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Verses of Leviticus 25

20

Leviticus 25:20 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

DISCOURSE: 142
THE SABBATICAL YEAR

Lev 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 will I 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.

MANY of the commands of God to his people of old appear to be mere arbitrary impositions, without any other use than that of subjecting their wills to his. But I doubt whether there be one single law that will fairly bear this construction. The reasons of many are not known to us, and perhaps were not fully understood by the Jews themselves: yet we cannot doubt but that if God had been pleased to explain them fully to us, we should have seen as much wisdom and goodness displayed in those which are at present unintelligible to us, as in others which we understand. The command to give rest to the land every seventh year, when the extent of country was so disproportionate to its population, must appear exceeding strange to those who have not duly considered it. The generality of persons would account for it perhaps from its being conducive to the good of the land, which would be too much exhausted, if it were not permitted occasionally to lie fallow. But this could not be the reason: for then a seventh part of the land would most probably have been kept fallow every year, and not the whole at once. Moreover, it would not have been suffered to produce any thing which would tend to counteract the main design; whereas all the seed that had been accidentally scattered on it during the harvest, was suffered to grow up to maturity. Nor can the idea of lying fallow be applied with any propriety to the olive-yards and vineyards, which, though not trimmed and pruned that year, were suffered to bring all their fruit to maturity. We must look then to some other source for the reasons of this appointment. Those which appear the most probable and most important, it is the object of this discourse to set before you.
The ordinance itself is more fully stated at the beginning of the chapter [Note: –7. (Read it.) See also Exo 23:10-11.]: and it was given,

I.

To remind them that God was the great Proprietor of all—

[In the verse following the text. God says to his people, “The laud is mine.” And it was his: he had dispossessed the former inhabitants, and had given it to his own people, assigning to every tribe its precise district, and to every family their proper portion. This they would have been likely to forget in the space of a few years: and therefore, as the great Proprietor, he specified the terms on which he admitted them to the possession of his land, reserving to himself the tithes and first-fruits, and requiring the whole to be left uncultivated and common every seventh year. Thus the people would be reminded from time to time that they were only tenants, bound to use the land agreeably to the conditions imposed on them.
Instructive as this thought was to them, it is no less so to us. Indeed, we should never for one moment lose the remembrance of it. “The whole world is mine,” says God, “and the fulness thereof [Note: Psa 24:1; Psa 50:12.].” Nay more, our very “bodies and spirits are his [Note: 1Co 6:20.]:” and consequently, all that we are, and have, should be used for him, and be entirely at his disposal. Of what incalculable benefit would it be to have our minds duly impressed with this truth! How would it lay the axe to the root of all those evils which arise within us from the diversity of our states and conditions in the world! Pride in the attainment of earthly things, anxiety in the possession, and sorrow in the loss of them, would be greatly moderated — — — Instead of being agitated with the keen sensibilities of an owner, we should feel only a subordinate interest, like that of a steward: we should be neither elated with prosperity, nor depressed with adversity, but in every change should be satisfied, if only we were sure that we had done our duty, and that no blame attached to us.]

II.

To keep them from earthly-mindedness—

[When our corn and wine are multiplied, we are apt to be thinking how we may treasure them up, rather than how we shall employ them to the honour of God. To counteract this sordid disposition, God provided, that, when he had given his people the richest abundance, they should think only of the temperate and grateful use of it, and not of amassing wealth. By this ordinance he said to them, what he says to us also, “If riches increase, set not your hearts upon them [Note: Psa 62:10.].” He would have us live above this vain world; and not, when running for such a prize, be “loading our feet with thick clay [Note: Hab 2:6.].” If we could have the reasons of God’s dispensations fully revealed to us, I have no doubt but that we should find that he has this end in view, when he sends us one bereavement after another: he does it, I say, that we may learn to “set our affections on things above, and not on things on the earth” — — —]

III.

To lead them to trust in him—

[Like the rich fool in the Gospel, they would have been ready to say, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; eat, drink, and be merry.” But God is jealous of his own honour. He will not endure that we should “say to gold, Thou art my hope; or to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence.” Indeed, he not only denounces against such conduct his heaviest judgments, but sets forth in most beautiful terms its practical effects [Note: Jer 17:5-6.] — — — The cares of this world are as thorns and briers, which choke the seed which God has sown in our hearts, and prevent it from bringing forth any fruit to perfection. They also weigh down the spirits, and oftentimes prove an insupportable burthen to the soul: whereas the person who has learned to confide in God, is always happy: “he knows in whom he has believed,” and is assured that “he shall want no manner of thing that is good.” Hence David not merely affirms that such persons are happy, but appeals to God himself respecting it; “O Lord God of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.” This was the state to which God designed to bring his people of old; and in it he would have all his people live, even to the end of the world. “I would have you,” says he, “without carefulness:” “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God; and the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”]

IV.

