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by David Thompson
When I was quite young, I worked on a farm for about eight years. I learned a lot from the farmer; a special Mennonite man named Enoch. He taught me how to plow in straight lines when plowing by focusing on an object across the field. But more importantly he taught me about crop rotation and leaving a field fallow (unused) for a year now and then. It is interesting that the Lord taught the people in Exodus 23 about a similar practice based on the perfect biblical number of seven. One year out of every seven, a farmer would leave his fields alone to rest.
Another theme of this passage is to be kind to the foreigner. We all know how hard it is to be the "new kid" at school. This wisdom was good then and it is good today. God makes a point to mention that when the Israelites were new to Egypt, they were treated well and this was an example of how they and we should treat others.
The final theme involved all workers. The Lord commanded that people should work for six days, but on the seventh day all should rest. This rest would be good for the farmer, his slaves and even his beasts of burden. This precept should also apply to foreigners. It makes me wonder if God was laying a preview in Exodus of what the New Testament would teach about the Gentiles. We need to have a Sabbath day of rest, or perhaps two, to rebuild our spirits and our physical and mental selves.
The Bible was pretty wise in this instance and it is that way in many other places. We should heed its guidance.
Dear Lord, thank you for loving us enough to look out for us even in the small stuff. Teaching us to be kind to strangers, letting our land and ourselves have a Sabbath rest. Help us to hide this and all your teachings in our hearts. Amen