In addition, you must count off seven Sabbath years, seven sets of seven years, adding up to forty-nine years in all. Then on the Day of Atonement in the fiftieth year, blow the ram’s horn loud and long throughout the land. Set this year apart as holy, a time to proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live there. It will be a jubilee year for you, when each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors and return to your own clan. This fiftieth year will be a jubilee for you. During that year you must not plant your fields or store away any of the crops that grow on their own, and don’t gather the grapes from your unpruned vines. It will be a jubilee year for you, and you must keep it holy. But you may eat whatever the land produces on its own. In the Year of Jubilee each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors. (Leviticus 25:8-13, NLT)
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Two things … first, I realize this post has a similar theme to the last one, but the topic is so rich it just deserves more thought. Second, I’m writing this on the Thanksgiving holiday, so I’m already feeling reflective about what God has provided. That being said, I’ve actually thought about this idea of the Year of Jubilee for quite some time. I’ve even thought about seeking out a rabbi so I could get a more traditional Jewish perspective on this most special of celebrations set down in the Law. But my ultimate goal in looking at it is to determine why, outside of the original decree in Leviticus 25, we don’t read about the Year of Jubilee in Scriptures. I have a thought on that as well. I’m not sure Israel ever got into the habit of celebrating the Jubilee.
If this is the case, it certainly explains a lot to me. When God prescribed the various feasts and celebrations, each one was a symbol of some aspect of His personality and love. They found forgiveness in the Day of Atonement. They saw his purity in the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They saw renewal in the celebration of the new year. And they experienced rest in the Sabbath year. But all of these pointed not only to God, but to that fiftieth year when they were to celebrate the Year of Jubilee. Debts (specifically those tied to land and servitude) were to be cancelled. People returned to their ancestral homes. It was more than just a Sabbath rest … it was a picture of the ultimate renewal God would provide through Messiah. Israel would not always wander, nor would they continue to be oppressed and enslaved. God would grant a permanent Jubilee some day.
As was the case in so many ways, I suspect they lost sight of the Jubilee and of the magnificent, renewing grace God gives. While living their daily lives, downtrodden and beat up, the very idea of a Jubilee must have seemed foreign. And then, of course, there was the constant wandering and rebellion. If you look at their history, it shouldn’t be a surprise if they never celebrated a Jubilee. I’m not sure they had fifty uninterrupted years of focusing on God and His Law. Too many times, they chose to proceed on their own, and the price they paid was high indeed.
Then again, I can’t say my vision is all that clear either. I get sidetracked just like Israel, and I forget what it is really all about. Sometimes, the Crooked Path gets too long, too tedious, and too painful for me. At those times, if I am not careful, Satan creeps in to steal my joy and my thoughts of the Jubilee get dulled. I start to view this world as a permanent home, and I’m not happy about the state of affairs. And I lose heart when I forget that Jesus is the incarnation of the Year of Jubilee (thank you, Michael Card).
But God hasn’t lost heart. His vision and His character are constant. He has provided Jesus as my Jubilee. He will grant me His vision and His purpose so I may rise back up and see the Hope He has provided. He will, in that final Jubilee, release all my bonds, remove (not just forgive) my debts and my mortal failings, and He will renew everything in one final act of love. Eden will be restored, and the Jubilee won’t last just a year. It will be last an eternity. The Crooked Path I walk ends at the gates of the Kingdom. On this day above all days, that is something to be thankful for. I’ll say it again … Jesus is my Jubilee!
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- Have you lost your vision of the Jubilee? What might it take for you to regain it and see what God is doing and what He has promised?
- Is your vision of the Jubilee a private one, or a public one? Can people around you see the Joy of God in all you do? What do you suppose would happen if they did?
- Are you thankful today? Can you honestly pray “Thank you Jesus for everything” and mean it? Are you ready to let Him be your Jubilee?
NLT – Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.