Can you remember Christmas of 2019, and the start of this new year, 2020? Those were innocent times. Where I live, the economy was struggling, but we were hoping for better things. There were rumours about a virus infection in China, but we had heard that one before. 2020 looked good, in January.
In February, those rumors from China started to become scary, and we bought some extra groceries. In March, the economy started shutting down, and people started dying from the virus. Some nursing homes got the infection in our area, and some residents died. And people got sent home from work. I remember the day, Friday March 20, when I went to work and people looked at me like I had climbed out of a tree. I missed the announcement, and they told me to go home.
And then we had April and May, with bickering and panic about jobs and virus infections. In June, a video circulated with a police officer in Minneapolis kneeling on a man’s neck, until the man died, and the social explosion happened.
Who knows where it will go from here?
So, how is any of this good? Where is God? How much destruction will we see in this year 2020? Make that global destruction.
Here’s a different idea; maybe all this stress is a good thing. Or at least, maybe this is something God wants us to go through. Maybe we need a reset. In the Bible, for the Hebrew people, a reset was known as the ‘Year of Jubilee.’
Many conservative Jewish people still believe in the concept of a Jubilee year reset, every forty nine or fifty years, which is seven years times seven.
One variation of this was the Sabbath rest, in the Babylonian Captivity, when the ancient Judean kingdom was forced into exile, for seventy years. That is seven times ten, or seven decades:
“The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah.” (2 Chronicles 36:21)
That refers to the words of the prophet Jeremiah:
This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29: 10 to 11)
Seventy years, a week of decades, is an important span of time in the Bible, and a common cycle in history. One generation, with our best ideas matures and grows old, and a new generation needs a restart.
Starting from the year 2020, when was seventy years ago? 1950. That’s about when our modern, post-war society started. World War 2 started around 1940, really in the late summer of 1939 when Poland was invaded, and it ended in 1945. The beginnings or the war happened before 1940; Japan invaded China and fought with the Soviet Union, the Italians invaded and occupied Ethiopia, Spain had a civil war, and then it all exploded in 1939.
1945 was not really the end of the war. Like a fire burning down to embers, there was some unfinished business. The persecuted Jews started their state of Israel in 1948, and fought for survival against their neighbors, the Chinese Communists continued fighting until they had conquered all of China, in 1950, and there were unfinished civil wars, for a time. It all finally ended seventy years ago, and our modern world began.
We are now at the end of a seventy year cycle. If we follow the ancient traditions in the Bible, this is at the end of a week. We are pausing, and we are not conducting business in the normal way. I have neighbors who are off work, and they don’t seem to mind, they seem to be enjoying the pause. I have never seen so many parents walking in my neighborhood with their children, and the family dog. This is a great year for dogs.
I don’t want to belittle human suffering; this is not a good year for many, but it is a reset time for the whole world. We will have something new in the next year.
I find that interesting. An old idea, hidden in the Hebrew Bible three thousand years ago, is happening to us now. What God said is happening, and we did not see it coming.
What else did God say?
All of our human progress, in a time when Atheism rules, has been stopped in year seventy. Our modern world has grown old; and those ancient Hebrews believed other promises from God. They looked past the seventy year Babylonian Captivity, and they saw God doing things for a new generation.
Watch for it:
Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’
This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty. (Haggai 2: 4 to 8)