Seven Times Punishment

LEVITICUS 26:18-28 mentions a “seven times punishment” for Israel in case of disobedience. This is commonly, and not only by supporters of the National Israel message, interpreted as a period of seven times 360 years. Critics claim that “seven times” has nothing to do with periods of times, but is one of repeat or intensity and is highly symbolic.

Answer:

Before we begin, may we point out that a LOT of this mathematical study (also in the answer to point 10: "1917 and the Time of the Gentiles") has NO REAL IMPACT on the promises of National Israel/Judah at all. It IS interesting following up this biblical prophecy but, in the scheme of things, does not really show us much - save that the Lord IS IN COMPLETE CONTROL of all events and how exciting it is to see Him fulfil His Word.

What follows here is a summary of the main arguments against the seven times punishment, and answers in response to each point.

1. The seven times punishment was given for the violation of the old law. However, the old law is no longer valid, since it was fulfilled in Christ. We are no longer under the law.

2. The Hebrew word 'sheba' for 'seven times' has nothing to do with time, but is merely a multiplication factor (7x).

3. The purpose of the seven times punishment was repentance. If the Israelites wouldn't repent, another punishment would come, then another one, accumulating to four consecutive punishments. It is ridiculous to add those four punishments up (2520 + 2520 + 2520 + 2520) or multiply them (2520 x 2520 x 2520 x 2520).

4. There ARE instances in the Bible where "times" relate to a period of time (e.g. DANIEL 4:23). But then other Hebrew words are used than 'sheba' which clearly express a period of time.

5. The seven times multiplication means an increase in intensity. The symbolism of seven is well known

1. "The seven times punishment was given for the violation of the old law. However, the old law is no longer valid, since it was fulfilled in Christ. We are no longer under the law."

We disagree with this point. We are still to obey the law, and only a small part was done away with (see EPHESIANS 2:15). Now certainly there are many different types of laws, commandments, statutes, ordinances, national laws, laws for individuals and so on, but the suggestion that the old law is no longer valid prompts us to be a bit careful... no, we are not 'under the law' but we are still expected to obey it! God has not changed... and even helps us to follow His laws (EZEKIEL 36:27). The Ten Commandments are still valid today - however, we do not need to go and sacrifice a lamb.

The law SHOWS US OUR GUILT BEFORE GOD (ROMANS 3:19), it BRINGS US TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN (ROMANS 3:20), it DEFINES SIN (ROMANS 7:7) and it brings us to Christ (GALATIANS 3:24; PSALM 49:7).

While the Word of God states that a Christian IS NOT UNDER BONDAGE TO THE LAW, yet this freedom from bondage cannot in any sense be construed as a license to violate the law. Men or nations violating these laws will find themselves subject to the operation of punitive clauses of the law and WILL SUFFER UNDER THE CURSES PRONOUNCED FOR THEIR VIOLATION.

Therefore, the first argument is not valid.

[Top of Page]

2. "The Hebrew word 'sheba' for 'seven times' has nothing to do with time, but is merely a multiplication factor (7x)

3. "The purpose of the seven times punishment was repentance. If the Israelites wouldn't repent, another punishment would come, then another one, accumulating to four consecutive punishments. It is ridiculous to add those four punishments up (2520 + 2520 + 2520 + 2520) or multiply them (2520 x 2520 x 2520 x 2520). &

4. "There ARE instances in the Bible where "times" relate to a period of time (e.g. Daniel 4:23). But then other Hebrew words are used than 'sheba' which clearly express a period of time. &

5. "The seven times multiplication means an increase in intensity. The symbolism of seven is well known."

Sceptics claim that "though the bible does carry various time-line prophecies, it is seriously doubtful as to whether LEVITICUS 26 is one of them".

We agree that it is dangerous to build a doctrine the way National Israel proponents oftentimes have done in the past. The context of this chapter clearly shows that the meaning is not related to the scriptures in Revelation and Daniel.

However, the scriptures in Revelation and Daniel do not share the same flaws as LEVITIVUS 26, and the 2520 year period is still used in Scripture.

Another time period that has a prophetic meaning is the "time, times and a half" timeline of 3.5 x 360 = 1260 years (For those NOT FAMILIAR with this pattern, take a brief look at REVELATION 12:6,14 as an example and you'll follow). This one is REPEATEDLY USED IN THE BIBLE and, HERE IS THE ANSWER, 2520 YEARS ARE MERELY A MULTIPLE OF 1260 YEARS!! So if we accept the 1260 years OF COURSE we must accept a timeline of 2 x 1260 years as well. It's a "time unit", and 2520 years would be nothing more than two of these units.

Sceptics claim that: "the expression ‘seven’ is used in its Hebraic form denoting the concept of 'perfection'". Well, WHY SHOULD GOD NOT ALSO USE SEVEN "time" units AS WELL AS THE ODD 3.5, meaning that seven times MAY WELL HAVE A VERY SPECIAL MEANING RELATED TO GOD'S PERFECT PLANNING OF HISTORY and the course of world events? There is a lot to these 2520 year periods. Also, the scripture referred to in DANIEL 4 (see Question 4) actually IS the scriptural proof that the 2520 year periods are in use by the Creator: "And SEVEN TIMES (2520 years) shall pass over thee" (repeated four times, see DANIEL 4:16,23,25,32). So if God used this time frame to punish Babylon, maybe we should be open for Him to use the SAME MEASURE ELSEWHERE, and maybe also for punishment.

Examining the Hebrew of these verses, it is clear that there is no word for "time" to be found here and that there is no clear link to the other scriptures in Daniel and Revelation where this word is present. Also the word 'sheba' has the meaning of intensifying or simple repetition everywhere else in Scripture.

However, based on the scriptures in Revelation and the one in DANIEL 4 (quoted above), we would STILL SUGGEST that we have two witnesses here showing that God USES THESE PERIODS to distinguish between a time of punishment and a time of blessing.

Please see more on this subject in article 10 "1917 and the Time of the Gentiles".

Further Reading

  1. Rand. H., Digest of the Divine Law, Destiny Publishers, Merrimac, Mass., 1982
  2. Comfort. R., Hells Best Kept Secret, Whittaker House, New Kensington, PA,1989

[Top of Page]