“For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the LORD” (Leviticus 25:3-4).
Before the people of Israel entered the land which God had promised them as an inheritance, they received instructions on how to live in this land. Besides regulations about social behavior and religious laws, we find these verses about the so-called Sabbath year.
God had told the Israelites that they should work six days a week, and keep the seventh day apart as a holy day of rest. This law did not only apply to humans, but also to oxen and donkeys (see Exodus 23:12). In a separate command, God told the people that their fields and vineyards also should have rest. For six years they could sow and reap, but the seventh year should be “a year of solemn rest for the land”.
Although this command evidently reduced potential economic profit, it prevented the fields from being over-exploited. God not only cares for people, but also for their natural environment. After all, it’s his own creation! Moreover, this law reminded the Israelites that their land and its fruits ultimately belonged to God, and it expressed their faith that God would provide for them, even in the years when they could not sow and harvest.
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