We see another instance of the constancy of God’s word in the intertextual links of the seventy years prophecies:
“Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.” – Exodus 23:10-11 (cf. Lev. 25:3-5).
The seventy years captivity was an in-part fulfilment of the “fallow year” requirement:
And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years. – 2 Chronicles 36:20-21.
Speaking of Jeremiah, this was what he said:
And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,’ says the LORD; ‘and I will make it a perpetual desolation. – Jeremiah 25:11-12. (cf. Jer. 29:10).
And this in turn is what provoked Daniel to pray in Daniel 9:2.
I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of the years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.
If God’s actions did not follow His words Daniel could not have been certain about the seventy years’ coming to an end. Here we are reminded that faith must have something clear and constant to hold on to; it cannot cling to shadows and allegories by definition (Heb. 11:6). Additionally, even though the judgment was a long time coming, the seventy year rest for the land was the accumulation of its neglected sabbaths over the centuries (cf. Lev. 26:34-35). .
We may not consider it to be a significant example of God’s actions corresponding to those of His words, but Judges 7:7 should not be ignored:
“Then the LORD said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.”
Under God’s instruction Gideon had whittled down a force of 32,000 men to just 300. God declared that those 300 men would do the job of defeating the Midianite army; which they did.
A Few New Testament Examples
I shall only provide a few examples from the NT of this same phenomenon. Again, all I am doing is calling attention to a basic truth about God that is overlooked by so many bible teachers. We shall look at the angelic message to the shepherds:
For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. – Luke 2:11-12.
The angels said more than this, but for my purposes I only need to highlight the directions they gave to the Christ-child. After the experience they returned to their charges.
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. – Luke 2:20.
It is needless to itemize the various elements of the Gospel: the virgin birth, incarnation, crucifixion, substitutionary death, resurrection, and ascension. They all are to be believed for what they are; literally.
In the annunciation story to Zacharias (Lk. 1:5-25) the angel Gabriel tells him that he would be mute because he questioned the very words he was told (Lk. 1:20), which once more underlines that what God says He will do He will do.
I could reproduce a long list of examples, but this final one is perhaps my favorite:
Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?” – John 21:20-23.
Notice that what Jesus actually said about Peter in verse 22 is misunderstood by the disciples but restated exactly the same way in verse 23. The lesson is clear in all of this; God actions will comport with His words. Faith requires nothing less than that. It may be too mundane for many students to notice, but it is the most basic lesson in biblical hermeneutics.