"And Moses commanded them, saying: “At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.”" -Deuteronomy 31:10-13
Thursday, October 2, 2014
HaShemittah - Israel's Sabbath Year - A Harbinger of Judgment?
02 October 2014: Much is being made of late concerning HaShemittah, also spelled Shemitah, which is the Sabbath year (a seventh year) covenanted by God upon Israel in ancient times though Moses. The Torah Scripture references are: Exodus 25:1-7; Leviticus 25:20-22; Deuteronomy 15:1-6 and Deuteronomy 31:10-13, as well as the prophets: Jeremiah 34:13-14; Nehemiah 10:31; 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 and 2 Kings 19:20-30 where the prophet Isaiah is speaking to King Hezekiah.
Essentially HaShemittah is another of the Lord's perpetual covenants with Israel that came into existence after the Exodus from Egypt. It was clearly based upon the six days of Creation and the Lord's resting on the seventh day, and stipulated that if Israel tended the land for six years it must then allow the land rest in the seventh year, which equates to no work on the Sabbath day and the Sabbath year when it comes to agricultural pursuits.
The Lord commanded Israel in this covenant to obey him in faith, and if they were faithfully observant to it then blessings of abundance would flow; that Israel would not want for sustenance in the year when the fields, vineyards and orchards lay fallow. It was also a Mosaic commandment for when all Israel gathered at Sukkot before the Lord God that this Torah law be read to them so that all Israel in generation after generation would know the Lord's commandments and keep them.
Now contrary to the claims being made of late I have found nothing in Scripture which states that if the HaShemittah covenant was broken or not faithfully kept then a time of judgment or a harbinger of disaster would come upon Israel, much less any Gentile nation, at any point in world history, and with whom the Lord God has not established a covenant. That these claims are being made of late I find to be quite troubling because they simply have zero basis in Scripture, especially for any Gentile nation.
However, I did find Scripture which does indicate that covenant HaShemittah observance for Israel did not expire permanently after the disastrous years of 66 through 73 AD which resulted in the prophetic destruction of the 2nd Temple, the city of Jerusalem and the conquest of Judah by the legions of the Roman Empire.
Let's look at one of the above referenced Scriptures, with added emphasis applied:
Israel was exiled from the land following the prophetic fulfillment of the Roman destruction (Gabriel in Daniel 9:24-27), and therefore was not living in the land so that observance of HaShemittah could be faithfully observed. But, again, with the critical prophetic fulfillment of Israel being restored as promised to the land in 1947-48 (Isaiah 66 and Ezekiel 37, for example) there is no reason for the Lord not to once again honor His covenant with Israel if Israel will honor the HaShemittah covenant and commandment in full faithfulness. I do in fact believe that Israel's restoration - ",,,as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess..." - has placed Israel in a position for a continuation of counting the HaShemittah 7-year sequences.
Counting six years from 1947-48 would bring the first HaShemittah year to occur in 1954-55. The second occurred in 1961-62, the third 1968-69, fourth 1975-76, fifth 1982-83, sixth 1989-90, seventh 1996-97, eighth 2003-04, and the most recent, the ninth 2010-11. The next or 10th HaShemittah year in this manner of counting them will occur in the year of 2017-18, which is also, not-so-coincidentally I think, the 70th anniversary year of Israel's rebirth into existence.
Here's my bottom line in expressing this Biblical research and these insights to you. I would argue this method of counting HaShemittah years since Israel's 1947-48 return to be living in the land is entirely consistent with Psalm 90:10 regarding a generation being 70 years, and the seven subsequent years of 2018 through 2026 comprising the greater part of a generation of strength, as well as constituting a very strong potential for the commencement of Israel's "70th Week" of years per Gabriel's prophecy in Daniel 9, as well as this being entirely consistent with Jesus' Olivet Discourse prophecy about that final generation not passing away until all of His signs had come to pass.
I find far more prophetic continuity and potential related prophetic fulfillment in counting the HaShemittah years in this manner than anything else I have seen from Messianic or Orthodox Jewish expositors.