Let us think about the Sabbath year and what God wants to see in this year and how Jesus fulfils this and the hope we have.
1. Land shall rest on the 7th year as Sabbath to the Lord.
The 10 Commandments entail our relationship with God and with others, and how to go into the land of Canaan. God is speaking to us that if we want to be God’s people living in Paradise the kingdom of heaven, this is what we need to do and what we should look forward to.
Leviticus 25:3-5. The land should rest on the 7th year, it is a Sabbath to the Lord and a Sabbath rest for the land too. They are to farm only for 6 years and let the land rest on the 7th year. We might worry about what they will eat in the 7th year. Leviticus 25:20-22. God can give them 2 years’ worth and that should be sufficient but God is giving them 3 years’ worth of food. God is giving them extra blessings to make sure they look forward to and obey God in keeping the Sabbath year. At the same time, God is giving us a promise of how great the blessing will be for our spiritual Sabbath year.
Why then is God asking the people to let the land rest? In Genesis 3:17-19, God speaks so much about the cursed ground and He relates the ground to us fallen human beings. We are created from the dust of the ground and we will return to dust. Genesis 3:17-19. The ground symbolizes our origin on this earth. It is cursed so it will bear thorns and thistles.
Genesis 3:24. God guarded the way back to the Tree of Life so that the land can be restored and will not be corrupted by sin. Mankind cannot come to the Tree of Life while having sin. God’s command to let the land rest can be seen from a redemptive perspective as God’s work of redemption for our hearts and our grounds. The land was cursed so letting the land take Sabbath, take rest, shows us the restoration of the Garden of Eden.
2. At the end of every 7 years, you shall grant a remission of debt.
Deuteronomy 15:1-2. Even debt should be released and forgiven. This will prevent bankruptcy, prevent slavery because of debt. Deuteronomy 15:4-5. God is saying if you just follow and obey this, none of you will be poor. They are able to receive payback or payment for the money they had loaned to their brothers among the Israelites for 6 years only. On the 7th year, they are to cancel the debt and forget about it.
(i) First, this is telling us that our sins will be forgiven in the end through the cross.
Romans 6:23 (ESV) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In order for us to pay off our sin, we have to give our life. Even our life cannot forgive all our sins, so we cannot clear ourselves of all our debts, therefore we need the 7th year of Sabbath blessing. That Sabbath blessing will be brought to us by the Messiah who will come to us and clear all our debts.
(ii) Secondly, it is teaching us that if we have been forgiven of our debt, we should also forgive other debtors.
We say this in the Lord’s Prayer, and Jesus taught us that if we won’t forgive others’ debts, we ourselves will not be forgiven either. Matthew 18:31-35. Since we have been forgiven we ought to also forgive others.
(iii) Thirdly, we need to work hard to pay off our debts.
Whether literal debt on our credit card or loan and also in terms of our wrongdoings for others, we need to seek forgiveness. We also need to seek forgiveness from our God for our own sins. Apostle Paul says that the way he works to pay off his debt is to evangelise, to preach the Word of God. Romans 13:8. In the end, this law about forgiving debts on the 7th year is showing us and giving us hope that in the end, our Father on the eternal Sabbath will clear all our debts (all our sins).
3. In the 7th year, you shall set slaves free.
Deuteronomy 15:12. Hebrew slaves are to serve only 6 years, God commanded them to be freed on the 7th year. We are the people who are living in slavery under the oppression of this world as the Israelites did in Egypt. We are the ones still struggling as slaves to different things.
However, the Master, the Lord of Sabbath when He comes to us, that is Sabbath. After the 7th Sabbath year, there comes the Jubilee year. These days are designed and given by God for His people to observe, so they can look forward to the eternal completion of God’s redemptive work, the eternal Sabbath, the eternal 7th day.
When Jesus came, He gave us the blessing of the Sabbath Day, and that blessing is that He will free us from our slavery. Let us think about what is enslaving us today. What is oppressing us? What addiction? What wrong habits? What concerns are pressing us down? Let us pray sincerely to our Father, Father free me from this bondage of sin.
Furthermore, it speaks about slavery or bondages and oppression under sickness and different conditions of this society. This is a promise that God will release us, free us from such sickness.
4. At the end of every 7 years, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing.
Deuteronomy 31:10-11. This Lord’s Day is observed as the new Sabbath day, the new day to look forward to, we call this the 8th day. The beginning of a new set of 7 days.
In the Old Testament Sabbath Day, and in the New Testament Lord’s Day, the Word of God is proclaimed. That is what will happen on the Sabbath and foreshadows the blessing of God’s Word being fulfilled in the eternal Sabbath.
5. As conclusion, let us think about the fulfilment of the Sabbath year and Jubilee in Jesus’ ministry.
When Jesus begins His ministry which is 26AD, that was the Sabbath year. Jesus came as the new temple, and Jesus came to proclaim liberty and freedom to all mankind. Luke 4:18-19. Jesus is quoting and reading from Isaiah 61. Who is this “anointed one”? The word Messiah means the anointed one. In Greek, it is Christus, or Christ (English). Jesus is saying He is the anointed one who came to free and to liberate and to proclaim release to the captives, to heal sickness, to free the oppressed and proclaim the favourable year of the Lord. Isaiah 61:1-2.
Who were the anointed ones in the bible? Kings, priests, and prophets. Jesus is the eternal king, Jesus is the eternal high priest, and Jesus is also the prophet that Moses prophesied about. King gives rest to the people and governs. Priests are bridges mediating between God and people. Prophets proclaim the Word. That is what Jesus came to do. Jesus already cancelled our debt, but we are to work to proclaim the gospel, to evangelise, as people who are once debtors and are now freed.
What does Jesus do?
(i) Jesus declares that He will raise up the temple. Jesus will restore the eternal temple. John 2:19
(ii) Jesus proclaimed freedom and liberation. Matthew 11:4-5, Luke 4:18
(iii) Jesus proclaimed the favourable year of the Lord. Isaiah 61:1-2