Demystifying the Popular Prophecies About
Jewish Sabbaths and Blood Moons
A book review of Dave James' timely new book Biblical Guide to the Shemitah and the Blood Moons: Discerning Popular “Prophecies” in the Light of God’s Word
|Dave James new book, published by Berean Call, 2015|
The book, The Mystery of The Shemitah, by Jonathan Cahn—a runaway sequel to his bestselling book, The Harbinger—has nearly rivaled the success of its predecessor—and has proponents of these ancient mysteries eagerly anticipating the economic destruction of the United States this September (when the “Shemitah” cycles end), in fulfillment of the apocalyptic and calamitous judgments, predicted in the so-called hidden end-time Jewish prophecies, Sabbaths (Shemitahs, pronounced sh’mee’-tah), and current Blood Moon Tetrad (aligned with Jewish feast days), detailed in Cahn’s books.
|Jonathan Cahn warns of pending “Shemitah” judgments coming to America |
on Sid Roth’s television program, It’s Supernatural
|Article in Charisma News, 8/20/15, by Michael Snyder. |
The caption to this photo reads: The Shemitah is rapidly approaching.
However, not everyone agrees with these dreadful predictions. Dave James, who previously authored The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? (a critical review of Cahn's The Harbinger) initially reviewed Cahn's book The Mystery of the Shemitah in an article he posted last September on his blog, the Alliance for Biblical Integrity (ABI). He has continued his careful, methodical, and in-depth debunking of this phenomenon, which was recently published into his 206-page critical book review: Biblical Guide to the Shemitah and the Blood Moons (hereafter referred to as BGS). James explains his reasons for doing so:
My purpose for evaluating and critiquing The Mystery of the Shemitah is twofold:
First, because so many have been influenced by The Harbinger, and because this new book is already a bestseller, the Body of Christ needs to see that there is another side to the story that may not be completely obvious at first glance. And even for those who may sense that something isn’t quite right, the time it takes to work through the frequently slow and laborious, yet necessary, task of fact-checking is probably more than most readers will want to invest.
Second, just as one of my goals in writing The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? was to model the process of discernment, the same is true of this booklet. First and foremost, discernment involves checking against the Word of God to make sure that all the arguments, theories, and claims are biblically sound. Beyond this, discernment also frequently involves evaluating the logic arguments, the veracity of assertions from a historical perspective, and even the proper use of statistics, which, unfortunately, can be framed in such a way that the true picture is obscured or hidden from the reader, even if unintentionally.
|Graphic from the Zions Gate blog|
Here is a brief synopsis of the issues involved and questions raised by these Blood Moon prophecies, according to Dave James:
Are “Blood Moons” a harbinger for a catastrophic “seventh Shemitah” in America?
INFORMED CHRISTIANS and serious students of God’s Word would certainly agree that America—and the rest of the world—is prophetically on “borrowed time.” With increasing speed, the signs of the times are drawing nearer and growing clearer. Unfortunately, while the church should be encouraged by Bible prophecy and exhorted to greater personal holiness and evangelism, there instead exists a cadre of prophets and pitchmen creating confusion in the body of Christ. Prominent pastor-authors pronounce their warnings—while eager publishers promote their wares. In his latest book, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Cahn boldly purports to reveal a previously unknown and undiscovered “3,000-YEAR-OLD MYSTERY that…
- Revealed the dates and the hours of the greatest [financial] crashes in Wall Street history…
- Determined the timing of 9/11…lies behind the rise of America…and its fall…[and]
- Holds the key to what lies ahead for the world and for your life.”
prophecy mongering. We reminded readers that
evangelicals are susceptible to prophecy-mongering because disaster is indeed imminent! We don’t know the day nor the hour (Matt. 24:36), but Jesus is going to return and before that happens Scripture states that things will wax worse and worse (2 Tim. 3:13). Believers are told to “discern the signs of the times” (Matt. 16:3). There are plenty of “wars and rumours of wars” (Mark 13:7) and many other things to indicate that the time is getting close. In fact, potential disasters are a dime a dozen. Every day brings hundreds of new catastrophic scenarios that loom on the horizon. The Christian Right gets all worked up about the environmental crisis advocates' claims of global warming, but they have their own calamitous commotions. Should Christians get all revved up about these things – even before they happen, IF they are going to happen? Jesus’s answer to this was very short and sweet: “see that ye be not troubled.” Why? Because “for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matt. 24:6).
