Shemitah 2015: The Year of Release and
Coming Judgment For America?
By Rev. Paul J. Bern
Much is being made currently regarding the timing of the four blood moons, the Jewish Shemitah year, and the rise and fall of America’s economy, military, and federal government. The first blood moon occurred on April 15th, 2014, the second on October 18th of last year, and the third on April the 4th of this year. The fourth and final one will occur this coming week on Monday, September 28th. This upcoming week, as the end of the Hebrew calendar draws to a close at the end of September, speculation is practically running wild as to what the near future will hold for the entire world, particularly for the US, Israel, Russia, China and the entire Middle East. First, let me say I doubt that a comet or a meteor will strike the Earth anytime soon, so you all can stop worrying about that. The fact of the matter is that if a real meteor or comet were about to strike the planet, it would be visible to the naked eye since it would be so (theoretically) close by now, well within the orbit of Mars. So I’m only going to write about pertinent information regarding End Times prophecy, and it all revolves around the conjunction of the Jewish and Western calendars, combined with current events in the Middle East.
The Sabbatical year, or Shemitah in Hebrew, provides a year of rest for the farmer and the land, since God commanded that no agricultural activity occur during the seventh year: “Six years you shall sow your land and gather its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow.” (Exodus 23:10-11) Rarely have modern Israeli farmers observed the Shemitah, due to the loss of income they would incur by leaving their fields uncultivated for one year. 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. (2 Chronicles 36:20-23) An additional feature of the law waives all outstanding or personal debts between Jews (Deuteronomy 15:1-2) However, the Jewish Talmud disallows loan amnesty related to the Shemitah, except when the agricultural rules are also observed. But the Israeli government and Jewish religious leaders are hoping to reverse that historical trend. The Israeli government has reportedly set aside 29 million dollars (US) to encourage local farmers to honor the Biblical mandate to let their fields lie “fallow” for one out of seven years. 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 , problems 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.
The current Shemitah (meaning, to release) began September 25, 2014, on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Another small portion of the budget will be used for the special ceremony that marks the end of the Shemitah: “At the end of each seven years…on the festival of Sukkot, after the year of release, in the place He (God) will choose, you must read this Torah before all Israel, so that they will be able to hear it.” (Deuteronomy 31:10) That ceremony will take place at the Western Wall, in Jerusalem, during the Sukkot holiday on September 27th (at sundown) until October 4th, and next year in 2016 from October 16th (at sundown) until the 23rd.
Many non-Jews first learned about the significance of the Shemitah year while reading the best-selling book, “The Harbinger”, by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. In “The Harbinger”, Rabbi 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 US. 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% in one day. In response, the Federal Reserve slashed the nation’s interest rates, ushering in a period of economic devastation for the US. Seven years later, September 29, 2008, would prove to be even worse! The days leading up to September 29 saw the government bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the two largest mortgage companies in the US, 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% and filed bankruptcy rather than accept a government bailout. The Stock market dropped 777.7 points or 7%, wiping out all gains of the past seven years. Thus making it the largest ever one day drop in the US stock market history! What followed was an implosion of the US and world economies, from which we have yet to recover.
Rabbi Cahn did not speculate on what might transpire in the US economy at the end of the Shemitah year ending this year. As of this writing, nothing has occurred at all. But, God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Meaning, God’s timing doesn’t necessarily correspond with ours. While Rabbi Cahn acknowledges that the US is not under the Mosaic Law, he asserts that the Shemitah can still serve as a sign of judgment on a nation that has rejected God. It is also of interest to note that the celebration of the end of this Shemitah year will occur on Sukkot, September 28, 2015, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. On that same day (local time), the fourth and final in the series of the 2014-2015 “Blood Moon” tetrad will occur, according to NASA. Jewish history reveals an intriguing correlation between the tetrad of total lunar eclipses and the Feast Days. What does this convergence of events portend for the future? The answers remain to be seen, but we do well to “Be on the watch!” (Luke 21:36) Watch and pray!