The Significance of the Shemitah

New Philly Hongdae (video streamed to Sillim, Itaewon, Busan, Sydney, Melbourne)
Preached by Christian Lee on September 6, 2015, Sunday.
Duration: 75 minutes (audio)
CG questions written by Pastors Christian Lee and Paul Yoo.


Preached at NP Hongdae-Alpha

 

Discussion Questions

 

The Shemitah Unveiled

  1. Read aloud Leviticus 25:1-4 and Exodus 23:10-11. What did God command through Moses on Mount Sinai?
  2. hebrew calendarReview: Ancient Israel recorded time by two different calendars: the sacred calendar and the civil calendar. The sacred calendar begins in the months of March or April (month of Nisan) while the civil calendar begins around September-October (month of Tishri). The observance of the Sabbath year was based on the civil calendar so it would start with Tishri and end with Elul.
  3. Read Deuteronomy 15:1-2. The word ‘release,’ used four times in these two verses, is the Hebrew word ‘Shemitah.’ The last day of the Sabbath year fell on Elul 29 (the last day of the civil calendar). What was the requirement on this day that went above and beyond what was required during the rest of the Sabbath year? What do you think would have been the effect on the Israelites’ individual lives and society if they had dutifully kept the Shemitah?
  4. Unfortunately, the Israelites hardly, if ever, kept the Sabbath year or the Shemitah release. Later Jewish rabbis devised all kinds of ways to work around these commands. Why would the avoidance of this commandment have been a significant matter in the eyes of the Lord?
  5. Review: The word Shemitah came to signify not only the last day of the Sabbath year but the entire year itself. The Shemitah serves many purposes to bless the people of God. PC went over five:
    1. To proclaim that the land & the entire earth belong to God.
    2. To release people from bondage to the material realm.
    3. To remind man that God is the source of all blessings.
    4. To humble the pride of man.
    5. To provide rest, renewal, and revival.
  6.  

    From Blessing to Judgment

  7. The Shemitah was supposed to be a blessing. How did it become a sign of judgment? When the Israelites refused to observe the Shemitah what was essentially happening? [1]
  8. In 586 B.C. the city of Jerusalem was destroyed and the people of Judah were either killed or exiled. The prophet Jeremiah prophesied that God’s judgment period would last 70 years (Jer 25:4-11). Briefly explain how the Shemitah was connected with this judgment period (2 Chronicles 36:20-21, Leviticus 26:31-35)?
  9.  

    America and Ancient Israel

  10. The Shemitah may seem remote, a trivial piece of legislation for a remote civilization thousands of years ago. Few people today live off agriculture. So why does the Shemitah still matter? If God contextualized the Shemitah to modern society, what would he require? Also, how are the effects of the Shemitah similar to the effects of an economic and financial collapse? [2]
  11. Out of all the nations of the earth, why would it be appropriate for America to be the stage on which the prophetic warnings and judgment of the Shemitah to manifest today?
  12. There were many ways in which Israel’s apostasy manifested. Is America re-enacting Israel’s apostasy today? If so, what are some things that you see in America that trouble you the most?
  13. What did you think of the “Mystery of the Sevens” that Jonathan Cahn uncovered? If God’s judgment were to fall on America, in your own opinion what do you think that would look like?
  14.  

    Application: The Month of Tishri

  15. Optional: What are some ways in which you can honor the heart of the Shemitah Sabbath laws in today’s context?
  16. September 13, 2015 is Elul 29 for the seventh year. It is the Shemitah day. No one can know for sure what will take place but what do you sense will happen?
  17. Beginning with Sunday (Sept 13) sunset, the Jewish new year and the month of Tishri begins. Rabbis see Tishri as focusing on the rule, sovereignty, and dominion of God. Traditionally, the sounding of the shofars at Rosh Hashanah (aka the Feast of Trumpets) proclaimed the Lord as King over the world, the nation, and his people. Tishri is also known as the time of judgment. Its opening day is known as Yom Ha Din, or “the day of Judgment.” During the Feast of Trumpets, the shofars sounded to gather God’s people for a solemn gathering but it also served as a warning, the warning of impeding judgment. Tishri is the month of reckoning, when the nation stands before God and when sin is dealt with. Do you think these Jewish themes are still relevant for today?
  18. In Tishri’s theme of judgment, Tishri has come to be known as the month of repentance. The month begins with “Ten Days of Awe,” which are also called the “Days of Teshuvah.” Teshuvah is the Hebrew word for repentance (from the root word shuv which means “to turn”). The Days of Teshuvah are given for the purpose of turning the course of one’s life, forgiving and being forgiven, repentance, withdrawing from worldly pursuits, and doing whatever was needed to get right with God. How can you personally prepare for the “Ten Days of Awe?”

 

 

Footnotes
  1. Leader’s note: The Sabbath and the Shemitah were a sign of Israel’s covenant with God. Everything they had was dependent on their covenant relationship with God. Keeping the Shemitah was an act of obedience and faith, where they would have to trust in God’s provision apart from their own efforts and resources. It would be a way to seek God’s face and lay aside material things, a sign of Israel’s covenant commitment to God. To break the Sabbath was a sign of contempt toward God and his covenant. It was to say that profits and gain were more important than God. Everything Israel had was given freely by God. If they turned away from the Lord, then God would take away his blessings from them. The Shemitah was fulfilled in judgment rather than through obedience.
  2. Leader’s Note: Regardless of how economic and financial release and remission comes, the final result is still the same. Just as God put the Shemitah’s repercussions into effect for ancient Israel when they failed to observe it, so it is today. Modern day effects: Decrease in GDP, massive unemployment, reduced consumer spending, drop in international trade, corporations/banks shutting down, bankruptcies, foreclosures, billions in wealth wiped away in minutes or hours. It is a wiping clean of the economic and financial realm.

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