Monday, July 14, 2014

A Break from Routine

A farmer more than anyone else knows about routine. He goes to the field and sows seeds during the planting season. He watches the seeds grow and tends the field, protecting it from weeds and harmful insects. As the plant matures, he prepares for harvest and once the plant is ripe he puts in his sickle and reaps his harvest. The crops he will gather into his barn, some for food, some for Roman taxes and the land owner and some for sale in the market place or to the middle man. Israel's cycle of Feasts centres around the cycles of agricultural produce. First, barley for Passover and Unleavened bread (March/April), wheat for Pentecost 50 days later and then olives and grapes for the Feast of Tabernacles in the 7th month. After a farmer has gone through the year-cycle, he celebrates the Feast of Tabernacles, also known as the Feast of ingathering, the farmer prays for rain during the Feast and prepares for the new year's cycle of sowing and reaping again. This he will do for 6 years and on the 7th year, the Law commands that the land to lie fallowed and the workers rest on the 7th or sabbatical year.
Just as the sabbath day is celebrated weekly, the sabbatical year is celebrated by Israel to remind them that their livelihood is not due to their power or hard work though no doubt much hard work is done in the preceding 6 years of labour but that it is God, the Lord of the land who is the provider of all good things and it is in his power to bless and to withhold blessings. Hence, the test of faith that the 6th year's crops will produce a double portion so that the Israelites have food to sustain them in their 7th year and in the 8th year when they begin to sow but have to wait for year's end for the harvest. Thus, it is a remarkable testimony to God's power, more so in the 50th year, the year of Jubilee that the Israelites have to take 2 years off work and the promise is that God will bless them three fold in the 6th or 48th year so that in the 49th and 50th year the people have enough to live on until they sow again in the 51st year. A break from routine is a time for revelation. People will have to rest and they do not go out to their fields. They will spend time at home and teach their children (it is primarily the father's responsibility to teach his chidren the laws of God; Deut 6,6-7). They will have more time to study God's laws and in the 7th year, there is no excuse to miss the pilgrimage Feasts to Jerusalem. Jesus's parents travelled the whole week from Nazareth to Jerusalem to keep the Passover. Joseph is said to be a righteous man. He must have taught his son, Jesus the laws of God during Joseph's sabbatical and keeping of the 7th year free from labour. God the Father used a human father to teach His son, Jesus so much so from Jesus's childhood to adolescence it is said that Jesus grew in wisdom and favour with God and men.

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