The Sabbath Year

By Spencer Clark

In Leviticus 25, God prescribed something that was known as a “Sabbath of solemn rest for the land.” Six years they would work and the fourth they would rest. No farming was permitted, instead the people would eat off the land God had given them. Slaves would be released and debts forgiven. For many, this was certainly a year to look forward to.

While we are not bound to celebrate a Sabbath Year (although many of us might appreciate the forgiveness of debts!), I believe we can find that observing the principles can challenge us to grow in this new year.

First, learn to rely on God as your Provider. We cannot control everything that happens in life. Every so often our harvest is plentiful, other times droughts come, and we have little. Yet, God is constantly our ever-present Provider.

Second, take time to rest. God rested and built that rest into the very fabric of Jewish society. Jesus rested and encouraged his disciples to do the same (Mark 6:31). This doesn’t mean we begin a year of laziness, but to take a step back from our culture that wears sleeplessness as a badge of honor and overwork as a mark of success.

Third, let this year be a year that you forgive others. Are there people you are still angry with or need to forgive? Do you have grudges? If so, take prayerful action to pursue forgiveness with others and extend the grace that God has given to us.

Fourth, don’t remain a slave. God did not want the Israelites in perpetual bondage, and he doesn’t want us to remain slaves to sin, but rather be sons and heirs of God (Gal. 4:7). This year, break free of slavery to sin by becoming a Christian or seeking forgiveness through repentance and confession to God (1 John 1:9).

This year may not be a Sabbath Year like the days of old, but by applying its principles, this year we can become the people that God wants us to be.