Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord. (Leviticus 25:3-4)
The Sabbatical year, the sh’mittah, is to the land what the Sabbath is to the people — a scheduled time of rest. Both of these Sabbaths teach, among other things, that the God of Israel is the primary force in the universe. In other words, neither random circumstance, natural selection or Mother Nature has anything to do with how the Creation functions — it is the handiwork of a sovereign Creator. Furthermore, they both testify that the Sovereign Creator brought everything into existence in six days and then rested on the seventh.
So then, just as the seventh day provokes us to look back at what happened in the beginning, the seventh year, the sh’mittah, causes us to look ahead to a greater “Sabbath rest.” In short, the sabbatical year alludes to the 6,000 years of history culminating in the one-thousand year reign of the Messiah and the consequential rest from the labors of this world. This Great Sabbath will be a period of peace and tranquility unknown in this world since before the fall of man.
No doubt that there was (and is) a literal benefit to the land when it was allowed to rest. It was given a season to rejuvenate and reenergize for the next growing season. Perhaps more importantly, this time of restoration was intended to teach those who observed it about a time when all the earth would be restored back to the way it was always intended to be — under the Kingship of the Almighty. In that day, all things will be restored and His people will enter into a time of rest, thus the writer of Hebrews says: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God….Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:9, 11).
Blessings and Shalom,