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Sabbaticals and
the Restoration
When one speaks of Sabbaticals today, one might think of a professor of Theology taking a one-year break to write a book or to just enjoy time away from his or her work. Scripture, however, speaks of all of Yahweh’s people keeping the Sabbaticals.
    Farmers, whose crops and quality of life would assuredly benefit by letting the land rest occasionally from use, should be especially aware of this time. The increased nutritional value gained in food crops by following such simple guidelines, that Yahweh set forth long ago, would be in itself a good reason to implement them.
    Many suppose that such laws were done away and are no longer needed in today’s progressive world, but nothing could be further from the truth. More turn to organic farming as the demand for non genetically modified and pesticide free produce increases. They see the “natural” way as a better way.
Yahweh in His infinite wisdom knew when establishing the Sabbaticals, and Jubilees (which are closely related), there would be blessings that would naturally follow. Man, in his effort to seek more and more for himself, has for the most part decided to defy his Maker and ignore such ways of living. We see many troubles in today’s world stemming directly from not doing what we are told to do as a people.
What People?
When Israel came into the land they were given specific instructions on how to live. One of those instructions was to keep the Sabbaticals and Jubilees. Coming into the promised land, they were now able to till and own their own land, something they were not able to do while slaves in Egypt nor were they able to do so as wanderers in the wilderness for 40 years.
    Regrettably, after many years in the promised land, the southern tribes of Israel (Judah) were taken into Babylonian captivity for 70 years due to their disobedience against Yahweh. Seventy years were to make up for the Sabbaticals that were broken, 2 Chron 36:20-21, a time period covering 490 years (7x70=490). The Jubilees don’t seem to be a factor, but the blessings were lost by not keeping them, Lev 26:14-20. The opposite, those obeying the Jubillees, would have received the blessings for keeping all of the Sabbaths (plural), Lev 26:2-5.
    The Jubilees have been theorized by some scholars to have come to disuse when the law was followed closely during Ezra and Nehemiah’s time after their return, Neh 10:31. Hence the poor were looked after; none had to be sold into slavery; none, therefore, had to be released during a jubilee year.
    It was evidently good refreshing times for Israel or at least for some of them. The northern tribes (Ephraim), being part of Israel, were dispersed through Assyria as punishment for their disobedience.
    Many are unaware that Yahweh is still working out a plan for Israel and will bring Ephraim and Judah back together, making up the 12 tribes of Israel.
    Say unto them, Thus saith Yahweh Elohim; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith Yahweh Elohim; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their Elohim. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them, Eze 37:19-25 KJV.
    It should be pointed out that the Apostle James addressed all 12 scattered tribes in James 1:1, and
Yahweh Himself says, even though they’ve been scattered, “not one true kernel will be lost,” Amos 9:9.
    In 1948 Israel became once again a recognized nation and land, but not all Jews have come back, and the lost northern 10 tribes that make up Ephraim have not returned. Of the Jews that have returned, there is only a handful of the Sephardic Jews who actually would be speaking the more proper scriptural Hebrew dialect fitting for the temple, but Yahweh can create great wonders with small beginnings.
    As we see history unfold, it seems safe to say that we are seeing prophecies of restoration starting to take place which will cumulate into a much larger fulfillment in the years ahead.
Land Sabbaths
Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to Yahweh; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year, Lev 25:3-5 NASU. (see also Ex 23:10-11)
    Allowing the land to rest allows the soil to replenish itself and a natural fertilization process is accomplished thereby allowing for stronger healthier plants to be produced. Stronger and more nutritious plants in turn can help produce healthier people.
    We are told Yahweh is not mocked, and that what we sow is what we’ll reap,
Be not deceived; Yahweh is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap, Gal 6:7.
    It shouldn’t be difficult to understand that after all these years we are still a physical people who need both physical and spiritual laws to live by.
    While at the same time we are striving to walk on higher ground, we must realize we are still on physical ground. We learn spiritual lessons by doing physical things. By living accordingly to His word, we honor and glorify Him in our lives, while attaining spiritual growth and good character in the process.
