The 7th Year Sabbath

“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove. Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed. And in all that I have said to you, be circumspect and make no mention of the name of other gods, nor let it be heard from your mouth.” ~ Exodus 23:10-13

I am totally fascinated with this principle of sabbath years. All through my formative years as a young girl and a maturing young lady I heard of keeping the Sabbath DAY, but I knew nothing of a sabbath year. Nor did I know anyone, and still don’t, that keeps this OT principle/law. Do you? If you do, please pass their info onto me because I really would like to visit with them. Really, I’m not joking. I want to know what their lifestyle looks like in order for them to follow it.

If we were to follow just this one principle of the sabbath, think how differently our lives would look. Every purchase we make would be in light of knowing that in a few years our incomes will change. Our educational goals will look different knowing that every 6/7 years we will quit our jobs in order to open up the workforce for those who normally wouldn’t be considered. And what about RETIREMENT? Instead of saving up over the course of a lifetime for us to “vacation” at the end of our lives, we “vacation” periodically throughout our lives. And, by the way, when I read the Bible, I don’t see any indication that God’s plan includes for us to “retire” at age 65 and draw benefits. When did that become the standard of a good life?

Whose economy are we living by? According to God’s economic plan, He has figured that mankind is more healthy, productive, beneficial, and happy by taking periodic, prescribed breaks to rejuvenate, rest, and to reevaluate our goals and trajectories. Taking breaks require us and allow us the time to take a good hard look at the things that we may have neglected along the way and re prioritize our lives to reflect the things that matter. Having the time to really sit back affords us a perspective that often gets lost in the hustle and bustle of living by society’s economic principles and culture’s “ideals” of a good life.

In the society I currently live under, a good, often expensive, education is to be coveted and prized, a nice house in a nice neighborhood where the grass is always green and the yard perfectly landscaped is a sign of “arrival”. Add to that, a top-notch grammar school for the children, yearly vacations to exotic destinations (including Disney Land), a shiny SUV, yearly promotions, fancy dinners out, a diverse wine collection, personal library, up-to-date technology, entertainment and gaming systems, extravagant decorations for the home and yard for each and every holiday, the outdoor patio, lawn furniture, and the grandest BBQ equipment money can buy . . . these are things that prove success according to society’s economic plan. And if we aren’t there, society advertises to us that these are the kinds of things we should be striving after and saving for. But all these things come at high prices.

Stress. Workaholism. Debt. Lack of quality family time. Daycares. Dis-ease. Anxiety. Competition. Jealousy. Insecurity. Selfishness. Surface-ness. Greed. Consumerism. Materialism. Entitlement. Keeping up with the Joneses. More, more, more for less, less, less . . . meaning.

In God’s economy, He lays out a really good plan for helping us stay focused on what is meaningful. It’s hard to continually barter for my meaning–identifying myself by the letters behind my name or the kind of credit cards in my wallet–when every so often I have to let go of those things. I mean, if I knew that I’d be putting in my notice every 6 years to take a year away, would I be spending the largest portion of my waking hours seeking promotions, raises, and bonuses that are meant to propel me toward . . . what . . . more hours, more headaches, more shareholders, more stress.

That’s not to say I don’t work hard and good and excellently for 6 years, but it means I don’t plan my entire future around a job/career, and the retirement plan and investments that go along with it; hoping all my hard work and company loyalty will pay off in the end.

I can’t imagine that this 7th year sabbath thing is going to sell like hotcakes in a world that can hardly keep to the weekly sabbath principle. But what if . . . ? How would your life look different if you started living more by God’s economic principles than those of the world? What if you began thinking more of the nearer future than the long-term future that many of our current economists tell us to do? What if we all started thinking in segments of 7’s instead of the 15, 20, and 30 year goals/mortgages/terms that are so normal today? Just what if?


One Response to “The 7th Year Sabbath”
  1. Cody Stauffer says:

    I have heard of the occasional minister who is permitted to take a "sabbatical," or one year off, every 7th year. I can't remember any specifically, though.

    Great thoughts, Amanda! We were made to follow some pretty specific rhythms, and we in the west particularly ignore that all of the time.

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