27 February 2009

Sabbath Year – 2.27.09

To be completely honest, I often find the book of Leviticus a dry read. I know it's a great book with all kinds of pictures and types of the Lord Jesus Christ, but I'm not very good at seeing all that. So when the Lord shows me something from this book, it's definitely an exciting thing for me.

In Leviticus 25, God prescribes both the Sabbath year and the year of jubilee to the nation of Israel. Every seventh year, the Israelites were to give their land a rest. They were not to sow or reap their fields. Then following every seventh seventh year (or every 50th year) was a special Sabbath year known as the year of Jubilee. Again during that 50th year the Israelites were not to sow or reap their fields.

If you're like me, when you read that you've got to be wondering, well then how are they going to eat? And just as that question reaches the tip of the tongue, God gives an answer.

Leviticus 25:18-22 Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.

All along God had promised physical blessings to Israel for their obedience to His law. If they were faithful, He would send the rain and increase their crops and give them peace and plenty. Here God gives a specific promise to triple the crops on the year just before the Sabbath year. Thus, they'd have enough left over to get them through that Sabbath year (as well as every 50th year through the year of Jubilee).

If you're familiar with the history of the nation of Israel, you'll remember that the southern kingdom (Judah) was in captivity in Babylon for 70 years. (The northern kingdom was taken captive to Assyria and never made such a return.) The length of that captivity was foretold by Jeremiah the prophet (check it out – Jeremiah 25:9-11; Jeremiah 29:10-11). But do you know why it lasted 70 years?

2 Chronicles 36:20-21 And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.

God let the land rest for 70 years while Judah was captive in Babylon because the land had missed that many Sabbaths. That means for 490 years Judah had ignored God's commandment regarding the Sabbath year (or 434 if you calculate in the year of Jubilee). But why?

I can think of 2 reasons. First, maybe they got greedy and didn't want to miss out on the profits they could make every seventh year. 1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

But I believe the second and more plausible explanation is this. Remember how God had promised to make provision to get the Israelites through the years they were to give the land a rest? But that extra blessing was dependent on their obedience. So when the nation lived in rebellion to God's law they were unable to make it through the Sabbath years because they did not harvest any extra crops during the years leading up to the Sabbath year. That should've made them realize their condition and repent, but instead they ignored God's clear commandment and sowed and reaped right through that year of rest.

This is just one more clear example of the fact that one act of disobedience always leads to another act of disobedience. One sin will always lead to another. You might say yourself, "I know it's wrong, but it's just this one thing, and I'll only do it this once. I can handle it. It'll be OK." God says you're deceived. Once you take the first step downward on that slope of sin, you find it more slippery than you could've ever imagined.

Your best bet is to always remain on the higher ground with your feet firmly planted on the Solid Rock.

1 comment:

  1. Very great points you make there! I found that very interesting when I read it a few months back myself. Great point about one sin leading to another! Which is why we should exhort one another DAILY. Also my dad taught me that whenever you realize you are in sin, stop it right there; don't let it go further. "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Sorry I haven't been around for a bit, I just have a lot going on. Perhaps, I'll get to see you in Daytona soon! May the Lord bless you as you obey Him! Your bro and a fellow laborer - Paul