Israel went into captivity because they did not keep the Sabbatical years. The time they were in exile was calculated based on the amount of years they did not keep it. Did you know that? You can read about it in 2 Chron 36:20-21 and Lev 26:32-34. Did you also know that this is the reason we are in the nations? You can read about that in Ezekiel 4:4-6. We are in exile, but the time of exile is over and YHVH is awakening more and more people to His truth. Many believers are returning to His ways. He is restoring many to His truth. Returning to YHVH’s truth means that we are to be obedient to Him as it is written, “If you love me, keep My commandments” John 14:15. We keep YHVH’s commandments not to attain salvation, but out of love for our heavenly Father. One of these commandments we are going o talk about is the Sabbatical year.
The next sabbatical year is in 2016; have you thought about how you are going to keep it? Keeping the Sabbatical year is generally dismissed as something that we can’t do because we don’t live in the land. YHVH instructed us to keep this commandment, and we would like to show you why it is for all to keep, even us in the nations. We also want to share the other common objections with you and why these are not built on truth.
We shall also show you what the consequences would be if we don’t keep it and some practical ideas on how we can keep it.
We shall start off with the most common objections to keeping the Sabbatical year.
Common objections to keeping the Sabbatical year
Some believers earnestly want to be obedient to YHVH’s commandments, but are taught against it by people using these objections. Don’t get side-tracked by what these people tell you, study the Word for yourself and find YHVH’s truth.
Here are the most common objections. We will show you from Scripture why these are simply not true.
The first objection we usually hear against the keeping of the Sabbatical year is that it is only for those believers living in the land. The phrase “when you enter the land” is quoted as proof for this. Is this the correct understanding? If you read the Scripture in context, you too would understand that this commandment is applicable wherever we are.
“When you enter the land”
Before we look into this, we want to make you aware that this commandment to keep the Sabbatical year was given in Exodus for the first time.
10 You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, 11 but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.
In Exodus, it was given without the phrase “When you enter the land.” When it was repeated in Leviticus 25, it was after this phrase. Why is this?
We have previously written an article about this topic and here is a link to the article: When you enter the land – Understanding the full context leads to better understanding. In this article, we show you that we have to understand the context of this phrase “when you come into the land.” It is not used to exclude us who don’t live in the land from keeping certain commandments. It is furthermore not used exclusively for commandments pertaining to agriculture. Commandments like “you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations,” is also sited after this phrase. Read this passage and see what are not to be done “when you enter the land.”
9 When you enter the land which YHVH your Elohim gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is detestable to YHVH; and because of these detestable things YHVH your Elohim will drive them out before you.
Are these commandments just to be kept by those living in the land? Would it be acceptable to YHVH if we practice child sacrifice, divination, witchcraft and calling up the dead?
Here are a few more commandments that were given after the phrase “when you enter the land.”
23 When you enter the land and plant all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it shall not be eaten. 24 But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to YHVH. 25 In the fifth year you are to eat of its fruit, that its yield may increase for you; I am YHVH your Elohim. 26 You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27 You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28 You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am YHVH. 29 Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness. 30 You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am YHVH. 31Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am YHVH your Elohim.
Here, we learn about the “orlah” prohibition, not to eat blood, divination and soothsaying. We are taught about men not harming the edges of their beard and making cuts in the body for the dead and about making tattoo marks on ourselves. We are also taught not to prostitute our daughters; we are also to keep the sabbaths and not to become defiled by mediums and spiritists. Quite a list of things to do “when you enter the land.” Can you read this and still say this phrase is used to exclude some commandments when we don’t live in the land?
Don’t just stop here, you can actually read the whole passage from Lev 19:23-Lev 20:23 and see which other commandments were also included after this phrase. Can you reason that these commandments are just applicable when you are in the land? Before you answer, go and read this whole passage again and ask YHVH to show you His truth in His Word.
When you read and understand the whole context, it is plain to see. This phrase “when you enter the land” was not meant to make some commandments exclusive to those living in the land. We, as believers know that we are not to practice divination where we are now, we are not to prostitute our daughters; we will not eat blood, to give a few examples. We can go on and on. It is for this reason that we are to keep the next Sabbatical year. The commandment to keep the Sabbatical year is for everybody in the world to keep, not only for those in the land of Israel.
