“Will Tribulation Begin A Year From Now?” Thoughts on the Shemitah and the End of the Age
Most people have no desire to discuss the return of Messiah at the end of this age. Many of them lump it into the category of “too weird”, or “myth and legend”. Others suspect it may be true, but hope that it doesn’t happen in their lifetime. That response comes from fear that they might not end up on the right side of the balance sheet, as well as a hefty dose of distraction due to the worldly interests that have ensnared their attention.
But then there are the believers, both Christian and Jewish, who anticipate that this age will end at some point with the great Day of the Lord. What observant Jews think of that subject is something I am even now beginning to learn. What Christians believe is something I have encountered all of my life. Usually their attitudes fall into one of two categories: either they believe God will take every person on earth by surprise because “no one can know the day or the hour”; or they affirm that we can know exactly when Jesus will return because we have the clues in the Bible. As in all things, the truth exists somewhere between these two extremes.
Both of these positions are shaped by centuries of Christian separation from Hebraic thought and practice, combined with an immense amount of ignorance and apathy. The ignorance and apathy come into play because the vast majority of Christians have no inclination to study the matter for themselves, but take for granted the teaching they have heard from the pulpit. Those in the “we can’t know” category grasp passages like these to prove their point:
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. (Matthew 25:13 NKJV)
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. (Mark 13:32 NKJV)
Armed with this bit of Scripture, and perhaps an inoculation of wishful thinking, good people go their way in the anticipation that God has it all figured out and that, should the Great Tribulation happen in their lifetimes, they will somehow escape it.
On the other side of the equation are the “date-setters”. They take comfort in passages like this:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. (I Thessalonians 1:1-5 NKJV)
Those who take the “date setting” viewpoint contend that God would not let His people remain ignorant, but that His commandment to watch and pray (Mark 13:33; I Thessalonians 5:6) implies that He will provide signs for His people to understand that will alert them to His coming. In this they are correct. However, a degree of error all too often crops up in Christian speculation on the timing of Messiah’s coming. Usually this error comes in approaching the subject from a pagan starting point, particularly the man-made Gregorian calendar which has become the world’s standard for measuring the passage of time. God provided a means of measuring signs and seasons, days and years through His calendar. The changing of that calendar is an indication of Satan’s handiwork, as was explained to the prophet Daniel. In a major prophecy regarding the Last Days world leader commonly known as Antichrist or Antimessiah, Daniel writes this:
He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. (Daniel 7:25 NKJV, emphasis added)
This “spirit of Antichrist” is already at work, as the Apostle John warned us. It causes the unwary saints of God to depart from His ways, ignorant of the truth. That in essence is what has happened with the rejection of the Hebrew calendar in favor of various man-made calendars based on ancient pagan sun god worship. The result is, at best, a set of calculations that misses the truth by an order of magnitude, and, at worst, a dogmatic proclamation of the Day of Judgment. Of course, when judgment it does not happen as predicted, the proclaimers end up looking silly and foolish. Such things are not helpful to the cause of Christ.
What is helpful is a healthy, prayerful, humble review of Scripture to see what the Lord says on these matters. If we are on the verge of the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, also known as the Day of the Lord and the Great Tribulation, then perhaps we should be seeing signs of it. But can we know what those sign are? Indeed we can. While we cannot know for certain the “day nor the hour” when Messiah Yeshua will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we can know the season. We can also be certain that God Himself will reveal more information as the time draws nearer and we have a need to know. He said as much to Daniel, one of His key prophets:
“At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Then I, Daniel, looked; and there stood two others, one on this riverbank and the other on that riverbank. And one said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, “How long shall the fulfillment of these wonders be?” Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished. Although I heard, I did not understand. Then I said, “My lord, what shall be the end of these things?” And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice is taken away, and the abomination of desolation is set up, there shall be one thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he who waits, and comes to the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. But you, go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance at the end of the days.” (Daniel 12:1-13 NKJV, emphasis added)
Perhaps it is because we are at the “time of the end” that things feel “not quite right”. Here in America, at least, people are attempting to live out their lives as normal, but underneath the surface is an angst, an unspoken anxiety that we are living in anything but “normal” times. Whether it is impending economic disaster, expanding government interference in daily life, creeping persecution of Jews and Christians, wars in Europe and the Middle East, or alarming outbreaks of disease, those who dare to admit it whisper of fear and unease that we are witnessing changes not seen in decades. They are right to be concerned. It was in an effort to address those concerns that The Barking Fox delved deeply into the centennial of World War I, noting parallels between 1914 and 2014, and investigating the prophetic significance of current events. It is right and necessary to do such things if for no other reason than the sheer magnitude of human suffering involved in these end times. The onset of the Tribulation brings the death of nearly two billion people, one-fourth of the population of the earth. Many millions of those shall be lost for all eternity. Thus it would be wise for us to find out exactly where we are on this cosmic timetable, and what we should do to survive. We should not expect to be “snatched away” out of this earth, but those who cling to the God of the Word and the Word of God can expect a future and a hope on this earth.
What, then, are we to do with a headline in a significant media outlet that asks, ”Will Tribulation Begin A Year From Now?” Is this some tabloid offering a tantalizing and bizarre piece of diversion? No, it is a recent article from World Net Daily, authored by Messianic pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries. While WND can stray into the realm of the sensational, and is filled with those annoying ads that compete with the news for the reader’s attention, it is a reputable media outlet that routinely produces commendable works of journalism. WND has taken a serious look at the subject of the “End Times”, often featuring pastors, teachers, and commentators like Mark Biltz, Joel Richardson, and Jonathan Cahn. These men are serious Bible scholars who have approached the subject of the End Times from a Hebraic viewpoint that surpasses the efforts of prophecy scholars from the Christian traditions.
Why is their work now getting attention? And should we believe them? How are these Hebraic prophecy scholars different from respected scholars like John Walvoord, Hal Lindsey, and Tim LaHaye? The difference is essentially this: Christian prophecy scholars start with the assumption that Israel and the Church are somehow two separate entities with two separate destinies, and therefore the calendar (“times”) and laws of ancient Israel do not apply to Christians. Consequently, while they make careful study of such things as the so-called “prophetic year” of 360 days, they do not link their studies to the calendar that God established in Torah and is still operating today. In contrast, Hebraic prophecy scholars like Biltz, Richardson, and Cahn, start with God’s calendar as the framework for investigating the prophecies of ancient Israel, and proceed with the understanding that those prophecies apply to all people on earth today, particularly to Jews and to Christians. Some, like Monte Judah, J.K. McKee, and Batya Wooten, take this line of thought to the conclusion that Jews and Christians are part of the Two Houses of Israel (Ephraim and Judah) which the Lord will reunite at the end of this age when He restores the entire Kingdom. Two House scholars point to the multitude of major prophecies of the reunification of Ephraim and Judah, such as Ezekiel 37 and Jeremiah 31. While they may disagree on the particulars, all of these scholars would agree that the only way to understand the coming of the Day of the Lord is to approach it from a Hebraic perspective. Furthermore, they would agree that the only way to gain this Hebraic perspective is to find out what Jewish sages and scholars have been writing about the subject for centuries, and to understand the prophetic messages God has embedded in practices that are commonly considered “Jewish”.
One of those “Jewish” practices, or at least observances, is the Shemitah. This is God’s commandment for Israel to take a year off. Every seventh year is to be a sabbatical in which the land is to lie fallow and debts are forgiven. Rabbi Cahn has just published an astounding book on the subject, The Mystery of the Shemitah, which is worth reading. He provides a methodical and easily understood explanation of the Shemitah, tying this ancient mystery to present-day America and to the world system in which we live. It is relevant to us right now. For example, a colleague asked me last week why big terrorist attacks seem to happen around September. My answer was that it had to do with the Shemitah, that seven-year cycle God instituted by which the fate of fortunes and nations is governed. I recommended to my colleague that he read Jonathan Cahn’s book, and I pass on that recommendation as well to all who want to understand why things are “not quite right” in the world today.
