War is coming and with that, captivity! That is a very dramatic statement but it is very likely! We are currently experiencing terror, drought, famine, earthquakes and plagues all around us. The world is being judged with the righteous judgments from YHVH. What we are experiencing in the world is a cycle of punishment. However, there is hope! Sincere repentance on a national scale CAN change this!
We shall determine with this article, through the study of the scriptures, the validity of thisÂ statement, glean some insight from Habakkuk and focus on what true repentance is.
Â The time we live in
“It will be as in the time of Noahâ€¦”. What was that like?
The earth was filled with wickedness, wickedness and more wickedness. The time we live in is like the days of Noah. Every day you read about another abomination. Do you think the Creator of heaven and earth is happy about it if we take the life of an unborn child? Are we offering an unwed mother-to-be an alternative?
Those who profess to be believers are tearing their brothers apart, going around judging others as if they are the Creator themselves. Gossip, slander, lies and murder; I can continueâ€¦ can you pause and think for a moment… What is going on? We all need to consider our lives. We have to constantly do introspection and in prayer ask Abba to reveal whatever is impure in us. We all sin, but we are not to continue in sin. The time for repentance is now!
Insight from Habakkuk
We are calling out to YHVH because of the wickedness, destruction and violence in the world! Habakkuk did the same!
2 How long, O YHVH, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, â€œViolence!â€ Yet You do not save. 3 Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises. 4 Therefore the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted.
Does this not ringÂ true in our time also? Has the measure of wickedness not been filled yet? We see a few times in scripture that YHVH will act when a certain measure of wickedness has been reached (Gen 15:16, Dan 8:23 and Matt 23:32). There is another reference of a number that needs to be completed in Rev 6:10-11. Why is this necessary? The most important reason, in my opinion, is His grace and mercy towards us.
2 Peter 3:9
9 YHVH is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
How long will His patience be? How far along are we in filling up our measure of wickedness and sin?Â This is an intriguing question that only YHVH can answer, but let us return to the prophet Habakkuk.
Habakkuk wrote this prophecy just before the Babylonians invaded Judah. He cried out to YHVH, who seemed insensitive to all the sin and suffering. However, YHVH was not unaffected or indifferent. He was already at work on plans to discipline Judah. Habakkuk is answered in verse 5!
5 â€œLook among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your daysâ€” You would not believe if you were told.
We are also to look at the nations and watch! Just like YHVH disciplined Judah, we too are being disciplined.
Habakkuk, in chapter two describes the sin in his time. However, behold he also tells what the punishment would be. Just considerÂ what is spoken ofÂ here and compare it with our time.
- PrideÂ (Hab 2:4-6)
- IntimidationÂ (Hab 2:7-8) People are intimidated by those who they are indebted to
- Intemperance (Hab2:9-11) People are trampling others down in order to advance themselves. There is a total lack of self-restraint.
- Iniquity, injustice and immorality (Hab 2:12 -14)
- Indignity (Hab 2:15-18)
- Idolatry (Hab 2:19)
Could we expect any lesser punishment than what Judah received? War, captivity and all the dreadful things that accompany that.
I want to show you from Scripture how we know that war is upon us. Bear with me as weÂ go back to the foundation to show this to you.
YHVH’s reckoning of time
Our Elohim YHVH is an Elohim of order. He said, “let there be light”Â thereby creating day and night. He created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day. He determined a beginning of months for us (Ex 12:2). In Exodus 23:10-17, YHVH briefly explains His calendar. First, the Sabbatical years (Ex 23:10-11), next the seventh-day Sabbath (Ex 23:12) and He subsequently continues to explain the three Pilgrimage festivals (Ex 23:14-17).
10 â€œYou shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, 11 but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove. 12 â€œSix days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves. 13 â€œNow concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth. 14 â€œThree times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. 15 â€œYou shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. 16 â€œAlso you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. 17 â€œThree times a year all your males shall appear before YHVH Elohim.
YHVH’s reckoning of time was established from the beginning and was reinforced as part of the covenant. These commandments -the terms of the covenant- were given at Sinai, long before Israel entered the land.
Israel, His chosen people, affirmed all these ordinances when they answered with one voice that they will do all the words which YHVH has spoken.
