“Taking a sabbatical” is something I associate with professors or pastors. But this morning I was reminded that the first sabbatical was associated with farmland. One of God’s instructions to the Israelites (Leviticus 25) was to give the land a rest every seventh year. A wise conservation principle, right?
But what would they eat? Along with this command, God made this promise:
But you might ask, ‘What will we eat during the seventh year, since we are not allowed to plant or harvest crops that year?’ Be assured that I will send my blessing for you in the sixth year, so the land will produce a crop large enough for three years. When you plant your fields in the eighth year, you will still be eating from the large crop of the sixth year. In fact, you will still be eating from that large crop when the new crop is harvested in the ninth year. (Leviticus 25:20-22)
Jesus reiterated this principle in Matthew 6:31-33:
So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Paradoxically, God helps those who put Him first, not “those who help themselves.” Do I trust Him to care for me, enough to “recklessly” and follow Him with my whole being and then enjoy a life of fulfillment? The other alternative is unthinkable.
If you want to know what would happen if the Israelites failed to give the land its sabbatical, and whether they actually did it and the actual outcome, read Leviticus 26:14,34-35 and 2 Chronicles 36:20-21.