In 2 Chronicles 36:21 it says that “70 years this place will be a wasteland and so the earth will have its Sabbath rest.”  What does this mean?  If 70 years represents the Sabbath, then is it significant that this is 1/7 part of the 490 years? Does this figure in the Bible?  Is it more like the life of the Jews in Egypt, thatt is mentioned in the Chronicles?


This prophecy agrees with Jeremiah’s prophecies in Jeremiah 25:8-11, Jeremiah 29:10 that the people would be in captivity for 70 years. During these 70 years Canaan–especially Judea–remained virtually unoccupied.  It was after the returns in 536 and 520 BC that the Jews came back in and occupied the land which had remained fallow for approximately seventy years.    Is this symbolic as 1/7th of 490 years (Daniel 9:24–the 490 years between the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem and the Messiah coming to Jerusalem which was fulfilled literally)?  That is interesting speculation.   All I can say about that is that the time of captivity and of the depopulation of Judea was literally 70 years and the time between the decree of Artaxerxes (458 BC) and the death of Jesus was literally almost exactly 490 years.   God uses the number seven and multiples of seven in interesting ways throughout the Bible.  I say that this is clear evidence of God’s predestination, of his sovereignty and of the inspiration of the Bible.  Whether there is a symbolic relationship between his use of a multiple of seven for the Sabbath rest of the promised land and the 490 years before the Messiah came to Israel I cannot say.  My guess is that, in both cases, God used a multiple of seven to show his power and his sovereign will and to show that he is in control, but more likely than not there is no direct connection between the two, but rather the two have in common the number seven because God uses the number seven both symbolically and literally in many cases.

John Oakes

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