3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of YHVH and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, â€œAll the words which YHVH has spoken we will do!â€
7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, â€œAll that YHVH has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!â€ 8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, â€œBehold the blood of the covenant, which YHVH has made with you in accordance with all these words.â€
These instructions were given prior to the forty years in the wilderness, and were repeated and expanded upon in Leviticus 23-26. We often see that an instruction was given and later repeated in greater detail. In Leviticus 23 YHVH again explainedÂ His calendar. He started with the seventh-day Sabbath, continued with the annual festivals and then in Leviticus 25,Â He explained the Sabbatical- and Jubilee years and how it was to be observed.
Continuing on from Leviticus 25,Â we see this teaching concluded in Leviticus 26 with the blessings for obedience and the punishmentÂ for disobedience. The covenant is to be viewed from a relational point of view. The punishments are not to ensure compliance but to bring the people back to right relationship with YHVH.
I want to focus your attention on the last verse in Leviticus 26, verse forty-six.
46 These are the statutes and ordinances and laws which YHVH established between Himself and the sons of Israel through Moses at Mount Sinai.
Do you see what I see? This provesÂ to me that this is indeed a repetition of the terms of the covenant given at Sinai. These commandments are an expansion on the commandments given in Exodus 20-24.
Are we a part of this covenant or was this covenant only with the Israelites?
Allow me to answer this question. We are Israel, every one of us who chooses to worship YHVH as our Elohim is a part of Israel. These commandments are for all YHVH’s people, and we are to be obedient out of love for Him, our Father.
There is more! YHVH has universal reign on the earth. “His judgments are in all the earth.”(Ps 105:7).Â This implies that whoever believes in Him should be obeying His commandments, out of love, wherever they may live. His commandments are linked to His covenant with His people. The land is theirs to live on as long as they obey, it is not a prerequisite for obeying.
7 He is YHVH our Elohim; His judgments are in all the earth. 8 He has remembered His covenant forever, The word which He commanded to a thousand generations, 9 The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac. 10 Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant,
The implication of this verse is huge. Could we say that the Sabbatical year is only for “the land” if Â He has universal reign over all the earth? It is said in Isaiah that all nations would obey Him in future (Isa 2:2-3).
Therefore, we can conclude thatÂ this everlasting covenant, made at Sinai, is still, in effect! We are therefor to keep to the terms of this covenant. Leviticus 26 gives us a very clear indication why we should. It explains the blessings for obedience and the punishments for disobedience of YHVH’s commandments. It is about covenant faithfulness or unfaithfulness. When Israel was faithful to YHVH’s covenant, they prospered but when they were unfaithful, they were severely punished. This punishment was necessary, as we discussed before, to bring them back into right relationship with Him.
The cycle of punishment
These punishments, described in Leviticus 26,Â are in cycles, in multiples of sevens in accordance with the sabbatical cycles.
The Hebrew word “seba“Â is used.Â I have wondered why it was translated as seven times and after a little searching,Â I found the answer. Looking at the specific form(Lemma) of the word according to semantic domains, we see that it does mean “seven times” in this context. (A Lexicon using semantic Â domains gives an explanation of a word strictly according to context. ) In this case Lemma(3) is used, which does mean seven times in this context.
