This story starts for me during the summer of 1991 in a Bible study with friends. That day, I heard this portion of Deuteronomy read aloud.
“At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts. This is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the LORD’S remission has been proclaimed. From a foreigner you may exact it, but your hand shall release whatever of yours is with your brother. However, there will be no poor among you, since the LORD will surely bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, if only you listen obediently to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all this commandment which I am commanding you today. For the LORD your God will bless you as He has promised you, and you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; and you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you.” Deuteronomy 15: 1-6
I was immediately struck by the simple, yet profound fact that the text called for a complete man-made collapse of the credit cycle. It became obvious to me that if a nation were to follow this concept, it would have far reaching effects. Think about it! If all debts were canceled at the end of every seven years, would not the business community soon adapt, seeing to it that things were structured so that they held hard assets, equity, or cash at the proscribed end of the seventh year.
Which leads to the obvious question: when is the end of the seventh year?
Later that same summer day, with the help of my trusty IBM AT clone (big clunky desktop computer for those of you under 30), I was able to find this Biblical hint: “Then Moses commanded them, saying, ‘At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Tabernacles’” (Deuteronomy 31:10).
Here, Deuteronomy ties the end of the seventh year, the time of remission of debt, to the Biblical holiday of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles (“Sukkot” in Hebrew) always falls in the months of September or October. Since the Biblical calendar is Lunar based, the observance of the appointed times spelled out in Leviticus 23 can move up to 30 days in either direction (when considered from the perspective of a solar calendar, such as the one we use in modern western life).
On my mind in the week that followed that summer weekend were two dates: October 1929 and October 1987. Could it be that this pattern was still in place even though no one I knew was following it? The fall of 1929 was the beginning of the great depression. My grandfather had lost his farm in that era, and, as a result, my grandparents lived meagerly for the rest of their lives, even in the good times. More recently, on October 19, 1987 the stock market fell out of bed, dropping 22.6% in one trading day. __-
I know this is tortured thinking, but my first attempt at trying to understand this pattern was attempting to link October 19, 1987 (“Black Monday”) to October 29, 1929 (“Black Tuesday”). What stuck out was that, when I checked the Hebrew calendar, both of these events happened in the week after Feast of Tabernacles. But I also had a problem: there are 58 years between 1929 and 1987. Since the number 58 is only divisible by seven if you subtract two, I obviously had two extra years to account for if I was going to tie 1929 to 1987.
Recognizing that, in order to connect these events via the seven year pattern described in Deuteronomy 15:1-6 and 31:10, I would have to find two additional years in the space of the 58 that exists between 1929 and 1987. Leviticus 25 gave me a plausible answer in its description of a fiftieth year: Jubilee.
Now before I go any further, I want to again approach this humbly. The count or the calendar I am proposing is based on observation. It is not informed by any authority or tradition, but it is simply, in my eyes, a historical observable rhythm or rhyme.
Based on a literal reading of Leviticus 25, Deuteronomy 15:1-6 and Deuteronomy 31:10, I came to the conclusion that the fall of 1929 was the beginning of a Jubilee year. This made the fall of 1979 also the beginning of a Jubilee year, which, in turn, means that the present Jubilee fifty started in the fall of 1980, making the fall of 1987 the end of the first seven years of the current Jubilee fifty years.
Therefore, in 1991, I had a theory that the biblical cycle had shown itself, but I needed more information on the events of 1979. I knew that era well, as I had lived through it, but even so the details were sketchy to me. In the local library, I found William Greider’s book about the Federal Reserve. In his writing, Greider details extensively the days of late summer into the fall of 1979 and shows clearly the strain in the economic system as the dollar declined in value around the world and inflation grew and grew.
At the end of chapter three, Greider recounts the events of Saturday, October 6, 1979. In a special all -day meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee made a decision (of which all the members knew), that would put the nation’s economy into a contraction. Their decision was to shrink the amount of money in the system, thus squeezing out inflation and strengthening the dollar. However, they also knew it would allow interest rates to find their own higher level.
It worked! The U.S. dollar stabilized and inflation fell, but the economy also fell into recession as interest rates went to 21%, destroying many highly leveraged businesses.
For the record, October 6. 1979 was the first day of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). Just like Deuteronomy said, it would have been a good time to be neither a borrower nor a lender. I now had three strong witnesses to the biblical seven and fifty year rhythm. More would follow.
To recap, what I believed in 1991 was that it would be wise to be as un-leveraged as possible in the fall of the years 1994, 2001, 2008, 2015, 2022, and 2029 (with 29-30 being a Jubilee). Now almost a quarter century later, I am still open to revision of these dates, but so far they have held up very well.
As the years have passed since 1991, I have come to the conclusion that just as each day of creation has distinct characteristics, so also each year and each set of seven years also share these characteristics in a manner that patterns those same seven distinct features. Because of the multiple, varying sets of sevens, events appear to the natural eye as random but putting a filter of the Biblical prescribed sevens of time over dates of current events, especially economic events, begins to reveal rhymes and patterns which can not be coincidences.
If these things where understood by the ancients, as the evidence suggests, then in our day the seven and fifty year biblical cycles have reappeared.
Paperback and electronic copies available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.