January 10, 2011

Exodus 23:10-11-NAS

You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield. 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 beasts of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

 

January 10, 2011

The above verses from Scripture are referred to as “The Sabbath and Land” verses. The verses deal with the hunger problem that the Lord is teaching them to avoid before it occurs. God is commanding the Israelites to tend to their fields for 6 years straight and enjoy everything that grows from it but in the 7th year God says, don’t touch your field and allow to grow what grows. This would mean that in the 6 years they would have to do careful planning and preserving. They knew in advance that in the 7th year the produce of the field is not theirs and yet they would still have food to eat. The vineyards would be their drink and the olive grove would be for oil, and they were included in this 7th year rest. If they did as the Lord commanded then He is telling them they could avoid the poor from going hungry. The idea behind this and how it works accurately is that not every person will have a year of rest at the same time. The cycle of 6 years will be different and in this way each year the poor will be fed and no one will go without food. In order for this to be effective one element is required. That is obedience to the word of God and doing as He commanded. If the Israelites obeyed God and did as He commanded, not only would the poor be fed but the number of poor would be limited. The Israelites do not obey God and therefore the number of poor increase and the ability to feed them becomes overwhelming.

How poor and hungry is America? (Statistics are all from 2009)

  • 45 million Americans live in poverty – This is the biggest increase we have seen since the government started tracking poverty levels in 1959.
  • The United States is now the 3rd worst country among all the developed nations.
  • There are over 41 million Americans on food stamps and that is the largest number recorded.
  • The amount of time spent on food stamps surpasses 19 months and that is another record breaker.
  • Children under the age of 18 are the largest group living and starving in America with a percentage of over 20%. That is 1 out 5 children in the United States.

CHILD OF GOD – Pay attention to these statistics that are factual and increasing as we read this devotional. The way this number increased is the same way the number of poor increased among the Israelites. We failed to care for them for decades and we allowed this group to grow. We are now reaping what we have sown.

I want you to go back up and re-read our two verses for the day. For 6 years the farmers will have to do everything to ensure a crop. They will plant, water, cultivate and reap what they grow. In the 7th year they will rest. They will have stored up for themselves enough provisions for one year so that in this year they can just rest and enjoy. That sounds wonderful to me. Who among us would not like to work for 6 years and get a 1-year vacation? Of course, at the end of that year you would have to return and start the process all over, but because you obeyed God, He then would bless your field and your harvest would be plenty. What does God require of the poor person? That is right – they are to “work the field” and gather what grows naturally and then leave the excess for the beasts. They are not getting food for free, they are working the field. They are going out there and picking. If they want to get more to eat they will have to pull out the weeds that threaten to choke the plant and they may even have to carry water to feed the plants. In this way they then carry out what God wants them to do and it is fair for all. Anyone who eats should work for their food (2 Thessalonians 3:10). They also do the farmer a service and tend his field for a year. They don’t plant but they do a lot of clearing of the land. Anyone who has a garden understands the importance of clearing the land before planting the following season. Everyone works and everyone eats. Am I the only one to whom this sounds reasonable?

Lord God, I cannot imagine working for 6 years and then getting a 1-year vacation. That just sounds so wonderful to me that I sit here today wondering why no one jumped at that chance. The truth is we are so selfish and self-absorbed that we fail to see the benefits you are giving to us and we make our lives harder. We do reap what we sow, Lord. We reap selfishness and not only increase the number of those who are starving, but we are working ourselves to death to do that. How foolish we are. Help us, Lord, to break this cycle and learn from You how to be more like Jesus. This I pray in His Holy Name, Amen.

In His love,

Michele Beck

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