How does the Jubilee apply to modern believers?

So what you may ask about this year of Jubilee? What is the point of it now that Christians are under the Messianic covenant. How does this apply to me? Hopefully, in today’s post we will be able to answer these questions. The Jubilee reminds us of the great gift and work of Christ. Through studying the year of Jubilee, we can hopefully be more appreciative about Christ and what He has freed us from and done.

Application for Modern Believers

The Jubilee is fulfilled in Jesus as He forgives our debts, restores the relationship between God and His people, provides freedom from sin, and rest to all believers. Jesus’ ministry included other aspects of the Jubilee such as physical and economic relief, but the greater comparison between Christ and the Jubilee is found in Christ offering the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation of the relationship between God, his people and the world.[1]

An important facet of Jubilee is that of rest. God designed and instructed His children to rest by building an important “rhythm” of Sabbaths into the individual and community lives of Israel every seventh day (Lev 23:3), every seventh year – the Sabbath Year (Lev 25:3-4), and every fiftieth year – the Jubilee (Lev 25:8-17).[2] This rhythm of regular and repeated restful experiences was intended by God for Israel to receive His refreshment and provisions so that they would not trust in their own efforts for tomorrow’s needs or the next generation’s material security.[3] If the Israelites obeyed God’s Sabbaths He promised them blessings (Deut 15:4-6), but if they ignored them He promised them curses (Deut 28:15-68).[4] This was a discipline built by God to lay aside one’s own work and efforts and lay hold of faith in the Almighty Provider.

As Jesus is the fulfillment of the Sabbath, He is both Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5) and is Himself our Sabbath rest (Matt 11:28). As Christians are part of the new covenant, they are no longer required to keep the Old Testament Sabbath laws (Acts 15:28-29). This does not mean Christians are not to rest, but it does mean believers rest from trying to attain holiness and acceptance through keeping the requirements of the law that only Jesus himself was able to meet. The Christian’s rest is more profound because they are to trust and believe in the work of Christ, which is a form of resting in His promises, not producing works (John 6:29).[5] All that the Christian is to do is to proceed from the rest of faith, otherwise “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom 14:23). “We are no longer in bondage, no longer slaves to sin, having been freed by Christ, and we can truly enter the rest God provides as we cease laboring to make ourselves acceptable to God by our own works (Heb 4:9-10).”[6] This does not mean a lifestyle of laziness since the Christian is to do all things for the glory of the Father (1 Cor 10:31), but it means that Christians are to rest in Christ and take regular intervals of resting from work activities for refreshment, reflection, and renewal.

“The Jubilee presents a beautiful picture of the New Testament themes of redemption and forgiveness. Christ is the Redeemer who came to set free those who are slaves and prisoners to sin (Rom 8:2; Gal 5:1; 3:22). The debt of sin we owe to God was paid on the cross as Jesus died on our behalf (Col 2:13-14), and we are forgiven the debt forever.”[7] As the slaves who were sold were redeemed and allowed to return to their families during Jubilee, so this reminds Christians of Christ’s redemption from the slavery of sin and evil, and the believer’s restoration to “the glorious liberty of the children of God.”[8] While some speculate the year Christ died was a Year of Jubilee and the last ever kept, we can be sure that whoever the Son sets free, is free indeed (John 8:36).

Jesus Christ, assuming a human nature, became the kinsman redeemer by redeeming the inheritance which all by sin had forfeited and alienated, and made a new covenant with all those who by faith became allied to Him.[9] As people under this new covenant, God promises Christians that if they surrender to Him and put His will first, He will provide for all of their needs (Matt 6:25-33).

[1] Christopher Bruno, “Jesus is Our Jubilee,” 100.

[2] Jon Bloom, “Lay Aside the Weight of Restless Work,” Desiring God, 2013, accessed 23 November 2014, http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/lay-aside-the-weight-of-restless-work.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Matthew Henry, “Leviticus 25,” Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994), 181.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid, 182.

[9] Ibid.

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