Elohim has a clock.
Well, we shouldn’t be surprised. It was He who established the week. He set time in motion when He created the universe in one of them.
In Leviticus 25, we are introduced to the idea of the Sabbath year (or, shemitah). The Word is as follows:
“The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, 2 ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. 3 For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, 4 but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. 6 The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired worker and the sojourner who lives with you, 7 and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food.’ ”
The idea was for God to get the economy to recycle every 7 years. But the deeper meaning is the same meaning of the weekly Sabbath: Yahweh wanted the world to see that, ultimately, even though the people would work hard for six days of the week, and work hard for six years to provide for themselves, they were to take a seventh year off (like they took a seventh day off). He was the source of all blessings for His people. He provided for them every day, anyway; He provided for the every year, too. But by taking a day or even a whole year off, the people of Yahweh were demonstrating the most important thing to everybody else: their faith that He would provide.
And isn’t that what the most important thing in the Scriptures is: the centrality of showing our faith in Yahweh? It’s Hebrews 11; it’s all throughout the Bible. Abraham “believed Elohim, and it was accounted to him for righteousness”. He believed Elohim, and a 100-year-old man had a promised child – Isaac – from his 90-year-old wife. It was Abraham’s faith in Yahweh that caused him to take that son of promise, Isaac, to Mt. Moriah (where, 2000 years later, Jesus, Yeshua ha Mashiach, was executed in a bloody way to pay the price for our sins) and be willing to sacrifice him, if that’s what Elohim wanted. Abraham had faith that Yahweh could raise Isaac from the dead if he did kill him, so strong was his faith on Elohim’s promise.
The key failure of the Israelites on their way to the Promised Land was that they lacked the faith in Yahweh to go and take Canaan. Caleb and Joshua believed in God’s promises; the others 10 did not. And that’s why they wandered (and died) in the desert for forty years. What it comes down to is this: we are saved by believing Abba – believing in Him with all our being – that the price Yashua paid on the cross was sufficient. We can “believe God”, and the righteousness of the Savior, the only pure and spotless human being who ever lived, will be imputed to us.
And that’s why the shemitah was – and IS – so important. We want to show the world that our faith is real – that we, ultimately, place our trust in Him, the One who supplies all of our needs every time anyway. And it’s why Yahweh was so angry with Judah that He sent them into captivity for 70 years, to let the land rest for the number of years they had ignored the shemitah.
In Leviticus 25, Yahweh also established the Year of Jubilee – the year after the seventh shemitah of the cycle. Or once every 50 years:
“You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field.
13 “In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property. 14 And if you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another. 15 You shall pay your neighbor according to the number of years after the jubilee, and he shall sell to you according to the number of years for crops. 16 If the years are many, you shall increase the price, and if the years are few, you shall reduce the price, for it is the number of the crops that he is selling to you. 17 You shall not wrong one another, but you shall fear your God, for I am the Lord your God.”
The Jubilee was a time of release: release from debt and release from slavery. It’s no coincidence that Leviticus 25:10 is the verse engraved around the top of the Liberty Bell. It’s also not a coincidence that Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation at the end of a shemitah year, and announced its implementation in a year of Jubilee! It’s a time of celebration, and it’s a time of human freedom from slavery of all kinds. It’s also a time of blessing for the Jews (and, I believe, those who protect them) and, often, for enlargement of territory. In the two Jubilee years in the 20th Century, major events concerning the land of Israel took place. In the first Jubilee year, on the 24th of Cheshvan 5678. or on the 9th of November, 1917, the Balfour Declaration was signed. This was the document in which the British promised to establish a Jewish homeland in Palestine. In the second Jubilee year, 1967, the Six Day War gave Israel a swift victory over their surrounding enemies, and for the first time in centuries, the Jews controlled the entire city of Jerusalem.
Now, what I believe is that God has recognized the shemitah and the Jubilee year in sports, especially in baseball. And we don’t have to go digging too deeply – the work of Elohim is right out in front for all to see!
Yahweh still is counting His shemitahs and the Jubilees – and even liberal Jews recognize them. Now, I thought there were a lot of amazing connections to the Shemitah in MLB, but it has turned out to be more than I could have imagined. Just start with the greatest Jewish hitter of all time – Hank Greenberg. I’m reproducing the Wikipedia entry below so you know that I’m not trying to bias the truth. The person who wrote it didn’t know what I now know about how Elohim has worked Providentially in the lives of those who are still “His Chosen People.” He has promised through Abraham – I will bless those who bless you; I will curse them who curse you.” (in Genesis 12).
From the Wikipedia entry on Hank Greenberg:
Greenberg was the first Jewish superstar in American team sports. He attracted national attention in 1934 when he refused to play on Yom Kippur, the holiest holiday in Judaism, even though he was not particularly observant religiously and the Tigers were in the middle of a pennant race. In 1934, his second major-league season, he hit .339 and helped the Tigers reach their first World Series in 25 years… Late in the 1934 season, he announced that he would not play on September 10, which was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, or on September 19, the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Fans grumbled, “Rosh Hashanah comes every year but the Tigers haven’t won the pennant since 1909.” Greenberg did considerable soul-searching, and discussed the matter with his rabbi; finally he relented and agreed to play on Rosh Hashanah, but stuck with his decision not to play on Yom Kippur.