Atonement to Atonement
If one is to start being obedient to our heavenly Father in all things, logic would have it that we must be aware of when the Sabbaticals actually are, especially since it is indicated that keeping all Sabbaths holy are a sign between us and Yahweh, Ezek 20:20. Since so many have forgotten this way of life, can one even know which year is a Sabbatical year?
    We first need to examine Scripture. We find Sabbatical years, as well as Jubilee years, are actually calculated from Atonement in the Fall, rather than from the first day of Abib in the Spring:
    And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family, Lev 25:8-10.
    From these verses we find there are two years in a row in which the land is to be at rest, the 49th (7 x7) and the 50th (year of Jubilee) year. We also see that the Day of Atonement is when the Sabbatical and Jubilee years are counted from.
    In our Roman based calendar today this would translate, for example, from October 10 (contingent on the new moon being seen the night of September 30th), 2008 to Atonement 2009.
    However, the question remains, “What year, then, is a Sabbatical Year?” The answer is somewhat complex, but historical dates and archeological finds confirm the date given above to be the next Sabbatical Year, that is, 2008-2009, from Atonement to Atonement.
Previous Sabbatical Years
If we know when previous Sabbaticals took place, then we can know when future ones will be. The following dates were put together in an article entitled “Chronology of Jubilees,” by A-Questfor- Creation-Answers. All comments/ corrections in boldface are made by the author:
The year 135-134 BCE (or the year 177 of the Seleucid Era) was noted to be a 7th year in the writings of Flavius Josephus. In ‘Antiquities of the Jews’ he noted: “... there came around the year in which the Jews are wont to remain inactive, for they observe this custom every seventh year, just as on the seventh day.” (Book 13:8:1).
The same year (135-134 BCE) was also noted to be a year of ‘rest’ in ‘Wars of the Jews’. In this book, Josephus noted the following: “the year of rest came on, upon which the Jews rest every seventh year as they do on every seventh day”.
The year 44-43 BCE could have been a 7th year. In ‘Antiquities of the Jews’, Josephus stated that the Jews had a legal agreement with the Romans concerning a reduction of taxes in 7th years. In substantiation of this, he cited a decree from one of the Roman emperors. The decree stated when Caius Caesar was consul for the fifth time he ordered in the 2nd year of the current land-use agreement that a deduction in the amount of taxes that land users paid to the Romans should be granted to the Jews (refer to Antiquities, Book 14:10:5-6). If the current year (44-43 BCE) did correspond to the cited 2nd year of the land-use agreement then it might be possible to interpret this passage to mean that the respective year did correspond to a 7th year (as celebrated by the Jews).
Josephus rehearsed another Roman decree concerning a grant to Jews allowing celebration of the 7th years. This respective decree substantiates that Jews— under the late Second Temple—positively were celebrating Sabbatical years. “[Judea should pay a tribute yearly]... excepting the seventh, which they call the Sabbatical year, because thereon they neither receive the fruits of their trees, nor do they sow their land... [taxes are to be paid] every year, the seventh year, which they call the Sabbatic year, excepted, whereon they neither plough, nor receive the product of their trees.” (Antiquities, Book 14:10:6).
The year 37-36 BCE appears to have been both a 7th year and 70th year (as noted by Josephus). This year—the year when Herod was declared king at Jerusalem— is referred to as a ‘hebdomatikon’ year as follows: “Now the Jews that were enclosed within the walls of the city fought against Herod with great alacrity and zeal (for the whole nation was gathered together); they also gave out many prophecies about the temple, and many things agreeable to the people, as if [Yahweh] would deliver them out of the dangers they were in ... this happened to be a Sabbatic year [or literally, a ‘hebdomatikon’ year]” (‘Antiquities of the Jews’, 14:16:2).
The year 37-36 BCE is noted to have been both a 7th year and a 70th year [70th emphasized due to chronological patterns seen in certain areas, for example, destruction of Temple in 70 CE,] in a second passage of ‘Antiquities of the Jews’. This instance is recorded in the next book as follows: “At this time Herod, now he had got Jerusalem under his power... the Sabbatic year [or literally, a ‘hebdomatidon’ year]... was still going on, and forced the country to lie still uncultivated, since we are forbidden to sow our land in that year.” (Book 15:1:2).
