Sabbatical and Jubilee Years
Wheels within wheels. Cycles of Sevens in prophecy as they occur in the Feasts of the Lord
The two cycles of sevens of years in the sacred calendar of God's people Israel, the Sabbatical Year (the Shemittah) and the Jubilee Year, are extremely important to the understanding of end-times. We highly recommend the excellent book on The Feast of Tabernacles by George H Warnock for the serious student. Though it was written back in 1951 it is so relevant for today. The book is out of print but is available to download from the collected writings of Warnock (http://www.georgewarnock.com/).
The three major Feasts, Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, instituted by the Lord in Leviticus Chapter 23, and the Sabbatical and Jubilee Years, were founded by God Himself on a pattern of cycles of 7's - the number 7 always pointing to end-times. The three feasts (holy convocations) are actually comprised of seven so-called feasts:
Passover (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Sheath of First Fruits) in the first month of Nisan.
Pentecost in the third month (after 7x7 days) of Sivan (also known as Feast of Weeks or First Fruit).
Tabernacles (Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles or Booths) in the 7th month of Tishri.
The Day of Atonement was given to the nation of Israel for the forgiveness of all sins, of both known sins and sins of ignorance, on this one and only day in the annual religious cycle. The number 7 is imprinted throughout these requirements that every man in Israel was to obey. The number 7 is an important signpost to final day events in the book of Revelation, the book of 7's. Note the repetitive cycle of 7 within 7's.
For instance, the Feast of Unleavened Bread was celebrated over 7 days, the 7th year was called the Sabbatical Year, while the year following the 7x7th year was the Jubilee year which therefore occurred in cycles of 50 years. The 'Feasts' or compulsory holy convocations/gatherings at the temple had enormous practical and financial applications for the Hebrews. All debts were cancelled on the Sabbatical Year. Hebrews who had sold themselves into slavery because of debt had to be set free, while all properties had to be returned free of charge to the original family every Jubilee Year following every cycle of 7 Sabbatical years. Remarkable, isn't it, for God to institute such a pattern? It's importance to us is that it has an important message for those of us who live near the end of world history - the literal end of the world. The end of the world comes after 7 + 3 + 7 = 17 of God's days, the intervening 3 days signifying that this was the predetermined plan of the omniscient triune God before time began.
The Jubilee year was the most important of God's appointed seasons. Thus counting 7's and 50 was crucial to the religious life of the Israelites. In the Jubilee Year each family received back its God-ordained full inheritance of lands and family members. Its symbolism to the church is perfection and the inheritance of God's promises fully acquired. The components of Tabernacles, Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and Booths, contain much symbolism with regard to what is about to happen to the church.
The number 50 is significant both to the Day of Pentecost and to the Year of Jubilee. In biblical symbology 50 represents fullness or payment in full. Thus, the infilling of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, which is available to all Christians who seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit, is also a downpayment to be realized in full because we become the temple of the Holy Spirit and are given boldness and gifts of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16; and Chapter 12).
The three components of the Feast of Passover were types of the sinless works fulfilled by Christ and His resurrection when He became the first fruits of many brethren and pioneer of the resurrection. This is why we call Christ our Passover ('Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us', 1 Corinthians 5:7).
Apart from our fascination with the pattern of 7's in the Creative and Redemptive Weeks, and in the Feasts themselves, sevens are God's tags (like in a filing cabinet) indicating that they are relevant to the book of 7's (the book of Revelation). In other words, any event in the Bible that deals with seven of something is a sign that the event contains a clue relating to end-times.
The feasts enable us to understand God's timings and plan for the world (see also the 15 progressive articles on the true age of the Earth). The subject matter is not trivial. Reading Warnock's book on The Feast of Tabernacles enables the reader to better understand what we have to say about the feasts. He also discusses what true Christian unity will be all about. The prayer of Jesus that we be one, as Jesus is one with the Father (John Chapter 17), can only come about by a divine move of the Holy Spirit, not by any well intended strategies of man or churches. Current Christianity is anything but united in any sense of the word. Even within the one congregation there exists a wide spectrum of personal beliefs on a variety of doctrinal subjects. Such diversity does not occur within the Trinity.
