18 “‘Follow My decrees and be careful to obey My laws, and you will live safely in the land. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety. 20 You may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?” 21 I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. 22 While you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.
Two very important decrees precede these verses and are explained by God through Moses. They are the Sabbath Year and the Jubilee Year. The Sabbath Year is
4 … in the seventh year the land is to have a year of Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. 5 Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.
Clear enough, but what about the Jubilee Year? Well, it is even more instructive, but it only occurs every 50 years after the seventh Sabbath Year.
8 “‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
13 “‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.
Land is to be returned to its original owners within Israel and anyone who has sold them self into slavery is to be released. There are more details, but the purpose is summed up in the following two verses
If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other.
Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God. I am the Lord your God.
The key to each of these verses is Do not take advantage of each other which is the purpose of the decree given by God. Matthew Henry sums it up showing the blessings that come from
The fear of God reigning in the heart, would restrain from doing wrong to our neighbour in word or deed. Assurance was given that they should be great gainers, by observing these years of rest. If we are careful to do our duty, we may trust God with our comfort. This was a miracle for an encouragement to all neither sowed or reaped. This was a miracle for an encouragement to all God’s people, in all ages, to trust him in the way of duty. There is nothing lost by faith and self-denial in obedience.
Jesus had this in mind when He quotes from Isaiah 58:6 and 61:1-2
The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
His reference to the “year of the Lord’s favor” is a Biblical synonym for the Jubilee year which would have Jesus’ ministry beginning in the fall of 26 A.D. at the beginning of a Jubilee year according to The Appointed Times of Jesus the Messiah (p25-26). Many believe Jesus’ ministry was a Jubilee ministry proclaiming release from the slavery of sin for those who would accept the free gift of grace.