The year 55-56 CE (autumn-to-autumn) was almost surely a 7th year—based on an ancient Deed of Loan. This paper was recovered at Wadi Murabba near Bethlehem. This legal note is explicit in stating that a ‘year-of-release’ was underway in the 2nd year of Nero Caesar. Because Nero ascended to the throne in autumn of the year 54 CE, the cited Sabbatical year (autumn-to-autumn) would have largely corresponded to 2nd year of the reign of Nero.
The year 69-70 CE (autumn-to-autumn) is shown to have been a 7th year by the early rabbis. The Taanith indicates that the Second Temple was destroyed in a post- Sabbatical year (B. Taan., 29a). The Arakin has “thus it is found that it [= the destruction of the Second Temple] happened during the last part of a septennate” (B. Arak., 12 b). A third century rabbi (Hunna) computed the Sabbatical cycle based upon the fact that the Second Temple was destroyed in a sabbath year (B. Azar., 9b). Rabbi Jose (Yose) ben Khalapha commented that the year prior to the destruction of the Second Temple was a Sabbatical year (Seder Olam, 30). Because the Second Temple was destroyed in autumn of the year 70 CE then it’s easy to recognize from the rabbis that a Sabbatical year occurred immediately prior to the destruction of the Temple. Essentially, the Temple is indicated to have been destroyed in autumn of the year 70 CE very close to the boundary of a 7th year (at the end of the respective 7- year cycle).
The year 139-140 CE (autumn-to-autumn) also appears to have been a 7th year—as based upon another legal paper recovered at Wadi Murabba. This respective contract (Mur 24E) was written in late autumn of the year 134 CE. This sub-lease agreement describes what appears to be a 5-year lease term. The respective lease was to last until the ‘eve of the Sabbatical year.’ It is clear that 5 years from autumn in the year 134 CE ends with autumn of the year 139 CE. Then, this respective year (139 CE) would have corresponded to the very beginning of a year-of-release.
    If the aforementioned dates are checked, they all run in increments of seven, forwards or backwards, and all connecting though there are many years in between some of them. We should then find other significant dates elsewhere that would match. In other words, new finds from other sources that confirm the previous dates. In fact, there are such alternative references.
    Other such “witnesses” can be found in a book called, The Star That Astonished The World (2nd edition, 1996), by the late Dr. Earnest L. Martin. The following is a list with similar Sabbatical dates found, but with some additional ones as well:
We are told by 1 Maccabees 6:49 that Judas Maccabee’s defeat at Beth-Zur was in a Sabbatical Year from the Autumn of 163 to Autumn 162 B.C.
Josephus, the Jewish historian, shows the murder of Simon the Hasmonean as happening in the Sabbatical Year of Autumn 135 to Autumn 134 B.C.
Josephus shows Herod’s conquest of Jerusalem as occurring in the last part of the Sabbatical Year of 37 to 36 B.C.
King Agrippa the First recited the section of Deuteronomy which a king was required to do as associated with the Sabbatical Year (Deuteronomy 31:10-13). He performed it at a time which historically shows that Agrippa’s Sabbatical Year was A.D.41 to 42.
A papyrus document written in Aramaic has recently been found in Palestine which is dated to the second year of Nero, and it says that that year was a Sabbatical Year. Thus, A.D.55 to 56 was Sabbatical.
A reference in the second century Jewish work called the Seder Olam can be interpreted as showing the Temple at Jerusalem being destroyed in a Sabbatical Year. That would have been A.D.69 to 70.
Dated documents have been found concerning the Bar Kokhba revolt of the Jews against the Romans which show that the year A.D.132 to 133 was also a Sabbatical Year.
The ruins of an ancient synagogue have recently been uncovered which have a date, in a mosaic, for the Jewish year 4000, and that is was the second year of a Sabbatical cycle. This answers to A.D.237 to 238.
There is a reference in the Jewish Talmud (Sanhedrin 97b) that the Messiah will release the world from its bondage of corruption in the year after 4291 of the Jewish calendar. Since it was believed this would occur in a Sabbatical Year, this reference becomes important (though the prophecy did not occur) because the year after 4291 was A.D.531 to 532, and it was a Sabbatical.
