WASHINGTON – Why are so many Christians in the U.S. and elsewhere standing up and taking notice of an Israeli government action to set aside $29 million to encourage local farmers to observe an ancient biblical commandment to let their fields lay fallow every seventh year?
To understand what’s grabbing the attention of Bible prophecy students around the world, the confluence of events taking place in 2014 and 2015 that many suspect show the hand of God at work.
In Exodus 23:10-11, you will find this commandment of God to Israel: “And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.”
Modern Israel hasn’t paid much attention to this ancient commandment – until recently.
More and more farmers and consumers are expressing concern about fruits and vegetable intentionally grown and harvested in the seventh year – also known as the Shemitah year, or Sabbath year.
Now the Israeli government and Jewish religious leaders are hoping to work together to reinstate the practice.
The next Shemitah year on the biblical calendar begins Sept. 25, 2014 – Rosh Hashanah, the civil new year.
The new Shemitah budget will go to the Religious Affairs Ministry, which intends to use a portion of the funds for promotional materials, and educational assistance for farmers wishing to honor the commandment. Another small portion of the budget will be used for the special ceremony that marks the end of the Shemitah year Sept. 13, 2015 or Elul 29 on the Hebrew calendar. That ceremony will take place at the Western Wall, in Jerusalem during Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles.
The bulk of the appropriated funds will be used to support farmers who will suffer loss of income, but who nevertheless, choose to keep the Shemitah, allowing their fields to lie fallow in obedience to God’s law.
Despite the government’s assistance, concerns surrounding the observance of the sabbatical year are complex, and involve Jewish legal issues and opinions on how best to adhere to the command without negatively affecting the income of farmers who follow the Sabbatical law and to protect the fragile agricultural economy. After all, the Shemitah has not been observed in Israel in any meaningful way since the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
Additionally, observant Jews in Israel will need guidance on how best to purchase foods that have not been grown on Israel’s soil during the yearlong observance.
In the period when kings ruled in Israel, disobedience to the Sabbatical laws brought Divine punishment. Israel’s 70 years in Babylonian captivity were, in part, due to the failure of the Jews to observe the Shemitah for 70 years, according to II Chronicles 36:20-23.
An additional feature of the law, waives all outstanding, personal debts between Jews (Deuteronomy 15:1-2) However, for Orthodox Jews, the Jewish Talmud disallows loan amnesty related to the Shemitah, except when the agricultural rules are also observed.
So what does all of this have to do with non-Jewish Christians around the world and Bible prophecy?
Many non-Jews first learned about the significance of the Shemitah year while reading the best-selling Christian book of recent years, “The Harbinger,” by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, or by watching the documentary version of the messianic rabbi’s teaching, “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment,” the best-selling Christian movie of 2012 and 2013.
“While the Shemitah was designed by God to be a blessing to the people, when it was not observed, and when the people walked away from God, it became a curse,” explains Cahn.
In his book and movie works, Cahn, reveals that the two greatest financial calamities in American history occurred on successive Shemitah years following the 9/11 Islamist terror attacks on the U.S.
September 17, 2001, six days after the 9/11 attacks, the stock market re-opened and suffered the greatest point loss in its history, to that date. The market dropped 700 points, or 7 percent in one day. In response, the Federal Reserve slashed the nation’s interest rates, ushering in a period of economic devastation for the U.S. Sept. 17, 2001, was the end of the Shemitah year – Elul 29.
Seven years later, September 29, 2008, would prove to be even worse! The days leading up to that date saw the government bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the two largest mortgage companies in the U.S., in a bid to prevent the collapse of the two. Shortly thereafter, Lehmann Brothers once considered the pinnacle of financial firms, reported losses of 45 percent and filed bankruptcy rather than accept a government bailout. The stock market dropped 777.7 points or 7 percent, wiping out all gains of the past seven years. Thus making it the largest ever one-day drop in the U.S. stock market history. Sept. 29, 2008, fell on Elul 20, marking the end of the Shemitah year in Israel.
What followed was an implosion of the U.S. and world economies.
Many are wondering now what will happen at the end of the next Shemitah year – Sept. 13, 2015.
But it gets even more interesting when you factor in the astronomical occurrence in 2014 and 2015 of what has become known as the blood moon tetrad – a series of four lunar eclipses occurring on Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles. The end of the Shemitah year in 2015 will be celebrated Sept. 28 at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. On the same evening, the fourth and final blood moon will occur, as pointed out by author Mark Biltz, who wrote “Blood Moons” and was the inspiration behind the movie of the same name.
The first of the blood moons occurred on Passover, April 15, 2014.
Biltz, the discoverer of the blood moons phenomenon and pastor of El Shaddai Ministries in Tacoma, Washington, ties previous rare blood moons tetrads to significant developments in the history of the Jewish people – including the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the rebirth of the state of Israel and the recapture of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967.
Where’s Biltz going to be on the Feast of Tabernacles in 2014 and 2015? He’s planning on being in Israel to see what’s happening first hand.
See the trailer for the “Blood Moons” DVD:
See a trailer for “The Harbinger” and “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment:”