Man Lifting Arms to SunsetToday begins a very important year in the life of the Jewish people. From www.chabad.org:

Like the seventh day of the week, every seventh year is holy. The Shemittah (Sabbatical) year is a year devoted to strengthening our bond with God — specifically, honing our faith in His omnipotence and our trust in His kindness. This year, 5775 since creation (Sept. 25, 2014–Sept. 13, 2015), is a Shemittah year.

Keep this in mind as we search out the matter of the Shemittah and its importance for the church today – particularly the church in America.

The Warnings of God

In 2011, an American Messianic Pastor, Jonathan Cahn, wrote a book entitled The Harbinger. In this New York Times best seller, Pastor Cahn presents incredible evidence that God is warning America of His impending judgment. Included in The Harbinger are references to the Shemittah. Here is a summary:

The world shattering events of September 11, 2001 in New York City, led one week later to the great economic collapse of Wall Street on September 17, 2001. This was, on the Hebrew calendar, Elul 29, the last day of the Shemittah. Seven years later – on September 29, 2008 – our nation experienced the greatest financial collapse in our history. This also was the last day of the Shemittah, Elul 29.

Observance of the Shemittah is a command of God (see Deuteronomy 15 and Leviticus 25). As with all His commands, there is a blessing for those that follow the command; and a curse for those that do not. For example, the nation of Israel was exiled in accordance with the Shemittahs they had ignored (2 Chronicles 36:20-21).

This curse has apparently come to America in the form of financial collapse. If this pattern holds true, then the next warning of judgment (or judgment, itself) will come at the end of this Shemittah – September 13, 2015. Will the severity in the warning escalate as it did from 2001 to 2008? What will be the outcome for America?

As Pastor Cahn is careful to point out in The Harbinger, God may or may not continue with the pattern of the Shemittah judgment warnings. He is far too dynamic to put in a box. However, He has promised to not do anything without first disclosing His plans to His prophets (Amos 3:7).

Furthermore, there is quite a bit of attention being given to the blood moon prophecy of Joel 2:31 and the fact that the last of four blood moons in 2014 and 2015 also occurs September 28, 2015. Four blood moons over a two year period is very rare; and previous occurrences have coincided with significant Israeli events.

As you might expect, there are some Christians who are making some very bold predictions for next September, and the Jubilee Year that follows. Personally, I am trying to keep my ears tuned to God’s voice for me, my family and those in my spheres of influence. As I have discussed in a recent inLight Adventure article and newsletter, I believe God is actually more concerned about the church than He is about America. There is a deeper meaning to The Harbinger – God’s warning to the church.

That is the point of this article: To explore what we are to do in preparation for whatever judgment is coming to the church in America. You would have to stick your head pretty far in the proverbial sand not to notice the chaos that has overtaken us – in both American society and the church that resides here. So, let’s see what direction we can draw from the Shemittah.

The Observance of Shemittah has Several Dimensions

(from www.chabad.org)

Give Your Friend a Break

At the end of seven years you will make a release. And this is the manner of the release: to release the hand of every creditor from what he lent his friend; he shall not exact from his friend or his brother, because the time of the release for the Lord has arrived. Deuteronomy 15:1–2

The Shemittah year waives all outstanding debts between Jewish debtors and creditors. This aspect of Shemittah observance is known as shemittat kesafim, “release of money [debts].”

Take a Break from Farming

For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its produce. But in the seventh year, the land shall have a complete rest, a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field, you shall not prune your vineyard, nor shall you reap the aftergrowth of your harvest . . . And [the produce of] the Sabbath of the land shall be yours to eat for you, for your male and female servants, and for your hired worker and resident who live with you… Leviticus 25:3–6

During the Shemittah year, the residents of the Land of Israel must completely desist from cultivating their fields. They also relinquish personal ownership of their fields; whatever produce grows on its own is considered communal property, free for anyone to take. This aspect of the Shemittah year is known as shemittat karka, “release of the land.”

Refocus

In the shemittah year, the nation collectively took a breather and focused on higher, more spiritual pursuits. In the ancient Israeli agrarian culture, the Shemittah year proved to be a difficult challenge for the people’s collective trust in the Creator, the One who bequeathed them the land of milk and honey.

And if you should say, “What will we eat in the seventh year? We will not sow, and we will not gather in our produce!” Leviticus 25:20

Yet those who put their trust in God were richly rewarded:

I, [God,] will command My blessing for you in the sixth year, and it will yield produce for three years. And you will sow in the eighth year, while still eating from the old crops. Until the ninth year, until the arrival of its crop, you will eat the old crop! Leviticus 25:21–22

As well as giving the people an opportunity to put their faith in God and see it fulfilled, the year-long abstention from farming also allowed them to collectively take a breather and focus on higher, more spiritual pursuits—as the people packed the synagogues and study halls. Even today, when the vast majority of Jews are not involved in the farming industry, the lessons of Shemittah are very germane. During this holy year we are expected to concentrate more on our spiritual mission in life, and a little less on our material pursuits. More on why we are needed, less on what we need. More on faith in God; less on faith in our own talents and wiles.

So, what’s a Christian to do?

While we could develop some application from the first two aspects (give your friend a break = forgive your brother; take a break from farming = find balance in your life), I believe our Father in heaven would have us focus on the last one. If judgment is coming to the church (some would say it has already begun), then we would be wise to prepare ourselves by refocusing on what is important; and I don’t mean getting our physical house in order. It may be that God wants to help us there, but I suspect He is more interested in our spiritual house.

Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. Matthew 7:24-27

I am hearing God say that this Shemittah is the year of faith and preparation. He intends to build many houses that will stand strong. For some of you, who have been preparing and growing in your faith, it is the year of more faith and final preparation. It is a year to press in for significant transformation. God knows we need it! Let me be clear: I need it!

Many will be driven by fear and anxiety to prepare to survive in this world, when they should be leveraging His grace and faith in preparing to prosper in His kingdom. God is interested in our physical well-being, and He will guide us in His plan there; but, our initial and primary attention must be focused on spiritual preparation (i.e., transformation). It does not matter where you are spiritually; there is more preparation to be done during this providential time.

If we have not begun, now is the time to strive to enter (Luke 13:24), being diligent to make our call and election sure (2Peter 1:10), disentangling ourselves from the things of this world (2Timothy 2:4), coming out of her lest we suffer also in her judgment (Revelation 18:4). This is about the condition of our hearts. Are we ready to follow Christ onto the battle field that will prove our faith?

Furthermore, this is not about what can be done, but what are we doing? God is responsible for the pace of our preparation. Some will not start because they do not see the end, or they believe the endeavor is hopeless. Shorten your timeframe. Be faithful for one day. Hear His word – and respond to it – one day at a time. Follow Him!!

 

Humbly yours and forever His,