To answer your good question, let’s read Leviticus 25:1-6, “And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD. Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land. And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee.” 

The Lord is giving His people instruction concerning the ‘Sabbath Year’.  After entering Canaan, for six years, they were to plant and reap, but the seventh year, they were to let the fields rest.  This would give the fields time to replenish the nutrients needed to continue to produce good crops.  We read in Leviticus 23:3, “Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.”  So, even as the children of Israel were commanded to keep the Sabbath Day each week, they were also directed to keep the Sabbath Year each seventh year. 

On the seventh year they were not to plant their fields. Neither were they supposed to harvest them. Nor could they tend or harvest their vines. The land was not to be worked at all. They could, however, pick and eat what the land produced by itself.  This is often referred to as the ‘volunteer crop,’ which signifies that the plants were not to be planted, but that which would grow up on its own could be eaten.

Certainly, the people would be concerned about there being enough ‘volunteer crop’ to feed the entire nation of Israel.  Exodus 23:10-11 says about this Sabbath Year, “And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.”  During this time, the poor and the working animals were to be allowed to gather food from the fields.  In anticipation of that logical question, the Lord promised great blessing when His people obeyed His commandment.  We read in Leviticus 25:20-22, “And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.”  Not only would the Lord provide His people enough food to last through the Sabbath Year, He would abundantly bless them with enough food to last through the eighth year, until the crops planted that year were ready to be harvested in the ninth year. How great is the Lord’s supply to those who obey and trust Him. 

In Leviticus 26, the Lord begins to tell His people of the consequences of disobeying His commandments, including the observance of the Sabbath Year.  Verse 14 says, “But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments…”  I encourage you to read this entire chapter where the Lord faithfully warns His people against disobeying Him.  In direct reference to the disregarding of the Sabbath Year, the Lord says in verses 33-34, “And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.”  Indeed, the Lord will make sure the land enjoys its seventh year of rest, whether His people observe it willingly or the Lord scatters His people so that the land can rest. 

We might ask ourselves what all this has to do with us, as believers, today.  One very important and practical lesson for us is to see that the Lord richly blesses obedience and disciples those who disobey.  We may not completely understand His ways and purposes, but we can rest assured that the Lord has His reasons for all things.  We need simply to learn His Word and obey it.  Blessings will surely follow!  (476.6)