Soon after the Jews left Egypt, crossed the Jordan River (1258 BCE? ) and settled in Israel they to release.” The Torah commands that every seven years is a Sabbatical year during which Israeli farmers give their fields a break and all debts are canceled. According to Rabbinic tradition, the year 5775 after Creation, which began on Sept. 25, 2014 and runs through Sept. 13, 2015 is the year of Shemitah.
began to observe the seven-year cycle called Shemitah. Shemitah literally means “
Give Me a Break
At the end of seven years you will make a release. And this is the manner of the release: to release the hand of every creditor from what he lent his friend; he shall not exact from his friend or his brother, because the time of the release for the Lord has arrived. (Deuteronomy 15:1–2)
Give the Land a Break
For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its produce. But in the seventh year, the land shall have a complete rest…(Leviticus 25:3–6)
The idea of the Shemitah Year is to release the people of Israel for the yoke of financial burdens so that they could refocus their lives on higher, more spiritual pursuits. In the process of releasing debts the children of Israel were to learn how to trust the Lord to provide for their daily bread.
Those Who Trust in the Lord Receive a Rich Blessing.
I, (God) will command My blessing for you in the sixth year, and it will yield produce for three years. And you will sow in the eighth year, while still eating from the old crops. Until the ninth year, until the arrival of its crop, you will eat the old crop! (Leviticus 25:21–22)
Throughout history Israel found it difficult to trust the Lord, rest the land and release debts. Today the vast majority of religious Jews in Israel still try to adhere to some form of Shemitah. The rabbis have come up with a variety of workarounds intended to help religious Jews practice the commandment in modern Israel.
Shemitah in Israel
In some cases religious Jews will only purchase food stuffs from local Arabs during the Shemitah year “releasing” Jews from the labor. Other rabbis have ruled that only fruits and vegetables imported from overseas can be consumed during the Sabbatical year. These practices irk the overwhelmingly secular Jewish farmers whose livelihoods and farms depend on a regular yearly produce. It seems that many of these rabbinic compromises are stirring up more wrath than rest or release for the people of Israel.
Without faith it is impossible to practice the Shemitah. During the Sabbatical year the people of God are to give more attention to God’s purpose and mission for their lives, and less worry about material needs. For Christians and Jews around the world this should be a year of increased faith in God and obedience to his plans for our lives.
Christians and Shemitah
Many Christians are taking a special interest in the Shemitah this year. Popular authors are proclaiming that this Sabbatical year will be a time of doom and destruction citing examples of market collapses, wars won and lost, even the fall of the Twin Towers as examples of a “prophetic” understanding of the Shemitah.
“This mystery (Shemitah) has been behind the collapsing of Wall Street for our entire lifetime. It has pin-pointed literally the collapse of our economy down to the days, hours, seconds. So the Shemitah literally becomes something that not only wipes away accounts, it wipes away nations,” one popular author told CBN News. Christians should beware of schemes reinterpreting scriptures based on vague coincidences.
Rather than produce fear of punishment, the lessons of Shemitah are intended to help release us from debts, find rest from financial burdens by putting our trust in the Lord and allow us the space and time necessary to discern his will for our lives.
Lessons still very relevant for all believers today and reflected in the powerful prayer of Yeshua. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…. Give us this day our daily bread… And release us our debts as we release our debtors.”