As the Israelites prepared to enter the promised land of Canaan, the Lord revealed to Moses a plan that included storing food in preparation for Sabbath and Jubilee years. The storage of food for these sacred years of renewal and freedom also provided incidental protection from famines and other calamities.

In our day these same positive principles appear to be at the foundation of the modern Church home production and storage program that is receiving renewed emphasis.

As new research suggests, if the Savior was born in a Jubilee year, this last fall (September/October 2008) would have been the start of a Jubilee year celebration which the temple priest would announce by blowing a trumpet.

The Israelite celebration of Sabbath and Jubilee years shows a relation between food storage and the proclaiming of liberty throughout the land.

Table 1: Sabbaths Revealed by the Lord

Sabbath

Cycle Length

Sabbath Day

Week

7th Month

Year

Sabbath Year

7 Years

Jubilee Year

49 Years

Millennium

7,000 Years

As part of the Lord’s inspired plan to create the ancient nation of Israel, he revealed unto Moses commandments that included several levels of Sabbath calendar celebrations. As well as the weekly Sabbath day, the seventh month of the year was like a Sabbath month (named Tishri) that included the holiest feast celebrations of the year. Also, every seven years a Sabbath year was to be observed and every seven times seven years (49) a Jubilee year was to be celebrated in the following (fiftieth) year (Lev. 25).

Recent research by John Pratt suggests that this last fall (beginning in September/October 2008) was the start of a Jubilee year. The most important date during this Jubilee year celebration would be the evening before Monday, April 6, 2009, the 3,430th anniversary of the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River at spring flood by the children of Israel . That day is also the anniversary of Isaac’s birthday on four sacred calendars.

The Millennium, when Christ will reign upon the earth, will be a Sabbath celebration period, being the seventh one thousand year “day” of history since Adam. (D. & C. 29:11) Table 1 outlines the time periods of these five sacred calendar cycles. 1

Temporal Requirements of the Sabbath Periods

The purpose of all of these Jewish Sabbath calendar periods was to renew faith and devotion to the true and living God who led the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt . Truman Madsen describes the Jewish belief that in the struggle to rise above the evil tendencies in our lives, “on the Sabbath, somehow God sees fit to send an extra spirit, if you will, which lifts a man above his ordinary evil inclinations and spells peace.” 2

This religious focus was supported by the commandment to minimize the temporal concerns of life during the Sabbath time period. For the weekly Sabbath day, there was the commandment to rest from their labors, including even the stranger within their gates (Exodus 20:10 , Deut. 5:14 ).

During the seventh month of Tishri, the Lord instituted the most sacred feast days or holy days of the Jewish year. This included the ten days of preparation for the most holy of all days, the Day of Atonement. 3 During the seventh thousand year “day” of history, it is prophesied that “the day shall come that the earth shall rest.” (Moses 7:61) This renewal of the earth will be accompanied by monumental changes that will transform the earth itself back into a paradisiacal state. 4

The details of the temporal requirements for the celebration of the Sabbath and Jubilee years also involve the same Sabbath principles of rest from normal labors to devote attention to the service of God. The Lord commanded that “the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.” (Leviticus 25:4)

After seven Sabbath years the Lord further commanded that “a jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you”(Leviticus 25:11-12). Just as a rest from daily labors on the Sabbath day was key to the spiritual and temporal progress of the nation, allowing the land to rest would let the Israelites focus on the spiritual renewal and true liberty that the Lord wanted to increase during these holy years.

Debts were to be forgiven and slaves were to be freed. With the current financial crisis caused in large part by leveraged high risk debt, Joseph Farah of the WorldNetDaily online news service recommended that we should celebrate this Jubilee year and forgive all debts worldwide as the scriptures require during the Jubilee year. Indeed, during the Jubilee year they were to “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10) This description of the Jubilee year is inscribed on the United States Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 5

“What Shall We Eat the Seventh Year?”

After outlining the requirements and wonderful benefits of the Sabbath and Jubilee years, the Lord answers the question of how it can be accomplished. He says: “And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.” (Leviticus 25:20-21)

The Lord makes a similar promise in his answer to provide for the Sabbath and Jubilee years as He did when He provided manna for the Children of Israel during the wilderness. The extra manna for the Sabbath day was only to be gathered on the sixth day. One day was to provide double what was needed so that the seventh day could be a holy day of rest. 6

For the Sabbath and Jubilee years, the Lord didn’t promise a twenty or thirty percent surplus crop during each of the six years to supply their temporal needs during the holy years. Rather, he promised that the sixth year would provide an amazing three years worth of crops every time that year came around.

Notice that each sixth year was to provide three years worth of food. This would supply the sixth year itself, the Sabbath year and the Jubilee year. But only once in seven cycles would that third year’s supply be needed to sustain them during the following Jubilee year. (The fiftieth (Jubilee) year was the same as the first year of the next cycle.) We might wonder why the Lord promised so much extra food during every 49-year period. Would not that supply be useful for the times of scarcity, famine and war that periodically would afflict Israel ? Could it be that an automatic side effect of observing the Sabbath and Jubilee years provided Israel with a impressive nationwide preparedness program for extreme emergencies?