JOHNATHAN CAHN - MODERN PROPHET LEANS ON THE FEASTS OF ISRAEL AND PATTERNS OF 7's
Jonathan Cahn, a Messianic Rabii of Beth Israel in the U.S., who has demonstrated in his best-selling books how the spiritual significance of these so-called Feasts of Israel are being played out in the politics of the United States. Moreover, they also point to the soon coming of the Messiah. They are God's predetermined clocks for the countdown of the Second Coming involving the 120th Year of Jubilee since sin entered into the world.
Cahn stunningly reveals current events and personalities that are uncannily bringing God's timetable to pass. View descriptions and availabilities of his books "The Harbinger", "The Paradigm" and "The Mystery of the Shemittah". My brief material below may allow you to better understand his.
Johnathan explains Daniel's Seventy Sevens Prophecy which, coupled with the Jubilees, is a mathematical count down to the coming of the Messiah. His material is worth watching, despite receiving criticism that he uses a 'sliding' Hebrew calendar to suit his purposes. Who can know with absolute certainty what actual year we are in (from the time that sin entered in)? There also appears to be some doubt by Jews about the precise year when each 50-year cycle for the Year of Jubilee begins.
Cahn leans a lot on the viewer having an understanding of the difference between a Sabbatical Year (the Smita or Shemittah) and a Jubilee Year. In addition to what I have provided below readers may also wish to visit a site describing the scriptural background for these commands of the Lord and how they dramatically affected the life of ancient Israel. Cahn's "The Mystery of the Shemitah" explains in greater detail God's demands on His people during the beginning and end of a Sabbatical Year (also known as the 'Shemittah' or 'Year of release'). I also recommend 'The Feasts of the Lord' by Howard and Rosenthal (Thomas Nelson Inc, Nashville, 1997) for their interpretation of the Shemittah. They present a particularly good reminder how something that God intended to be a blessing can become a curse to a nation or individual if not obeyed. I do not agree with some of their other views.
THE CHURCH TO EXPERIENCE TABERNACLES BEFORE THE RESURRECTION
One of the most important signposts to end times is the way the progressive build up of the three Feasts instituted by the Lord as recorded in Leviticus Chapter 23; Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. To the Christian they represent Salvation, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and Perfection. God considered these three feasts (solemn assemblies) so important that any male who did not participate was spiritually excommunicated from Israel. The annual timing of these feasts was based on a pattern of sevens based upon the week of creation, the seventh day being so holy that any who worked on the Sabbath were killed by stoning at God's command.
Because of the severity of God's dealings with Israel it becomes evident that God intended the pattern of sevens to be retained right up to the present day and was not to be diluted or corrupted in any way. Why? Because the Feasts proclaim the pattern of God's plan for world history for our learning and benefit.
Isn't it remarkable that Jesus, our Passover, was crucified on the same day when the Jews celebrated Passover, and that the Holy Spirit fell upon the 120 disciples on the exact day when the Jews were celebrating the Feast of Pentecost? Note the wording in Acts Chapter 2 verse 1 'And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place'. In other words, God was also counting the 50 days from Passover to Pentecost for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on believers. The type or shadow of the Jew's ritual became spiritually realized in substance in the body of Christ. In other words, the Old Testament was foreshadowing, in picture form, a spiritual reality that was to be experienced by the church. The church was born again through events on the cross at Passover, while baptism with the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost (the first Pentecost was instituted at Mount Sinai, the mountain of fire and thunder, 50 days after the angel of death passed over the dwelling of the Hebrews in Egypt who had painted lamb's blood on their doorposts - Exodus Chapters 11 and 12 ).
This begs the question of the third great feast, the Feast of Tabernacles which was the culmination of God's sacred calendar in the 7th month for the nation of Israel. The Feast of Tabernacles has still to be fulfilled spiritually on Earth, in the body of Christ.
'We have abundant evidence from the New Testament to establish the fact that two of the three annual Feasts of Israel's worship have already been fulfilled in Christ and His Church: fulfilled, moreover, in a way so manifestly clear from the Scriptures that we do not hesitate to declare that we are now on the verge of the fulfillment of the last annual Feast of the Lord - The Feast of Tabernacles' (Warnock, 1951).
The Day of Atonement in the Feast of Tabernacles was the only day in the year when the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies to present blood on the Ark of the Covenant. It signified the one day in the Year when Israel would be perfected and set entirely free of all sins, both sins knowingly committed and sins of ignorance, for that year. On every seventh occurrence of the Day of Atonement all debts were forgiven, and following every 7x7th Day of Atonement (The Year of Jubilee ie. every 50th year) all properties had to be returned to their original owners. Thus every family received back the inheritance of lands provided them of God. The spiritual fulfillment of this Feast in the body of Christ will be the literal perfection of the believers who enter by faith. This speaks of Christians in the Bride of Christ who have been processed by the Holy Spirit to be without spot, wrinkles or blemish.
