Last week we reintroduced the concept of the Shemitah. It is a principle of Scriptures found in the Old Testament wherein every seventh year a Sabbath year was to be observed. As described by one writer: It was a time “when all working of the land ceased, the land rested. This took place every seventh year. On the last day of that year, all debts were wiped away, all credit was nullified, the financial accounts of the nation were, in effect, wiped clean. Later on, in Israel’s history, as the nation turned away from God, the Shemitah became a sign and manifestation of judgment, the kingdom’s destruction in 586 B.C. and its exile in Babylon were timed to the years of the Shemitah.”[i] In this installment we’ll look a bit at the historical workings of the Shemitah and begin to explore what it could mean to our future. [This series is based, of course, on the work of Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, head of Hope of the World Ministries. For a deeper understanding of these concepts I recommend that you pick up his latest book on the Shemitah, and check out Hope of the World Ministries. [The lion’s share of what follows comes from an appearance of Rabbi Jonathan Cahn on the Sid Roth Show on September 1, 2014.]
A HISTORY LESSON
The story of the Shemitah is long and uncannily haunting. Let us begin with the scripture found in Leviticus 25:2-4. “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.’” Though given for the benefit of the nation, the ancient Israelites began to defy God’s ordinance. Thus it was in 586 BC, that the time of Israel’s captivity in Babylon was precisely “timed to how many Shemitahs they broke.” If you recall from last week, the Shemitah refers not only to the financial health and operations of a nation – but also to the rise and fall of nations. Thus, the fall of Israel. But the occurrence of these seven-year cycles – and the more comprehensive Jubilee cycle (50 years consisting of 7 Sabbath year cycles and a Jubilee year), mark some very important events on the historical / biblical calendar. Some of these Sabbath year occurrences include; the timing of the Exodus, the destruction of the First Temple, the laying of the foundation for the Second Temple, the end of the 70 years of the Babylonian Exile, and the birth of Yeshua (Jesus).[ii]
But then let’s jump ahead to modern times and we find that the principle still applies. The five great economic collapses of the last 40 years occurred – not only in the year of the Shemitah – but also in the time of year that the Sabbath year was ending. Jonathan Cahn explained: “Every seventh year – on the last day of Shemitah, Elul 29 – all credit is wiped away. The financial accounts of a nation are wiped clean.” You see, the Shemitah affects the economy and the timing of recessions and depressions. God meant this concept as a blessing. But when a nation turns against God – as Israel did – “it comes back as a judgment on a nation that’s driving God out of its life.” Those five great economic collapses were timed to the Shemitah; 1973 (the year the US legalized abortion), 1980, 1987, 2001 (post 9/11) and 2008. Each one was “separated by a seven-year period. All linked to the year of the Shemitah.”[iii] As World Net Daily puts it: The collapses of 2001 and 2008 “coincided precisely with the exact end of the Shemitah year on the Hebrew calendar day of Elul 29.”[iv] In fact, the three greatest crashes in American history were related to the Shemitah. Look at the recession of 1937-38. The Shemitah begins and the “next day Wall Street collapses.” In 2008, the Great Recession began on the very day of the Shemitah. Even the Great Depression saw the greatest month long collapse in American history – immediately following the Shemitah.
Now there are several meanings of the word Shemitah. Yes, these include ‘release’, as in from debt. But it also means ‘to fall’, ‘collapse’ and ‘shake’. The mystery of the Shemitah is also related to the concept of towers – signifying national power. In the Middle Ages Europe boasted the highest towers in the world. It was reflective of the fact that it was the center of power. That continued for several centuries. But then in 1870, the Equitable Life Building in New York City was completed, making America the home of the highest tower. The next year the US became the world’s leading economic power. Then in 1945, following World War II, plans were made to build the World Trade Center. Work on the Twin Towers began in 1966, a year of the Shemitah. It was completed in 1973; another Shemitah. And of course it fell in the year of the Shemitah. Cahn: “Towers are about rising. Shemitah is about falling. Towers are about the glory of man. Shemitah is about humbling the pride of a nation. The Shemitah wipes out accounts that are built up. It also wipes out realities that are built up too.”
Rabbi Cahn goes on to explain the significance of what happened on September 11, 2001. Those towers fell at the “peak of the Shemitah.” The collapse of the World Trade Center – (representing the pride of the nation as well as its economic power) – caused the collapse of Wall Street 7 days later. That crash came exactly on the Hebrew day Elul 29; the final day of the Shemitah. It struck at the New York Stock Exchange first. The Exchange was founded not far from the site of the attacks in 1792, under a Buttonwood tree also known as a Sycamore. It was known as the Buttonwood Agreement. Now a Sycamore was uprooted in the 9/11 attack, sitting on the grounds of St Paul’s Chapel, the very site where this nation was dedicated to God. After the attacks that Sycamore became a symbol; but of what? Recall the words of Isaiah 9:10. “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 the years that followed all of the conditions of that prophecy were fulfilled. The bricks fell on 9/11. They were replaced with a “hewn stone” in 2004. A cedar had replaced the fallen sycamore in the previous year. That fallen sycamore represented the financial foundation of America. So its uprooting represents a blow at the foundation of the strength of the nation; its financial prowess.
To Jonathan Cahn, the fall of the tower “speaks of a warning of the future of America.” There is a tower going up right now; a tower of defiance. The scripture reads: “We will rebuild!” “This tower was conceived in the year of the Shemitah with that vow of defiance made on Capitol Hill.”[v] It’s likely that it will be completed next year; the year of the Shemitah. What will it mean to our future? We’ll have to explore that next time.
[i] The Mystery of the Shemitah – What You Need To Know, Rejoicing in Grace, September 2, 2014
[ii] William Struse, One of the Best Kept Secrets of Biblical History, (Review), September 2, 2014
[iii] Jonathan Cahn, on the Sid Roth Show: It’s Supernatural, September 1, 2014
[iv] Holy Shemitah! Bible cycle unlocks U.S. future, World Net Daily, September 1, 2014
[v] Jonathan Cahn, on the Sid Roth Show: It’s Supernatural, September 1, 2014