Sailing Safely Through the Storm

During severe storms at sea, smaller ships run the danger of being capsized by large waves and strong winds. A larger ship, especially one with large stabilizers built into its design, is able to avoid the catastrophic effects of the storm and continues along its journey with only minimal inconvenience. For the less prepared vessel, disaster occurs or amazing rescues are required. But for the well-prepared boat with stabilizers, a bad storm will be only an entry in the captain’s log as it sails along its appointed course. The year’s supply of food that prepares for the Sabbath and Jubilee years with some to spare could provide that stabilizing effect for the nation of Israel to come safely through stormy times.

Christ’s Fulfillment of the Jubilee Year Mission

The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ surely fulfilled the great mission of the Jubilee year to “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:10). As the Savior began his ministry, He was in the synagogue:

“And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:17-19, see Isaiah 61:1-2)

This scripture from Isaiah was universally understood to refer to the Messiah. Jesus announced that he personally was the fulfillment of this prophesy. He said: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” (Luke 4:21)

President Joseph F. Smith saw in vision the joyous reception that the Savior received in the spirit world from the righteous spirits.

“They were assembled awaiting the advent of the Son of God into the spirit world, to declare their redemption from the bands of death. While this vast multitude waited and conversed, rejoicing in the hour of their deliverance from the chains of death, the Son of God appeared, declaring liberty to the captives who had been faithful” (D. & C. 138:16, 18 emphasis added).

After personally liberating those who had been righteous from the power of death, the Savior also organized His disciples to preach the gospel to the dead who had not been obedient or known the fulness of the gospel. In the end all of “the dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God” (D. & C. 138:58). Thus the Lord truly fulfilled the mission to “proclaim liberty” to “all of the inhabitants” who live or have lived on the world (Leviticus 25:10).

Was the Savior Born in a Jubilee Year?

Since the proclamation of freedom and liberty of the Jubilee year celebration links so clearly to the mission of Jesus Christ, it would not be surprising if this calendar cycle was planned so that the birth of Christ would take place in a Jubilee year. The modern Jewish calendar calculates Sabbath years as beginning on the Jewish years of the world that are divisible by seven with no remainder. The Jewish year of 5768, which began in the fall of 2007 and is just ending, is directly divisible by seven and therefore a Sabbath year. The first years of the Sabbath year cycle would have a remainder of one after dividing the Jewish year by seven. The Jewish year of 5769, which begins in the fall of 2008, would be a first year. 7

Although there is a strong tradition about which year is the Sabbath year, the knowledge of which of the seven first years of the 49-year cycle is the Jubilee seems to have been lost. 8 Using the Jewish formula for Sabbath years, the traditional LDS birthday of Christ on April 6, 1 B.C. would be in the middle of a first year, a possible Jubilee year (Jewish year 3760 / 7 = 537 remainder 1), starting in the fall of 2 B.C. and ending in the fall of 1 B.C. It is interesting to note that none of the other proposed birthday years for the Savior from 6 B.C. until 1 A.D. would fall in a first year of the cycle, and hence possible jubilee year. Based on research by John Pratt, the Savior was born in the 29th Jubilee celebration since entering into the Promised Land and this fall 2008 begins the 70th Jubilee year celebration from that time.

Ancient and Modern Observance of the Sabbath and Jubilee Years

Unfortunately, the ancient Israelites did not observe fully the Sabbath and Jubilee years. During the captivity in Babylon , the Lord indicated that their seventy years of exile were to make up for neglected and uncelebrated Sabbath years. The Bible states that: “To fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.” (2 Chronicles 36:21) 9

Periodically leaving a field fallow to rest the land validates principles of the Sabbath year.

The Jews in Israel in recent times have been striving to celebrate that Sabbath year with more diligence. In past years the Jewish farmers were allowed to grow crops on Jewish land during Sabbath years as long as they only sold to “non-Jews.” The Arabs would, of course, simply turn around and sell the food back to the Jews, effectively short circuiting the Lord’s command in Leviticus to let the land rest every seventh year.