Before we continue, just one more Scripture to consider.
1 The earth is YHVH’s, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.
If the earth is YHVH’s, could we say that His commandments are only applicable in the land of Israel?
There is also proof that the land needs its rest from an agricultural point of view. In modern agriculture, lots of chemicals are used in order to try to sustain the soil and make it fertile. Why is this necessary if YHVH created the earth to bring forth produce? The answer is found in the Sabbatical year commandment. Soil that is not left to lie fallow regularly becomes unfertile and dies. Every farmer knows this, and some still practice this to a limited degree. Some don’t, and this is the reason they have to use excessive amounts of fertilizers and other harmful chemicals to maintain their crop quotas.
Also, consider the “orlah” prohibition. Fruit trees are considered uncircumsized until its fifth year. We have done an article about this before. Here is the link Forbidden Fruit – The Orlah Prohibition. In this article, we have learned that it is beneficial for the tree if we adhere to this prohibition, yet this instruction is also given after the phrase “when you enter the land.”
While we surely don’t need physical proof of the benefits of keeping the commandments, it is interesting to consider. YHVH in His great wisdom gave us instructions, even for good agricultural practice. Why do we still fight it?
Here is the next objection.
“We don’t really know when the next Sabbatical year is”
Another objection is that we don’t really know when the next Sabbatical year is. That is simply not true. There are many historical references that proves that the next Sabbatical year is in 2016 -2017, from Aviv tot Aviv. We have written a detailed article about this to show you all these proves from Scripture and history. Here is a link to the article When is the next sabbatical year?
“I can’t take off work for a year”
You don’t have to! The Sabbatical year is for the land, not for us. The land must rest, not us. We are to continue to work as normal, but not sow, harvest or prune.
There are consequences when we keep or not keep the sabbatical year. Blessings if we do and curses if we don’t.
The consequences of not keeping the Sabbatical year
We are to stop reasoning and start obeying. It may not be an easy commandment to keep, but it is nonetheless, very important.
Let us look into what is taught in Scripture.
When we read Leviticus 25 and 26, we see that the context is the Sabbatical and Jubilee years. We find the instructions to keep the Sabbatical and Jubilee years in Leviticus 25 and the blessings and curses for not keeping it in Leviticus 26:1-42.
Keeping the sabbatical years will result in blessing. Firstly, we learn in Leviticus 25 that YHVH will provide enough in the year preceding the sabbatical year to provide for us. He promised, furthermore, rain in its season, that our land will yield its produce, security, no harmful beasts and no sword through our land, that we will be fruitful and multiply and that YHVH will make His dwelling with us. Amazing blessings, isn’t it?
However, YHVH also promised that if we do not obey, He will put curses on us. We read about these in Leviticus 26, and we see from history that these are not idle promises. Both Israel and Judah have experienced this even to the point of going into captivity for a time equivalent to the years the Sabbatical years were not kept. You can read about it in the book of Chronicles.
These curses are also experienced by us at the moment. Here is a summary of the curses as laid out in Lev 26:14-34.
- The first type of punishment is terror, consumption and fever, you will sow and your enemies will eat it, those who hate you will rule over you, you will flee when no-one is pursuing you. We see this in the world today: terrorism attacks; chronic diseases like cancer, tuberculosis, lupus, AIDS too many to name; widespread crime and theft, leaders who doesn’t care about their people.
Due to all the conspiracy theories that we are listening to, we are more scared of what may happen, than the terror that is already all around us. Is this not fleeing from something that is not really chasing us? These all cause feelings of fear and terror and turns our heads in the wrong direction – away from YHVH!