Dramatically [providentially?], Greenberg hit two home runs in a 2–1 Tigers victory over Boston on Rosh Hashanah. The next day’s Detroit Free Press ran the Hebrew lettering for “Happy New Year” across its front page. Columnist and poet Edgar A. Guest expressed the general opinion in a poem titled “Speaking of Greenberg,” in which he used the Irish (and thus Catholic) names Murphy and Mulroney. The poem ends with the lines “We shall miss him on the infield and shall miss him at the bat / But he’s true to his religion—and I honor him for that.” The complete text of the poem is at the end of Greenberg’s biography page at the website of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
The Detroit press was not so kind regarding the Yom Kippur decision, nor were many fans, but Greenberg in his autobiography recalled that he received a standing ovation from congregants at the Shaarey Zedek synagogue when he arrived. Absent Greenberg, the Tigers lost to the New York Yankees, 5–2. The Tigers went on to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1934 World Series.
In 1935 Greenberg … led the Tigers to their first World Series title. (However, he broke his wrist in the second game.)[ So he was unable to play on Yom Kippur]. He was unanimously voted the American League‘s Most Valuable Player. He set a record (still standing) of 103 RBIs at the All-Star break – but was not selected to the AL All-Star Game roster.”
In 1937, Greenberg was voted to the All-Star Team. Rosh Hashanah was on September 6, 1937, the start of the Shemitah year 5698. On September 19, 1937, he hit the first-ever homer into the center field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. During the shemitah season of 1937 to 1938, Greenberg hit 64 total home runs, unofficially besting the Babe’s 60 home runs in 1927. In the 1938 season alone, he hit 58 home runs. … He matched what was then the single-season home run record by a right-handed batter, (Jimmie Foxx, 1932); the mark would stand for 66 years until it was broken by Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.
Greenberg was drafted early in the 1941 season, before the US had entered World War II. He was discharged days before Pearl Harbor. After that horrific event, he quickly re-enlisted. He spent 1942, 1943, and 1944 in the China-Burma Theater of the war. He remained in uniform until the summer of 1945. In Greenberg’s first game back after being discharged, on July 1, he homered. Without the benefit of spring training, he returned to the Tigers, was again voted to the All-Star Team, and helped lead them to a come-from-behind American League pennant, clinching it with a grand slam home run in the dark—no lights in Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis—ninth inning of the final game of the season. It came after the umpire allegedly told Hank that he was ready to call the game due to darkness, because the ump—former Yankee pitching star of the 1920s Murderers Row team, George Pipgras, supposedly said “Sorry Hank, but I’m gonna have to call the game. I can’t see the ball.” Greenberg replied, “Don’t worry, George, I can see it just fine,” so the game continued. It ended with Greenberg’s grand slam on the next pitch, clinching Hal Newhouser‘s 25th victory of the season. The slam allowed the Tigers to clinch the pennant and avoid a one-game playoff (that would have been necessary without the win) against the now-second-place Washington Senators. The Tigers went on to beat the Cubs in the World Series in seven games. Only three home runs were hit in that World Series. Phil Cavarretta hit one for the Cubs in Game One. Greenberg hit the only two homers by the Tigers—one in Game Two, where he batted in three runs in a 4–1 win; the other—a two-run job—tied the game in the eighth inning of Game Six, making the score 8–8, but the Cubs won that game with a run in the bottom of the 12th.
In 1947, Greenberg and the Tigers had a lengthy salary dispute. When Greenberg decided to retire rather than play for less, Detroit sold his contract to the Pittsburgh Pirates. To persuade him not to retire, Pittsburgh made Greenberg the first baseball player to earn over $80,000 ($845,000 today) in a season as pure salary (though the exact amount is a matter of some dispute). Team co-owner Bing Crosby recorded a song, “Goodbye, Mr. Ball, Goodbye” with Groucho Marx and Greenberg to celebrate Greenberg’s arrival. The Pirates also reduced the size of Forbes Field‘s cavernous left field, renaming the section “Greenberg Gardens” to accommodate Greenberg’s pull-hitting style. Greenberg played first base for the Pirates in 1947 and was one of the few opposing players to publicly welcome Jackie Robinson to the majors.
Through 2010, he was first in career home runs and RBIs (ahead of Shawn Green) and batting average (ahead of Ryan Braun), and fourth in hits (behind Lou Boudreau), among all-time Jewish major league baseball players.
From Joe: Hank Greenberg lost playing time to both injuries and military service. In all, he played just 7 seasons of 130 or more games. That’s SEVEN.
Sandy Koufax became the dominating pitcher he became famous for in the 1959 World Series, in Game Three which he lost, 1 – 0. From 1960 to 1966, when