The Shemitah and The Yovel:  Examining The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times, Part IV

A Habitual Rebellion

Jeroboam Offering Sacrifice for the Idol Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Jeroboam Offering Sacrifice for the Idol
Jean-Honoré Fragonard

Restoring What We Never Knew We Lost

The return of Ephraim and reunification of all Israel has taken a key place in Jewish thought since ancient times.  In fact, a key identifying feature of Messiah would be that He would end the exile of all the tribes, reunite Judah and Ephraim, and initiate a period of peace and prosperity sitting on the throne of David.  Consider, for example, Hosea 11, which begins with a well-known reference from Matthew 2:13-15 cited as one of the proofs of Yeshua’s Messiahship.  Yet the remainder of the chapter very rarely gets any notice in Christian circles.  Here is the full chapter:

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My sonAs they called them, so they went from them; they sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to carved images.  I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them.  I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.  I stooped and fed them.  He shall not return to the land of Egypt; but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to repent.  And the sword shall slash in his cities, devour his districts, and consume them, because of their own counsels.  My people are bent on backsliding from Me.  Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him.  How can I give you up, Ephraim?  How can I hand you over, Israel?  How can I make you like Admah?  How can I set you like Zeboiim?  My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred.  I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim.  For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror.  They shall walk after the Lord.  He will roar like a lion.  When He roars, then His sons shall come trembling from the west; they shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt, like a dove from the land of Assyria.  And I will let them dwell in their houses,” says the Lord.  “Ephraim has encircled Me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit; but Judah still walks with God, even with the Holy One who is faithful.  (Hosea 11:1-12 NKJV, emphasis added)

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The Shemitah and The Yovel:  Examining The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times, Part III

Diaspora Does Not Mean Destruction

The Assyrian conquest of Israel (Ephraim) began under Tiglath-Pileser III and ended with the destruction of Samaria under Sargon V.  Engravings by Henri Faucher-Gudin from a sketch of Tiglath-Pileser III by Eugène Flandin and of Sargon V by Austen Henry Layard, in G. Maspero, History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Vol. VII, Part B.
The Assyrian conquest of Israel (Ephraim) began under Tiglath-Pileser III and ended with the destruction of Samaria under Sargon V. (Engravings by Henri Faucher-Gudin from a sketch of Tiglath-Pileser III by Eugène Flandin and of Sargon V by Austen Henry Layard, in G. Maspero, History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Vol. VII, Part B.)

Ephraim:  Still Enduring the Exile

By the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s first conquest of Jerusalem in 605 BC, the Ephraimite (Northern) Kingdom of Israel had been in exile for over a century.  As with Judah, the exile of Israel by the Assyrian Empire proceeded in stages, beginning with the invasions of Tiglath-Pileser III (Pul) in 734 BC, and concluding with the siege and conquest of Israel’s capital, Samaria, by Shalmaneser V and Sargon II from 724 to 722 BC.  The account of II Kings 17 contains the summary of the conquest, as well as an explanation of why the exile took place:

Now the king of Assyria went throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years.  In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.  For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.  Also the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city.  They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree.  There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the Lord had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger, for they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.”  Yet the Lord testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.”  Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God.  And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them.  So they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.  And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.  Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.  Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.  And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight.  For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king.  Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them commit a great sin.  For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets.  So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.  (II Kings 17:5-23 NKJV)

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The Shemitah and The Yovel:  Examining The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times, Part II

Consequences of Missed Appointments

The Twelve Tribes of Israel after the conquest of Canaan.
The Twelve Tribes of Israel after the conquest of Canaan.

Why Do These Things Matter?

As with everything else that comes from the Torah, there is the question of whether this principles of the Shemitah and the Yovel apply to anyone but the Jewish people.  The answer is yes, on several counts.  First, the people who received the Law included the Jews (mostly the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi), but also included the other Ten Tribes of Israel now scattered among the nations, as well as a large collection of foreigners who had attached themselves to Israel at the time of the Exodus.  Thus the Torah was and is not exclusively a “Jewish thing”, but something that is instructive to everyone who is part of Israel.  And who is Israel?  According to the Apostle Paul, Israel includes anyone who has professed faith in Messiah Yeshua and, by virtue of the grace of God, become part of the Commonwealth of Israel and Seed of Abraham (Ephesians 2, Romans 11, Galatians 3:26-29).

Second, when the Lord God gave His final instructions to Moses regarding the Shemitah in Deuteronomy 31, he specified that at the Feast of Tabernacles at the end of each Shemitah every single person in Israel was to assemble at the place He designated (Jerusalem) and hear the entire Law read to them.  That included all men, women, and children of both the native-born Israelites and the foreigners.  Why?  So that, “they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.”  (Deuteronomy 9:13 NKJV)

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The Shemitah and The Yovel:  Examining The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times, Part I

Counting the Days

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn and his bestseller, The Mystery of the Shemitah, as featured in Charismanews.
Rabbi Jonathan Cahn and his bestseller, The Mystery of the Shemitah, as featured in Charismanews.

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn has made quite a stir with his recent book, The Mystery of the Shemitah, by applying an ancient biblical principle to current events to see if there is a correlation.  The average person might be inclined to dismiss his findings as circumstantial at best.  And yet Rabbi Cahn’s extensive compilation of data and events documents far too many correlations with Shemitah years to be dismissed as simple coincidence, hype, or superstition.  The discerning person would do well to take a closer look and see what this is all about.

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