True Meaning of Sabbatical Year Cycles from the Old Testament
In this third (and hopefully last) part related to the Shemitah (here is part one and part two), I want to go into the background of the Sabbatical Year cycle from the Old Testament. I’m confident that if people would only go back to God’s Word (instead of simply reading Jonathan Cahn’s books and taking them as truth), there would be far less sensationalizing with respect to the topic of the Sabbatical Year or the Shemitah.
The problem is that there is way too much pride today among Christians who, unfortunately, do not know the Bible well enough. Because of that, they will take what someone like Jonathan Cahn states as true without even thinking about it. Their pride speaks loudly here. People like to be “in the know.” They like to be part of the crowd that “knows the secret” even if they are willing to share that secret. It makes people feel very important. It actually “puffs” ordinary people up.
As I stated in part one, God instituted the Sabbatical Year cycle to A) give the land rest from farming for one full year. This occurred on the 7th year of each Sabbatical Year cycle (or Shemitah), and B) to release debtors from their debts. Essentially, on each 7th year (Sabbatical Year/Shemitah), debts were forgiven (a financial “reset” occurred) and the land was to lie fallow. This obviously meant that food had to be stocked up to get people through that seventh year since farming could not take place.
God warned Israel in Leviticus 26:27-35, that if they failed to observe the Sabbatical Year cycle and the Jubilees, He would remove them from the Land. Unfortunately, Israel failed to observe not just one or two Sabbatical Years but a total of 70 of them! Yes, it means 70 individual 7th years (Sabbatical Year/Shemitah). But in reality, it means that every seventh year was not observed. When God warned Israel that He was going to bring them into captivity and oust them from the Land, He would do so to allow the Land to lie fallow for 70 straight years even though the Sabbatical Year occurred once every seven years.
If we look at Ezekiel, we learn that God told the prophet Ezekiel to lay on his side for 390 days (one Jewish calendar year). Each day represented one year of iniquity for the nation of Israel that they spent in disobedience and rebellion for a total of 360 years. Ezekiel then lay on his left side for 40 days, which represented 40 years for the people of Judah and their iniquity. Together, that totals 430 years.
I’m not simply guessing here or seeing some type of “code” in all of this. This is clearly spelled out by God Himself in Ezekiel 4:4-6 (note the bold text below).
“Lie also on your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it. According to the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their iniquity. For I have laid on you the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days; so you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. And when you have completed them, lie again on your right side; then you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days. I have laid on you a day for each year.”
God warned Israel (and Judah) repeatedly that the day would come when they would be removed from the Land because of their iniquity. The “iniquity” was failure to observe the Sabbatical Year cycles. Specifically, they failed to observe 70 separate Sabbatical Years, which stretched over a period of 490 years (which Daniel deals with in Daniel 9).
Eventually, God brought His promises (threats) to fruition and Babylon (under Nebuchadnezzar) attacked and conquered Jerusalem and took captives with him back to Babylon. This was prophesied about by Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 25:8-12). Daniel was part of this group taken captive. It was only after he himself had been reading the prophet Jeremiah that he realized the 70 years of captivity were nearly up (Daniel 9).
In 2 Chronicles 36:15-21, we learn that the people indeed were taken into captivity for 70 years. While out of the Land, the Land was able to heal itself as God kept anyone from farming it during that entire time.
This is why – I believe – when we get to Daniel 9, we learn about the 70 “sevens.” There, through Gabriel, God reveals to Daniel that even though the 70 years of captivity was coming to an end, God says that there would still be 70 “sevens” (the KJV wrongly translates the word to “weeks” but since a week is made up of seven days, it’s the same idea, though it more correctly should have been translated “sevens”), or what He called the “times of the Gentiles” in which Jerusalem would be trodden underfoot by Gentile nations.
Why “sevens”? Simply because this is connected back to the Sabbatical Year cycle of seven years. At the end of each seven-year cycle, the last or seventh year was the actual Sabbatical Year. This is also known as the Shemitah, which is discussed quite a bit by Jonathan Cahn and made to be something it is not.
The main reason Israel was removed from the Land in the first place was because they failed to recognize and observe the Sabbatical Year cycle where every seven years, the Land would be left alone and debts would be forgiven. Those were the reasons why God was angry with Israel and why He eventually used Babylon as His arm of judgment and later, judged Babylon.
Jonathan Cahn says that America and Israel are inextricably bound together and what happens to Israel can also happen to America if we do not repent. Unfortunately for Cahn, this country – America – has never observed any portion of the Sabbatical Year cycle as a nation since its inception! While some farmers may have allowed their land to lie fallow every seven years (or every few years), this was not a national practice. Beyond this, it was also not a national practice to erase debts automatically every seven years either.
