Focal Passage: Leviticus 25:1-7
God blessed Adam and Eve saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Many scholars refer to this verse as the cultural mandate. God has tasked mankind with stewardship of the earth. He has given us responsibility over His creation.
This mandate has been interpreted in multiple ways. One extreme could almost be considered the worship of nature. The opposite end may take the command as a power play; humans are at the top, and any creature or natural resource can – and should – be exploited for our benefit. A biblical approach falls somewhere in the middle of these two. Sure, God has given us the earth for our benefit but not for our abuse or manipulation. And we should care and nurture the earth but not to the obsession that we view it as its own god or force, independent of its Creator.
In Leviticus 25:1-7, the Lord gives instructions to Moses on Mount Sinai to relay to the Israelites. Essentially, God’s instructions for how to care for the land are modeled after His pattern of creation. He tells His people to cultivate the land for six years (v. 3). However, in the seventh year, they should observe a Sabbath for the land (v. 4). Observing a year of Sabbath not only stewards the land well but also demonstrates trust in God as the ultimate Provider. God not only promises to provide for the land owner during that Sabbath year, He also promises to provide for the manservant, maidservant, hired worker and sojourner; the livestock and wild animals (v. 6-7).
“Sabbath,” designed by God in creation, is a time of rest and cessation from work. It is a designated “holy” period to reflect on all that He has done (Genesis 2:2-3). God gave the Promised Land to the Israelites (v. 2). How can you be a good steward of what He has given you? Make time this week to rest, give thanks and acknowledge His provision in your life. Then use the provisions He has given you to help meet other’s needs.