Today we have severe drought in some areas – unexpected floods in others. It has not always been this way. Why the change? Read who is responsible!
Large portions of the United States, Australia, South Africa, which were once productive, are now drought stricken and ravaged by floods. Streams and springs are drying up in many areas! Much of the topsoil is eroding. Hurricanes are sweeping inland farther, and with greater frequency, than ever before.
Why all this distress? Is it a naturally caused situation which can be explained away? Or is it punishment for sin? If it is punishment, for whose sin are you being punished?
Here certainly is a question not only our brethren on the farm need to understand, but all of us everywhere.
When God gave Israel the law in Mount Sinai, He told them to cultivate the land and harvest its fruit for six years (Ex. 23:1-11). But He also included this little-known, though vitally important statute: “the 7th year you shall let it rest and lie still. In like manner shall you deal with your vineyard and your olive yard.” God made this law a part of His overall law of love. He knows that the land needs to rest every 7th year.
God did not say, “Do it if you want to.” He made it a definite command for our own good!
But why the increase in floods, in drought, in blowing topsoil and in tornadoes? And why the coming near and soon captivity of this whole people? What have the people done to merit such devastation?
Let Leviticus 26:34-35 tell us. “Then (in the near future) shall the land enjoy her Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, and you be in your enemies’ land; then shall the land rest, and enjoy her Sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your Sabbaths, when you dwelt upon it.”
It is all very clear. The land becomes desolate because it has not been allowed to rest and keep its Sabbaths!
Some who call themselves Christians show great lack of concern for God’s Sabbatical year. Does that show an attitude of submission? No, it typifies the indifferences of this modern age!
Don’t think for a minute that you are on a band wagon with an easy ticket into the Kingdom of God. You must obey God! Otherwise you will suffer with the nation when it pays in full for its sins. In the Scriptures God isn’t speaking just to your neighbor. He is speaking to you!
Are you occasionally plagued by disease among your livestock, by insect pest, or by drought? If so, you may have been neglecting to deserve God’s promised blessings. God promises the obedient that He will “satisfy your soul in drought and you shall be like an irrigated garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not” (Isa. 58:11).
Again, in II Chronicles 7:13-14 God promised us, “When I shut up the heavens that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people (Christians today) who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
There it is! God’s people must obey God – and that includes the keeping of the Sabbath year. Now is the time we need to learn to pray for one another, “casting all your cares upon Him; for He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7).
Notice what happened once before when the people refused to obey this law. We have a record of this in II Chronicles 36:20-21: ‘And them that had escaped from the sword carried he (Nebuchadnezzar) away to Babylon; where they were servants of him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: to fulfill the Word of the Eternal by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths: for as long as she (the land) lay desolate she kept the Sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years.” Every Sabbatical year unkept meant a year in captivity for Judah! God’s corrective measures are sure – Israel, too, will be desolate and the land will soon enjoy her Sabbaths because the people refuse to turn to God and keep His Sabbatical years.
God warned Israel in Lev. 26:14-35 what would happen if they disobeyed this law. Israel was to receive severe punishment in four progressive worsening stages unless the nation repented.
Some have thought this prophecy applies only to Israel’s first punishment, and isn’t for us today. They quote verse 22: I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number, and your ways (roads) shall be desolate.
We know that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (keep the law – the Ten Commandments) (II Tim. 3:16). We know also that we are commanded to keep the Sabbath year and that “all (God’s) commandments are righteousness (Ps. 119:172).” Therefore let us look into the Scriptures for instruction in the keeping of the Sabbath year.
God’s instruction, in Leviticus 25: 3:7, for the Sabbath year are very thorough and complete and are easily understood. “For six years you may sow your field, for six years you may prune your vineyard, and gather in the produce; but the 7th year shall be a Sabbath of entire rest for the land, a Sabbath in honor of the Eternal, on which you must neither sow a field nor prune a vineyard, on which you must not even gather the after growth of your harvest nor grapes from your undressed vines it shall be a year of entire rest for the land. The natural produce of the land shall serve as food for you, for yourself and your slaves, male and female, for your hired servant and any outsiders staying with you, furnishing food also for your cattle and livestock!”
Read these verses again very carefully. They are important. Notice that the Sabbatical year is a year of entire rest for the land. Verse five tells you that you must not gather your crops or fruit for commercial use or to store up in that year. They must, in general, be allowed to return to the soil. Yet verse six tells you that the natural produce of the land – that which grows voluntarily in the Sabbatical year shall serve as food for you, your servants, and strangers or guests that are with you. Some people are temporarily confused when reading these two verses, thinking they contradict. But actually they do not.