To make them observant of his providential care—

[When they saw that the sabbatical year was at hand, how forcibly would they be struck with the provision which God had made for it! They would have “three years” to live on the produce of one single year [Note: Commentators appear to me to mistake in supposing that the sabbatical year began, like their civil year, in autumn: for then, the sowing and reaping being brought within one year, the loss of that whole time would be felt only for two years: but if their year began, like their ecclesiastical year, in the spring, then they would of course not sow in the sixth year, nor reap in the eighth year; because they could not reap or sow in the seventh year: consequently, they could only sow in the eighth year what they were to reap in the ninth. The language of the 22d verse seems to require this interpretation. Next to this interpretation, I should prefer that of making the words “three years” to signify “one year, and parts of two.”]. But when they saw their barns overflowing with the produce of the earth, and their presses bursting out with new wine, methinks they would say, This is the hand of God: we will love him; we will serve him; we will trust in him: we will shew, that we are not insensible of all his love and kindness.

Such sentiments and conduct would tend exceedingly to exalt and honour God; and would conduce very much to the happiness of all. We are apt to think that there is great comfort annexed to the idea of wealth and plenty: but the comfort which a poor man has in receiving his pittance as from the hand of God, far outweighs all that the rich ever felt in their unsanctified abundance — — — The more we enjoy God in the creature, the more we enjoy the creature itself — — —]

V.

To typify the felicity of heaven—

[Canaan was an acknowledged type of heaven: and this ordinance fully represented the blessedness there enjoyed. All the land was common during the seventh year; and every person in it, whether rich or poor, a native or a foreigner, had an equal right to every thing in it. None were to assert an exclusive claim to any thing: none were to reap or treasure up the fruits of the earth: but all were to participate with equal freedom the bounties of heaven. What a delightful picture does this give us of that blessed state, in which there will be no distinction of persons, no boast of exclusive rights, no want of any thing to the children of God: but all will have a fulness of joy at God’s right hand, and rivers of pleasure for evermore! — — — Even in the Church below there was a little of this, when the disciples had all things common, and none said that any thing he possessed was his own; but in the Church above, this will universally prevail, and endure to all eternity.]

This subject, in its different bearings, affords ample matter of instruction to,
1.

The doubtful and undetermined Christian—

[The Jews were required to sacrifice their worldly prospects for the Lord: and were threatened, that, if they did not obey this ordinance, God would expel them from the land. This threatening too was executed in the Babylonish captivity, according to the number of sabbatical years which they had neglected to observe [Note: Lev 26:33-35, with 2Ch 36:20-21.]. Shall Christians then be backward to exercise self-denial, or to sacrifice their temporal interests for their Lord and Saviour? Let them not hesitate between duty and interest: the calls, though apparently opposite, are indeed the same: if we sacrifice any thing for the Lord, he will repay us an hundred-fold. If we will lose our lives for his sake, we shall find them: but if we will save them here, we shall lose them in the eternal world.]

2.

The careful and worldly-minded Christian—

[If the Jews, whose principal rewards were of a temporal nature, were taught not to place their affections on earthly things, how much less should we! It is really a disgrace to Christianity, when persons who profess godliness are as anxious after this world as those who have no prospects beyond. Yet how common is this character! Happy would it be for them if they would study our Lord’s sermon on the mount; and learn from the very birds of the air to live without anxiety for the morrow [Note: Mat 6:25-30.]. Not that they should neglect their earthly business, whatever it may be: but, in the habit and disposition of their minds, they should “be content with such things as they have,” and realize the prayer which they profess to approve, “Give us day by day our daily bread!”]

3.

The fearful and unbelieving Christian—

[On the command being given respecting the observance of the sabbatical year, some are represented as asking, “What shall we eat the seventh year?” Now thus it is with many Christians, who are anticipating evils, and questioning with themselves what they shall do under such or such circumstances? and fearing, that, if they proceed in the way of duty, they shall not be able to stand their ground. But the answer to such persons is, “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” We have no right to anticipate evils; at least, not so to anticipate them as to distress ourselves about them. All that we need to inquire, is, What is the way of duty? True, to carnal minds we may appear to act absurdly, and to thwart our own interests: but the path of duty will always be found the path of safety. God is the same God as ever he was: and, if he call us to exercise faith on him, he will never disappoint us. Justly did Jesus reprove his disciples for fearing, when they had him in the same vessel with them. Let us remember, that he is embarked with us, and that they who trust in him “shall not be ashamed or confounded world without end.”]

4.

The humble and believing Christian—

[Did you ever, when exercising faith in God, find yourself disappointed of your hope? Did he ever leave you or forsake you? If the command have appeared formidable at a distance. have you not always found that your strength was increased according to your day, and that His grace was sufficient for you? Have you not found also, that, though your obedience might be self-denying, it has always been productive of happiness? In short, are you not living witnesses of the truth and faithfulness of your Lord? Go on then, and be examples of a holy self-denying obedience. Prefer the performance of duty before worldly prospects, how lucrative soever they may appear: and let it be seen in you. what it is to “live by faith on the Son of God, who has loved you, and given himself for you.”]


Verses of Leviticus 25

20

Consult other comments:

Leviticus 25:20 - Calvin's Complete Commentary

Leviticus 25:20 - Adam Clarke's Commentary and Critical Notes on the Bible

Leviticus 25:20 - Commentary on the Holy Bible by Thomas Coke

Leviticus 25:20 - Companion Bible Notes, Appendices and Graphics

Leviticus 25:20 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 25:20 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Leviticus 25:20 - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 25:20 - Commentary Series on the Bible by Peter Pett

Leviticus 25:20 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Leviticus 25:20 - John Trapp's Complete Commentary (Old and New Testaments)

Leviticus 25:20 - The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Leviticus 25:20 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)