Resting In the God We Can Trust | Behar – WEEK 32
By Nathan Smith
In 2012 Rabbi Jonathan Cahn wrote a book called The Harbinger in which he outlined, what He believed to be, a pattern in world history that was tied to a concept in scriptures called the shemitah. He claimed that much of what had been happening in current events from the terror attacks of September 11th to the financial collapse in 2008, were prophetic acts being played out on a biblical, seven-year cycle. Cahn’s book brought a lot of attention to the concept of the shemitah and, regardless of your opinion on his writings, it highlighted a concept in scripture that is often overlooked. In this week’s Torah portion, we read about this seven-year cycle, the shemitah or sabbath (sabbatical) year, and why God instituted it.
In Leviticus 25 we learn about God’s desire for the land of Israel to receive a sabbath rest in the same way that He commanded His people to take a sabbath rest. As opposed to commanding rest every seven days for the land, as He did for His people, the Lord commanded that every seventh year the land be allowed to rest uncultivated. Why would God make such a command? Similar to the weekly appointed time of rest God commanded in scripture where He desired His people to cease from labor and commune with Him and one another (the sabbath), the Lord wanted the land to rest so that it could be replenished.
We can easily miss the fact that the scriptures are often revealing God’s character to us as much as it it trying to teach us something practical. God is a God who values rest and relationship. It is part of His nature. He knows it requires more faith to stop than it does to continue and, therefore, invites us to demonstrate our trust in Him by stopping one day each week and trusting His provision. Every seven years, He required a greater measure of trust as people were commanded not to farm the land, but only eat what they had stored up the previous year and what the land produced naturally on its own. They had to trust that God would provide enough in the sixth year to provide a surplus and that the land would produce whatever additional they needed naturally in the seventh.
Not only do we read of this seven-year pattern or land rest, or the shemitah, but we also learn that, when this seven-year cycle had happened seven times, there was a special event to take place called the jubilee. The jubilee year took place in the 50th year, or the year following the completion of the seven cycles of seven years. In the jubilee year, all outstanding debts between fellow Israelites were to be cancelled and properties that had been sold outside of family lines were to be restored to their original tribal ownership. This reveals God’s character of justice. God was pleased for the people to do business, to dream, to grow and to expand, but not at the expense of causing other fellow Israelites to be impoverished due to poor decisions and extemporaneous circumstances. God wanted to ensure that no tribe would lose its inheritance or become overwhelmed by debt and, therefore, set a standard that in the year of jubilee outstanding debts would be cleared and properties would be restored. Only a God of love and concern would require such a thing of His people. This is who our God is.
God is constantly revealing Himself to us through His word. In this portion of scripture we are being invited to know better the God who desires us to trust, and to be at rest in His provision. We are invited to consider the God who loves both justice and mercy and desires to see His children cared for from generation to generation. Since God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we can still see these qualities of His character at work in our lives and in the world today. Not only is Jesus (Yeshua) our sabbath rest, but He is our jubilee. All of our hope and trust can be placed in Him, and it sets our hearts at rest. We can trust His provision, and we can know that He cancels our debts, restores our souls, and enables us to flourish as we stay rooted in Him.
As you meditate on parashat behar, again be reminded that the great God of love desires to see us proactively placing our trust in Him by ceasing from our striving and trusting His perfect leadership. Remember that the debt we owe for sinning against God has been fully paid by the blood of the perfect Lamb of God, Jesus (Yeshua) the Messiah. And finally, remember that God owns it all. It all belongs to Him, and, therefore, we are stewards of all He has entrusted to us; so let us care for one another well, treat each other with dignity, and trust that the Lord is for us and not against us. As we do these things, resting in the Lord’s leadership and provision, we will be able to see God’s goodness all around us. Be at rest in Him today as He is the God of justice who loves you with an everlasting love. As you rest in Him, you are demonstrating your trust in Him. As you refuse to take advantage of your neighbor, you are stewarding well all God has entrusted to you and are honoring Him as the one who made us all. Let us continue to serve Him and trust Him with all that we are. God is for you today, and so am I.
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About the Author
Nathan and his family live in the Charlotte, NC area. Nathan has served the Body of Christ in full-time ministry for nearly 20 years through church planting, worship leading, teaching and speaking. He carries an immense burden for Israel and the nations. Nathan has authored and published over 50 songs and currently serves as an Executive Pastor at The Refuge Church (therefuge.net). You can read more of his writings on his blog called #TheBestViewInTown at www.NathanWesleySmith.com.
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