Jubilee = faith and freedom

A Year of Faith, Freedom, and Rejoicing

The Year of Jubilee, as described in Leviticus 25:8-55, was “the name of the great semi-centennial festival of the Hebrews,” that lasted for a year.[1] It occurred every fiftieth year at the end of seven sabbatical cycles of seven years each; on this Day of Atonement, Israel was to declare a Year of Jubilee. The year began on the Day of Atonement “. . . to show that it was only with the full forgiveness of sins that the blessed liberty of the children of God could possibly commence.”[2] “The Year of Jubilee did for the land what the Day of Atonement did for the people. This year removed the disturbance or confusion of God’s will for the land that resulted from the activity of sinners eventually.”[3] It was to be proclaimed with the blowing of a trumpet made from a ram’s horn.[4] The use of the ram’s horn is significant because with the horn “God announced His descent on Mt. Sinai, called Israel to be His people, received them into His covenant, united them to Himself, and began to bless them (Exod. 19:13, 16, 19; 20:18).”[5]  The word “Jubilee” probably comes from the Hebrew yabal, meaning “to bring [forth],” as in the bringing forth of produce.[6] Also called the “year of liberty” (Ezek 46:17),[7] a central idea in the Year of Jubilee is of freedom or liberty, while the critical theological background is God’s deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt.[8]

“The main purpose of these laws is to prevent the utter ruin of debtors.”[9] Yet, the Jubilee law also provided remedies for slavery, poverty, and property. The Year of Jubilee presents a picture of redemption; redemption for the land, families, slaves and debts. Considered together, these elements allude to Christ redeeming the sinner and setting them free from the slavery of sin to the freedom of grace and peace that only He can offer.

[1] M.G. Easton, “Jubilee,” in Easton’s Bible Dictionary, (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893), under “J,” sec., “Jubilee,” Logos Bible Software.

[2] C.F. Keil and Franz Delitzsch, “The Pentateuch,” translated by James Martin, in Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, vol. 3, 1865, Reprint (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2011), 2:458.

[3] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus,” internet, 2014, accessed 22 November 2014, available from http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/leviticus.pdf.

[4] L. H. Schiffman, “Jubilee,” in The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, (Revised and Updated), ed. Mark Allan Powell, (New York: HarperCollins, 2011), under “J,” sec., “Jubilee,” Logos Bible Software.

[5] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus.”

[6] Robert North, Sociology of the Biblical Jubilee, (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1954), 96-97.

[7] C. Brand, et al, eds., “Festivals,” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), under “F,” sec., “Festivals”, Logos Bible Software.

[8] P.A. Barker, “Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 702.

[9] Gordon J. Wenham, “The Book of Leviticus,” in New International Commentary on the Old Testament Series, (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), 317.

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One thought on “Jubilee = faith and freedom

  1. Pingback: Jubilee = faith and freedom | morethanavisit

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