Read Deuteronomy 15:1-23
What unusual weather we have experienced over the last year! Winter wasn’t as cold and we scarcely saw snow. We have yet to see what summer will bring. Will it be overly rainy? Will we experience drought? Imagine if the weather were to prevent us from planting any corn or beans this year…that’s right, none, zippo. Think of how we would panic!
Welcome to the sabbatical year!
During the sabbatical year, two important things happened. First of all, the land was to remain fallow. No crops were to be planted…even perennial crops like grapes were to remain untended. Only those things that grew without planting or cultivation could be harvested for food . . . with priority given to the poor. (See Ex. 23:10, 11; Lev. 25:1-7.) This would allow the land to rest and its fertility to be restored.
Contrast that method with our modern approach of crop rotation! To practice the crop implications of the sabbatical year would require faith and trust that God would provide.
The second practice of the sabbatical year included the forgiveness of debts. Although the nation of Israel was not to become indebted to other nations, gifts and even loans with individuals in need were to be offered. These were not to be driven by a greedy desire to exact exorbitant amounts of interest over long periods of time. Instead, the money was to be offered generously . . . knowing that any loan would be forgiven come year #7 . . . no matter where the debtor stood in the repayment process! To practice the debt implications of the sabbatical year would require compassion and generosity!
As New Testament followers of Christ the precise obligations of the sabbatical year are no longer imposed upon us. We are not obliged to leave farm land and gardens unplanted and forgive unpaid debts every seven years. Did I hear a sigh of relief from you?
Nevertheless, the same principles of faith and trust, of compassion and generosity are to characterize our lives. Don’t miss out on opportunities today to exercise those qualities. You may not yet realize what those opportunities might be. Still, you can embrace them when they come.