What many people fail to realize is that in the Jewish law, Sabbath does not just refer to a 7 day work week, but to a 7 year period, and a 7x7 year period. [Leviticus]These Sabbath years were literally to be a Sabbath that lasts for an entire year! That’s 365 days of no work, which is pretty intense!
Every 7 years the whole nation would not work. This brings into question who will provide for them. The truth of the matter is that even though they work hard, their hard work does not cause the fields to produce food – God does. It is God who provides our daily bread, and the Sabbath is a visual reminder of that fact.
There is also another part to Sabbath that this goes to point out. Its not about getting rich, its not about moving up the totem pole of important people in the world. Taking a year off every few years kinda puts a damper on that idea. This idea of a Sabbath year is shouting at the Israelites, that their mindset should be different than the people around them. They’re the people who rely on God to provide, and not themselves. God has them do live this out by taking 1 out of 7 years and (in all reality) wasting them. And that’s not the crazy part.
Every 49 years there was supposed to be a year unlike any other! It was a Year of Jubilee! Check this out. In the year of Jubilee, all debts are canceled. All land that was sold in order to make ends meet was returned to its family, and all indentured slaves (people who enslaved themselves to pay of bills) were released from their bondage. So literally, everything goes back to zero.
Now of course this meant that most likely a field sold 5 years before the Jubilee was worth much less than it would have been worth 35 years prior, but still the point is still the same. All debt was to be forgiven, all land returned, and all slaves freed at the end of the 50 period; regardless of their value. How subversive, how radical, how completely different to the way we think business should be done.
Wealth in the ancient world – and today at some level – comes from what one owns. Some people are endowed with large tracts of land, and others have nothing. Some people are born into affluence, others are born into poverty, and the difference between the two is growing everyday. This happens because the rich have the ability to leverage their possessions into getting more, and the poor – continually struggling to make ends meet – are stuck spinning their wheels in an attempt to just keep their heads above water.
The Year of Jubilee was a time when God commanded the rich to give back to the poor. All debts were canceled. All land sold to help a family survive, was returned, and all slaves were freed! It is God's way of helping the rich and the poor not become too divide. Its like the master plan in Fight Club, just minus the blowing up of the buildings. God is leveling the playing field.
This is powerful. Linked to Sabbath is the reminder that the rich shouldn't be so concerned with getting rich, that they leave their friends behind who don't have as much wealth as they do. Perhaps God is calling us to do the same.
What do you think?