God calls for a rest for the land as well as the people. This practice is to begin once they take possession of the Promised Land.
Many experts in land use will tell you to rotate your fields and to give your field fallow times too. This is to keep the soil from being depleted. Different crops use different minerals out of the soil. Some need higher nitrate concentration while others require more phosphorus. As soil is a living ecosystem it is important to care for it if you want it to continue to grow healthy crops.
Surprise! God knew this too and put it into His Law to ensure His children respected it. God called for every seventh year for the cultivation of crops to stop. No plowing. No planting. No large harvesting. No pruning the grape vines. No harvesting the grapes. No wine production. None of the agricultural activities that would provide for a family’s sustenance AND income.
I had to put that AND in there because God does allow some harvesting to take place. God allowed the people to harvest only enough to feed their families, their workers and any who “sojourned” with the people. Enough to live on and NO more. The people were NOT to make a profit or add to their stores during the Sabbath years.
But neither were they to go hungry. God would see to it that the land, even without man’s hand at the plow, provided for His people. I imagine they picked a lot more of the wild growth during the Sabbath years. In my yard I have MANY blackberry bushes, a pear tree and two apple trees that provide for us without any special attention. I love going out and getting my fill whenever I want throughout the summer. We also have volunteer carrots that are still growing from a planting two years ago! God provides! He provides for me and my family as easily as He provided for the Israelites.
When I was thinking about the people only being allowed to “reap” enough for their personal needs it reminded me of the manna God was giving them. I imagine that the manna tasted amazing! I also bet that if God would have allowed it, it would have made an abundant harvest. The people were told to gather only what they needed for the day, each day. EVERYONE was able to gather all they needed. There was even enough for gathering a double portion of Fridays to use for the Sabbath meals. I bet there were leftovers that lay in the field. But those leftovers returned to God with the evaporation of the morning dew.
God made sure to provide MORE than enough for His people. But He also told them not to gather more than they needed. If they did, what they had spoiled. I believe He was preparing them for this Sabbath year concept. He was proving to them that He could and would care for their needs when they trusted in Him. When they tried to care for themselves in their own way they lost what they had to begin with. When they put their faith in Him they ALWAYS had enough.
This isn’t to say that God did all the work for them and they sat back and watched. They had to get out there EVERY morning, EARLY in the morning to gather their daily supply. If they were lazy and chose to go later in the day, the manna was gone. When the Sabbath years rolled around they would have to go into the fields and gather just enough for their needs on probably a daily or weekly basis. I imagine God let them gather enough to store for their own needs during the winter months too. How He worked this all out was His to do and mine to appreciate.
“Interesting” how He knows our needs even before we do and how He puts just what we need within our grasp IF we will get up and gather it in. He made the soil produce wheat to feed the people even without their plowing, planting or tending.
Father God, thank You that there is a time to rest in You. This isn’t a season of laziness but of not striving for the increase. A time to let You take the lead in bring in the “harvest.” But there is also a time to work. You didn’t provide this amazing bounty every year without input from the people. Each season calls for a different heart from the people but ALL seasons require faith in Your unfailing love and nature.
Help me to know when those two seasons are; labor and rest. Somedays if feels like I do next to nothing when caring for my husband and other days I’m the Energizer Bunny, always going and Going and GOING. Thank You for both of those days. Thank You that You recognize my need for patience and strength at just the right times for the right kind of days. Keep me singing in ALL circumstances as it truly lifts my spirit and keeps my attitude in check.