With the background we have established in Part 21, let’s look at Lev 25. The people are getting ready to come into the land and the owner (God) is putting restrictions on it (the land). Every seven years the land was to rest from cultivation (if you were a farmer). This is called a “Shemitah” (release). Israel was “evicted” out of the land to Babylon for neglecting that command.
Every fifty years all debts were cancelled and the land rested two years (year 49 and 50). A great shofar (Shofar ha Gadol) was blown on Tishri 10 (Lev 25.9, or Yom Kippur) and this is called the Yovel (ram’s horn). One could move back to ancestral lands again. This will have a role when Yeshua returns at the sound of the great trumpet (shofar) in Matt 24.29-31. The exiles will return back to their ancestral lands from all over the world.
Every generation could be debt free every fifty years and the wealth was redistributed and the poor were elevated. Now, you could sell your property but you were only selling the number of harvests expected from the land to the next Yovel (Lev 25.16). For example, if you sold the land and you made ten thousand dollars off the land a year, and there were 10 years left to the Yovel, the price of the land was one hundred thousand dollars. This was the system that the Lord set up. It was really a form of leasing rather than selling. At the end of the Yovel, the land went back to the ancestral owners.
Economic deprivation is the source of many of the problems we have today. Every fifty years in Israel those problems were solved. The books were cleared and the next generation was not strapped with debt like today. In the spiritual, we don’t belong to ourselves. The Lord created us and chose us before the foundation of the world (Eph 1.4) and called us to him and gave us life. We belong to him. He has put restrictions on us to prove ownership and these restrictions are called Torah commands.
One of those restrictions concerned what to eat in Lev 11. These are food laws just like in Eden. Another restriction was rest on the Sabbath. Keeping the Sabbath designated who your God is. It is called “sign” in Exo 31.12-17. This sign of the Sabbath says that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the creator, including us. Our life is not ours because we were created by God. Recognizing his authority over us is why we follow the Torah. His position is God and our position is we are his created beings. If we don’t follow the Sabbath we are not sending forth the “sign.”
For example, Yeshua said, “You claim to follow God, however, you reject the Son. Therefore, you don’t believe the Father. If you reject me, you reject the Father (Luke 10.16; Matt 10.33). In fact, he said that one cannot claim to follow the commandments and make up new ones. That means they were following a different God with different commandments. You can’t serve two masters (Matt 6.24) and Elijah said the same thing (1 Kings 18.21). If we claim to follow the Son, but reject the Father’s commandments, you have rejected the Son. The Torah commands are the commandments of Yeshua.
These six year cycles of days and years, with a seventh day or year as a Sabbath, is alluding to the seven thousand year plan of God (Psa 9.4; Talmud, Sanhedrin 97a; 2 Pet 3.8). Lev 25.20-22 is one of those verses that prove that the Bible is the word of God, and is true. If we wrote the Scriptures, would we put these verses in there? These verses, read, “But you say ‘What are we going to eat on the seventh year of we do not sow or gather in our crops?’ Then I will so order my blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years. When you are sowing the eighth year, you can still eat old things from the crop, eating the old until the ninth year when its crop comes in.”
One cycle with a lack of food and that was it, starvation. Letting the land rest every seventh year was not done to replenish the soil. If you wanted to do that, you would plant for two years and let it rest one year. After six years it yielded the greatest crop and harvest, enough for three years. That just doesn’t make sense in modern agriculture, but that proves that this was written by a God who rules over nature. Let’s look at another angle to this. Israel is God’s down payment on the earth. A contract is in place (Torah) and we have evidence he runs it. Payment has been made to redeem it through the kinsman redeemer, the Goel, named Yeshua. Those that recognize that he is the rightful owner will recognize he is the master of the house. Those that do not recognize this does not recognize he is their master and their God.
That is the fundamental issue here. The Sabbath is the ongoing proof who owns us and the creation. It is an ongoing sign or ownership. So, how could one prepare for the seventh and eighth year (v 18-21) if you can’t work? The Lord will provide three crops the sixth year. They had to trust God to feed them. God promised to give us out continual daily bread. He will cause the increase to be enough to cover that period.
But we dispute his ownership. We don’t like the idea that he has a right to put restrictions on us. We want him to be like us, we want to “negotiate.” What it really comes down to is either there is a God or there isn’t, and both cases are frightening. Most of us turn God “on or off” depending on when we need or not need him. But things don’t work that way. The concept of Teshuvah (repentance) is “turning to God. We need to turn the switch on to God and leave it there.
What we do ripples through other people. Exo 20.5-6 says our iniquities will ripple through the third and fourth generations and if we love him his lovingkindness will ripple to the thousandth generation. We would like to think that we are a plant, but we are a branch. We came from someone else to produce fruit. If it is a bad tree, the branches produce bad or no fruit. If it is a good tree, the branches produce good fruit.
There are things bigger than us. A person may only see one Yovel in his entire life, two if you were born at the right time. These periods are miraculous cycles, on a miraculous land for a miraculous people brought about by a miraculous God. We must understand who is supplying our needs, who owns the and controls the land and who controls our lives.
In Part 23, we will look at some prophetic applications for the Shemitah and the Yovel.