Seven years ago during the last Sabbath year (2000-2001) those who broke the Sabbath year laws suffered real penalties because of the growing power of the orthodox rabbis. On September 30, 2000 , the first day of the seventh month of Tishri, the Jews began the celebration of the traditional Sabbath year or shmita . Grocers who would sell food grown during the Sabbath year on Jewish land could lose their kosher licenses which means that religious Jews will not buy from them:

“Yohoshua Polak, the chairman of the religious council in Jerusalem , said that the consequences of ignoring God’s commandments were severe. ‘One of the reasons for the people of Israel going into exile was lack of observance of shmita requirements,’ he said.” 10

The news article commented that Jewish farmers lose a lot of money during the Sabbath year. This is similar to the comments that we hear about how impossible it is to observe a Sabbath day by being closed for business on Sunday. But even a left-wing non-orthodox leader, Anat Hoffman, praised Jerusalem ‘s observance of this holy year: “I am pleased to be living in a city that observes this ancient Jewish custom.” 11

The longstanding practice of allowing teachers and university professors to take a periodic “sabbatical” year to rest and renew their minds and spirits comes from the Sabbath year doctrine. 12

LDS References to Sabbath and Jubilee Years

The principles of the Sabbath and Jubilee years have been repeated by prophets and apostles in modern times. On July 13, 1855 , President Heber C. Kimball of the First Presidency commented on instructions given by President Brigham Young about modern observance of the Sabbath year just after a plague of grasshoppers had eaten most of their crops:

“Perhaps many feel a little sober because our bread is cut off, but I am glad of it, because it will be a warning to us, and teach us to lay it up in future, as we have been told. How many times have you been told to store up your wheat against the hard times that are coming upon the nations of the earth? When we first came into these valleys our President told us to lay up stores of all kinds of grain, that the earth might rest once in seven years. The earth is determined to rest, and it is right that it should. It only requires a few grasshoppers to make the earth rest, they can soon clear it. This is the seventh year, did you ever think of it?” 13


Grasshopper plagues have been worse than crickets for LDS pioneers.

Most of us are familiar with the plague of crickets that came as the saints planted their first crops in 1848. But other later hordes of crickets and even more severe plagues of grasshoppers are not as well known. 14

The seagulls were sent to save the pioneers from starvation in 1848. President Young then gave instructions to observe the principles of the Sabbath year to allow the land to rest every seven years. 15

Counting from the first full growing season of 1848, the year 1853 was the sixth year, the year with the plentiful harvest of a three years’ supply (for 1853, 1854 and 1855). If 1854 had been observed as a Sabbath year 16 as President Young had proposed, the land would have been left uncultivated and could have even partially interrupted the grasshoppers’ proliferation cycle. Instead of having three fourths of their grain destroyed by grasshoppers in 1855 in the worst grasshopper plague in pioneer history, 17 the insects might not have even come, being removed by the Lord and their decrease also facilitated by the natural effects of leaving the land uncultivated.

Another possibility is that the clouds of “the great grasshopper invasion” 18 might have still come in 1855, but because of the Saints’ preparations and the bounteous harvests given by the Lord to prepare for the Sabbath year, this scourge might have caused the saints little more than some inconvenience. The Lord wanted them to enjoy a year of rest, to actually give them a vacation from some of their strenuous pioneer labors, if they would follow the Prophet’s counsel. But instead, the saints had a terrible famine right in the middle of the rapid growth of the Church and immigration to the Salt Lake valley during the 1850’s including over 3,000 that would come by handcart between 1856 and 1860. 19

In General Conference in October, 1999, Elder L. Tom Perry devoted his talk to applications of the spirit of the Jubilee year to modern times and a suggestion to apply these principles in the year 2000:

“Instructions are given for the year of jubilee and its observance. I believe there is a message for us in how Israel celebrated that special year…. Have we placed the opportunity for eternal blessings ahead of worldly ambitions? Are there parts of our lives that we could rest for a season in an effort to renew our souls so we can be more productive, especially in the ways that matter most to the Lord?” 20

The return to spiritual and temporal values exemplified by the Sabbath and Jubilee years are surely a powerful prescription for the difficulties of our modern society.

A Pattern of Provident Living

During the past ten years, the prophets and apostles have reemphasized emergency preparedness and the storing of a year’s supply. In a letter dated January 20, 2002 , the First Presidency stated: “Church members can begin their home storage by storing the basic foods that would be required to keep them alive if they did not have anything else to eat. Depending on where members live, those basics might include water, wheat or other grains, legumes, salt, honey or sugar, powdered milk, and cooking oil.” 21

A year’s supply of what we usually eat in our day of amazing grocery stores overflowing with foods from throughout the world is prohibitively expensive to buy and difficult to rotate. Many are discouraged thinking that they can never get together a full year’s supply if they have to “store what you eat and eat what you store.” Fortunately, the brethren have consistently asked us to “think not in terms of a year’s supply of what we ordinarily would use and think more in terms of what it would take to keep us alive in case we didn’t have anything else to eat.” 22

The suggested basics of a pioneer style year’s supply, even if we don’t yet use it on a regular basis, certainly is much more attainable goal as we strive to be obedient to the Prophet’s counsel. In 2002, a basic year’s supply of wheat, beans, salt, sugar, powdered milk, and cooking oil could be purchased as low as $160 per person.