    Dr. Martin in his book also points out:
    “Though over the past few centuries historians studying the records about the Sabbatical Years have been able to arrive at their former sequence within a year or two, only within the last 50 years (and especially the last 30), has it become possible, through archeological discoveries, etc., to determine with an almost certainty what the exact Sabbatical Years’ sequence was and is. This can be known from 163 B.C. to the present.”
    It brings to mind that there indeed is a restoration going on (Acts 3:21), and that Yahweh is allowing us in these end times to see clearly what we should be doing according to Yahweh’s word, and to return to, “the faith which was once delivered to the saints,” Jude 3:3.
What to do?
When we are shown clearly that something should be done, then we should humble ourselves and do it. The examples of ancient Israel were for our example.
    Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come, 1 Cor 10:11 NASU.
    We are to learn from their mistakes and understand that Yahweh is in more control of the universe and everything in it than we can even imagine. Let’s not commit the same sins. Let’s do what we can to be over-comers from a wrong way of doing things to a right way of doing things according to Yahweh’s way, that will even be kept in the coming Kingdom.
    And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the Elohim of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem, Isa 2:3.
    And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith Yahweh, Isa 66:23.
    And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain ofYahweh, and to the house of the Elohim of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem, Mic 4:2.
    Are you in agriculture, planting corn, soybeans, wheat, or some other crop each year? Do you have concern if you were to let the land rest that your income would be lost? What does Yahweh promise to do if you trust and obey Him?
    If you want to live securely in the land, keep my laws and obey my regulations. Then the land will yield bumper crops, and you will eat your fill and live securely in it. But you might ask, “What will we eat during the seventh year, since we are not allowed to plant or harvest crops that year?’” The answer is, “I will order my blessing for you in the sixth year, so the land will produce a bumper crop, enough to support you for three years. As you plant the seed in the eighth year, you will still be eating the produce of the previous year. In fact, you will eat from the old crop until the new harvest comes in the ninth year,” Lev 25:17 NLT.
    It is true that this was the “promised land” they were in and they were told not to sell the land permanently, The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me, Lev 25:23.
    Yet, is Yahweh’s arm so short that it cannot reach and bless your field and family, wherever you are? Understand that obeying Yahweh is in many ways faith-based.
    Does this mean we can’t plant a few flowers in front of our house or throw extra grass seed for our lawn? Of course not. The command was for “crops” and “vineyards,”
    But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for Yahweh: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard, Lev 25:4.
    These would be fields or gardens for the sake of income and or food. No work is to be done on them, such as seeding, fertilizing, etc., except that which might feed the cattle, like bailing hay, for example, would be perceivably alright to do,
    And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat, Lev 25:7.
Year of Release
Do we stop paying on our credit cards or other loans in society due to the cancelation of debts on the Sabbaticals? After all, Scripture says,
    At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called Yahweh’s release, Deut 15:12.
    However, we are dealing with corporations and businesses in the world which are not, at this time, going to listen to the Deuteronomy law. Therefore, you must live as a good citizen and obey the law of the land. We are also dealing with foreigners, which Yahweh says we can extract payment from and, therefore, they may also do the same from us.
    Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release, Deut 15:3.
    Emphasis is given time and time again to help the poor brethren, as you’re able:
    Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto Yahweh against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing Yahweh thy Elohim shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto, Deut 15:9-10.
    Take heed, also, that if you make an agreement and try then to use the Sabbatical year to escape it as a convenience, you are in essence breaking a vow which Yahweh may indeed punish you for sooner rather than later, especially, if the one wronged cries out to Yahweh about it.
    If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry, Ex 22:23.
    Even when there is no land sabbatical, the instruction is to not harvest all, but to leave some for the poor and travelers.
    And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them for the poor, and for the sojourner: I am Yahweh your Elohim, Lev 23:22 ASV.
Jubilee or Sabbatical?
In speaking of the year of release, Yahshua quoted the first part of Isaiah 61 in proclaiming “the acceptable year of Yahweh,” which can relate not only to a Jubilee year, but also a Sabbatical year. Most consider it a Jubilee year that He is referring to, but it may in fact be a Sabbatical.