What is a “Shemitah”?
The first question that comes to mind for readers unfamiliar with Jonathan Cahn’s mysterious end-time teachings is what is a “Shemitah”? Dave James explains the biblical meaning of “Shemitah” on pages 12 and 13 of his book Biblical Guide to the Shemitah:
In addition to the Sabbath day, the Lord also instructed Israel to observe every seventh year as a Sabbath as well. During the Sabbath year, the Israelites were to allow the land to “rest” by leaving it fallow. In other words, there was to be neither planting nor harvesting, and whatever grew on its own was to be left for the poor among them (Exodus 23:10-12; Leviticus 25:1-7). Just as God had provided a double-portion of manna on the sixth day of each week while the Israelites were in the wilderness so that they wouldn’t have to work on the Sabbath day, He actually tripled the harvest in the sixth year—which would carry them through the seventh year, and all the way to the harvest in the eighth year, the first year of the new seven-year cycle. Not only was it an agrarian cycle, but it was an economic one, as well. On the last day of the Sabbath year, lenders were required to forgive, or “release” (the meaning of “Shemitah”), borrowers from the obligation of repaying their debts… Over time, the last day of the Sabbath year, and then the entire year itself, came to be known as the “Shemitah” (pronounced sh’mee’-tah).[bold added]
As James further explains, the Lord God imposed a forced “Shemitah” on Israel when the Israelites disobeyed Him in allowing the land of Israel to rest for the prescribed period of time:
Although the Sabbath year was to be a source of blessing to the Israelites as they relied on the Lord’s provision each seven-year cycle, they failed to observe the Shemitah for a significant portion of their history as a nation in the land. Between the time the Law was given (approximately 1445 bc) and the time God judged the southern kingdom of Judah through the Babylonians, they had failed to obey this particular law for a total of 70 cycles (490 years)—which is precisely the reason for the specific 70-year length of the Babylonian captivity…
In practical terms, this meant that the Babylonian captivity functioned as a God-imposed Shemitah, because with few Israelites left to cultivate, plant, and harvest, the Promised Land experienced a forced “rest”—a rest that totaled the exact number of years that the Israelites had failed to voluntarily allow the land to rest as the Lord had commanded (2 Chronicles 36:20-21).
|This IS a Shemitah Year- With the Final ‘Release’ Date in September 2015!|
Graphic from the Zions Gate blog
What is the “Isaiah 9:10 Effect”?
This biblical background of the “Shemitah”, then, forms the hollow backbone of Cahn’s The Mystery of the Shemitah, as he attempts to prophetically link Israel’s past with modern-day America. Dave James summarizes Cahn's basic premise, which requires decoding current events in a confusing admixture of ancient mysteries and recent (or future) national crises:
The fundamental premise of [Cahn's] The Mystery of the Shemitah is that not only did God require the nation of Israel to observe the Shemitah/Sabbath year but that there is also a far-reaching “ancient mystery” connected to the Shemitah, which the author, Jonathan Cahn, has just recently discovered. Cahn’s treatment of this “ancient mystery” suggests that there is a seven-year cycle woven into the very fabric of history and into the order of the universe following the Hebrew calendar—a cycle that can and does affect other nations besides Israel—and even affects the entire world. According to Cahn, this mystery manifests itself through various calamities, including natural disasters, wars, and economic crises that tend to occur according to this seven-year cycle and are most evident when God is trying to get the attention of a nation to warn her of impending judgment…
Thus, just as God had imposed seventy forced Sabbath years upon the nation of Israel as a judgment during the Babylonian captivity, He has likewise been visiting calamities upon America as warnings of impending judgment through stock market crashes, economic crises, and various other cataclysmic events—all because of the “mystery of the Shemitah.” Throughout the book, Cahn goes to great lengths in his attempts to demonstrate that this has been going on for at least a century in this country. And, as he did in The Harbinger, the author contends that the most recent cluster of devastating events began with the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 on the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and United Airlines flight #93 (which he collectively refers to as “the first shaking”).
