“‘When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the LORD. […] You shall now sow your field or prune your vineyard. […] It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you’” (Leviticus 25:2b, 4b, 5b-6a).
One of the Ten Commandments concerns the Sabbath, a day set aside for rest, a day holy to the LORD. This Sabbath was to be observed every seventh day, and all the people were required to rest from their labors. Those who didn’t faced death. God Himself rested on the seventh day after six days of creation, and He wanted His people to follow the pattern He had set. This seventh day was holy.
The same principle applied to farming the land. The people were to plant and harvest as they normally would for six years, but in the seventh year, they were to refrain from planting anything, eating only what the land naturally produced. Even the land needed to rest. This was a frightening idea, however, as the people needed the crops from each year to make it to the next harvest. How would they survive eating only off of what the land provided?
But that was where faith in God would come in. God promised that if they would obey Him in this matter, He would make sure that the crop in the sixth year was enough to make it even to the harvest of the eighth year. Far from starving, the people would have incredible bounty. The main point in this rule about the Sabbath year wasn’t to give the land a rest; it was to show the people that God is the one who provides. Their labors could never be enough to take care of themselves, and going a year without laboring for their food would illustrate this point. God would provide, and the people’s rest would remind them of that.