In 2007, in the pamphlet entitled “All is Safely Gathered in-Family Home Storage,” the recommendation was added to also store a three-months supply of food normally eaten by the family in addition to the counsel to store the basic year’s supply of survival food. The Church’s recommendation for long term storage now emphasizes only grains and legumes. Even with the large food price increases of 2007-2008, this basic supply of wheat and beans can still be obtained for as low as $160 per person. 23


A basic year’s supply of food (and two weeks supply of water) for one person is compact and affordable

While it is very important to follow this counsel to be prepared during coming emergencies, the prophets have also consistently reminded us of a more positive approach that sounds very much like the basic principles of storing food for the Sabbath and Jubilee years. In a nationally televised interview, 60 Minutes reporter Mike Wallace asked President Hinckley about the year’s supply program. President Hinckley responded that “we teach self-reliance as a principle of life, that we ought to provide for ourselves and take care of our own needs.” 24

President Spencer W. Kimball said that “We have placed considerable emphasis on personal and family preparedness. … I also hope that we are understanding and accentuating the positive and not the negative. I like the way the Relief Society teaches personal and family preparedness as ‘provident living.'” 25

Cycles to build Provident Living

The commandments to keep the Sabbath holy, whether it be a day, month, Sabbath year, Jubilee year, or Millennium, have a spiritual purpose beyond the required inconvenience in leaving behind temporal affairs for a season. Seeing the Lord’s pattern in these cycles to prepare us for a higher more spiritual life can certainly provide additional motivation to follow the counsel through modern prophets about personal and family preparedness.


Notes
1 Lenet H. Read, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies , “Joseph Smith’s Receipt of the Plates and the Israelite Feast of Trumpets,”Vol 2, Number 2. 1993. p. 112. The “High Holy days” in the fall include the Feast of Tabernacles, starting on 15 Tishri.

John P. Pratt, “Joshua’s Seventieth Jubilee,” Meridian Magazine, May 18, 2006.

“The Lord told Moses to begin counting sabbath years and the jubilee cycle when they entered the promised land (Lev. 25), which suggests beginning the count immediately at that time. The jubilee is the fiftieth year after the cycle begins, but the cycle only has seven sets of seven years, or 49 years. Thus, the 50th year of the cycle is the same as the first year of the cycle. That and several other events indicate that they indeed entered the promised land in a jubilee year. The year 2009 [fall 2008 to fall 2009] marks 70 sets of 49-year jubilee cycles since 1422 BC. [70 * 49 = 3430 years]

“An extremely impressive anniversary of that date is approaching. Mon 6 Apr 2009 [starting the previous evening on 5 Apr 2009 ] will mark exactly seventy jubilees on the (Perpetual) Hebrew Calendar since that date [of entering the promised land of Canaan just before Passover of that year by miraculously crossing the Jordan River at flood stage]. The year of the jubilee has been lost to modern Hebrews, but the results of my research indicate that the jubilee year occurred in that very year of entering the Promised Land. …

“The only date that I found that repeated even once in that 7,000-year interval was the birth date of Isaac. Now, if the date of Isaac had repeated at some random time, such as in AD 743, then it could be chalked up to chance because we would expect to find about one date in 15 repeating at some time. But the fact that the one date which I found which was not unique in history just happens to repeat on the exact day of the seventieth jubilee anniversary of Joshua’s crossing the Jordan makes the day jump out from the crowd as an outstanding anniversary indeed, worthy of my reporting.

“As stated repeatedly in my past articles, I have no idea if anything special might happen on that date. It is only being reported here so that in case something of religious significance does occur, it will be a witness that God had planned it millennia ahead of time.”

Indeed, it would not surprise the author if such a significant anniversary date, or the battle of Jericho date that follows it (31 May 2009), involved events that would be reported on the news as a world-changing event, such as the sixth seal earthquake described in Revelation 6:12 that seems to be already past time in the sixth seal/seventh seal chronology of last days signs.

“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:12-17)

See also: John P. Pratt, “Tsunami on the Feast of Trumpets,” published only on www.johnpratt.com ( 12 Jan 2005 ).

“One note on predicting the future seems in order. The Lord knows all things, and he knew we would be discovering how his sacred calendars work. Thus he knows that we would have yet another testimony that he is indeed doing the work he has prophesied. But as has been emphasized in my earlier articles, to me it appears that the purpose of prophecy in general is not to satisfy men’s curiosity about the future, but rather to be a witness of his foreknowledge after the event occurs. Just because an event happened on a certain day in the past does not mean that God is constrained to repeat that same pattern in the future. The recent tsunami, which sparked the research for this article, does not fit the pattern of having occurred on the day Skull, and yet it fit another pattern similar to the Great Deluge which still suggests that the Lord timed it in a significant way. If the Lord wants to surprise us, he can certainly do so, as he did with this recent tsunami. And yet afterwards, when the data is analyzed, his hand in the work will become apparent.”

2. Truman G. Madsen, “A Day of Rejoicing,” Meridian Magazine, May 16, 2000.”We noted how they observed the Sabbath, especially Shabbat Eve. That triggered in me a great interest in searching their lore for the roots of Sabbath observance.”

