By Nathan Jones
Can the premise of Jonathan Cahn's controversial book The Mystery of the Shemitah apply to Gentile nations?
To answer that question, were were blessed to have on our program Christ in Prophecy Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. Rabbi Cahn is the spiritual leader of the Beth Israel Worship Center in Wayne, New Jersey and best-selling author of the book The Harbinger and a new book titled The Mystery of the Shemitah. Both books have been best sellers and highly controversial in Christian circles.
The Bible teaches that God never pours out His wrath on a nation without first sending remedial judgments and prophetic voices to warn of God's impending judgment and to call the nation to repentance. Rabbi Cahn believes that when it comes to the United States, God already has been emphatically warning us, and since we haven't listened, is delivering us from judgment to destruction.
As always has been the case with anyone who historically speaks out in prophetic manner calling people for repentance, Jonathan has of course been severely attacked. So, in this series we are going to discuss the second of his two books — The Mystery of the Shemitah — and the controversies that surround it.
[Note: The interview has been put into article format for ease of reading. For an unedited transcript, please click the PDF button above.]
Nathan Jones: Jonathan, let's turn to look at your second book called The Mystery of the Shemitah. Could you define what Shemitah means?
Jonathan Cahn: Shemitah was the Sabbath year. Every seven years God said, "You shall rest on the Sabbath year." In a Shemitah year there is no buying, no selling of the fruits of the land, no reaping; none of that. The whole land would rest.
On the last day of the Shemitah there was a special day called in Hebrew Elul 29. That was the 29th day of the month of Elul. On that day something really extraordinary happened — all debts are wiped out! All credits are wiped out. The financial realm is wiped clean every seven years. This was to be a blessing.
As Israel turned away from God, the Shemitah comes back at them not as a blessing but as a sign of judgment on a nation that has driven God away. The Shemitah now comes back to strike their sustenance, their economics, and their financial realm. It comes back in 586 B.C. when the judgment came on Judah. Babylon comes in, destroys Jerusalem and the Temple, and the Jews are taken out and into captivity for 70 years.
They ask, "Why 70 years?" God says because the land will now rest for 70 years — for the 70 Sabbaths or the Shemitahs — that they didn't observe. It says that even in the Torah. It says that the lost Shemitahs will come about as a sign of judgment on them. And, I believe it actually becomes a sign of judgment now. That's where we get into the link with my first book, The Harbinger.
Nathan Jones: That Sabbath Year stretches back to Leviticus 25:5, "You are not to reap what grows by itself from your crop, or harvest the grapes of your intended vines. It must be a year of complete rest for the land." So, every seven years then the Jews weren't supposed to farm. They were supposed to forgive all debt. How did they live during that one year?
Jonathan Cahn: God said to the effect, "I will bless you on the sixth year. I will bless you with extra if you do this."
In fact, in Israel today they are actually now observing the Shemitah. Sometimes they have loopholes.
Dr. Reagan: They have big loopholes, like hiring Arabs to run their land.
Jonathan Cahn: Yes, or they actually sell their land to non-Jews and then they can work it and then they buy it back at the end of the year. I mean, it's typical behavior. But, actually there are those who have actually observed the Sabbath Year right. They share testimonies how they've been blessed during that seventh year.
But, some people have confused what I'm saying about the Shemitah. I'm not saying America is to practice this anymore than as God's covenant with Israel found in The Harbinger. My point isn't about the US following the law of the Shemitah. It's all about the Shemitah as a prophetic sign.
Objection #1 – Application to Gentile Nations
Dr. Reagan: One of the objections that has already been made of The Mystery of the Shemitah is how in the world can you take a law that God gave to the Jewish nation and apply it to Gentile nations?
Jonathan Cahn: Well, first of all, starting with the other things we spoke about concerning The Harbinger, remember that everything in the Bible is for us as well. It doesn't mean we are under some Mosaic Law. But there is meaning to God's interactions with Israel.
Secondly, it's not the Shemitah as a observing it. I never said that America should be practicing the Shemitah. I've read some things that claimed, "Jonathan said that." Absolutely not! Not at all.
It's about the Shemitah as a prophetic sign. When the Shemitah came as a prophetic sign of judgment on Israel, when they were cast into exile for 70 years, God clearly said the length of judgment for due to the timing of the Sabbath of the land which they didn't observe. While they're in exile, now the land is going to rest.
The hand of God's judgment involved Babylon. The rise of Babylon had to happen according to God's timing. The Babylonian Empire had to fall and the Medo-Persian Empire had to rise up so that the 70 years of lost Sabbath years would also be the 70 years of exile. Then the exiled Jews could go back to the land of Israel. So, my point is that the Shemitah affects even world history.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, but I don't see how the Shemitah applies to Gentile nations. We're not supposed to let the land rest. Since we are not commanded to let the land rest, why in the world would God's judgment for not practicing the Shemitah apply to us?
Jonathan Cahn: Okay, again, I'm not telling people to observe the Shemitah. That's not what this conversation is about. I'm saying that God can use and has used the Shemitah as a sign of judgment on Israel for being a nation that had turned away from God. The message of the Shemitah is this — that all your blessings come from God. If you go away from God, the blessings will be removed.
The point is the same with The Harbinger. God can use a sign from the Bible to speak to us today.
Let me give you an example of this. Let's look at the day of Elul 29. That's the day when all debts and credits are wiped out. We've talked about the warning earlier that if America turns away from God its blessings will be removed.
On 2001 we were struck with 9/11. Several days later we had the greatest collapse of the financial realm — Wall Street collapses. Wall Street collapses on September 17th. When did that take place? It happens on the day appointed in the Bible — Elul 29. That's the very day for wiping away financial accounts. Wiping away of the financial realm happens on the exact day, even down to the hour.
Not just Elul 29 once a year, but it's the once in seven years time that matters. It's exactly one day on the seventh year that's important.
Fast forward to 2008. We just had the Great Recession. The greatest financial collapse happens on September 29th. That's the greatest collapse in this day, and it surpassed the one in 2001. It happens on September 29th. When? On the exact same day appointed in the Bible as the day of Elul 29. The collapse that caused the Great Recession happens exactly according to The Mystery of the Shemitah. It happens exactly seven years apart. The two greatest crashes happen down to the very day, down to the very minute, down to the very second. The two greatest crashes happen on the same day — Elul 29.
This is explained in The Harbinger. When I look there is a pattern that goes beyond just these two collapses. When you look at the greatest collapses in Wall Street history, all of them over the last 40 years, every one of the greatest long-term collapses happen clustered around the year of the Shemitah. Every single one of them! They are seven years apart, even from the one before and the one after. You can go down the list. It is a continual pattern.
In fact, people on Wall Street have always been mystified by this seven year cycle. Why do these greatest crashes generally happen around autumn? The majority of the greatest day crashes cluster around the Hebrew month of Tishri, which is September/October. That's the very time in the Bible that is linked to the Shemitah when God says this judgment happens.
In the second and last part of our interview with Rabbi Jonathan Cahn on his book The Mystery of the Shemitah, we'll learn how he can pinpoint what year is a Shemitah Year.