You must not harvest the produce of the land in order to sell it. Neither are you to store up the produce of the Sabbath year for future use. You may use the voluntary produce for day-to-day needs. God wants you to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables when they are in season, even in the Sabbath year.
The natural produce of the land in that year will also furnish food for your cattle and other livestock which may graze on the land (v. 7). This clearly shows that it is permissible to allow cattle to graze the fields in addition to the pasture in the Sabbath year. To take advantage of this liberty it is permissible to allow your cattle herd to increase while they are grazing the whole farm.
Some are sure to say, “How can we make a living in the Sabbath year? A little fresh fruit and vegetables will not support my family. I need a cash crop. I think God wants us to use our minds and learn to draw our own conclusions: and I think we should let one-seventh of the farm lie idle each year.” This looks good to the natural reasoning of some people, but what does God say about it?
God does want you to use your minds. And if you use them properly, you will come to the conclusion that everyone must learn God’s point of view and live by it. The only other recourse is to follow human reasoning, independent of the Scriptures, which leads only to heartaches, sorrows, and wretchedness. Therefore, let us turn to God’s Word so that He will tell us how to keep the Sabbath year.
God tells us in Leviticus 25:20-22, “And if you shall say, ‘What shall we eat the seventh year? Behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase.’ Then I will command my blessings upon you in the sixth year; and it shall bring forth produce for three years. And you shall sow the eight year, and eat yet of old produce until the ninth year; until her produce comes in you shall eat of the old produce.
There you see a definite command that one particular year should be set aside in which the whole farm should rest by being uncultivated. Also you see a very distinct promise that God will so abundantly bless you in the sixth year that your produce will last unto the fall crops are harvested in the end of the eight year to give you food for the ninth year.
You should be diligent in your work, but not overly concerned with such matters as your physical needs, because there is very little that you can do about it. Making your crops grow is one of God’s jobs. Strive for greater spiritual growth and God will supply your needs. “For your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8).
“Take no thought, saying, ‘What shall we eat? Or, what shall we drink? Or, with what shall we be clothed? - for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” Matt. 6:25-34).
The Sabbath year is counted according to the Old Testament from about one Feast of Tabernacles to the next, beginning and ending in the autumn of the year. In ancient Israel the Sabbatical years included the Jubilee every 50th year. The Jubilee is reckoned only when there is a God-given permanent inheritance.
After the Jews returned from captivity under Ezra and Nehemiah they were not given any permanent inheritance. Therefore God did not require them to keep a Jubilee, but only the Sabbatical years every seventh year.
After the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity they reckoned Sabbatical years, without Jubilee, from the time they reoccupied the land. We are in a similar situation today.
We have no permanent inheritance. It is apparent that God intends us to use a personal, and not a national, system. Your Sabbath year would be the seventh year from the time that this knowledge comes to you – or from your conversion, counted from one Feast of Tabernacles to the next. Count the year of your conversion as your first year if it is more than half a year.
Remember that the Sabbath year is a time of rejoicing, created for the benefit of man. If you obey God and trust Him, in faith, He will fully supply all your needs. In Deuteronomy 11:13-15 God promises you that if you obey Him, He will end you rain at the right season so that your fields will produce abundant crops and your pastures plenty of grass” . . . that you may eat and be satisfied.”
Do you think it would be difficult for God to punish the nation without injuring you? Turn to Psalm 91:7-10 and read God’s answer to this question: “A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you. Only with your eyes shall you see the reward of the wicked. Because you have made the Eternal, who is my refuge, and the Most High, your habitation: there shall no evil befall you, neither shall any plague come near your dwelling.”
Turn to Amos 4:7, also, and read, “I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.” This definitely proves that God can give you rain while your neighbor suffers from drought. It you doubt that this refers to our day, read carefully verses 6-12. The statement, “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel” at the end of verse 12 shows that this Scripture is for our day – just before the return of Christ.
Could you want stronger promises? What could be stronger than these assurances taken directly from God’s inspired word? Do you believe God? If you do not, you have a very wretched life ahead of you! Anyone can see that conditions are worsening the world over. Human scheming certainly cannot save you from the rapidly approaching chaos and ruin. Your government cannot save you! Science cannot save you! Only God can save you! Are you going to continue disobeying God like the world around you and suffer for it? Or will you obey Him so that He can heap His blessings upon you?