3. Lenet H. Read, “Symbols of the Harvest: Old Testament Holy Days and the Lord’s Ministry,” Ensign , January, 1975: “The fifth and holiest of all Israelite holy days is the Day of Atonement, known today as Yom Kippur, which is full of witnesses of the Savior.”

4. Rodney Turner, “Prophecies and Promises of the Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign , December 1972: “When he establishes his millennial government, the Lord has promised the Saints no ruler but Christ, ‘for I will be your king and watch over you.’ (D. & C. 38:21.) It is then that the Saints ‘shall be a free people, and ye shall have no laws but my laws when I come.’ (D. & C. 38:22.) The Lord has promised the Saints that they ‘shall be the richest of all people.’ D. & C. 38:39.) They shall inherit the kingdom (D. & C. 38:9, 15; D. & C. 78:13; D. & C. 82:2-3; D. & C. 136:41) and will dwell upon this earth both in time and in eternity (D. & C. 38:20). When the earth receives its paradisiacal glory, it will yield of its strength to the blessing of all of its inhabitants. (D. & C. 59:16-20.)”

5. Joseph Farah, “Forgive us our debts,” WorldNetDaily Online News Service, October 13, 2008 .

“Americans are searching for answers to the economic crisis characterized as the worst since the Great Depression. … The Bible has much to say about debt. It has a radical solution for it, too. Though, I confess, I doubt many will be willing to listen – since our society moves further from the principles of the Bible on a daily basis.

“The answer is found in Leviticus 25. It’s called the year of jubilee. It is a system of forgiveness of debts that occurred in ancient Israel every 50 years. And, ironically, it just so happens a new year of jubilee began last week on Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement – the highest holy day in the Hebrew calendar. … So what should happen according to God’s prescription? It’s simple. But, as I said, it’s radical. You will be told there are thousands of reasons we could never accept such a solution. And that’s why we will continue to put Band-Aids on the patient who is rapidly bleeding to death.

“In a year of jubilee, you declare all debts forgiven. Period. End of story. It was not only a year to set captives free and to end the bondage and oppression of men, it was also a time to cancel all debts. I can think of no better solution for America today. It would be better than a tax cut . It would be better than another “stimulus package.” It would be better than the bailout. It would be better than any other government-directed wealth-redistribution program on the table or off.”

Joseph Farah, “The Debt Bomb,” WorldNetDaily Online News Service, October 18, 2008.

“Americans are beginning to awaken to the fact that they face annihilation by a weapon of mass destruction. It’s not nuclear. It’s not chemical. And it’s not biological. It’s financial. It’s the debt bomb. Debt is the root of the economic crisis America – and, indeed, the whole world – faces. …

“Debt is literally a killer. It destroys individuals, families and nations. It always has. That’s why God gave us a prescription for dealing with it. I’ve written about this idea before and I will continue to write about it in the future, because I sincerely believe it is the only way to deal with the fundamental problem hurting Americans and threatening the country. If we’re willing to forgive some debt by individuals and institutions, maybe it’s time to look at forgiveness of all debt. Maybe that’s the merciful and fair way out from under. Perhaps that’s the grace we all need to get us back on course. That’s what the doctor – the Great Physician – prescribed in Leviticus 25. It was the Jubilee system. Every 50 years, debts were wiped out, forgiven, there was a fresh start.

“No greater mind than the late economist Julian Simon offered up this as a solution to the looming debt bomb – long before it became a weapon of mass destruction. Some think tank, with intellectual and research resources greater than my own, should start drawing up a plan – and the very basis of it should be Leviticus 25.

“God promises supernatural blessings if we obey His laws. And the sabbatical system that includes the Year of Jubilee was not a suggestion. It is a law. Like any law, there are punishments for ignoring it and breaking it, and there are rewards for observing it and honoring it. Maybe you think it’s too far-fetched. Maybe you don’t believe in the Creator of the Universe, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who performs miracles and judges mankind. Maybe you think those laws were simply for another time. Maybe you think John McCain or Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid has the answers.

Maybe you should think again. Or maybe you think you have a better idea than God’s for dealing with the economic crisis. Let’s hear it. Put it on the table. The hour is late.”

Author’s note: An indicator of the magnitude of this debt problem is the stock market collapse and wild gyrations during the fall of 2008. John Pratt’s ancient calendars indicate that the Jubilee year would begin on Sunday, September 28, 2008 (“Joshua’s Seventieth Jubilee” article). Continuing the Hebrew day that began that evening, the US stock market registered a 777.68 point drop the following day, Monday, September 29, 2008 when the US House of Representatives rejected the initial version of the financial bailout plan. This drop was the largest single day negative change in the Dow Jones Industrial average in the history of the stock market. (source: Yahoo business excel spreadsheet downloaded data for DJI symbol from 1 Oct 1928 to 11 Jan 2009 . http://finance.yahoo.com/q/hp?s=^DJI ).

