THE SHEMITAH – PART I

Perhaps the most important new development in prophecy right now are the revelations being brought forth regarding the operation of a little-understood biblical principle found in the Old Testament. In Hebrew it is called the Shemitah. It refers to a once-every-seven-years Sabbath for the land – and it seems to affect everything from the economy to the fall of nations. We will rely on the work of Rabbi Jonathan Cahn in this series that will bring out some of the highlights of this amazing principle that would very well affect the destiny of the nation…and our world.

 GETTING STARTED

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn was on the Sid Roth Show on September 1, 2014. Here’s how he introduced the concept of the Shemitah. “The Shemitah is an ancient mystery going back over three thousand years that goes back to Moses and Mt Sinai, affecting everything from 9/11 to the rise and fall of the economy to the crashing of the stock market to the rise and fall of nations; everything from World War I, World War II, what is happening right now and what will happen. It is the most precise, mind boggling, biblical mystery and it’s coming true now.[i] That’s quite the claim, but Cahn develops the case quite well, as we’ll see. Now to understand it properly we must view it in the context of Cahn’s earlier work found in the best seller The Harbinger. So let’s review some of the principles put forth there.

In that work, Rabbi Cahn developed the theme that, at its root, 9/11 was a divine warning to America as it navigates quickly away from its Biblical principles and the God of the Bible. The message is specifically rooted in Isaiah 9 and a principle that has traveled through time, linking Israel – the original target of the prophecy – and the United States, as it travels the same moral route.

The Assyrian invasion of the Northern Kingdom in 732 BC was a warning to Israel. It was a call for His people to repent – from their rampant paganism, the complete turning from God. But it didn’t take. Instead of falling on their face in humility – instead of acknowledging their sin – they reacted in a spirit of pride, defiance and arrogance. And the words of defiance that they spoke would seal the course of their future. So too would be the case with America so many centuries later. Israel had turned from God in the years before their warning – as so too had America. After the close call of the invasion, Israel had decided to rely on itself. In effect they were saying: ‘We will not be humbled.’ Thus their blessings were turned into curses. Isaiah 9:8-10 tells the story. “The Lord sent a word against Jacob, And it has fallen on Israel. All the people will know— Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria— Who say in pride and arrogance of heart: ‘The bricks have fallen down, But we will rebuild with hewn stones; The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.’” In those words are contained a series of warnings or harbingers of things that would surely come – if Israel did not repent. Each of the warnings is tied directly to the exact words or references of Scripture.

Cahn offered up 14 distinct harbingers of impending judgment. We cannot visit them all here, though we will look at a few. “The bricks have fallen down.” This was a sign of the collapse of a nation. Israel’s leaders vowed to rebuild – stronger than before. This vow was a symbol of their intention to operate in their own strength. They were not humbled but continued in apostasy. That new construction – not bad in itself – was a sign of that defiance; of that self- reliance. The Septuagint translation of Isaiah 9:10 captures the sense of it when as it reflects the same defiance that motivated the builders of Babel. “Come, let us build ourselves a tower.” Then there’s this Scripture from Isaiah 9:10: “The sycamores are cut down, But we will replace them with cedars.” The uprooting of the sycamores was a symbol of the uprooting of nations, of future collapse. That uprooting was only a decade away. Again, the principal was the same: Israel again vowed that in their own power they would replace the fallen sycamores with the heartier, stronger cedar. Again, this was a symbol of defiance. As for America, it is interesting to note here that the falling bricks and debris from the Twin Towers, took a tree down right at the edge of Ground Zero. It happened to be a sycamore tree. The media transformed that tree into “The Sycamore of Ground Zero.” In fact there was brick entwined in the roots of the uprooted tree. If the fallen sycamore in Israel portended the fall of a nation: What does it mean for America? And will America, unlike Israel, heed the warning.

One of Cahn’s harbingers involved national pride and the Twin Towers – (with towers representing a stronghold). All of this defiance was driven by a sense of national pride. “We will rebuild,” was the boast. Israel’s defiance is recorded in Scripture. America’s defiance after the terror attacks of 2001 was expressed – (as we will see, in almost exactly the same terms) – by 2 mayors of New York, 2 governors of the state of the same name, and a sitting president. That pride and defiance was expressed – in both ancient Israel and modern America and – not only through words but action too. In the course of events, God’s warning never took hold. Israel continued in her compromised pagan ways. So too, did America.

