Open Your Bible
Leviticus 25:1-55, Leviticus 26:1-12, Deuteronomy 4:5-8, James 1:25
BY Aurora Eagen
Today is quiet. In another corner of the house, the gentle tones of someone playing piano reverberate in the floorboards of my second-story room. I am sick in bed and enjoying my rest. The saying goes, if you don’t take rest, your body will make you rest; I have now fully succumbed to its demands.
Unlike the untimely rest forced upon me, today’s reading includes a call for consistent, rhythmic cycles of rest. The land, which God gives, is to remain fallow in certain years. The people, who God has freed, are called to a repetitive restoration process which, in time, regains what has been lost from God’s original, lavish provision. The land and the people are God’s, and the Israelites are called to demonstrate their remembrance of this through rest and restoration.
Inherent in the choice to rest is an expression of trust. When we rest we trust that even as we cease from our labors, our provision is still assured. When I trust in what I possess—my skill sets, my savings account, my investments, my work ethic, my knowledge, my wit, my attractiveness—it is difficult to justify rest. After all, do I possess enough to acquire what I perceive I need? When I trust in the God who possesses all, I acknowledge that it is actually from Him that I receive all blessings. This kind of rest is not just an activity (or lack thereof) but a state of being which reflects our trust in an abundantly hospitable Father. We are God’s guests in a world not of our making, but He has invited us to enjoy His good possessions.
These laws beckoned the Israelites to be molded into people of trust. To obey these laws, they had to acknowledge God provides the blessings which make our efforts fruitful.
In the genesis of this infant nation, the blessings given for keeping the covenant culminate with the best of the best: “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people” (Leviticus 26:12). When we don’t receive the kinds of provision we desire, God’s dedication and commitment to us (and our flourishing) remain our greatest blessing. By devoting ourselves to Him, we can more fully receive God’s lavish gift of His own wholehearted and attentive devotion.
The Israelites were far from the promised land. The wander in the wilderness would be long and full of uncertainty, but one promise was never far from them, and is never far from us–God is with us. While we may all be waiting longingly on some external blessings, this blessing remains nearer than our very breath.
We can rest in this.