But as James continues his explanation of Cahn’s prophetic teachings in The Mystery of the Shemitah, this “cluster of devastating events” in recent American history “collectively referred to as ‘the first shaking’”, have also “been working in conjunction with what Cahn calls the “Isaiah 9:10 Effect” or a “second shaking” which culminated in the American stock market crashes in 2001 and 2008—events that purportedly took place on the last day of the Jewish “Shemitah” (Sabbath) in both years. Much of this theory was described in detail in Cahn's first book The Harbinger. James summarizes
Furthermore, Cahn claims that the mystery of the Shemitah has been working in conjunction with what he calls the “Isaiah 9:10 Effect”—a theory he proposed in The Harbinger as “The attempt of a nation to defy the course of its judgment, apart from repentance, will, instead, set in motion a chain of events to bring about the very calamity it sought to avert.” According to Cahn, the “Isaiah 9:10 Effect” has manifested itself as a “second shaking” with the precipitous fall of the stock market on the last day of the Shemitah year in both 2001 and 2008, according to the modern Hebrew calendar.
But as James demonstrates at length in his critique of Cahn's first book (The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?), none of these things can remotely be found within the text or context of Isaiah Chapter 9.
What is the “Blood Moon Tetrad”?
Further building on these best-selling end-time mysteries and frightening hidden prophecies, at some point, Cahn’s Harbinger and Shemitah revelations became intertwined with the “Blood Moon Tetrad” teachings reportedly discovered by Hebrew roots Pastor Mark Biltz in 2008, and later popularized by Pastor John Hagee (both have published books on the subject), which say “that there is end-times prophetic significance to a set of four consecutive lunar eclipses falling on Jewish feast days in 2014 and 2015”—even portending the timing of the Tribulation—although these men deny that they are setting firm dates for these events to occur.
|Worthy Publishing, Oct. 2013|
There are plenty of concerns about this trio of end-time prophecy pastor-authors and their “’non-datesetting’ datesetting”, as David James explains in his Biblical Guide to the Shemitah:
Jonathan Cahn has also been a regular guest on The Jim Bakker Show in connection with both The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah. And in [The Mystery of the Shemitah], he, too, makes a connection between the Shemitah and the blood moon tetrad. This would suggest that he, Bakker, and Biltz are all on the same page regarding the likely timing of the Tribulation, although Cahn tends to try to appear more noncommittal by saying things like, “I’m not putting God in a box,” or “I’m not saying it has to be this way,” and “It could be earlier or later.” However, in spite of these disclaimers, he spends the majority of the time speaking as if it will happen according to the dates of the Shemitah cycles, the Blood Moon Tetrad, and the two solar eclipses of 2015.
|WND Books, Mar. 2014|
Although the Lord has frequently used nature to bring warnings and judgment, the events themselves were anything but natural. The many biblical examples include Noah’s flood, the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and Joshua’s long day when the sun stood still. Then there are all of the future cataclysmic events in nature described in the book of Revelation. Although they involve God’s use of nature, none of them were or will be merely natural, predictable events but will be supernatural manifestations of His wrath and power. The present blood moon tetrad is a completely natural and predictable event. NASA has calculated the precise location and the exact timing (to the minute) of every lunar and solar eclipse for thousands of years in the past to thousands of years into the future.[bold added]
This becomes an especially important point, because it means that the current Blood Moon teaching is totally incompatible with the biblical doctrine of imminency, i.e., that Christ could return at any moment for His Church. James elaborates on this crucial issue:
The immediate problem is that if people think the Rapture, the beginning of the Tribulation, or the Second Coming of Christ are directly connected to these completely natural events, then they don’t have to be concerned with the idea that the Rapture could happen at any moment—which, given human nature, means that some won’t be prepared and will be caught off-guard. Those who haven’t trusted in Christ for salvation will enter into the Tribulation and experience the worst cataclysmic events this world has ever seen as God pours out His wrath in a series of devastating judgments.
