The Year of Jubilee in Scripture

In our continuing series on the Year of Jubilee, today we will look or try to identify other parts of Scripture that show the year of Jubilee actually being observed. Since there is some modern controversy about this special year, we also need to examine if  there is other Scriptural support for this Jubilee year occurring. Maybe it was a one time thing for the Israelites? Or maybe after they got into the promised land, it was no longer needed? So, the point is we may not find any passages on the actual observation but because it happened, the authors/Author decided it did not need to be included because it wasn’t the important emphasis of that piece of Scripture. Part of today is to look at other parts of the Bible that makes reference to the Jubilee to show possible observance. This also helps us see the great redeeming freedom found only in Christ 

The Year of Jubilee in Scripture

As mentioned previously, there are no biblical references that support the Year of Jubilee ever being observed, but there are several references throughout the Bible that make mention of the Year of Jubilee. In the original context (Lev 25), the Jubilee proclamation refers to the restoration of property and persons as well as giving the land rest. Later references refer especially to the restoration of property and persons.[1]

In Jeremiah 34, a command is issued for the release of Hebrew slaves, but is ultimately disobeyed. In Ezekiel 46, there is a reference to the continued practice in the Jubilee laws in the restored or idealized Israel. In this case, when the “prince” gives some of his lands to his servants, the land is returned in the Year of Jubilee. Finally, in Isaiah 61, God’s anointed one proclaims “liberty” as part of the restoration of Israel. Here, the release is specifically related to captive persons and seems to point forward to God’s permanent restoration of His people and covenant.[2] Bergsma argues that in its Old Testament development, the Jubilee, which was originally a legal stipulation, took on an eschatological/messianic significance.[3] The legal/economic significance of the Jubilee in Leviticus 25 certainly has an eschatological flavor in Isaiah 61 and perhaps Ezekiel 46.[4]

Because Isaiah 61 is linked to Jubilee, then it is likely that Luke’s emphasis on liberty in Luke 4 has a similar connection to the Jubilee. “The main feature of Jesus’ fulfillment of the Jubilee in Luke 4 is the proclamation of liberty, which in Luke-Acts probably refers mainly to forgiven sin and secondarily to release from physical/economic oppression.”[5] The claims that Jesus makes about fulfilling the role as the Messiah connect His role as the Redeemer to God’s people by offering forgiveness of debts and a restored relationship with Yahweh.

[1] Christopher Bruno, “Jesus is Our Jubilee,” 94.

[2] Ibid.

[3] John Sietze Bergsma, “The Jubilee from Leviticus to Qumran: A History of Interpretation,” VTSup 115 (Leiden: Brill, 2007), 2-3.

[4] Christopher Bruno, “Jesus is Our Jubilee,” 94.

[5] Ibid, 98.

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