us into fear of scarcity and so we hoard. We focus so intently on securing a good and prosperous future for ourselves and our families that we trample on those who have endured hardship. Somehow, the lie that we are self-sufficient and the exclusive source of our success and power slips into our hearts and makes itself at home. The practice of Sabbath and Jubilee is a divinely instituted reset button, designed to reorient us toward God as Creator, Sustainer, and Provider.
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Grace and Peace.