The Sabbath Year (Thought for May 2018)

May 1, 2018

in Monthly comment, Uncategorized

In my morning devotions with the Lord – usually over a cup of coffee, curled up on an armchair and reading by the first rays of the morning Sun (yeah! – bright mornings!) – I was travelling through Leviticus recently. In this book God is teaching His people about His holiness and for the need for them to be holy, since He is holy (Leviticus 11:45). Holiness is not simply an unseen condition: it is seen in one’s way of life. Hence, the book of
Leviticus is filled with practical instruction on holiness. One of them is the Sabbath Year, which we read about in 25:1-7.

This ordinance taught that Israel had to operate agriculturally to a cycle of 7 years – the 7th year was the Sabbath Year, as the 7th day of the week was the Sabbath Day. And just as on the 7th day of the week work was forbidden, on the 7th year it was forbidden to sow the fields or prune the vineyards (v4). It was not
allowed to reap or harvest, even if stuff grew of itself or on untended vines (v5). Only that which the land produced all by itself, without any human ‘aid’, was to be eaten (v6-7). What was Israel supposed to learn from this? What was I to learn from this, sipping my coffee that bright morning on Tuesday, 17th April 2018, many millennia afterwards?

Complete reliance on the Lord, trusting Him toprovide for their and my needs. This is why the year was ca lled “a sabbath to the LORD” (v2, 4a).

Just as one day in seven reminds us that, although generally God provides for us through what we do (=we work for our food), yet ultimately, quite apart from us and our work, He is our Provider. This is a tough lesson to learn; it’s in our bones to think we’re basically self-sufficient creatures, wh0 perhaps need God’s help for a fuller life. Nope.

We depend on God for our very life. Every 7 days we remember this; and Israel every 7 years, too, was reminded of this. But we’d be short-sighted if we thought this is only about food. No, Friend, much-much more is being taught here. The Scriptures are about Christ (Luke 24:25–27). The Sabbath Year is about Christ. So, what did God provide for us through Christ? Salvation from our sins, just as through Moses God provided salvation from slavery in Egypt. And not only the beginning of that salvation is provided by God, but the ongoing keeping His people alive as well. You see, if God’s people were ever to reach the Promised Land, they would have to survive the way there.

Likewise, if I’m ever to see Jesus face-to-face, well, I need to survive on the way there. And whereas I need to “work out” my salvation, nevertheless I need to remember that it is God Who is at work in me (Philippians 2:13-14). And I need to remember that my life is dependent on Jesus directly, quite apart from those works. I am not saved or even kept because of my works – I am saved and kept purely by Jesus.

The Sabbath Year was a year of delight for those who trusted God to provide for them. And, in fact there is a Sabbath rest in Jesus – even today, for those who will believe in Him alone (see Hebrews 4:9-10). So, Friends, rest in Jesus, even as you seek to love Him by your obedience; it’s the holy thing to do.



May 2018

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