In fact, during the early years of America, Debtor’s Prisons were established for people who could not pay their debts. According to numerous resources, Debtor’s Prisons existed throughout the United States up until around the 1850s. In reality, this country was not founded on promises of observing Sabbatical Years. It simply did not exist, though that is Jonathan Cahn’s main argument.
Jonathan Cahn believes (and would like us to believe) that the actual meaning of the Sabbatical Year cycle has changed in God’s eyes. Supposedly, it has nothing do with leaving the Land to lie fallow or forgiving financial debts. Regarding the United States, apparently, the Sabbatical Year cycle (Shemitah) has to do with disobedience and rebellion to God’s general moral principles.
Even up to the time that God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to invade and conquer Israel, the people of Israel generally flourished. This was in spite of their sin and willful disobedience to God! This is His patience, grace, and love shown to a people who (like us) didn’t deserve it. God warned them repeatedly, but Israel refused to repent. That would have meant starting to observe the Sabbatical Year cycle again! It meant forgiving debts and allowing the Land to lie fallow every seventh year.
Somehow though, Jonathan Cahn has turned things topsy-turvy so that when the Sabbatical Year cycle is applied to America, it means something completely different from what it meant for Israel! This is ridiculous and is an example of terrible exegesis! There is no excuse for it except the excuse of self-aggrandizement. God will not be mocked as Jonathan Cahn is mocking Him. That is a surety and he has had plenty of opportunities to confess his sin and repent of it, though to this day, he remains unrepentant.
If we look carefully at Scripture (and I have not gotten that deeply into it with these three articles), the 70 years of captivity for Israel, the 70 “sevens” that will ultimately play out, and the reasons why God allowed Israel to be conquered and captured in the first place have to do with God’s overall plan for Israel and has absolutely nothing to do with America at all!
How many of you knew about the fact that Israel had ignored 70 “sevens” worth of Sabbatical Year cycles? How many of you saw the connection between Jeremiah 25 and Daniel 9? How many of you realized that the Sabbatical Year cycles were based on forgiveness of debts and allowing the Land to lie fallow? If you understood this, then how could Jonathan Cahn even remotely be correct?
There is no special code that’s 3,000 years old that applies to America’s future. America is on its own time-table and God knows specifically when/if this country will fail. This country will fall sooner once we remove ourselves from supporting Israel, which this current administration cannot seem to do quickly enough.
It is not the Sabbatical Year cycle that has anything to do with America’s coming demise. It is the fact that Israel has been thrown under the bus progressively by our nation’s leaders, who prefer to support rogue nations like Iran that promises to destroy Israel. Unless God holds them back, Iran will certainly attempt to do that at their earliest convenience.
The specter of the Sabbatical Year cycle (the Shemitah) means absolutely nothing for the United States. I’m convinced, based on God’s promises to Abraham (Genesis 12:3; see also Genesis 15 and 17), that those who bless Israel will receive God’s blessing, while those who persecute Israel (even by turning away from Israel), will ultimately be destroyed.
I cannot control what this administration does. All I can do is pray and leave it in God’s hands. I personally, do not persecute Israel. I understand that Christians owe the nation of Israel a debt of gratitude because of what God has brought forth from and through that nation. Read the entire book of Romans to gain more insight into this.
Jonathan Cahn plays fast and loose with Scripture, trying to make connections where none exist. The lack of discernment shown by many is astounding. As I have said before, any of us (myself included!) can fail to rightly divide God’s Word. We need each other as iron sharpens iron. We must be open to rational constructive criticism that is designed to force us back on God’s Word. When we get behind this person or that one as if they are the be all, end all in things of God, there is a huge problem.
America will fall one day, but it won’t because of some imagined connection with Israel and the “Sabbatical Year/Shemitah.” America will fall because of a failure to support Israel! When Jesus returns to this earth, God will judge the nations. That “Sheep and the Goats Judgment” is found in Matthew 25:31-46. There, each nation is judged based on how they treated Israel (especially during the coming Tribulation). This particular judgment occurs after the Tribulation and after Jesus returns to this planet physically. It won’t happen this September!
Too many today toy with the idea that judgment to America is coming and something “may” (or may not) happen this September 13, 2015 like an economic crash, which will push us back to the Dark Ages. That probably will not happen. Instead, there will likely be a continued worsening of the economy until the next president will “sadly” have to admit defeat and introduce a global currency that will replace the dollar.
The world needs to become one in order for the Antichrist to rule that future newly formed one-world system. It will happen. Live for today, not September 13th! Trust God to get you through it and be about the Father’s business, which is…the Great Commission.