Monday, May 11, 2015

Everything and Everyone Needs A Rest -- Exodus 23:10-12:


“And you shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat.  You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.  Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor; in order that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves.”
 
At face value, this instruction is addressed to those who farm the land. But does that excuse the majority of us who today find ourselves otherwise occupied? I don’t think so. This “6 and 1” rhythm seems to have been established earlier in scripture.  Back in Genesis we noted that God Himself worked six days and then rested on the seventh. Earlier in Exodus (chapter 20) we are told we must do all our work in six days and then rest on the seventh. And now here, God says that “6 and 1” rhythm is good for the land as well. Farm it for six years, reap the harvest that it yields, and then let it rest. If God rested, and if He requires that His creation (the earth) rests, how much more important is it for our working animals and us to rest?
And then God interweaves a key principle into this direction. He is in essence saying, “Don’t be so fanatical about this to the point where you do not allow others with real need to gather what I provide naturally as you allow the land to lie fallow (tilled but not seeded).” Directly or indirectly, God is saying, while you have food in your stockrooms and silos for this year of rest, you still have to be conscious of the needs of others; you still need to take care of widows and orphans.
God also shows His care for animals, for as we leave our farmland to lie fallow allowing the needy to be taken care of, so too, what they leave, will take care of the beast of the field. It never fails to amaze me how well things would work if we were to follow God’s plans in every detail. In this case, the needy, as well as the beggar on the street would be fed and so would our four-legged friends.
This passage deals with years – allowing the land to rest on the seventh after it was worked for six. The “6 and 1” rhythm principle is not to be limited to those among us who till the ground and grow our food. It is a principle that can, and should, be transferred to all of our labor activities – in the office, in the classroom, on the professional sports arena, and so on. We can transfer the idea of “years” to days in keeping with God’s other commandments. Failure to apply the principle is at our own risk. I have recently started speed walking daily with my wife but we both realize that our bodies need rest each week. If we don’t take that rest, we do not make it through the next week.
Ask yourself “Am I maximizing on the rhythm that God established for the physical aspect of my life? Am I taking the rests that I need? Am I giving my family, my workers, and my staff that rest? Am I thinking creatively about those in need?” I cannot vouch whether or not “Things Go Better With Coke!” but I can tell you “Life Is Better In God’s Rhythm!”
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