Sabbath of the Land

"The earth is the Lord's" (Exodus 9:29, Psalms 24:1, 1 Corinthians 10:26,28), and it is to be used on His terms and under His Law.

Leviticus 25:2-7, "Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD. Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land. And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee, And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat."

Leviticus 25:18-22, "Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store."

It is a well-established agricultural fact that resting the land every seven years is best for the soil and that much-improved crops result from doing so. During this scriptural practice, there was to be no pruning or planting in the sabbath year, nor any attempt to kill the insects, or otherwise interfere with natural processes in the field. The fruit had to remain in the field, except for what passerby, servants, or owners plucked to eat; no real harvesting was permitted, only eating.

By this rest, the soil is restored and revitalized. By allowing the field to go to weeds, the weeds of the field are given the opportunity to bring to the topsoil minerals from below and to revitalize the soil. The vines and trees are given the free growth, unpruned, and again renew their vitality. The fruits which falls and rots again contributes to the soil. The value of the sabbath in regenerating the soil is very great. This biblical practice also greatly reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides. But man, lacking faith, prefers his own work to God's work, and his proposed work to God's sabbath. God's method is called crude, and modern sprays, manufactured fertilizers, and other devices are used, and the soil is steadily mined and abused. The soil is treated as something science can make and re-make, and even do without. Very few scientists treat the soil with any respect.

The function of microorganisms in the soil, and the value of compost and trees in regenerating the soil is great. So is the value of wild animals and birds in the life cycles of the earth. The earth clearly is renewed by rest, or it is exploited ruthlessly and finally turned into a desert. Many once populous areas are today desert, as witness Babylon and the Sahara.

America's ungodly economic system alone makes it nearly impossible for most farmers to give their land a one in seven year sabbath. Any farmer in debt who would let his land lay fallow for one year would be unlikely to make that year's payment to the usurers and would then lose his land to his "friendly" neighborhood banker. Disobedience always has its consequences. In this case, if a farmer obeys God and sabbaths his land, he risks losing his land because of usury. On the other hand, if he disobeys God in order to retain possession of his land, he risks falling under the judgment of God.

Violation of the Sabbatical Year's land rest is such a serious transgression that it is specifically listed as one of the sins that resulted in the Israelites being conquered and removed from the land:

Leviticus 26:28-35, "…I [God] … will chastise you [Israelites] seven times for your sins. …I will scatter you among the heathen … and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it. "

Leviticus 26:43, "The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes."

Between the Exodus and the Babylonian captivity, the land sabbath was disregarded seventy times by the house of Judah. Hence, those Israelites were sentenced to seventy years in Babylonian captivity, to give the land rest and restore the land:

2 Chronicles 36:16-21, "…the wrath of God arose against his people [because of the house of Judah's disobedience], till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them [Nebuchadnezzar] the king of the Chaldees … he gave them all into his hand…. And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they [the remnant of the house of Judah] were servants to him and his sons … until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years."

This means that more than half the time, this law was not observed. If American farmers would trust God enough to rest the land in the seventh year as He commanded, God promises a bumper crop on the sixth year, enough to provide for the seventh, eighth and ninth years (Leviticus 25:18-22).

The volunteer crop of the seventh year is to be given to the poor and needy and what remains is to be left for the animals:

Exodus 23:10-11, "…six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard."

In order for there to be a volunteer crop in the seventh year, farmers must also stop breaking God's anti-hybridization laws:

Leviticus 19:19, "Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed."

Deuteronomy 22:9, "Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled."

Only non-hybrid, open-pollinated seed will produce volunteer crops large enough to feed the needy as well as the animals during the seventh, eighth and ninth years. Such seed will also restore nutritional value to our foods and health to our nation.

The year of release is specifically for the poor in the land. It does not apply to financial penalties incurred by criminals as the result of judgment for crime. It also does not apply to loans to foreigners (Deuteronomy 15:2-3). The same exception is made for usury (Deuteronomy 23:19-20).

When Planting on new Land

Leviticus 19:23-25, "And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of. But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD withal. And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the LORD your God."

This law clearly is linked with laws previously discussed which bear on soil conservation, the fertility of the trees, and respect for the life of all creation.

For the first three years the fruits must be pinched off and allowed to rot on the ground. In the fourth year, it could be eaten if redeemed from the Lord by paying its value plus a fifth part; it belonged to God. In the fifth year, the fruit could be harvested, and for five years thereafter, or, until the next sabbath year.

This law is concerned with the preservation of life by due respect for the conditions of life, but more is involved, because the word "uncircumcised" is deliberately and emphatically used. It means that the ground is indeed cursed for man's sake, because of his sin, and all man's work is futile and uncircumcised apart from God.

The Year of Jubilee (the Fiftieth-Year Sabbath)

Every fiftieth year is also to be a one-year sabbath. This is known as the year of Jubilee:

Leviticus 25:8-10, "…thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years...And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you…."

In addition to letting the land lay fallow during the fiftieth year, all land is to be returned to the family of its original owner. In other words, land is never to be permanently sold:

Leviticus 25:13, "In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession."

Under America's current form of government, if you are either unable to make your usurious loan payment or pay your taxes, your "friendly" banker or "Big Brother" confiscates your property. Under God's law system such theft would never occur because God owns all of the land:

Leviticus 25:23, "The land shall not be sold [or confiscated] for ever: for the land is mine [God's]…."

Therein is found the reason why the land is not to be taxed. The power to tax something proves ownership. Land does not rightfully belong to any government but rather to God and to whom God or His government apportions it.

Most farmers and landowners are under the mistaken notion that the government steals their land when the sheriff and his deputies show up and physically removes them from their homesteads. However, the land was initially stolen from them when the government fraudulently legislated to tax their land, and the people unwittingly, or under duress, allowed the government to get away with it. Current "owners" are only temporary tenants to be extricated at the whim of the government. The response to our legislators should have been the same as Naboth's when King Ahab wanted to confiscate his vineyard:

1 Kings 21:3, "…Naboth said to Ahab, God forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee."

God neither abdicated His ownership nor His eminent domain. Consequently, such governments are thieves and are stealing from God. God never intended governments to be landowners. Under the Mosaic Covenant, the Levites were the government administrators and as such they were not permitted to own land, except for homes within their cities and the attached land or suburbs:

Numbers 35:2-7, "Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites … cities to dwell in; and ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them. And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts. And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about…. So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall ye give with their suburbs."

Government has the duty of protecting the public and their property instead of taxing them and confiscating their possessions. The land ultimately belongs to God. It is never to permanently change hands, and in the year of Jubilee it is to return to the family of the original occupants with the exception of houses or lands within city limits:

Leviticus 25:29-30, "…if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year may he redeem it. And if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city shall be established for ever to him that bought it throughout his generations: it shall not go out [be returned] in the jubilee."

This exception, however, did not apply to land within city limits that belonged to the Levites:

Leviticus 25:32-34, "Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time. And if a man purchase of the Levites, then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the year of jubile: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel. But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their [the Levites'] perpetual possession."

The year of Jubilee is also a year of family reunions in which every man is to return to his family on the homestead:

Leviticus 25:10, "…it [the fiftieth year] shall be a jubilee unto you … and ye shall return every man unto his family."

During each Jubilee year, each of us should be reminded of our own atonement or release from our debts owed to God. Thus, we should also forgive those whom we have anything against.

God's law system promotes freedom and prosperity for all and the Fourth Commandment plays an integral part in accomplishing this.

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