|Advertisement from Tom Horn & Gary Stearman’s SkyWatch TV|
Blood Moon Prophecies: Fact vs. Fiction
Dave James examines, analyzes, and elaborates on these and other issues associated with Cahn’s Harbinger, Shemitah, and Blood Moon teachings throughout his careful book review, including the fact that:
- There is no true biblical support for Cahn’s fearful teachings
- Cahn’s theory’s do not support the biblical pattern, i.e., in “the first major component of the imposed Shemitah was that the Lord forced Israel to allow the land to lie completely fallow by having much of the nation carried away into captivity— there was no one to work the land. However, in America there has been no collapse of the agricultural sector nor any other sectors that might be considered modern-day economic equivalents… When God imposed a Shemitah on ancient Israel, everything was wiped away. This is not what happened in 2008 [in America]”
- U.S. experts failed to notice the so-called recurring economic patterns and shifts that Cahn proposes in his books
- Other Christian believers before Cahn did not recognize such important biblical signs
- God apparently chose to impose “Shemitah” judgments upon America while giving Israel a complete pass
- God also supposedly decided to keep America in the dark about what He was doing—and then imposed judgment on her anyway
- God purportedly revealed these mysteries (that are not clearly stated in the Scripture) to Jonathan Cahn—making Cahn a prophet of God. If so, then why would God send him such after-the-fact revelation—years after the judgments were already imposed?
- In order for Cahn’s theories to work, he must treat America like a second Israel—something not found in Scripture (a phenomenon James’ terms ‘Parallel Israel Theory’)
- The modern Hebrew calendar is out of sync with the ancient one, making a precise timing or calculation of such end-time events impossible
- Cahn’s TMS is short on documentation, and much of what is documented comes from Wikipedia.
- Cahn engages in “marketing fear” to massive audiences worldwide
- Cahn redefines the biblical meaning of the imposed Shemitah: “The biblical Shemitah involved the cancellation of all debt owed to creditors. However, Cahn has completely redefined it, with no scriptural support whatsoever, to include the wiping out of savings and investments.”
- Cahn “fudges the numbers” in order to prove that his revelations are true, as the author shows that “…the stock market crashes of 2001 and 2008 came nowhere close to the Shemitah that God imposed on Israel.”
- Arguing for precision in the economic crises in America, Cahn misleads readers by switching back and forth between the Hebrew and Gregorian calendars.
- There is no clear presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Cahn’s The Harbinger.
|Promotion from Bill Salus’s website|
Cahn’s end-time teachings collapse under the weight of such in-depth analysis. As with the Blood Mood Tetrad theory, one of the most compelling biblical arguments in BGS, against Cahn’s The Mystery of the Shemitah, deals with the issue of Sabbath keeping:
The Sabbath day and the Sabbath year, the Shemitah, were exclusively part of the Law of Moses. If God had any expectations of man with regard to the Sabbath day or a seven-year economic or agricultural cycle apart from the Law, there would be corresponding revelation. However, the Scriptures are silent on this, both before and after the Law. The New Testament neither prescribes nor describes any Sabbath-keeping for believers after Christ’s death on the cross…
Those who are in Christ by faith have entered into the Sabbath rest that God has promised and prepared. Apart from Christ there is no Sabbath requirement, meaning that because Christ fulfilled the Law, God does not impose a Sabbath day or a Sabbath year (the Shemitah). God no longer expects Jews to continue keeping the Sabbath day or Shemitah. Rather, His desire is that they would enter His Sabbath through faith in Christ. Gentiles were never required to keep either Sabbath. Therefore, there is no biblical basis whatsoever for Cahn’s theory concerning an imposed Shemitah. Quite the opposite is true—his theory runs counter to the Word of God and the gospel.
