Hope of Israel Ministries (Church of YEHOVAH):
And he shall think to change times and laws” (Dan.7:25).
The LAND SABBATH — A Commandment For Today?
In the Old Testament, YEHOVAH God gave Israel a very special law regarding the land — a commandment to allow the land to rest from active agricultural production every seventh year. It was called the “land Sabbath.”
Observance of this seventh year rest for the land allowed the land to rejuvenate itself. It prevented the exploitation and forcing of the ground. It allowed the land to regather its strength and fertility.
But the land Sabbath was also a benefit for man, the tiller of the ground. It gave the farmer an opportunity to devote his time to repairs on the farm, fences, barns, or even time for travel, education, and and to do future planning. It was as well a “Sabbatical year” to pursue the study of YEHOVAH God’s Word in a more active way.
Is the land Sabbath command still valid today? Is the command to allow the land to rest every seventh year still binding upon the people of YEHOVAH God today?
Most people, of course, would answer in the negative. Some have reasoned, “Normally, an individual must continue paying on debts incurred to banks, mortgage companies, and other financial institutions. A farmer may not be able to rest all his land at one time every seven years if he is depending upon certain cash crops every year to pay on his mortgage.” Such people have concluded, “Therefore, the Sabbath of the land must, in today’s society be viewed as an important ecological principle. God wants us to take care of the soil, and God’s people should see to it that their land receives its rest. This resting of the land may occur all at one time during the seventh year, as was the custom in ancient Israel, or a part at a time over a period of seven years.”
Is this reasoning true?
YEHOVAH God’s Command
In Exodus 23:10-11 we read: “And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof. But the seventh year (notice, not just any one in seven or the seventh part each year!) thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat.”
Then in the next verse: “Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest . . .” If we need not keep the land Sabbath command, can we also justify breaking the weekly sabbath command, by using the same kind of reasoning?
Do financial debts and mortgages preclude or take precedence over keeping the weekly Sabbath? If one is in debt, can he therefore work on the Sabbath day, breaking YEHOVAH’s law?
Surely we can see through the specious reasoning some use to justify breaking the land Sabbath commandment! Is it ever all right to justify and rationalize breaking the very inspired Law of YEHOVAH God Almighty — in any matter?
In the very next verse, in Exodus 23:13, YEHOVAH tells us in plain language: “AND IN ALL THINGS THAT I HAVE SAID UNTO YOU BE CIRCUMSPECT . . .”
What about it?
Is it all right to use human reason to get around YEHOVAH God’s command? Is it all right to merely observe a “portion” of the Sabbath every day of the week, say, 3-4 hours each day, instead of
resting every Sabbath day?
YEHOVAH God says in His word: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).
Jeremiah the prophet wrote, “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. 0 Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing” (Jer.10:23-24).
What is the truth about the land Sabbath command? How should it be observed today?
Let’s read this command in a modern English translation. “Sow and reap your crops for six years, but let the land rest and lie fallow during the seventh year, and let the poor among the people harvest any volunteer crop that may come up; leave the rest for the animals to enjoy. The same rule applies to your vineyards and your olive groves . . . . Be sure to obey ALL OF THESE INSTRUCTIONS; and remember — never mention the name of any other god” (Exodus 23:10-13, TLB).
That seems very plain, doesn’t it? But the mind of man can think of a million reasons why YEHOVAH God doesn’t mean exactly what He says. The imagination of men can dream of thousands of excuses why we don’t need to obey YEHOVAH’s laws today, in our modern mechanized generation!
But does human reason make disobedience right? Let us examine this question once and for all, under the torchlight of the Word of YEHOVAH God!
Yeshua the Messiah said, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to FULFILL (or, FILL FULL!). For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matt.5:17-18).
Yeshua the Messiah, our Saviour, said: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt.5:19).
“A Sabbath for the Lord”
The main land Sabbath commandment is found in Leviticus 25:1-7. God says, “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 (food) for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servants and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee, and for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.”
Is it proper to try to get around this plain and simple command of YEHOVAH God? Is it proper to merely refer to it as an ancient “custom” — as if it were not the inspired law of YEHOVAH God Almighty? Is it proper to merely view it an an “important ecological principle,” and then ignore it, or tamper with it, and change it?
YEHOVAH says to every one of us on the earth today, even as He said to ancient Israel: “Therefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? (or, “How shall we pay the mortgage, or debt?”) 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” (Lev.25:18-22).
A Test of Faith
The Sabbath year rest is a faith command, even as the weekly Sabbath is a faith command. One must have faith in YEHOVAH God to obey it. One must cling to and claim His promises to bless. It is a test of faith — and a test of obedience to the law of YEHOVAH God!
Let us not disobey YEHOVAH, or rationalize, or compromise, with the plain and clear commandment of YEHOVAH God Almighty. Those who are teachers of YEHOVAH God are to be teachers of the LAW of YEHOVAH God; they are not to modify it or tamper with it or adulterate it.
YEHOVAH inspired the prophet Malachi to write: “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the LAW at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law . . . ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law” (Malachi 2:19).