'That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish' (Ephesians 5:27). She will be the appropriate bride for Christ 'But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot' (1 Peter 1:19). Note the same wording used for the sinless nature of Christ.
It is for this reason that Jesus after His ascension gave the five ascension gift ministries to the church. They will, over time and in a progressive manner, from glory to glory, bring the bride of Christ to her perfection in the sight of Christ:
'And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ' (Ephesians 4:11-13). Mind you, to the perfection of Christ Himself!
Why would you not believe that? Is it because you find it impossible to believe this about yourself? Because it is outside of your experience and you know that you are still capable of sinful thoughts? That is exactly why the appearance of the Bride of Christ will be a miracle, for with God nothing is impossible. Be a Joshua and a Caleb. Believe the word of God.
In summary, the three Feasts Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles speak of spiritual equivalents and realities in the church, or in the life of an individual. It is about Christ leading us in gradual progression from Salvation, to the infilling with the Holy Spirit and eventually to Perfection (unimaginable but possible with God).
PATTERN OF SEVENS
Understanding these cycles of years is particularly significant for anyone interested in the current age of the Earth and in the timings of various end-time events, including stock-market crashes as revealed by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. (See also my 15 articles on how these cycles relate to The True Age of the Earth).
On these pages I provide some essential material to gain an understanding of how and why God works in cycles of sevens. The pattern of sevens is revealed in God's word beginning with the 7th day of rest, which if disobeyed met with the death penalty. The Feast of Pentecost was determined by a count down of seven weeks, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Day of Atonement was determined by a countdown of 7 months, the Sabbatical year was determined by a countdown of seven years, while the Year of Jubilee was determined by a countdown of seven Sabbatical Years. The final countdown is for the end of the world is described in the book of 7's - the book of Revelation. At the close of world history many events occur in sevens - 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 vials, etc.
GOD WORKS IN PATTERNS AND REPEATED CYCLES
In summary, God works in patterns and always has from the very beginning of the Creation. An inescapable number in the Bible is the number 7, which comprises the days of the week. Sevens culminate in the Book of Revelation which mentions the number about 49 times. Ignoring repeated sevens in the same verse, the number 7 occurs 7 x 7 times! Everything God does has enormous significance. He is drawing our attention ! The 7 colours of the rainbow remind us of His promise to Noah that He would never again kill the entire world with a flood.
The prophet Ezekiel saw in his visions ‘wheels within wheels’, in other words, he saw a reference to cycles that repeat themselves on a smaller scale within an overarching cycle. "The appearance of the wheels and their workmanship was the colour of beryl, and the four of them had one likeness. And their appearance and their workmanship were like a wheel in the middle of a wheel" (Ezekiel 1:16). This is particularly true of the number 7. Have you ever observed a rapidly spinning wheel that at certain times appears to be spinning slowly in the reverse direction? So it is with sevens and it can become very confusing unless we are familiar with God’s week.
Consider again the following cycles which were crucial in the life of Israel at the pain of death or exclusion from God’s household if disobeyed.
THE CYCLE OF 7s
God's Creative Week. God worked 6 days and rested on the 7th day.
Our week. No one was to work on the 7th day. The death penalty for disobedience was stoning (with God's approval).
Annually, Israel was to count 7 weeks of 7 days from Passover (49 days). The Following day was Pentecost, 50 days from Passover (50th day from the time of painting blood on the door posts in Egypt to the time when Israel appeared before the Lord at Sinai, the 'mount of thunder, fire and trumpets' – the giving of the 10 commandments.
The 7th month was annually set aside for the Feast of Tabernacles. This Feast of Israel included the Day of Atonement, the only day of the year when the high priest was to go inside the Holy of Holies in the Temple to sprinkle blood 7 times on the mercy seat of the Ark and then sprinkle blood on the altar in the Outer Court. Thus sins were annually forgiven. Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles are called pilgrimage feasts where every male had to attend these feasts and failure to do so meant being spiritually cut off from Israel.