Also interesting is the emphasis by President Hinckley in recent years to Pharaoh’s dream that was interpreted by Joseph in Egypt . These talks have contained many powerful references to the perils of debt as well as emergency preparedness such as the storage of food and assisting those who suffer disasters.

Gordon B. Hinckley , “To the Boys and to the Men,” Ensign, Nov 1998, p. 51. Subtitle: “I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order.” Note: 10 years ago with market fluctuations due to instability in Asian financial markets.

“What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; And God will shortly bring it to pass” (Genesis 41:28-30, 32)

“Now, brethren, I want to make it very clear that I am not prophesying, that I am not predicting years of famine in the future. But I am suggesting that the time has come to get our houses in order. So many of our people are living on the very edge of their incomes. In fact, some are living on borrowings. We have witnessed in recent weeks wide and fearsome swings in the markets of the world. The economy is a fragile thing. A stumble in the economy in Jakarta or Moscow can immediately affect the entire world. It can eventually reach down to each of us as individuals. There is a portent of stormy weather ahead to which we had better give heed. I hope with all my heart that we shall never slip into a depression. I am a child of the Great Depression of the thirties. I finished the university in 1932, when unemployment in this area exceeded 33 percent.”

Gordon B. Hinckley , “The Times in Which We Live,” Ensign, Nov 2001, p. 72. Subtitle: Our safety lies in repentance. Our strength comes of obedience to the commandments of God. Note: 7 years ago, shortly after 9/11/2001 attacks.

“I do not know what the future holds. I do not wish to sound negative, but I wish to remind you of the warnings of scripture and the teachings of the prophets which we have had constantly before us. I cannot forget the great lesson of Pharaoh’s dream of the fat and lean kine and of the full and withered stalks of corn. . Are these perilous times? They are. But there is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can be an influence for good in this world, every one of us.”

Gordon B. Hinckley , “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Ensign, Nov 2005, p. 60. Subtitle: “We can so live that we can call upon the Lord for His protection and guidance. . We cannot expect His help if we are unwilling to keep His commandments.” Note: 7 years after 1998 reference after tsunami in Indonesia and hurricane Katrina in US.

“We have built grain storage and storehouses and stocked them with the necessities of life in the event of a disaster. But the best storehouse is the family storeroom. In words of revelation the Lord has said, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing” (D&C 109:8). Our people for three-quarters of a century have been counseled and encouraged to make such preparation as will assure survival should a calamity come. We can set aside some water, basic food, medicine, and clothing to keep us warm. We ought to have a little money laid aside in case of a rainy day. Now what I have said should not occasion a run on the grocery store or anything of that kind. I am saying nothing that has not been said for a very long time. Let us never lose sight of the dream of Pharaoh concerning the fat cattle and the lean, the full ears of corn, and the blasted ears; the meaning of which was interpreted by Joseph to indicate years of plenty and years of scarcity (see Gen. 41:1-36).”

Frequently Asked Questions about the Liberty Bell,” Online Liberty Bell Museum, 1997.

6. Exodus 16:22, 29-30: “And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread…. See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.”

7. Rabbi Yaron Ben-David, “Purchasing vegetables during shmita,” Jewish World ynetnews.com, retrieved 9 Sep 2007 from ynetnews.com web site. : “How does one know when the shmita (sabbatical) year occurs? … Calculating the shmita year is actually quite simple. Take the Jewish year – for instance, this year is 5768 [fall 2007 to fall 2008] – and divide that number by seven. If the result is a whole number – in our case, the quotient is 824 – the year is a shmita year.”

8. ibid.
“Furthermore, during the Holy Temple era, yovel (the jubilee year) was also observed, and according to Maimonides (Laws of Shmita and Yovel 12), the yovel year is not included in the shmita count. In any event, since yovel is not observed today, the aforementioned method is currently the simplest way to compute shmita years.”

9. John P. Pratt, , “Joshua’s Seventieth Jubilee,” op. cit.

Searching the scriptures for Jubilee phrases “proclaim liberty” and “proclaiming liberty” yields references in Leviticus, Isaiah, D. & C. 138, and the following from Jeremiah: “This is the word that came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people which [were] at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them.” (Jeremiah 34:8) The Lord commanded the people under Zedekiah to free all their slaves as required for the celebrations of the Sabbath and Jubilee years. Zedekiah and his people at first complied with the Word of the Lord and freed their slaves but then they again made slaves of their temporarily free servants. The Lord then proclaimed that instead of destroying the Babylonians and delivering the nation “therefore thus saith the LORD; Ye have not hearkened unto me, in proclaiming liberty, every one to his brother, and every man to his neighbor: behold, I proclaim a liberty for you, saith the LORD, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine ; and I will make you to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.” (Jeremiah 34:17 emphasis added) The final destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B. C. came not long after this episode of willful disobedience to the principles of the Sabbath and Jubilee years.