    It is calculated that Yahshua’s ministry started during 27-28 CE. We understand from that date that He died 3 ½ -years later in 31 CE. In John 4:35 Yahshua says to His disciples,
    Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white (ripe) already to harvest.
    Dr. Martin has presented that when thinking of Sabbaticals, this verse seems to show that Yahshua was in the midst of a Sabbatical year that would end in 4 months time. It may very well explain why so many, up to 5000 “men” (Matt 14:21), could have had time to follow Yahshua and listen to Him. If they weren’t in the fields working, then they would have the time to listen to a man amongst the fields. There is some indication that Dr. Martin’s interpretation of John 4:35 may be wrong, since through the dating of Jubilees during the Kings


Land and vineyards rest
All voluntary foods could be eaten
All debts canceled

Land has its rest
Land reverts to the original owner
All Israelite slaves freed

and Prophets anciently we find that the year after Yahshua’s ministry may have been a Jubilee year and that the next Jubilee year may be 2037- 2038. It is hard to say for sure, though we believe strongly that the evidence for the Sabbatical dates are now conclusive.
    Dr. Martin shows through Scripture and the stars—which Scripture itself says would be for “signs,” (Gen 1:14)— that the star given over Bethlehem can be identified and dated. His book has convinced over 600 planetariums to start showing the timing (Sept 11th, 3 BCE) as being the likely candidate for the star of Bethlehem. It is a book well worth searching for and having in your library as it gives more historical dates as evidence for the Sabbaticals, such as the building projects that happen to fall on Sabbaticals since Rome would then have plenty of extra workers not working the fields in those years.
    Here are but a few mentioned in The Star That Astonished The World (2nd edition, 1996), by Dr. Earnest L. Martin:
    “Herod commenced his work on the outer parts of the great Temple of [Yahweh] on the Sabbatical Year of 23/22 B.C. This was also the exact year he commenced work on building the new city of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast. And later Herod’s son Philip started to build Ceasarea Philippi in the Sabbatical Year 2/1 B.C. The city of Tiberias probably had its founding in A.D. 20, which was also the beginning of a Sabbatical Year.”
    Our attitude should be like those returning from captivity, desiring to now do things right, and say,
    As for the peoples of the [world] who bring wares or any grain [to us] on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day; and we will forego the crops the seventh year and the exaction of every debt, Neh 10:31 NASU.
Jubilee Year
As already mentioned, the Jubilee year’s continuous dating is not as readily proven as the Sabbaticals are. However, there are indications a Jubilee year should always follow a Sabbatical year:
    And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof, Is 37:30.
    The pattern of 49 +1=50 is also found in the count to the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) each year. We know that the Jubilees are important and will even be kept in the coming Kingdom:
    This is what the Sovereign Yahweh says: If the prince makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his sons, it will also belong to his descendants; it is to be their property by inheritance. If, however, he makes a gift from his inheritance to one of his servants, the servant may keep it until the year of freedom (Jubilee); then it will revert to the prince. His inheritance belongs to his sons only; it is theirs. The prince must not take any of the inheritance of the people, driving them off their property. He is to give his sons their inheritance out of his own property, so that none of my people will be separated from his property, Ezek 46:16-18 NIV.
    It was a time when all land was to revert back to its original family or tribe, but those records seem to be long lost and may not be known until Yahshua’s return. The borders of Jerusalem will be opened, as Zecheriah the prophet was shown, to hold all those that belong there in the land.
    I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof. And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein: For I, saith Yahweh, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her, Zech 2:1-5.
    It will be as a Jubilee year when land is given back to the tribes of Israel. It is possible that Yahshua could return on a Jubilee, Sabbatical, Day of Trumpets, or another day altogether, though many scholars look at the Day of Trumpets as being the most probable.
    Scripture says no man knows when His return will be, only Yahweh knows:
    But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father, Mark 13:32.
    As we look at the condition of world events, we know that there are signs that the end of the age is near. As we see the Sabbatical year approach, just as with all of the Biblical holy days, let us prepare to keep them as we are entrusted and instructed to do.
-Elder David Brett

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