In a repeating cycle of 7 years the 7th year was the Sabbatical Year when debts between Israelites were forgiven and the land was commanded to rest from agricultural activity and harvest. The first occurrence of the commandment for the sabbatical year is given together with the commandment for the weekly Sabbath. (Ex 23:10-12). It is no coincidence (http://www.setapartpeople.com/sabbatical-year-commandment). Any produce which grew of its own became communal property. For the obedient God provided a three-fold abundant crop that would last them to the beginning of the ninth year (Leviticus 25:20-22). The Sabbatical Year was also referred to as Shemittat kesafim ('money release') and Shemittat karka ('release of the land'). Since debts were forgiven Hebrews who had sold themselves into slavery were free to go home (unless if they wished to stay in their master's home where they were amply provided for). Deuteronomy 15:12–14 “If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. When you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as YHVH your Elohim has blessed you". During this year Hebrews were expected to contemplate spiritual matters, refrain from agricultural work and consider that all things belong to God anyway. The year 2000/1 was a Sabbatical Year (Shemittah) for the Jew.
Why was the Southern Kingdom sent into exile for 70 years to Babylon? 'Judah’s sins included evil doings and idolatry (verses 5-7). As for the 70 years of punishment, God may have chosen this period of time since the number of years coincides with the apparent number of violations by the people of Judah of God’s command that the land should rest every seventh year (Leviticus 25:1-7; 20-22; 26:33-35; 2 Chronicles 36:20-21). This prophecy of punishment came upon the people of Judah because of their disobedience to God’s laws. According to the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary, the 70 years was “the exact number of years of Sabbaths in four hundred and ninety years, the period from Saul to the Babylonian captivity. … The seventy years probably begin from the fourth year of Jehoiakim, when Jerusalem was first captured, and many captives, as well as the treasures of the temple, were carried away; they end with the first year of Cyrus, who, on taking Babylon, issued an edict for the restoration of the Jews (Ezra 1:1)” (comments on Jeremiah 25:1). Quoted from https://lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy/understanding-the-book-of-daniel/daniel-9/
Overarching these holy periods, Israel also had to count 7 cycles of 7 weeks of years (49 years). The 7 x 7th year was a Sabbatical Year of course, the 49th year. The 50th year was the Year of Jubilee which was a double portion blessing when all lands had to be returned to their hereditary owners. In addition, Hebrews who had sold themselves into servitude, but not gentile slaves, had to be released to return to their families (Leviticus 25:8-24). The 7 years were called a week of years. This was called the Sabbath of Sabbaths. A ram's horn was blown on the Day of Atonement to announce the start of the Year of Jubilee. Jubilee comes from the Hebrew word 'yovel' meaning a trumpet sound.
Note, in these feasts the element of progression of lengths of time, progressing from days, to weeks, to months to years, all in cycles of 7, even two cycles comprised of 1000-year periods of time (next point) interspersed by three of God's days.
It also becomes evident that overarching these cycles were the two weeks comprised of 1000-year days – the Creative Week and the Redemptive Week.
Overarching all of these and including the 7th point, we note a combination of all these blessings. The number 120, associated with the first world-wide judgment of God during the days of Noah, over-arches the next world-wide judgment of fire covering the whole Earth. 120 signifies the end of all flesh. There were 120 disciples in the upper room at Pentecost (50 days, 7 weeks plus 1 day) when fire from heaven fell and the carnal disciples were transformed into spiritual disciples, full of testimony and boldness led by the Holy Spirit. Judgment begins at the completion of 120 cycles of Jubilee Years, ie. 120 x 50 = 6000 years of sin until the final redemption, viz. from the moment of Adam’s sin to the perfection of the body of Christ. An article in Myjewishlearning.com suggests that, in God's eyes, the first Jubilee occurred well before the law was given to Moses.
Important prophecies concerning Israel and those concerning the whole world were based on 7's. Israel was in exile in Babylon for 70 years, Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, the Syrian leper had to dip himself 7 times in the Jordan to be healed, the apostle Peter had to forgive 7 x 70 times according to Jesus who was referring to the 7 x 70 prophecy from the book of Daniel, which pointed to the end of sin at the end of time, culminating in 7's in the 7 golden lampstands or candlesticks, 7 stars, 7 churches, 7 spirits of God, 7 lamps of fire, 7 seals, 7 thunders, 7 horns, 7 crowns, 7 eyes, 7 angels, 7 golden vials or bowls, 7 trumpets, 7000 men slain, 7 last plagues, 7 heads and the 7th kingdom of world history. Relevant to God's plan were 7 kingdoms or powers holding sway over God's people - Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, the 7th kingdom of iron and clay still to come 'according to the working of Satan'. Jacob bowed 7 times to his brother Esau signifying that the people of God will bow 7 times in weakness to world kingdoms before the end and the final triumph of the church of Jesus Christ over all kingdoms (the small stone that smashed the statue, Daniel Chapter 2).
