By Bob O’Dell
While many were looking for major financial collapse in the United States as the recent Shemitah year ended on Sept. 13, in hindsight the most notable change we have faced since then is more terrorism. President Obama made our sense of that marked change official on Sunday night when he addressed the nation about San Bernardino and said “the terrorist threat has evolved into a new phase.” Yet, as scary as that is, in the financial world the economic data are reasonably strong, and the stock market is once again approaching all-time highs.
This raises the very reasonable question: Has the Shemitah theory failed?
Not only has the Shemitah theory not failed, after reading the story below, you might consider God to be the hero. His own words in Leviticus are explaining our current situation exactly.
This summer, an Orthodox Jew and I (a Christian) embarked upon a very unusual project: to co-write a book to explain many new Christian theories from a Jewish perspective. We were trying to bring together the Blood Moons, the Shemitah, the blessing/cursing of Israel and the coming Jubilee, and see if we could make sense of them all as different facets of one large storyline around God’s purposes for Israel. “Israel FIRST!” went to print in mid-August, a full month before the Shemitah year ended and two weeks before the stock market scare in late August.
Regarding the Shemitah, we had a sense that while this topic was being treated respectfully by Christians, it was being viewed superficially. Think of it like an iceberg. It is easy to see that part above the water, but most of the iceberg lies below. Jewish scholars spent hundreds of years tackling topics in Scripture attempting to dig out connections, looking for ever-larger, ever-fuller views. It would be unwise to think that any single book on the subject would be the last word, ours included! But, that is no excuse for all researchers, including us, to refrain from attempting to add more insight.
In one of the chapters of our book, we revealed a theory about the Shemitah we called “God’s Seven Year Forecast.” The thinking went like this:
What if, rather than focusing so much on the last year of a seven-year cycle, we were to step back and take a larger view: the transition of one seven-year cycle to the next one. This view is found all over scripture. For instance, God told Joseph and then Pharaoh that He was planning two seven-year cycles back to back – one cycle of plenty followed by one cycle of famine. (See Genesis 41:1-38.)
To that simple idea, next we added a fascinating observation made by Jonathan Cahn’s in his book “The Mystery of the Shemitah,” where he remarked that the recent history of the United States was written in 28 year cycles: 1917-1945, 1945-1973, 1973-2001. Each of these is comprised of four seven-year-long long cycles, each ending in a Shemitah year.
Given the dramatic and traumatic events that have occurred since 2001 in our country, we asked ourselves two questions:
1. Did another 28-year cycle begin in 2001?
2. Is this 28-year cycle especially critical to the future of our nation?
With these questions in mind, we looked for sequences of sevens in scripture and found a passage in Leviticus 26 that seemed to jump off the page. After introducing the Shemitah and Jubilee in chapter 25, God goes on to describe in chapter 26 a sequence of increasing judgments that will be brought upon Israel in four successive stages in verses 16-33, continuing to escalate until the land once again enjoys its Sabbaths in verse 34. Here is where most researchers dismiss these verses as being unrelated to any other nation than Israel. But we asked, “Could this be a general blueprint for God’s interaction with a nation that turns away from Him?”
Then we looked at the first set of judgments in the list to see how well they mapped to what has happened in the USA from 2001-2008. The sequence begins with verse 16:
“I will appoint over you a sudden terror.”
This seems to point to 9/11, as there has been no event like it in modern history, an event that has changed not only the USA but the entire Western world.
That first list in Leviticus includes other items that can be placed into that seven-year period, but not all occurring in 2001, including items like economic stagnation.
Moving on to the second list, the one that per this theory would need to apply to 2008-2015, it begins in verse 19 with:
“I will also break down your pride of power.”
While Americans are divided on many things, there probably isn’t a single change in the most recent seven years that is not more universally recognized and understood than the idea that the USA no longer carries the same level of respect around the world, the “pride of power” it used to have.
That list then continues with other items that can be placed into that seven-year period, but not all occurring just in 2008, including items of economic hardship that were worse than in the first seven-year period. Other items in that list can be mapped into the seven-year period from 2008-2015.
Then we said in our book that if the first two patterns were correct, then the next seven years, the new seven years we just entered in September, should begin with verse 22:
“I will let loose among you the beasts of the field, which will bereave you of your children. …”
We wondered this summer, what this phrase might mean, and we wrote that the “beasts of the field” could include “lone wolf attacks.” But if that were the case, there should be a significant increase in them beginning Sept. 14. We also saw in this same list a series of things that looked less like economic hardship, and more like loss of life, and even the loss of the previous way of life. We concluded the discussion of these seven years with: “Therefore, we may see that the financial correction this time around may not be as drastic as it was in 2008; but if that is the case, then the response will be more deadly this time around, God forbid. It will be felt much more personally.”
Since we wrote the book, the world has seen a new phase of terrorism beginning on the Temple Mount on Sept. 13, with the first death occurring in Jerusalem on Sept. 14, followed by deaths in Judea and Samaria, followed by the Oregon shooting on Oct. 1, the Ankara, Turkey, peace rally bombing on Oct. 12, UC Merced stabbings on Nov. 4 and many other events leading up to the Paris attacks on Nov. 13, and now San Bernardino on Dec. 2. Most of the terrorism victims have been young people, reminding of the scripture “I will let loose among you the beasts of the field, which will bereave you of your children. …”
The reference to beasts of the field is relevant given the fact that there is no way to reason with these terrorists. Interestingly, the first person in scripture to be compared to a wild beast was Ishmael.
God is the hero for calling these things out well in advance and laying out a blueprint for what his national judgment plan may look like. How much more foundational it is to have a blueprint laid out in scripture than just in some individual’s dream or vision.
The good news is that according to these very same passages, the downward spiral toward disaster can be averted at any time through national repentance. In such repentance, I strongly believe that it is up to us as the church to lead the way.
Finally, with regard to financial impact, we should not assume that we are out of the woods. The current list alludes to financial downturn coming soon. I may discuss that more in a future column.
Bob O’Dell is a high-tech entrepreneur and author. Most recently he co-founded Root-Source.com, a new venture that seeks to build strong relationships directly between Christians and Israeli Jews. He is co-author of “Israel First! Your Key to Understanding the Blood Moons, Shemitah, Promises to Israel and the Coming Jubilee.”