I always wanted to have a job with regular sabbaticals - like a year long Sabbatical after every year of work. The idea of a decade long Sabbatical especially appeals to me. But even just a year - being able to devote one year to study, research and reflection is incredible. When we are in Christ, we no longer are the slaves of a human employer. We serve God. And the benefits are heavenly. We get a sabbatical every week. In the Old Testament, there also Sabbath years. I think the Lord's initial plan was for us to have more than just a weekly Sabbath. I believe God wanted us to have extended times to devote to study, creativity and personal growth, because life is about more than work!
The text we are studying has an interesting context. Two major themes in surrounding texts are the sabbatical and jubilee years, and caring for the poor.1
Leviticus 25:1 - 4 (Bible in Basic English) And the Lord said to Moses on Mount Sinai, 2Say to the children of Israel, When you come into the land which I will give you, let the land keep a Sabbath to the Lord. 3For six years put seed into your land, and for six years give care to your vines and get in the produce of them; 4But let the seventh year be a Sabbath of rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord; do not put seed into your land or have your vines cut.
Rashi comments that the rest of the Sabbatical year, like the Sabbath, is for the Lord.2 During the Sabbatical and the Sabbath, our focus moves outside of ourselves and moves to the heavenly, toward the Lord.
There is a tendency to think the world belongs to us and to forget the Lord owns the world,3 a tendency to think that we are self-made people and a tendency to think that our success resting entirely in our own hands. Through the Sabbath, the Eternal reminds us that He is the One who gives us the power to work all week.4
The Sabbath has a special meaning for gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual and trans people. That message - that you are not self-made. The Lord made you. Your value is established because you were made by a Master Designer and were redeemed by the Son. You no longer need to sweat tears to be honorable and valuable. You do not need to change yourself, to make yourself into the kind of person your family, your friends, and, possibly even your church, wants you to be. You can just relax, rest and enjoy being the person God created you to be and enjoy being with Christ.
The Sabbatical year helps us understand we do not own the world. And that is good, because we do not own our possessions. Our possessions own us. The Lord is still in charge. God is the boss.5 That is very good, because we are set free from the cares of carrying the entire world on our shoulders. We do not have to carry the stress of being the boss of the world. Only God is able to successfully delegate that much work.
We tend to think of sabbatical years as freedom from slavery, debt or sin. That is an important aspect of the weekly, seven year and 50 year sabbaticals. But there is a little more to it than just a spiritual reality that hardly touches our lives.
There are a few things which the Lord reminds us of during the regular cycles of sabbaticals. The Lord gives us freedom from the emotional stuff, the emotional baggage we own, the many things that we do not need to own. We are freed from the burden of trying to live straight when we are not straight. And we are able to bask in the sunshine of the Eternal's love.
There is complete liberty from trying to tuck ourselves in or puff ourselves up, from trying to get just the right hairstyle or trying to find some hair to style, from trying to hide pimples or from trying to hide wrinkles to gain acceptance, companionship and friendship. We have the freedom to just feel worthwhile, because we are with the Lord, in the Lord and the Spirit is in us.
Jeremiah 32:6 - 7 (CEV) Later, when I was in prison, the LORD said: 7Jeremiah, your cousin Hanamel, the son of your uncle Shallum, will visit you. He must sell his field near the town of Anathoth, and because you are his nearest relative, you have the right and the responsibility to buy it and keep it in the family.
As the Eternal did not give up on the children of Israel, the Lord has not given up on humanity and the Creator has not given up on His queer children. Jeremiah’s purchasing the land showed the land had value, that the “fallen nation will rise again.”6
This faith in the future of the children of Israel helps us understand the faith God places in us. There are times when we are beaten down by life, beaten up by our mistakes and beaten up by feelings of worthlessness. At those times, God reminds us that He purchased us and that we were purchased with blood. And because we are blood-bought we have lasting value, true freedom, and eternal life.
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