This column will introduce a detailed example of God’s sovereignty on a particular issue that spans a continuous time period of 800 years involving several prophets.
This example had its beginnings between Israel’s redemption from Egypt and their possession of Canaan 40 years later.
During the 40 years in the wilderness God revealed His required standard of conduct to the Israelites.
One such statute dealt with letting the new land rest every 7th year.
“And the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: “When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the LORD. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.”’” Leviticus 25:1-4
The instructions were straight forward and presented an opportunity for the Israelites to trust in God’s word and provision. If they would trust their God, He would provide plenty in the 6th year to carry them over until the 8th year’s planting was harvested.
The test involved trust and obedience. Sounds like a famous hymn title. Nothing has changed for this age.
As the time approached for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land, God told them of blessings they would enjoy for obedience to His laws and statutes.
“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments… that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.” Deuteronomy 28:1
Before proceeding, it should be noted that God’s promises to Abraham were unconditional; however, Israel’s continued, uninterrupted possession of the land was conditioned on their obedience.
At the same time that God listed numerous blessings for obedience, He cautioned about the consequences of disobedience.
“But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes… that all these curses will come upon you…” Deuteronomy 28:15
Numerous curses were spelled out for disobedience including that Israel would be a borrowing nation instead of a lending nation. Sound familiar?
But then there was another curse that applies to the current discussion of not obeying the Sabbath of the land.
“The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, a nation of fierce countenance…” Deuteronomy 28:49-50
Note God’s sovereignty in the above passage ‘The LORD will bring a nation against you…’
Approximately 800 years after God originally announced His plan to bring a nation against Israel for their disobedience, the prophet Jeremiah echoed the curse pronounced at the time of Moses. Obviously Jeremiah hadn’t conversed with Moses. Jeremiah’s time was approximately 628 – 570 BC.
“‘Behold, I will bring a nation against you from afar, O house of Israel,’ says the LORD. ‘It is a mighty nation…a nation whose language you do not know…’” Jeremiah 5:15
Note again: ‘I will bring…’
Shortly thereafter, Jeremiah gets a little more specific with a final warning, but Judah ignored him. Judgment was inevitable, and so it was.
“And this whole land shall be… an astonishment, and (you) shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon…for their iniquity…” Jeremiah 25:11-12
Therefore, because Israel did not honor the Sabbath of the land every 7th year God would send the king of Babylon to devastate Jerusalem and deport many Israelites to Babylon for 70 years.
After the 70 years were completed God would rescue them by the hand of another king.
What is so significant of the time of punishment of exactly 70 years and who would be the foreordained king God will use to rescue them?
We’ll explain that next week.
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