10. Rabbis Order Fallow Land in Sabbath year,” The Times, London, August 28, 2000, internet edition. Access to the archive requires a subscription. See also: Nicole Gaouette, “THE FALLOW YEAR: One of Moses’ other edicts sows discontent,” Christian Science Monitor, September 12, 2000. : “Few millennia ago, Moses picked his way down the dusty scrub of Mount Sinai to relay another of God’s edicts to the children of Israel: “When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the Lord” every seventh year. But with the beginning of Jewish year 5671 on Sept. 30 and the onset of another agricultural sabbatical, Israelis are bickering fiercely about how to honor the order not to ‘sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.’ The squabbling has led to death threats, denunciations, and predictions of economic woe. It has set rabbi against rabbi and roiled farmers, consumers, and politicians. But if the sabbatical year is making Israelis behave like a stiffnecked people, as Moses would say, the furor is also revealing the growing strength of religious conservatives and the difficulty of building a modern state in a land heavy with biblical history. …. An early religious leader hit on a solution. Jews would “sell” their land to a non-Jew for the year, allowing the land to continue to be worked. The land transactions are on paper only, with no money changing hands. This has become such accepted practice that the Chief Rabbinate, the national religious body, arranges the transactions and issues deeds of sale. But for ultra-Orthodox Jews, who don’t recognize the secular state or the Chief Rabbinate, this compromise has always been second best. Last month, a leading Jerusalem rabbi announced that enough was enough. Israel now has the economic strength to end the “deed-of-sale” fiction and observe shmita properly by importing produce. In short order, the rabbinate of Jerusalem declared that any restaurant, hotel, or grocery store selling vegetables and fruit from Israel would lose its kosher license – a serious economic threat since most religious Jews won’t eat food that doesn’t adhere to kosher dietary laws.”

11. Ibid.

12. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved September 13, 2008 , from Dictionary.com website. www.dictionary.com entry for “sabbatical”:

  1. Also called sabbatical leave. (in a school, college, university, etc.) a year, usually every seventh, of release from normal teaching duties granted to a professor, as for study or travel.
  2. Chiefly Biblical. a year long period to be observed by Jews once every seven years, during which the fields were to be left untilled and all agricultural labors were to be suspended.

13. Journal of Discourses Volume 3, page 57. (July 13, 1855).

14. Davis Bitton and Linda P.Wilcox, “Pestiferous Ironclads: The Grasshopper Problem in Pioneer Utah,” Utah Historical Quarterly , Vol. 46, No. 4.

“One of the most dramatic and famous moments in Mormon history occurred in 1848 when the first crop in Utah was threatened by a plague of crickets. …. Not so well known are the other attacks by crickets and far more frequent attacks by grasshoppers. Over and over again these insect invasions threatened the crops of the Mormons.”

“Often the first approach of the grasshoppers was signaled when swarms of them appeared in the air overhead—-an awesome sight. Settlers described them as looking like a ‘heavy snowstorm’ or snowflakes and so numerous as to cover the sky and darken the sun. The Deseret News reported one massive appearance in which ‘the grasshoppers filled the sky for three miles deep, or as far as they could be seen without the aid of telescopes, and somewhat resembling a snow storm.'”

“Grasshoppers, rather than the more famous crickets, caused most of the insect damage in pioneer Utah . Crickets were hardly noticeable in Utah after 1850, making only minor appearances (as far as is known) in 1855, 1860, and 1864-66. The real villain was the Rocky Mountain locust, a common type of grasshopper responsible for widespread damage in the western and southern states as well as in Utah . In its infant form the Rocky Mountain locust can only hop, but after four or five moltings, when it is capable of sustained flight, it can appear in swarms and darken the sky in a frightening way. Such locust flights occurred in the 1860s and 1870S in the Plains states as well as in Utah .”

15. The Journal of Discourses Volume 1 begins with a talk by Brigham Young given in the tabernacle on January 16, 1853. I am not aware of any record of these early discourses of Brigham Young referred to by Heber C. Kimball.

16. As another interesting fact, according to the standard Jewish calculations, the year 1853-54 was the Jewish year 5614 which is evenly divisible by 7, and therefore a traditional Sabbath year.

 

1855

1856

Wheat

3,998 bu.

17,079 bu.

Corn

1,902

3,173

Barley

104

413

Oats

568

1,733

17. Bitton, op. cit : “Indications of damage in certain years include the produce turned in to the LDS church as tithing. Here are some comparisons between crops produced in 1855, the great grasshopper invasion, and the following year [see table]. Clearly, for certain crops, especially grain, the grasshoppers in 1855 had been devastating. Three or four times as much wheat and oats came into the tithing office in 1856. It is unlikely that increased land under cultivation accounted for more than a 10 percent increase.”

18. Ibid. : It is very interesting to note that this year referred to by President Heber C. Kimball to teach a lesson about keeping the Sabbath year principles is known in pioneer history as “the great grasshopper invasion” and was unequaled in the early history of the Salt Lake valley.