Then there was the word that went forth from the Capitol itself, the seat of power. The words of Isaiah 9:10 specifically targeted Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom or Israel. That is the point that speaks for the nation; the center of pride in a nation. We all know that America is fond of calling itself; the greatest country on earth. And even though they had in many ways abandoned the God of their past, they still believed that they were untouchable. They certainly did not recognize the event of that temporary invasion as what it really was: A harbinger from God. Thus it was that the leaders of both Israel and America – almost inadvertently – called judgment on their own nations. It was Tom Daschle, the Majority Leader of the Senate that proclaimed the words of Isaiah 9:10 on the day that followed the 9/11 attacks. But let’s look at the words that preceded that. While Isaiah 9:10 proclaimed these words of defiance, and national resolve – it is the two verses before that that give them the proper context. In both cases, the political leaders that proclaimed that defiance did not understand that context. Look at it! “The Lord sent a word against Jacob, And it has fallen on Israel. All the people will know— Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria— Who say in pride and arrogance of heart: ‘The bricks have fallen down…’.” (Isaiah 9:8-10) This is not a Scripture of victory – but rather a scripture of judgment and self-cursing. They are proclaiming this “in arrogance of heart.”

There was a parallel with how America handled 9/11. In New York, in 2003 – the sycamore was replaced by the cedar. On July 4th of 2004, the gazit stone, the hewn stone was laid at Ground Zero. By the 9/11 anniversary of that year all was in place for another ceremony – another proclamation of that curse. This time it was delivered by Senator John Edwards at the prayer breakfast of the Congressional Black Caucus. Again, Isaiah 9:10 was quoted. In fact his entire speech revolved around that theme – that verse; America in defiance of God. “We are building and putting cedars in those hallowed places….Where once smoke rose, we will see the cedars rising.” He linked the bricks of Ground Zero to the falling bricks of Israel’s judgment – and celebrated America’s defiance. He repeated the exact words of the vow – and made it America’s vow….and curse. Thus, were all the pieces of the ancient prophecy….falling into place.[ii] [iii]

And this brings us to the Shemitah, as first mentioned in Cahn’s 2012 book The Harbinger. We’ll just have room to begin the explanation here. In the Old Testament there is a principle in Hebrew called the Shemitah. It refers to a sabbatical year. Every seven years, God required His people to take a year-long Sabbath. In that year, the land was to be given a rest, the poor would share in what did grow, – and all debts were to be forgiven. But the rabbis and others were not too fond of that law. And they sought ways to circumvent God’s ordinance on this matter. Historically, Israel did not keep the Shemitah. And that was a sign that they had abandoned God. But God took the Shemitah seriously – and when Israel chose to ignore His will in this matter – the blessings were turned to curses; again, by their own actions. Here are the words of Leviticus 26: 33-35. “I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you; your land shall be desolate and your cities waste. Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies’ land; then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate it shall rest— for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it.”

This was literally fulfilled in the Babylonian invasion of the Southern Kingdom or Judah. The Jews had ignored these Shemitahs for 490 years. 70 x 7 = 490. So they ‘owed’ 70 Sabbaths. And thus we have the length of the Babylonian Captivity – exactly 70 years. Now the Shemitah applies to a nation’s finances. It judges national prosperity. So next time we’ll begin to unravel the incredible specificity of the application of God’s word. We’ll see how it applied to ancient Israel. Even more significantly, we’ll look at how the occurrence of the Shemitah has coincided with recessions, depressions and stock market crashes in our own history – as well as cataclysmic international events. We’ll examine its connection to the economic chaos that followed 9/11, the crash of 2008 – and ponder what effect it may have on our future. And that’s where we’ll leave it until next time.

[i] Jonathan Cahn, on the Sid Roth Show: It’s Supernatural, September 1, 2014

[ii] Jonathan Cahn, The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery that Holds the Secret of America’s Future, Frontline, 2012

[iii] Jonathan Cahn, from his presentation at the 2012 International Prophecy Conference, Brooksville, FL, March 1-3, 2012

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