- If we don’t obey; the second type of punishment is described with the words: the pride of your power shall be broken; one source has it as “everything they prided themselves with, and had their dependence on, thinking themselves safe on account of them, but should be broken to shivers, and be of no service to them” Gill’s Exposition of the entire Bible. This means that destruction will come, destruction of everything we have build up, everything we are proud of: houses, businesses, all those material things we treasure so much on this earth – maybe through natural disasters? The words “sky like iron and earth like bronze” describes an absence of rain which will cause severe drought and famine on the earth. If we had stored our treasures in heaven, would we not have been much better off?
- If we don’t obey; the third type of punishment is plagues -beasts of the field – these includes beasts both great and small. Plagues caused by new strains of bacteria and viruses with the potential to kill millions. They can bereave you of your children. Children are most vulnerable to infections thus, they would be the first to be impacted by this curse.
- If we don’t obey; the forth type of punishment is war and everything that is associated with it: more famine, more pestilence, more destruction…
- If we still don’t obey then there will be total destruction and devastation and we will be taken into captivity.
This pattern has repeated itself already a few times in history. Take note that these punishments are every time for 7 years and once a punishment starts it goes on throughout the cycle. For example we are now in the third cycle and are experiencing terror, natural disasters and plagues. The next curse is war!
As YHVH says: “I shall punish you seven times more for your sin“. Times can be interpreted as years (Dan 12:7). The context confirms it because, YHVH says in Lev 26:32 that the land will then enjoy it’s Sabbaths. This here explains to us that the punishments will be in cycles of seven years and will continue until we turn back in obedience to YHVH’s ways. We are in my opinion currently in such a cycle of punishment. Go and prove this for yourself and understand what you are to do.2
Our only option is to return to YHVH and to obey Him to the very best of our ability. Then He might relent!
Please consider this.
We have now shared with you why we believe we are to keep the Sabbatical year as stated in Scripture and why is applicable to everybody who calls him- or herself a believer. We shall give you some practical ideas on how to keep the Sabbatical year. This will probably not answer every question and is by no means complete; we are still learning as this will be our first Sabbatical year as well. We just want to share what we have learned this far, and we would like to invite you to share your ideas in order to help us and others who are also embarking on this.
Practical advice and planning
We have written another article, The Sabbatical Year: should you keep this commandment?
In this article, we go through the instructions for the Sabbatical year to show you what is required of us. We are not going to focus so much on the commandments here, if you want to learn more about the specific instructions, you can read that article. We will now share some practical things we have learned so far.
Before we start, it is important to understand that it is about the produce that comes off the land, grains, fruit and vegetables and nuts. Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products can be consumed freely during the Sabbatical year.
No sowing, pruning or harvesting
If you have land, you are not allowed to sow, prune of harvest during the Sabbatical year.
Let us start with vines and fruit trees. Pruning usually takes place from January through to the first of March in the Northern hemisphere. We are to make sure all our pruning is done before the Biblical year starts and then not to prune any vines or fruit trees in the Sabbatical year.
The sowing of grains would be according to Leviticus 25:20-22
20 But if you say, “What are we going to eat on the seventh year if we do not sow or gather in our crops?” 21 then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years. 22 ‘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.
Let us look at barley, for example. Barley is sown in the fall and is harvested in the Spring after the Feast of First Fruits, which takes place two weeks after the beginning of the year. So, no sowing is to take place in the fall of the 6th or 7th years. The harvest that is reaped in the 6th year (spring time) will be enough to last until the harvest comes in the 9th year. Wow, that is provision! The same would be true for wheat or any other grain that is sown in the fall.
This verse also confirms that the Sabbatical year starts in Aviv. It would otherwise not be necessary for YHVH to say this. Remember this as people, especially our brother Judah, will confront you about this as they start the Sabbatical year in the fall.
So, we are not to sow anything that will have to be harvested in the Sabbatical year. The land is to lie fallow. Vegetables can again be sown after the beginning of the 8th year.
These are a few areas that we are to think about and plan for. As we said before, in everything we are to do to the best of our ability. It will not be perfect as we live out in the nations and are just a few people doing this. If we were living in the land and everybody obeyed this commandment, this would be so much easier. It is all about our attitude. The question is, are we willing to obey YHVH even in these difficult commandments?
19 ‘I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
2 John 6
6 And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Yâ€™shua for Jesus.