19. William G. Hartley, “Handcart Companies,” Utah History Encyclopedia, available online: “… between 1856 and 1860 nearly 3,000 Latter-day Saint emigrants joined ten handcart companies—-about 650 handcarts total—-and walked to Utah from Iowa City, Iowa, (a distance of 1,300 miles) or from Florence, Nebraska (1,030 miles). This was, according to historian LeRoy Hafen, ‘the most remarkable travel experiment in the history of Western America .'”

20. L. Tom Perry, “A Year of Jubilee,” Ensign , November 1999, p. 75-77.

21. Lynn Arave, “LDS stress storage, savings,” Deseret News , February 20, 2002, internet edition. Go to Deseret News Archive. Search on this title for 2002 year and the article will be retrieved. The contents of the letter from the First Presidency is quoted in this article as follows:

“Priesthood and Relief Society leaders should teach the importance of home storage and securing a financial reserve. These principles may be taught in ward councils or on a fifth Sunday in priesthood and Relief Society meetings.

“Church members can begin their home storage by storing the basic foods that would be required to keep them alive if they did not have anything else to eat. Depending on where members live, those basics might include water, wheat or other grains, legumes, salt, honey or sugar, powdered milk, and cooking oil. …

“When members have stored enough of these essentials to meet the needs of their family for one year, they may decide to add other items that they are accustomed to using day to day.

“Some members do not have the money or space for such storage, and some are prohibited by law from storing a year’s supply of food. These members should store as much as their circumstances allow. Families who do not have the resources to acquire a year’s supply can begin their storage by obtaining supplies to last for a few months. Members should be prudent and not panic or go to extremes in this effort. Through careful planning, most church members can, over time, establish both a financial reserve and a year’s supply of essentials.”

Lynn Arave then adds: “The letter also lists on its reverse side the suggested amounts of basic foods in home storage, for one person for one year, though they may vary according to location. For example, it suggests 400 pounds of grain per adult; 60 pounds of legumes–beans, split peas or lentils, etc.; 16 pounds of powered milk; 10 quarts of cooking oil; 60 pounds of sugar or honey; eight pounds of salt; and 14 gallons (a two-week supply) of water.”

22. “Essentials of Home Production and Storage,” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Booklet, 1978, p. 6.

“Elder Harold B. Lee, in a welfare agricultural meeting on 1 October, 1966 said: ‘We have never laid down an exact formula for what anybody should store … Perhaps if we think not in terms of a year’s supply of what we ordinarily would use, and think more in terms of what it would take to keep us alive in case we didn’t have anything else to eat, that last would be very easy to put in storage for a year. … If you think in terms of that kind of annual storage rather than a whole year’s supply of everything that you are accustomed to eat which, in most cases, is utterly impossible for the average family, I think we will come nearer to what President Clark advised us way back in 1937.'”

23. “All is Safely Gathered In-Family Home Storage,” Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Pamphlet, 2007.

“Our Heavenly Father created this beautiful earth, with all its abundance, for our benefit and use. His purpose is to provide for our needs as we walk in faith and obedience. He has lovingly commanded us to “prepare every needful thing” (see D&C 109:8) so that, should adversity come, we can care for ourselves and our neighbors and support bishops as they care for others. We encourage members world-wide to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings. We ask that you be wise as you store food and water and build your savings. Do not go to extremes; it is not prudent, for example, to go into debt to establish your food storage all at once. With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve. -The First Presidency”

Author’s note: It is interesting that this strong reemphasis by the prophets on the basics of food storage as opposed to the food that we normally eat helps to balance the advise to store a year’s supply of food with the advise to save a financial reserve and stay out of debt. The cost in 2002 of this basic year’s supply for one person is estimated as low as $158 (wheat $72, beans $25, milk $21, cooking oil $12, sugar $23, salt $5) not including the cost of storage cans or buckets. In 2008, the basic recommendation of 300 pounds of wheat (grains) and 60 pounds of beans (legumes) is estimated as low as $160 (wheat $120 and beans $40).

The higher food prices of 2008 are lessened by a lower recommendation of grain per person and dropping the milk, cooking oil, sugar and salt from the long term supply list. Certainly some of these missing items will need to be included in the three-month’s supply of food we normally enjoy eating. However, the blessings for being obedient and having a year’s supply of very basic foods can be achieved by families of very modest means. Like tithing, the modest recommendations for a basic year’s supply can be measured whereas other areas of faithfulness may be more difficult to quantify. These highly desirable blessings were described by President Ezra Taft Benson as involving the very survival of ourselves and our families: “The revelation to produce and store food may be as essential to our temporal welfar today as boarding the ark was ot the people in the days of Noah.” (Ensign, May 1988, p. 85)

See also: Richard P. Halverson, “Food Storage versus Financial Savings: It Really Shouldn’t be Either/Or,Meridian Magazine, March 22, 2002.

24. Gordon B. Hinckley, “This Thing was not Done in a Corner,” Ensign, November, 1996, p. 50.

25. Spencer W. Kimball, “Welfare Services: The Gospel in Action,” Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 78.