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Land Sabbath

“To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.” 2 Chronicles 36:21

In Leviticus 25:4 God commanded a Sabbath for the land. Each parcel of land had to be rested every 7th year. So, a smart farmer, vineyard or orchard keeper would divide their land into 7 parcels and cultivate only 6 of them each year. This would allow the land to rest, the nutrients to be restored to the soil and would give wildlife and gleaners an opportunity to freely take of anything in that parcel of land during its Sabbath. Leviticus 23:22 says, “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God.” This specifically applies to the land harvested, but it would also imply that the Sabbath parcels would be available to the poor and strangers to glean too. Unfortunately, Israel ignored these Laws and failed to follow them (as a nation) starting after Solomon’s reign and continued for about 490 years.

Jeremiah was a prophet that served the Lord at the end of Judah’s sovereignty. He predicted in Jeremiah 25:11-14 that the land of Judah would be taken into captivity for 70 years and that the land of Judah would be left desolate. Then after 70 years of punishing the people of Judah through slavery, God would turn his attention to Babylon. Babylon would be invaded and defeated by the Persian Empire. Soon after that, the Israelites were allowed to return to Judah and Jerusalem by decree of Cyrus king of Persia.

The point of this lesson is that God will not be ignored. He will tolerate disobedience for a time, but will not tolerate it indefinitely. In order to give the land the Sabbath that the people of Israel failed to give for a 490 year span, God stepped in and gave the land 70 years of rest. 490 years divided by 7 years equals 70 years of rest. It also provided for the 70 years of captivity that was also predicted. God is truly amazing, working multiple angles all at once to fulfill his plan. Just like God made a plan for the land of Israel to have a Sabbath, and then enforced His plan in spite of His people ignoring His commandment, we cannot sin against God and expect Him to not act.

Christianity, and its salvation by grace through faith, provides an opportunity to serve, respect and love our Lord. It doesn’t give us a license to sin.

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