For further consideration, David James has also dispersed eleven sound “Discernment Tips” throughout his book review to help readers with future encounters of such mysterious and calamitous biblical revelation (James elaborates on each tip in his book):
- Strive to understand what the author is saying well enough to be able to summarize it in a few sentences. [pg. 17]
- As someone has rightly said, “Context isn’t the main thing—it’s the only thing.” [pg. 33]
- Beware of claims of “newly discovered” truth in the biblical text that no one has ever seen before. [pg. 36]
- Despite the title and words of the song “Every Promise in the Book Is Mine,” this really isn’t true—and if we fail to recognize that certain things concerned only ancient Israel, our understanding of the entire Bible will be fraught with problems. [pg. 41]
- Take nothing for granted and be willing to do the hard work to check any and all assertions and fact claims, even by “experts,” especially if there are other red flags. [pg. 46]
- Beware of those who become too bold in predicting the precise “what and when” of future events. [pg. 52]
- Always judge a book by its cover. [pg. 55]
- Think. Think biblically, think spiritually, think logically, and think theologically—because these aren’t at odds with one another for the believer. [pg. 61]
- Someone has rightly said that if you torture statistics long enough, you can get them to confess to anything. 
- Beware of an author who fails to document assertions and fact claims when they are critical to his argument. [pg. 70]
- “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10) [pg. 74]
Dave James book Biblical Guide to the Shemitah is a compelling and well-written read, worthy of serious attention. The issues at hand are quite sobering—with potential eternal consequences. James sums up the dire situation:
There are two significant and very real dangers associated with the hype surrounding the total lunar and solar eclipses this year and next. The first danger is that because biblically the Rapture really could occur at any moment, many could be caught unawares if they think they can legitimately wait until the Feast of Trumpets on September 28, 2015, to do something about their spiritual condition.
The second danger is that if these predictions fail, as have all others in the past, for how many will this be the last straw—with the result that they decide to have nothing more to do with prophecy teachers, with the Bible, or even with God? Because of disillusionment and the resulting skepticism, many could easily fall into the trap described by the Apostle Peter in his second letter:
(2 Peter 3:3–4)
for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come”
For further review, below are the Chapter titles for BGS:
- Origin of the Shemitah
- The Theory of Shemitah Cycles in America
- "The Revelations Came Rapidly"
- America as the Second Israel
- The Hebrew Calendar
- "Non-Date-Setting" Date Setting
- What's in a Title? The "Mystery" of the Shemitah
- The Blood Moon Tetrad
- A Surprising Lack of Discernment
- Marketing "Fear"
- The Second Shaking
- The Isaiah 9:10 Effect
- The Financial Collapse
- The Shemitah Connection
- The Case for the Shemitah
- Fudging the Numbers
- Biblical Realities & Inescapable Conclusions
- Signs of the Second Coming?
- The Imminency Problem
- A Potential Danger - and a Word of Caution
 WND (formerly WorldNetDaily), “'Mystery of the Shemitah' hits publishing milestone: Jonathan Cahn's followup to 'The Harbinger' hotter than first book,” posted Sept. 9, 2014. WND is strong supporter of Cahn and major purveyor of his teachings; http://www.wnd.com/2014/09/mystery-of-the-shemitah-hits-publishing-milestone/. See also the copy from the DVD combo package of Cahn’s works from The Jim Bakker Show website; http://jimbakkershow.com/lovegifts/the-mystery-of-the-shemitah-final-update.html.
 Graphic taken from the Berean Research blog post of Amy Spreeman’s Sept. 22, 2014 review of David Jame’s lengthy article on the “Mystery of the Shemitah”; http://bereanresearch.org/book-review-the-mystery-of-the-shemitah/.