“Forgotten the LAW”
The prophet Hosea adds a sober warning: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the LAW OF THY GOD, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6).
Many have been “partial” in the law of YEHOVAH God today. They accept one part and reject another. Many have forgotten the law of YEHOVAH God. In the book of Deuteronomy, YEHOVAH tells us: “Ye shall observe to DO therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess” (Deut.5:32-33).
The Messiah himself came not to do away with YEHOVAH’s Law, but to MAGNIFY it (Isaiah 42:21). Shouldn’t we honor and magnify the land Sabbath?
YEHOVAH God said to Joshua: “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to ALL THE LAW, WHICH MOSES MY SERVANT COMMANDED THEE: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the LAW shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Josh.1:6-8).
The Sin of Compromise
In other words, we must not subtract from YEHOVAH God’s law, or add to it; we must not deviate from it in any manner, shape or form; we must not water it down, or temporize with it, or change it in any manner; we must not adulterate it; we must not rationalize it or excuse disobedience; rather, we must OBEY it, looking to YEHOVAH in living FAITH to work and perform the miracles He has promised.
YEHOVAH says in regard to His Law in these last days, and the work of the Elijah to come: “Remember ye the LAW of Moses MY SERVANT, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments” (Malachi 4:4).
The work of Elijah will not neglect the law of Moses, with the statutes and judgments — or the land Sabbath!
YEHOVAH God says, also: “Be very, very careful never to compromise with the people there in the land where you are going. For if you do, you will soon be following their evil ways” (Exo.34:12, TLB).
Should we compromise with the land Sabbath command of YEHOVAH God? Of course NOT!
The Sabbath land rest is much more than just an ecological principle — it is also a spiritual principle. It is a spiritual law of YEHOVAH God Almighty, just as much as the fourth commandment to obey the Sabbath. To observe it is a test of faith, and faith is spiritual!
When men attempt to do away with any portion of the law of YEHOVAH God, where will they stop? If it is all right, in the eyes of some, to break the Sabbath land rest law of YEHOVAH God, because of mortgages and debt, is it all right to break the tithing law of YEHOVAH because you are also in debt?
If a farmer can do away or ignore the land rest law, may he also use chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides, which are dangerous to the health of man and beast — some of them containing carcinogens and potentially causing CANCER in human beings — in growing his crops, to insure a more profitable harvest — so that he can make more money, and compete with the farmers of the world, using their own methods? Is it all right, then, for a Christian farmer to use herbicides and fungicides and rodenticides and lethal sprays? Is it all right for a Christian farmer to contribute to the growing cancer rate in this country– to commit virtual MURDER?
When will some stop justifying sin — which is lawlessness, or the breaking of YEHOVAH’s law?
The Whole Law Hangs Together
Have we forgotten the admonition of the apostle James? “For whosoever shall keep the WHOLE LAW, and yet offend in one point, HE IS GUILTY OF ALL” (James 2:10).
Those who sit in judgment of YEHOVAH God’s law shall be judged by YEHOVAH God’s Law!
What should our attitude be toward YEHOVAH’s commandments, the whole law of YEHOVAH God? David wrote, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). He added, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law” (verse 126). David added, “For all thy commandments are righteousness” (verse 172).
Should a Christian, then, be guilty of making “void” one of the precepts of the law of YEHOVAH God?
One of the reasons YEHOVAH is in the process of cursing this nation, and all modern Israel, is that they have forsaken His righteous commands. YEHOVAH says, “But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; and if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant . . . I will set my face against you . . . And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land SHALL NOT YIELD HER INCREASE, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits” (Lev.26:14-20).
Profaning the Land Sabbath
In regard to these horrendous curses which YEHOVAH God says are coming upon our lands, because we have forsaken His laws and statutes, YEHOVAH specifically states, in no unequivocal terms, “And I will bring the land into desolation: and your enemies which dwell therein shall be astonished at it. 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. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it” (Lev.26.32-35).
Do we see the point?
One of the very reasons YEHOVAH God is bringing these curses upon our lands is BECAUSE WE HAVE VIOLATED THE LAND SABBATH REST!
Any farmer who breaks this law of YEHOVAH God will suffer the divine curses written in the law of YEHOVAH God! Any farmer who violates this spiritual law of YEHOVAH God is under the curse of YEHOVAH God, and will suffer all the curses written in the book of Leviticus!
Indeed, this is “no small thing” in the sight of YEHOVAH God!
We should be afraid to alter or tamper with the holy word and Law of YEHOVAH God Almighty!
The prophet Isaiah wrote: “But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2).
Do we tremble before the very Word of the Living God? Do we fear to disobey Him? “For our God is a consuming fire,” the apostle Paul wrote to the Hebrews (Heb.12:29). Do we tremble before His holy, just, and righteous law? Do we fear to disobey it?
Or do we, in our own self righteousness, like the Pharisees of old, attempt to “modify” it, and “nullify” it, and “alter” it, to fit in with our own customs, policies, interpretations, and traditions?
