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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Year of Jubilee

I've been farming all weekend. Not real farming. Farmville farming, which is more fun and less beneficial exercise. I hope to ride out the crush in a week or so and settle down into a normal pattern of plant, live in the real world, harvest, repeat. I'm always like this with a new love interest. It takes about two weeks for the blush to wear off.

But virtual farming got me thinking about real farming, and God has some things to say about that.

Our daily readings for last month and this month include the Old Testament laws. Forgive me, because it's late and I should remember this, but most theologians break the Old Testament laws down into categories of dietary, Levitical (laws relating specifically to the priests and sacrifices, I think) and one other word I can't think of right now referring to the laws that continue but were fulfilled in Christ. Like the 10 Commandments are immutable, but Christ simultaneously raised the bar by exemplifying those laws and lowered the bar by becoming our Savior so we aren't required to be perfect in this life. That's a whole other post, so I'm not going into it here.

Anyway, God told the Israelites to celebrate the Year of Jubilee, a sort of Sabbath year when the ground rested (Lev 25:18-22). They could not actively plant or harvest crops that year. Whatever grew, grew and they could gather it, but they were not allowed to cultivate anything.

During that year, God promised He would bless the land enough to sustain them. They were to trust that He would take care of them without their interference.

I've heard that in the time before chemicals, this practice was necessary to restore the fertility of soil. Practicing the Year of Jubilee made ecological sense, even if it did frustrate the farmers. Some might say we have no need for such practices now because of technological advances. I won't argue with them. Technology has changed a lot of things.

I do wonder, though, if God's promises of blessings would still apply in this day and age if a Christian were to honor the old law and practice the Year of Jubilee. After all, God doesn't change. If He promised He would bless His children then, why would He not bless His children now?

I suppose you could argue His children at that time were the Israelites and these laws applied only to them. Okay. But aren't we adopted children? Isn't that the point of Christ's coming, and why the Jews didn't understand His message at first, because they thought the Messiah was supposed to save just them?

When God gives rules, He does it for our benefit. It teaches us something, or protects us from something, or reminds us of something. I find this an interesting rule because it teaches reliance on God, it protects the soil from depletion and it reminds us that everything that grows comes from God anyway.

So this is what I'm thinking about while I'm planting in Farmville, and I'm considering taking Sundays off from the game.

But not for another two weeks.

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