Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 2 (Summer 2016) - Page 95

VOLUME 11, NUMBER 2 A JOURNAL FOR THE THEOLOGY OF CULTURE position of stewardship rather than a position of exploitation.43 God also commands Israel not to destroy the trees around the cities they conquer if those trees bear food that is good for eating (Dt 20:19). The law of Sabbath is a recognition of the interconnectedness between the people and the land. God’s command for Sabbath recognizes the delicate balance between productivity and exhaustion. In the Sabbath laws, God does not limit rest to Israel alone. Instead, He extends it to the land, which in turn, during its year of rest will provide food for “you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and your hired servant and the sojourner who lives with you, and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food” (Lv 25:6–7 ESV). If the land is at rest, then those who work the land are free to rest as well whether they are free, slaves, hired help, sojourners, or animals. By commanding Israel to let the land rest, God is freeing her from the need to work. In connection with the Sabbath laws are the laws to tithe a portion of the firstfruits of the animals and the harvest that live off of and grow in the land. This command is one of both celebration and remembrance. Israel is to celebrate with the Lord because of what He has given her by feasting upon a portion of that same bounty before Him.44 This act of tithe and celebration is also a reminder of the interconnectivity of all that rely upon the land for life, and that God has been faithful to provide Israel with all she and her livestock and crops need to not just survive but thrive.45 Obeying God’s command to keep Sabbath and giving Him tithes and offerings was for Israel to rest from their work and offer up the byproducts of it. It was an act of faith in God that, in times of Sabbath, He would provide for her in her rest. It was also an act of faith to offer tithes and sacrifices because it was offering up the best of what the land had given, trusting that what was left would be enough, and that God would continue to make Israel fruitful and provide for her in the coming year.46 Christ’s Atonement and Farming: 43. Schaeffer and Middelman, Pollution, 69. 44. Richter, “Environmental Law,” 360. 45. Norman Wirzba, “A Priestly Approach to Environmental Theology: Learning to Receive and Give Again the Gifts of Creation,” Dialog: A Journal of Theology 50, no. 4 (2011): 354–362, Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed October 6, 2015). 46. Ibid., 354–356. 92