Woe be to those who forsake the Law of YEHOVAH God! Woe be to those who rebel against the law of the Messiah, the true Lawgiver!
YEHOVAH God’s curses are very real, and palpable. Witness the massive floods to the Mississippi River in recent years, and the massive flooding in the Pacific Northwest in January, 1997. Witness the onset of devastating drought in the Midwest, Southwest, and other states.
All those farmers who break the land Sabbath command, will suffer great loss due to these sins. Many will lose their farms due to drought, pestilence, flood, and famine! All those who persist in justifying rebellion will sooner or later perish in the judgments of YEHOVAH God that are coming! and will die in the famine and invasion to follow!
Granted, not all ministers of the end-time churches today teach that the “land Sabbath” law of YEHOVAH God is still in force, and in effect, today. But they are miserable worms in YEHOVAH’s sight, bending and twisting His divine law to justify sin and human reasoning. YEHOVAH warned a similar false prophet in the days of Jeremiah, named Hananiah, “Hear now, Hananiah; The Lord hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: This year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the Lord”! (Jeremiah 28:15-16). Surely none of us want to be in the position of a modern Hananiah!
Let us not attempt to do away with YEHOVAH’s Law, but let us honor and uphold it, and rejoice in it, and delight in it — and study it, and marvel at it! And learn from it, as we uphold and obey it joyously and wondrously!
King David wrote: “For your laws are my guide” (Psalm 119:66, TLB). He added, “Proud men have made up lies about me, but the truth is that I obey your laws with all my heart” (v. 69). He said, “I will never lay aside your laws” (v.93).
David was a man after YEHOVAH’s own heart because he loved the laws of YEHOVAH God — all of them! He said, “I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again and again: I will obey these wonderful laws of yours” (v.106). “Your laws are my joyous treasure forever” (v. 111).
David added, “But you have rejected all who reject your laws. They are only fooling themselves. The wicked are the scum you skim off and throw away; no wonder I love to obey your laws! I tremble in fear of you; I fear your punishments” (vs.118-120).
David exclaimed, “Your laws are Wonderful; no wonder I obey them” (v.129).
He said, “Your law is my delight” (v.174). He added, “I loathed these traitors because they care nothing for your laws” (v.158).
David said, “I am indignant and angry because of the way my enemies have disregarded your laws” (v.139). He said, also, “I am very angry with those who spurn your commands. For these laws of yours have been my source of JOY and singing through all these years of my earthly pilgrimage” (vs.53-54). David declared: “I cling to your commands and follow them as closely as I can” (v.31). He prayed, “Keep me far from every wrong; help me, undeserving as I am, to obey your laws” (vs.29-30).
Isn’t this the perfect attitude — the attitude we should all have toward YEHOVAH God’s laws — including the wonderful Land Sabbath law?
May YEHOVAH God help us all to understand — and to love all of His divine law — every piece and particle of it — and to obey that it might be well with us, and with our children, forever!
Should we observe the land Sabbath today? Yeshua the Messiah warned,
“Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do thev worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men . . . Full well ye reject the commandment of God that ye may keep your awn tradition” (Mark 7:6-9).
Worship in vain!
Yeshua said the people of His day were laying aside the commandments of YEHOVAH God. He called them a nasty name — hypocrites — for doing this. He said their worship of Him was in vain because they layed aside the inspired commandment of YEHOVAH God. They used human reason to get around YEHOVAH’s plain and simple and direct commandments!
What is our excuse today? Are some of us guilty of the very same sins? Are some guilty of attempting to lay aside, and get around, the plain and simple and direct commandment to allow the land to rest every seventh year?
Yeshua said the people then were guilty of “making the Word of YEHOVAH God of none effect through your tradition” (Mark 7:13). When men lay aside a plain and direct command of YEHOVAH God, are they not also guilty of making the Word of YEHOVAH God of none effect by changing and altering it?
Yeshua said: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt.4:4). Isn’t Exodus 23:10-11 and Leviticus 25:3-7 part of that inspired, authoritative, God-breathed, divinely spoken Word of YEHOVAH God? Paul wrote, “ALL SCRIPTURE is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect” (II Tim.3:16-17).
How, then, should we treat the land Sabbath? Should we have a cavalier attitude toward it? Or should we have a humble, respectful, rejoicing attitude, thanking YEHOVAH God for His precious law, which is a delight to our soul, a treasure trove, and should we not esteem it and value it very highly, and keep it diligently, in faith, trusting in YEHOVAH to bless us for it, as He has promised in His Word?
One of YEHOVAH’s great promises is to BLESS US, if we obey His command to observe the Sabbatical year faithfully, in spite of human reasons to the contrary (Lev-25:20-22). It boils down to a question of faith — whether or not we BELIEVE YEHOVAH God, BELIEVE His Word, and BELIEVE His promises!
And Yeshua said: “According to your faith be it unto you-(Matt.9:29). May YEHOVAH God help us to obey His Law — ALL of it-in living faith!
Hope of Israel Ministries — Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!