But the Lord, the God of their ancestors sent word against them by the hand of his messengers, sending them time and time again, for he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept ridiculing God’s messengers, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the Lord’s wrath was so stirred up against his people that there was no remedy. So he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their fit young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary. He had no pity on young men or young women, elderly or aged; he handed them all over to him. He took everything to Babylon—all the articles of God’s temple, large and small, the treasures of the Lord’s temple, and the treasures of the king and his officials. Then the Chaldeans burned God’s temple. They tore down Jerusalem’s wall, burned all its palaces, and destroyed all its valuable articles.
He deported those who escaped from the sword to Babylon, and they became servants to him and his sons until the rise of the Persian kingdom. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through Jeremiah, and the land enjoyed its Sabbath rest all the days of the desolation until seventy years were fulfilled.
2 Chronicles 36:15-21
Among the sins of the Israelites was a lack of trusting God for His provision by following the principle of Sabbatical for the land they had occupied. They had been commanded when they first prepared to enter the Promised Land that they should let the land rest from agricultural activity every seven years. They apparently had failed to do this.
Allowing the land to rest every seven years was an issue of trust for the Israelites. They needed to trust that the combination of the surplus of the previous six years and the natural produce of the land without human activity would be enough to sustain them through the Sabbatical year. Their lack of trust in Yahweh was demonstrated both through not observing the Sabbatical year for the land and also in chasing after the fertility gods of the nations around them in hopes of securing a better harvest. The exile provided an opportunity for the land to rest for the number of years it was neglected, as well as showing the Israelites the consequences of their lack of trust.
God also gives us rhythms of activity and rest that we need to follow for our own benefit and to show our trust in Him. The first is a weekly sabbath to refresh and rejuvenate ourselves while taking time to reconnect with Him. Our society pushes us toward constant activity to make ends meet and “keep up with the Joneses.” God calls on us to trust Him in being able to rest in the times he calls for rest. The lack of doing so will produce exile situations in our lives.
- Are you trusting God by following the rhythms of work and rest He has for your life?