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Sabbaths: Leviticus 23–25

The Israelites were to enjoy Sabbaths beyond the sixth-day of rest. There were also days for harvest offerings, Passover, trumpets and atonement. They had the dual purpose of a day’s break from work, and a dedicated day to the Lord.

There were also Sabbath years (every seven years) and, every 50 years, a year of Jubilee, when they couldn’t actively farm (for example, plant crops). Slaves and rural property were to be returned to its original ‘owner’.

And God was clear about this:

Leviticus 25:23 The land must never be sold on a permanent basis, for the land belongs to me. You are only foreigners and tenant farmers working for me.

And

Leviticus 23:55 For the people of Israel belong to me. They are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

It was a model of total reliance on God. As ‘foreigners and tenants’, they owned nothing. Everything they had was a gift from God. 

Knowing the Sabbath and jubilee years would present a challenge for even the most faithful, God explained how he would look after the people in those years:

Leviticus 23:20-22 But you might ask, ‘What will we eat during the seventh year, since we are not allowed to plant or harvest crops that year?’ Be assured that I will send my blessing for you in the sixth year, so the land will produce a crop large enough for three years.

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