Millions of both Jews and Gentiles are excitedly predicting an ominous period ahead for Israel as the current Sabbatical year (shmita) comes to an end on September 14, 2015.
The Sabbatical Year, or Year of Release, is a biblical command outlined in Deuteronomy 15 where it is written: "At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release … every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor [and by observing it] the Lord will bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess."
Failure to uphold this command, according to the Book of Chronicles, is what caused the first 70-year exile: "And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon … to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths [Sabbatical years]" (2 Ch. 36:20-21).
The number of years in exile corresponds to the number of Sabbatical and Jubilee years that Israel had failed to observe since entering the Promised Land. In other words, that exile was punishment for social and environmental injustices Israel had inflicted upon the Land and the people dwelling in it.
To evaluate the different warnings concerning this September, it must be remembered that the command is only concerned with how the people of Israel treat the Land and its inhabitants. This is why it was Israel that suffered the first exile and no one else.
With this in mind, following are three warnings from three completely different groups of people predicting awful things in store for the coming weeks and months.
The first is the Israeli chapter of New Age Raelian Movement. The movement's prophet, who took the name Maitreya Rael, has instructed his Israeli followers to publish an urgent "oracle" in a highly unusual public campaign. In his message, Rael conveys a warning from an extraterrestrial being, "The Elohim," who blames Israel with "stealing the land and houses" of the Palestinians and for creating "concentration camps for the Palestinians whose homes and Lands they stole … and are even projecting a final solution with the goal of Palestinian genocide."
As result, warns Rael, "the protection that had been granted to Israel is from today (August 6th 2015) totally withdrawn and I ask all the real Jews to leave the Land of Palestine as quickly as possible."
This messenger of doom - who sounds like a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) loudmouth - is a grotesque messiah bringing false charges against Israel with no consideration for the Old and New Testaments, which state, "do not think that I will accuse you [Israel] to the Father" (John 5).
A more specific Sabbatical year warning comes from a YouTube video gone viral, in which financial whiz Jeff Berwick prophesies doom and gloom upon the United Stated of America.
Berwick's prediction is based on a study he had done on events occurring at the end of previous Sabbatical years. His conclusion is that September 15th will change the course of history, and wise Americans should stock up on gold and flee.
The silver lining in his forecast is that the wise will eventually profit when the global markets recover from the financial collapse of America.
Berwick's message does not involve faith, nor does it care about morality. His gospel is that of personal safety and financial gain.
Lastly, there is the "four blood moons" theory exciting End Times enthusiasts amongst both Christians and Jews.
This scenario is based on a prophecy in the Book of Joel: "...and I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth ... the sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood" (Joel 2:30-31).
In his latest book Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change, John Hagee has popularized the idea of blood moons occurring on four consecutive biblical feasts and coinciding with the end of a Sabbatical year. The last of these four moons is scheduled to appear on the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles (September 28 or thereabout).
This event, believes Hagee, will usher in a period of two years during which "something dramatic will happen in the Middle East involving Israel that will change the course of history and impact the whole world." The trigger, according to Hagee, is the Iran nuclear deal.
The Israeli Jewish version of this theory sees the pending cosmic phenomenon as a sign of the imminent collapse of the Muslim empire and all its supporters.
In all of this, the various versions of the "four blood moon" theory overlook the darkening of the sun spoken of by Joel, and likewise fail to account for Israel's neglect of the Mosaic covenant.
Predictions that dazzle the mind have caused sober people serious problems in the past, especially when they have acted upon them and set off on perilous journeys (such was the case of the First Crusade in 1096, to give but one example).
It seems that such a time as this bears repeating the warning: "If they say to you, 'Look, he is in the wilderness,' do not go out. If they say, 'Look, he is in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matt. 24).