Land and the Sabbath

And its relevance to the ecology debate

Exodus 23:10-11 says:

“For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops,¬†but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused.¬†Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.”

What does it mean for us today? Four things:

1. That we should not overuse the natural resources. Give nature rest, refuge and shelter.

2. That God has given us humans the world to thrive in. It is primarily for us humans. We are stewards of the world in His name (and under His laws). But the main aim of this task is to allow us humans to thrive.

3. We must not neglect the poor.

4. We must not neglect wild animals (nature). However, notice that there is a clear hierarchy: “the wild animals may eat what is left” (by the poor people). In other words: humans first, then nature. People who think they can square the circle of protecting the environment and the poor equally will have to consider this deeply.