This next Shabbat, May 8th, 2021, will be the reading of a double portion of the Torah. The reading is from two portions: Behar (Leviticus 25:1 – 26:2), and Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3 – 27:34).
From the prophets (Haftarah) we will be reading a very very important prophetic portion that is extremely relevant to our own day and extremely important for Christians to read, study, and pray about in intercession for Israel, and for the Jewish disciples of Yeshua in Israel. The reading is from Jeremiah 16:19 – 17:14.
From the New Testament we will be reading from Matthew 21:33-46, and from Luke 24:44-53.
It is very modern and even postmodern these days to speak about conservation of nature and the agricultural lands around the whole world. According to no small minority, our world is wasting away and our most important natural resources are being lost from day to day and week to week.
The rainforest is diminishing and the soil in agricultural lands is impoverished. Farmers are forced to put much more fertilizer on their land, which increases the cost of farming. Our Torah portion starts with exactly these postmodern concerns and provides a solution with a divine anointing.
Here is a little of the opening statement of our Torah portion for this next Shabbat:
“And the Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, for it is a year of rest for the land. And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that are in your land—all its produce shall be for food. And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years.”’” – Leviticus 25:1-8 [NKJV]
Let us notice what God is commanding Moses and the children of Israel about the preservation of the Land and its agricultural vitality:
- You have a Sabbath – a seventh day of rest. It is right for the land also to have a Sabbath – every seven years let the land rest. The land that feeds you, you allow it to replenish its vitality and to rest from being worked and harvested. The land can be depleted of its vitality if you don’t let it rest one year from the plowing and the harvesting of the crops.
- You can work hard for six years and get as much as possible from the land that God gave you, but the seventh year there shall be a solemn rest for the land. This rest for the land is radical because even when you don’t plant and sow the land, on its own it will grow and produce, but you men of Israel, you shall not go and pick the grapes from the vineyards nor harvest the fields. Just leave the land alone on every seventh year – just let the land rest.
- You men of Israel don’t worry about your food in the seventh year. The Sabbatical year will have food for you and your servants and your livestock. In the continuation of the text we find out that in the sixth year there will be such a rich crop in your fields and in your vineyards that the land will provide enough for you to rest and for the land to rest in the Sabbatical year and the following year, giving you time to plow and sow seeds and to prune the orchards and vineyards and to be able to sustain yourselves while you wait for the produce from the work that you do in the eighth year, free from worry.
The principles that The Lord is trying to teach the children of Israel with this Sabbatical year, both for the people and for the land, are very important, and may be even more important for the industrial and business world of our postmodern culture.
The Lord is our provider. One of the most dramatic and surprising cases in the whole Bible of the Lord providing is from Genesis 22:8. Abraham is leading Isaac his son toward the mountain. Isaac is carrying the wood on which he is to be sacrificed, just like Yeshua is carrying the cross on which he will be crucified.
Isaac notices that there is wood and there is fire, but there is no lamb for the sacrifice. He is a smart, being a 20-year-old young man. He asks his father: “where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham answers his son Isaac: “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” Notice the language of the text after this question and answer between Abraham and Isaac his son!
“Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.’” – Genesis 22:13,14 [NKJV]
I like this text because Abraham is prophetic here. He is predicting that the Lord will continue to provide in Jerusalem, in the “mount of the Lord” which is Mount Moriah, on which the Temple of the Lord will be built by Solomon.
I looked for more examples of the Lord’s provision for His people and there are just too many examples in the Bible. So, I decided to go to the macro! The best example in human history of the Lord’s provision is actually the whole history of Israel.
You can start in Genesis and see how God prepared in such a dramatic way, provision for the children of Israel and for the Egyptian empire. The story of Joseph that starts with problems in the family, hate and envy between brothers, ends with Joseph, the hated and rejected brother, providing food for all of Egypt and also for his own family.
In summary, the Lord cares about us, His human race created in His own form and image. He is a loving God, but His love for us is much like any good and caring and loving father here on Earth. Any father who loves his children will train them and equip them to face life prepared to cope with life’s difficulties and challenges.
However, if the children falter and have challenges that they can’t face alone, the father and mother will do all they can to stand with, and help and to provide for their children. We must all learn to trust God.
The history of Israel is proof positive that with all of God’s anger and with all the suffering of Israel in the last 2000 years in the diaspora, Israel has not only survived, but provided blessings for all of humanity. Proof positive that the Lord is faithful and He will take care of his children like the good shepherd in Psalms 23:
“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.” – Psalms 23:1-6
History has proven that the Lord blesses and provides and takes care of His children! Who are His children? All those who know the Lord and have a living relationship with Him!
This is a simple answer that might not satisfy all the dogmatists in the world. History of the world has proven that this is a true statement.
The question that I have not answered here is who are those who have a relationship with the Almighty God of Israel who created the world? And how do you make a relationship with Him? This we will have to explore another time. Just a hint for the future: “Religion can’t do it! And never could!”
God loves us humans enough to care for the land that we live on and to preserve it. This was his plan even before Adam and Eve sinned:
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to farm the land and to take care of it.” – Genesis 2:15
Let us all learn to love and respect the Earth that we live on! It is God’s command!
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.