This is summarized in 'An Introduction to Bible Prophecy: Focusing on the Seventh World Kingdom' - see under 'Administration and Acknowledgements'. In short, the number 7 symbolizes fullness or consummation, thus God does not have 7 eyes or 7 different spirits, etc. Revelations has been clothed in symbolic language so that only spirit-filled believers will ever fully understand it.
'But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man except the spirit of man within him? So also no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. But we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit from God, so that we might know the things that are freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned' (1 Corinthians 2:10-14).
SOME SUPPORTING NOTES
'So says the LORD, the God of Israel: I made a covenant with your fathers in the day that I brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage, saying: "At the end of seven years you shall let go every man his brother that is a Hebrew, that has been sold unto you, and has served you six years, you shalt let him go free from you"; but your fathers hearkened not unto Me, neither inclined their ear" (Jeremiah 34:13–14)'.
‘The fiftieth year, i.e., that following the last year of seven Sabbatical cycles, is the jubilee; during it the land regulations of the Sabbatical year are to be observed, as is also the commandment "You shall return every man unto his possession" (ib. verse 10), indicating the compulsory restoration of hereditary properties (except houses of laymen located in walled cities) to the original owners or their legal heirs and the emancipation of all Hebrew servants whose term of six years is unexpired or who refuse to leave their masters when such term of service has expired (Gen. xviii. 6; 'Ar. 33b; see Josephus, "Ant." vi. 8, § 28).’ http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/12967-sabbatical-year-and-jubilee
The Sabbatical year is established in Deuteronomy: 'At the end of every seven years you shall make a release. And this is the manner of the release. Every man who has a loan to his neighbour shall release it. He shall not exact it from his neighbour, or from his brother, because it is called Jehovah's release. You may exact it from a foreigner, but your hand shall release that which is yours with your brother'. (Deuteronomy 15:1-3). In the Book of Nehemiah, the Contemporary English Version says, “We won't buy goods or grain on the Sabbath or on any other sacred day not even from foreigners. Every seven years we will let our fields rest, and we will cancel all debts' (Nehemiah 10:31). But did they obey?
The Day of Atonement. This was a very sombre and holy day. https://bible.org/seriespage/10-day-atonement-leviticus-16
Leviticus 25:2-7. The Sabbatical Year. 'The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord. For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. You may eat what the land yields during its sabbath—you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound labourers who live with you; for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its' yield shall be for food'.
Consult also the Sabbatical year or Shmita in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shmita
Leviticus 25:8-17. The Year of Jubilee. ' You shall count off seven weeks* of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month—on the day of atonement—you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces. In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property. When you make a sale to your neighbour or buy from your neighbour, you shall not cheat one another. When you buy from your neighbour, you shall pay only for the number of years since the jubilee; the seller shall charge you only for the remaining crop-years. If the years are more, you shall increase the price, and if the years are fewer, you shall diminish the price; for it is a certain number of harvests that are being sold to you. You shall not cheat one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God. https://www.enterthebible.org/Controls/feature/tool_etb_resource_display/resourcebox.aspx?selected_rid=380&original_id=23
'But, beloved, let not this one thing be hidden from you, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day' (2 Peter 3:8).
And Jehovah said, 'My spirit shall not always strive with man, in his erring; he is flesh. Yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years' (Genesis 6:3).
'For this is hidden from them by their willing it, that the heavens were of old, and the earth out of the water, and through water, being held together by the Word of God, through which the world that then was, being flooded by water, perished. But the present heavens and the earth being kept in store by the same Word, are being kept for fire until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men' (2 Peter 3:5-7).
'And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the Word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast nor his image, nor had received his mark on their foreheads, nor in their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years' (Revelation 20:4). The 1000 year Millennium is the 7th 1000-year day of the Redemptive Week that began with the sin of Adam and Eve whose sin was covered when God shed innocent blood on their behalf by providing them with skins of animals to wear. These were in all probability the first lambs to be sacrificed for the sins of mankind.