 David James’ article, “THE MYSTERY OF THE SHEMITAH: Is it real?,” was initially posted to his blog on Sept. 19, 2014; http://www.biblicalintegrity.org/2014/09/19/mystery-of-the-shemitah/.
 David James, Biblical Guide to the Shemitah, pp. 5-6.
 See: https://zionsgate.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/the-mystery-of-the-shemitah-book-review/. The author of this dominionist blog, Santos Garcia Jr., gives a favorable review of Cahn’s The Mystery of the Shemitah. See link to his book: http://www.amazon.com/Thy-Kingdom-Come--Here-Now/dp/1450518486/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404496216&sr=1-1&keywords=Thy+Kingdom+Come-+Here+and+Now%21.
 Ibid, BGS, pg. 206 (Back Cover). Also found on The Berean Call (TBC) online bookstore; http://bereanresearch.org/book-review-the-mystery-of-the-shemitah/.
 Ibid, BGS, pp. 13-14.
 See: https://zionsgate.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/the-mystery-of-the-shemitah-book-review/.
 Ibid, BGS, pg. 14-15.
 Ibid, BGS, pg. 16.
 David James’ The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? is available at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/The-Harbinger-Fiction-David-James/dp/1928660800; and from The Berean Call: http://www.thebereancall.org/harbinger-fact-or-fiction.
 Pastor John Hagee, Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change, Worthy Pub., Oct. 2013; http://www.amazon.com/Four-Blood-Moons-Something-Change/dp/1617952141; and Pastor Mark Biltz, Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, WND Books, Mar. 18, 2014, http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Moons-Decoding-Imminent-Heavenly/dp/1936488116.
 Ibid, BGS, pp. 46-47, 50.
 Ibid, BGS, pp. 50-51.
 Ibid, BGS, pg. 58.
 Ibid, BGS, pg. 57 (see also pp. 145-152).
 Mark Biltz was a presenter at the 2013 Pikes’ Peak Prophecy Summit in Colorado Springs, CO alongside a large cadre of Postmodern Prophecy Paradigm (PPP) leaders that Herescope has been researching for several years. See: http://skywatchtv.com/2015/06/25/when-shemitah-blood-moons-and-the-messiah-meet/. Jonathan Cahn was also a presenter. See Bill Salus’ website: http://www.prophecydepotministries.net/2013/pikes-peak-prophecy-confernece-july-26-28-2013/.
 Ibid, BGS, pp. 18, 22, 35, 111, etc.
 Ibid, BGS pp. 113, 117; see also, pp. 20, 113-115.
 Ibid, BGS, pp. 24-27.
 Ibid. BGS, pg. 129.
 Ibid, BGS, pg. 29
 Ibid, BGS, pp. 52-54.
 Ibid, BGS, pp. 33-34.
 Ibid, BGS, pp. 36-40.
 Ibid, BGS, pp. 41-45.
 Ibid, BGS, pp. 61-69.
Ibid, BGS, pp. 70-71.
 Ibid, BGS, pg. 118.
 Ibid, BGS, pg. 121.
 Ibid, BGS, pg. 124.
 Ibid, BGS, pp. 164-165.
 Ibid, BGS, pp. 130, 132.
 Ibid, BGS, pg. 154.
 See: Prophecy Depot Ministries; http://www.prophecydepotministries.net/. The DVD package of interview concerning end-time teachings of these men is also available from Postmodern Prophecy Paradigm (PPP) leader, L.A. Marzulli; See: http://www.lamarzulli.net/out-of-the-mounth-two-witnesses-warnings-from-the-heavens.php. In addition, Jonathan Cahn’s books and DVDs concerning The Mystery of the Shemitah are promoted and sold on PPP leader Gary Stearman’s website, Prophecy Watchers; See: https://prophecywatchers.com/product/shemitah-package/.
Herescope has published many previous critical articles, including series, on the current popular movement in evangelicaldom to ramp up hysteria over endtime prophecies. Below are just a few links: