The Shemitah and The Yovel: Examining The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times, Part VI
No Idle God
Fast, Cheap, or Good?
Let us step back a bit and consider why the Creator of the Universe would allow this people He has chosen to languish in exile for a seemingly indeterminate period of time. Better yet, let us consider why the Creator created the people on this earth in the first place. Judging from the numerous references in Scripture about God taking a bride it would seem that He is seeking a co-regent to help Him run the universe. At the very least, the Bride of our King has a destiny to have dominion over the earth. That, after all, was the first instruction YHVH gave to our ancestors in His Garden. Beyond that, there is very little to tell us what He really wants. We know quite a bit about this seven thousand year experiment called human history, both how it has unfolded in the six millennia that have preceded us, and how it is to take shape in the last millennium under Messiah’s direct rule. But then comes eternity, with a new heavens and a new earth. What would God want us to do in eternity? Sit around and play harps, stuffing our mouths with whatever tastes good and with no fear of consequences? Probably not.
Consider what a man expects of his bride. She should be ready to give herself entirely to him, taking on his identity and walking in companionship with him alone. No one else should come close to challenging him for her love and loyalty. After all, the man has given up his life for her, choosing to link his future with this woman and go through life with her as his equal partner. There can be no hint of disloyalty, adultery, or deception in either of them. In the case of Almighty God and His Bride, the Scripture is clear that He has laid down His very life for her, and thus He can demand purity and perfection from her. The record of Scripture is clear:
“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord, “That you will call Me Ishi [Husband] and will no longer call Me Baali [Lord]. For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will be mentioned by their names no more.” (Hosea 2:16-17 NASB)
For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah [My Delight Is In Her], and your land Beulah [Married]; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. (Isaiah 62:1-5 NKJV)
“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Revelation 19:7-8 NKJV)
And just how does the Bride make herself ready? That, too, is clear from Scripture:
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NASB)
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:9-17 NKJV)
What this teaches us is that God intends His Bride to undergo a process of refinement in which agreeing to take His Name is but the first step. The next step is learning to walk consistently in His Commandments (Torah). The process by which the Bride learns this is in passing through the trials and tribulations of this life, culminating in the final Great Tribulation. That is why the Apostle John reports this:
And the dragon [Satan] was enraged with the woman [Israel], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12:17 NKJV)
Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 14:12 NASB)
This Godly process takes a long, long time, contrary to what we humans want and expect. Our tendency, at least in the affluent West, is to seek instant gratification. After millennia of human experience we should know better. Indeed we do, at least in theory. The United States Army schools I attended during my military career emphasized process rather than results, with the understanding that the correct process would produce the desired results with the minimum of unintended consequences. A superb example of this occurred in the Army Force Management School, the institution charged with educating those who shepherd the processes of shaping, training, and resourcing the Army. Early in the course we learned that in any force management process, we had to choose two of three attributes: fast, cheap, and good. The outcome could be good and produced fast, but it could not be cheap. If we want it cheap and good, it could not be fast. But if we want it fast and cheap, it most definitely could not be good.
If this earthly example is a reflection of heavenly principles, then we can conclude that our Creator has chosen to build His Bride and His people good. His building process is definitely not cheap, for it has cost Him His very own Blood. And yet, from human standards, it is not fast. God is in no hurry; He will allow His process to work through to the conclusion, ensuring that His desired result comes about.
Putting God’s Process Into Perspective
The Scriptures are full of examples of God’s process. He never hurries, but when the process reached its completion He brings it suddenly to an end. Those who pay no attention to His timing are caught by surprise. They cannot perceive God at work and assume either that He is doing nothing, or that things will continue into the future as in the present. The Apostle Peter has an admonition for such people:
This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. (II Peter 3:1-10 NASB, emphasis added)
There is much to unpack from Peter’s instruction, beginning with his description of those who doubt YHVH’s promises as mockers (or scoffers in other translations). This would include those who doubt that the Lord God will restore all Israel, with each of the tribes, in the land He promised to our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Peter goes on to explain a bit about how God’s count of time is different from mankind’s (“one day is like a thousand years”). That is why the Day of the Lord shall come like a thief in the night to those who are not paying attention to His way of counting the time. Finally, Peter tells us something of our Creator’s process in his explanation of why he takes so long to complete His plans: our merciful God wants everyone to “come to repentance”. He has no desire to carry out the sentence of death on us, His creation, and therefore He lets the process continue as long as possible so that everyone has the opportunity to take part in it by being reconciled to Him and remade in His image. Of course, it does take action on our part, which also is part of the process. That is why He emphasizes His Commandments as His standard of conduct, telling us over and over again that the proof of our love for Him (His greatest Commandment) is that we do what He says. With this in mind, let us consider some examples of God’s lengthy processes.
 Our instructor at the Force Management School told us that he had the responsibility of explaining this to a newly installed Chief of Staff of the Army. He said, “Sir, you have three aspects to reshaping the Army: fast, cheap, and good, but you can only pick two.” The new Chief wanted to reshape the entire Army to make it more responsive to global strategic realities, and he wanted to do it very quickly. It’s understandable, therefore, why he asked the instructor, “What if I only pick one?”
Part VII sets forth three case studies from Scripture that illustrate the process of God through history in bringing about His purposes.