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Friday, September 2, 2016

Rest. Recalibrate. Revitalize.

This week, we’ve been learning seasons that God gave the Israelite community to help them remember God.  The discussion began with a “season” that they were already practicing every week: The Sabbath.

The LORD said to Moses, "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. These are the LORD's appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as official days for holy assembly. "You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of complete rest, an official day for holy assembly. It is the LORD's Sabbath day, and it must be observed wherever you live. (Leviticus 23:1-3 NLT)

The Sabbath was already prescribed as a day of rest.  It wasn’t the kind of rest we think about, though.  The day wasn’t set aside for us to sit down and watch our favorite football team.  No, the day was reserved for reflecting on God through God’s creation, God’s Word, and God’s people.  When God gave the people the Sabbath, though, the command did not stop at focusing on one day a week.

While Moses was on Mount Sinai, the LORD said to him, "Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you have entered the land I am giving you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath rest before the LORD every seventh year. For six years you may plant your fields and prune your vineyards and harvest your crops, but during the seventh year the land must have a Sabbath year of complete rest. It is the LORD's Sabbath. Do not plant your fields or prune your vineyards during that year. And don't store away the crops that grow on their own or gather the grapes from your unpruned vines. The land must have a year of complete rest. But you may eat whatever the land produces on its own during its Sabbath. This applies to you, your male and female servants, your hired workers, and the temporary residents who live with you. Your livestock and the wild animals in your land will also be allowed to eat what the land produces. (Leviticus 25:1-7 NLT)

The Sabbath year was an entire year of rest for the land and for the people.  Once again, the year would be spent remembering the goodness of God because the God provided enough harvest in the 6th year to feed them through the seventh.  But God did not stop there.  After seven times of seven years, God gave them another year of rest.  The 50th year was called a Year of Jubilee.

"In addition, you must count off seven Sabbath years, seven sets of seven years, adding up to forty-nine years in all. Then on the Day of Atonement in the fiftieth year, blow the ram's horn loud and long throughout the land. Set this year apart as holy, a time to proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live there. It will be a jubilee year for you, when each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors and return to your own clan. This fiftieth year will be a jubilee for you. During that year you must not plant your fields or store away any of the crops that grow on their own, and don't gather the grapes from your unpruned vines. It will be a jubilee year for you, and you must keep it holy. But you may eat whatever the land produces on its own. In the Year of Jubilee each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors. (Leviticus 25:8-13 NLT)

You can read the rest of Leviticus chapter 25 to get the details, but the year of Jubilee was a year when everyone went back to the land and even the house that God gave to their ancestors.  They didn’t just go back to visit.  They moved back to live.  Whoever bought that land and house over the years would lose possession and move back to their ancestors land and house.  It was a constant reminder that everything they had really came from, and rightfully belonged to, God.

So, how about you?  Which Sabbath season (Day, Year, Jubilee) would have reminded you the most about God?