January 13, 2021
The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying: 2 Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord. 3 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; 4 but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. 6 You may eat what the land yields during its sabbath—you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound laborers who live with you; 7 for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food.
8 You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month—on the day of atonement—you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. 10 And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. 12 For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.
13 In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property. 14 When you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not cheat one another. 15 When you buy from your neighbor, you shall pay only for the number of years since the jubilee; the seller shall charge you only for the remaining crop years. 16 If the years are more, you shall increase the price, and if the years are fewer, you shall diminish the price; for it is a certain number of harvests that are being sold to you. 17 You shall not cheat one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.
A longer, but important reading for today - the sabbath concept now applied to creation and ultimately to how communities operated in relationship to one another. First, the command to let the land rest for a full year - the seventh year. After producing crops for six years straight, it was wise to allow even the earth to rest and replenish itself with nutrients needed for the next growing season.
The jubilee happened far less often, and was a dramatic gesture of restarting! After 49 years (seven sets of sabbath years) the entire world would pause, and take a breath. Slaves were given their freedom, and debts were cancelled. Can you imagine!
Rest, renewal and restoration is important to God; it is important to the individual; it is important to the community; it is important to all of creation.
Now, it is time to reflect on this - how is your life shaped by sabbath? Are there seasons of rest? What are your personal rhythms of work and rest; of labor and renewal; of taking breathing space. Do you have a daily rhythm? A weekly rhythm? An annual pattern? What about a larger scale plan? Talk about this with friends and family - are there changes that need to be made so that you might know the joy of restoration?