8679 I. ×©Ö¶××‘Ö·×¢ (Å¡Ä›âˆ™á¸‡ÇŽÊ¿): number; â‰¡ Str 7651; TWOT 2318â€”1. LN 60.16 seven, i.e., a cardinal number (Ge 7:2), note: in some contexts â€œsevenâ€ is a large indefinite number; 2. LN 60.54 seventh, i.e., the seventh in a series involving, time, space, or set (Dt 15:9); 3. LN 60.73 seven times, i.e., seven occurrences of something (2Ki 4:35), note: in some contexts â€œsevenâ€ is a large indefinite number; 4. LN 60.1â€“60.9 many, formally, seven, i.e., a large quantity of an object as a figurative extension of the cardinal number seven (Hab 3:9 NIV), note: for MT text at Eze 45:21; Hab 3:9, see 8652; note: for NIV text in 2Sa 24:13, see 8993; see also domain LN 59.1â€“59.10; see also 8651, 8684, 8685, 8686
Â Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
We have in a previous post “If you will not return to me” explained some of this. This punishment will continue for an indefinite period of time. Once a punishment starts it continues whilst another punishment is added after seven years. The punishments are as follows:
- Terror (Lev 26:16)
- Drought and famine (Lev 26:19)
- Earthquakes and plaques (Lev 26:22)
- War (Lev 26:25)
- Captivity (Lev 26:29)
We are currently not really experiencing the blessings, but the punishments. You see a very captivating pattern when you go through history and current events. As recent as 1996, the year that Â Osama Bin Laden declared war on America, could be the commencement of terror. It was a Jubilee year, which also made it the first year of a sabbatical cycle.Â The terror continued with 9/11 and other incidents after that. It is still continueing. The year 2002 was the subsequent Sabbatical year, and the year thereafter another punishment was added onto the terror. This was the beginning of drought and famine. There is currently widespread famine all over the world, and it is increasing. In 2010 the third cycle commenced – earthquakes and pestilence. There have been a number of significant earthquakes already and this too could continue. In this cycle, we have also seen the rise of swine flu, bird flu and resistant E-coli infections to name but a few. Do we need any more proof than this? ItÂ appears to confirm this pattern.
The next sabbatical year will be in 2016, this is very likely the commencement of the cycle of war and after that captivity! It sounds terrible, but it is not too late, there is hope! Sincere repentance can stop this from continuing.
Solomon prayed a beautiful prayer when the Temple was dedicated. This passage teaches us how to repent.Â True repentance is a return to YHVH with all your heart and with all your soul, even while still in the land of captivity.
2 Chronicles 6:36â€“39
36 â€œWhen they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to a land far off or near, 37 if they take thought in the land where they are taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of their captivity, saying, â€˜We have sinned, we have committed iniquity and have acted wickedlyâ€™; 38 if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have been taken captive, and pray toward their land which You have given to their fathers and the city which You have chosen, and toward the house which I have built for Your name, 39 then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, their prayer and supplications, and maintain their cause and forgive Your people who have sinned against You.
Twice in this passage Amos made intercession on behalf of his people and YHVH Elohim changed His mind.
1 Thus YHVH Elohim showed me, and behold, He was forming a locust-swarm when the spring crop began to sprout. And behold, the spring crop was after the kingâ€™s mowing. 2 And it came about, when it had finished eating the vegetation of the land, that I said, â€œYHVH Elohim, please pardon! How can Jacob stand, For he is small?â€ 3 YHVH changed His mind about this. â€œIt shall not be,â€ said YHVH. 4 Thus YHVH Elohim showed me, and behold, YHVH Elohim was calling to contend with them by fire, and it consumed the great deep and began to consume the farm land. 5 Then I said, â€œYHVH Elohim, please stop! How can Jacob stand, for he is small?â€ 6 YHVH changed His mind about this. â€œThis too shall not be,â€ said YHVH Elohim
Another example is the people of Nineveh. Here YHVH also relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them.
4 Then Jonah began to go through the city one dayâ€™s walk; and he cried out and said, â€œYet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.â€ 5 Then the people of Nineveh believed in Elohim; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them. 6 When the word reached the king of Nineveh, he arose from his throne, laid aside his robe from him, covered himself with sackcloth and sat on the ashes. 7 He issued a proclamation and it said, â€œIn Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let man, beast, herd, or flock taste a thing. Do not let them eat or drink water. 8 â€œBut both man and beast must be covered with sackcloth; and let men call on Elohim earnestly that each may turn from his wicked way and from the violence which is in his hands. 9 â€œWho knows, Elohim may turn and relent and withdraw His burning anger so that we will not perish.â€ 10 When Elohim saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then Elohim relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.
We can draw a very important conclusion from this study. Abba YHVH will relent, if there is sincere repentance from the heart, followed by obedience. Â YHVH’s people need to repent on an individual and a national level, and every person feeling led by the Ruach(Holy Spirit) must do intercession on behalf of others.
There is still time nowâ€¦. Don’t delay!
6 Seek YHVH while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to YHVH, And He will have compassion on him, And to our Elohim, For He will abundantly pardon.