“Lord, save all the elect,
and then elect some more.”
— Charles H. Spurgeon
In his “man cave,” Chuck has a collection of items that he has accumulated over the years. He’s got model planes, toy trains, vintage candy machines, and antique this ‘n that. Our grandkids and grand-nieces & nephews love visiting that area of our house, especially at holiday time when we add plush teddy bears, Christmas collectibles, and talking toys that are okay to touch.
One item is especially favored by nearly everyone – including the adults. It’s the old “Jackpot Stampede” slot machine that has been set to “pay-off” more often than not. No money comes out, but when a winning combination appears in the three windows after pulling the handle, the noises it makes are raucous and delightful.
The ultimate goal is to attain the “Three Sevens” combo. I don’t know for sure if anyone has ever managed that in our household. The odds are very high of actually seeing the “777” appear when the spinning reels finally stop rolling. Of course, that’s what makes the game so exciting!
That’s also what makes the mystery of the “Shemitah” nearly impossible to believe. I knew nothing about it until I read Jonathan Cahn’s The Harbinger. Once again, he transports his readers into the ancient past of God’s chosen people, the Israelites, to help us understand why God has used the Shemitah — twice since the terrorist attacks on 9/11– as a wake-up call to America.
The Lord God repeatedly called the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (a.k.a. Israel) “a stiff-necked people.” They were argumentative and unruly, so the Lord God gave them some specific laws, through the prophet Moses, to keep order among the masses and to keep His loved ones safe. Most people are familiar with ten of those laws, known as “The Ten Commandments.” But few people know about the law of the Shemitah.
God wanted His people to understand and remember that they were utterly dependent on Him for provision and protection as a nation. One way He chose to do that was by implementing the number seven. He created their weekly calendar to revolve around the number seven – six days of work, and one day of rest. The seventh day of the week was called “the Sabbath” and was given for the purpose of invigorating their physical, mental, and spiritual good health.
But for busy-minded, control-freak human beings, that precious gift eventually became a burden. Because they took it upon themselves to attach more specific, man-made rules to the Sabbath day, which God did not originally proclaim.
In addition to the seventh day of rest and renewal, God commanded that the Israelites observe a seventh year rest. They were to count six years. Then during the year that followed, they were to refrain from plowing and planting and harvesting. The people and their livestock were to live off what the land produced on its own. They were given opportunity to experience God’s faithful provision for them.
During the seventh year, the land was also allowed to rest. That specific period of time was called the Shemitah. It was intended as a time of peace, but it’s also a sign of judgment, which specifically targets the economic and financial realms.
During the Shemitah year, the rich and the poor shared the land equally. Private ownership became meaningless. And on the last day of the last month of the seventh year of the Jewish civil calendar – the 29th day of Elul — all debts were cancelled. Anything owed was forgiven. The word shemitah can be literally translated “the fall” or “the letting fall.”
Bring that into the twenty-first century, and we find that Jews who still observe the laws given by Moses are bound to “let fall” any debts that are owed to them on that specific day, which the descendants of Jacob have kept careful track of since the law was set in place by the Lord their God following the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt!
Fast forward to materialistic, 21st century America …
The attacks on the World Trade Center happened seven days before the 2000-2001 Shemitah – the last day of the last month of the seventh year on the Hebrew calendar. The New York Stock Exchange closed down for six days following the terrorist attacks. It reopened on the 29th day of Elul, as religious Jews were commemorating the releasing of debt, as required of them by God. On that day, America’s financial system imploded. The stock market suffered the greatest point loss ever in its history up to that moment in time. It was a huge “fall” and an aftershock of the 9/11 event that would forever change the nation that George Washington dedicated to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.
The Lord God continued to warn America to wake-up and return to Him. But the nation’s leaders kept vowing to rebuild by their own strength and intelligence, just like the ancient leaders of the nation of Israel, back in the day of Isaiah’s 9:10 prophecy.
Then in September 2008, on the exact same day as the first crash, the 29th day of Elul, the stock market fell 7% — 777 points in one day – triggering a global economic crisis! The following day marked the beginning of a new seven-year shemitah cycle.
Another Shemitah occurred was commemorated on September 13, 2016 – the day before the Hebrew year 5777 began. That’s a lot of sevens.
“If my people, who are called by my name
will humble themselves and pray and seek my face,
and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven
and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
— The Lord God (2 Chronicles 7:14)
A RUST REMOVER …
As you read through the Bible, remember that God’s promises are conditional. Some were made to certain individuals or groups of select people in specific situations and locations at pivotal moments in world history. But as we’ve seen, God intends for us to learn from the experiences of our fellow, flawed human beings. And often, in ways that we can’t comprehend, we become heirs to His promises.