Another recommendation is to read the article by Mark Biltz, reproduced here. One thing Rabbi Cahn did not do in The Mystery of the Shemitah was connect the Shemitah with the Tribulation. Pastor Biltz does that in this article. His conclusions are, at the least, thought provoking, and not to be dismissed lightly. For further information, see the teaching Pastor Biltz delivered on September 13, 2014, during the Sabbath service at El Shaddai. The video is available here; his teaching begins approximately 2:08:45 into the broadcast.
Exclusive: Pastor Mark Biltz ties super blood moon with beginning of Shemitah cycle
By Pastor Mark Biltz
Where has the world headed since the first blood moon on Passover of 2014? Our world has now gone past the tipping point, and events are now accelerating out of anyone’s control. Just as ISIS has gone from the JV team to the A team, along with events spreading from Russia to Ukraine and planes being shot out of the sky, we see everything developing exponentially.
Look at the Ebola, for example. From the Centers of Disease Control, we see that the 2014 Ebola outbreak is one of the largest Ebola outbreaks in history and the first in West Africa. It is affecting five countries in West Africa.
We have a respiratory illness that has already sickened more than a thousand children in 10 states that is likely to become a nationwide problem, doctors say.
Terror attacks in Jerusalem have grown exponentially over the past few months, a Shabak (Israel Security Service) report Monday said.
Take a look at all the worldwide conflicts since this last April at this website.
Notice all the earthquakes occurring, tracked by the USGS.
Here is an old chart only going up to 2008 showing the increase in earthquakes higher than 6.0:
When you look at the chart, you see at the highest point there were around 36 earthquakes that year over 6.0. That is nothing compared to this year! In 2014 so far – and the year is not even close to being over – we have already had 116 earthquakes 6.0 and above! With 70 of them since the first blood moon! This year will more than quadruple the number of large earthquakes from the highest year of the last decade.
We hear of major droughts, as in California.
All of this to say that we are living during the birth pains of the coming of the Messiah. Now I would like to deliver a bombshell of biblical proportions. Everyone needs to understand the prophetic time clock and prophetic calendar of the days we are living in, which is why I wrote the book “Blood Moons” and produced the Shemitah calendar for this coming year, starting in a few weeks on Rosh Hashana. [NOTE: Rosh Hashana/Feast of Trumpets begins at sundown on Wednesday, September 24, 2014, marking the beginning of the Hebrew year 5775.]
The Shemitah year is the seventh year of the seven-year cycle when the land of Israel had to rest, and it was an economic reset year for the financial system. In Genesis, God started the seven-day cycle. We have a seven-day week, then there is the seven-week cycle of 49 days in the Bible from first-fruits to Shavuot, or Pentecost. We have the seven-year cycle known as the Shemitah cycle. There is the seven-Shemitah cycle of 49 years bring us to the year of Jubilee. We know from the Bible that a day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and it has been 6,000 years since the creation of Adam. We are about to enter the seventh millennium, known as the day of rest.
For the most part, theologians agree that the tribulation is seven years long. What I am proposing is that it is simply a continuation of the Shemitah cycle that has been ticking along for ages. The tribulation will not be any random sequence of seven years, but the first year of the tribulation will begin with the first year of the seven-year cycle. This has huge prophetic implications when we realize this Rosh Hashanah is the seventh year of a seven-year cycle, and the fall of 2015 begins a new seven-year cycle.
In plain English, the seven-year tribulation could begin next fall. If it does not, then that means it will not start for another seven years since it is just a continuation of God’s orderly time clock. I am not saying the Lord will return next fall. I am not saying the Rapture will take place next fall. I am just saying regardless of where you want to put us on God’s time line, the seven-year tribulation is part of that timeline and will happen as part of the Shemitah cycle.
We will know more definitely next year when we have the super blood moon for the first time in all of history that appears in Jerusalem in the seventh month of the biblical calendar at the end of the seventh year kicking off the first year of the new seven-year cycle. We have one year to prepare. This is not a Y2K theory based on the solar pagan calendar or the Mayan calendar but one based on the calendar the Creator gave us to give us warnings of things to come, just as I presented in the book “Blood Moons”.