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.

God’s Provisions for his people

Today, we will look at how God provided for His people. This is a continuation of our Jubilee series. One of the things to remember of this Jubilee is not only the freedom we can experience in Christ, but how we can trust God. Jesus gives us rest by His peace that is beyond all understanding. We can experience freedom from the disfunction of our human flesh, freedom in the Spirit to live, and freedom that allows us to stand firm in the promises of God. My hope in showing this post is to be a reminder that just as God provided in the past, He will do so again. it may not be the same way, but He is worthy of trust. Let go of the worry (speaking to myself more than anyone!), experience God’s freedom today, and see how He provides.

Jubilee Provisions

Yahweh specified three main provisions for this year of joy and freedom in which the people and the land were to be sanctified. These provisions were: the land was to rest, all land was to revert back to the original owner, and finally all the Israelites who were slaves were to be set free.

Similar to the year proceeding Sabbatical and Jubilee years, God instructed the Israelites to give the land rest and trust Him to provide the sufficient resources for this year. God gives His assurance that if the Israelites remain faithful to keep His command to give the land rest, they will not lack any food. Yahweh will bless the sixth year so much that it will produce a crop sufficient enough for the next three years including the crop of the sixth year, the following year when the land is resting and a third year while the people wait for that crop to come in.[1] “The unattended growth of the field was for the poor to glean and for the beasts of the field (Ex 23:11).”[2] In a way beyond the Sabbatical Year, in the Jubilee observance God is putting his people in an even more potentially devastating situation in which they needed to trust him.[3] The directions for Israel parallels Exodus 16 where God instructs his people not to gather manna on the Sabbath and instead He provides a double supply on the sixth that will give them enough for the seventh.[4]

“The land must not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are aliens and sojourners with Me” (Lev 25:23). Yahweh owns the land and the Year of Jubilee was to remind the Israelites that the land is God’s divine gift to them.[5] The Israelites were stewards of the land, they had no right to sell it permanently. All the land was to revert back to the original owner with the original distribution of land to remain intact. This would also allow families to have their land restored to them that were forced to sell it (that had not been redeemed) by way of the Year of Jubilee. The kinship structures were to prevent the control of land leaving the original owners; however if the land was sold, it was to be sold commensurately with the number of years remaining until the Jubilee, for then it would be returned to the original owners.[6] This is, the land of promise that is sufficient for all, its bounty is to be shared and these laws for Jubilee command a concern for the landless classes.[7]

As the land belongs to God so do His people, the Israelites, and as such they cannot be held as permanent slaves. The liberation of slaves reflects the redemption of God and preserves the freedom he has given.[8] “Presumably the return of land coinciding with slave release would give freed slaves the resources to make a new start.”[9] This provision did not apply to foreign slaves, but if the Israelite were a slave to a resident alien, the right of redemption applied.[10] This law reminds the Israelites that as God redeemed them from the harsh slavery of the Egyptians (Lev 25:55), they are servants of God and all slaves should be treated generously not cruelly.

Summarily, God designed the Year of Jubilee as a way for preventing oppression on others. It was a time to start anew and discouraged excess wealth. Slaves were set free and could return to their families thus permanent slavery was rendered impossible. The Israelites were taught that they were to live by faith trusting in the sustaining power of God to satisfy all their needs. This was to be a celebration of freedom and grace because all debts were paid and God had redeemed His people. God is the Lord of land and of economics. “The Jubilee legislation found in Leviticus 25 presents a vision of social and economic reform unsurpassed in the ancient Near East.”[11] There is no clearer statement to be found that affirms the role of Israel as the blessed, yet undeserving vassal whom God had graciously brought into covenant fellowship with Himself.[12] “The cancellation of debt and restoration looks forward to the full and final redemption of the people of God.”[13]

[1] Christopher Bruno, “’Jesus is Our Jubilee’…But How? The OT Background and Lukan Fulfillment of the Ethics of Jubilee,” in JETS 53/1 (2010), 86.

[2] C. Brand, et al, eds., “Festivals.”

[3] Victor P. Hamilton, Handbook on the Pentateuch, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005), 291.

[4] Ibid.

[5] B.C. Babcock, “Jubilee, Year of.”

[6] Christopher Bruno, “Jesus is Our Jubilee”, 87.

[7] P.A. Barker, “Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee,” 702.

[8] Martin H. Manser, “Year of Jubilee.”

[9] P.A. Barker, “Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee,” 703.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Robert Gnuse, “Jubilee Legislation in Leviticus: Israel’s Vision of Social Reform,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 15:2 (1985): 43.

[12] Eugene Merrill, Everlasting Dominion: A Theology of the Old Testament, (Nashville: B & H, 2006), 373.

[13] P.A. Barker, “Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee,” 703.

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.

The Year of Jubilee: What is it?

Over the next few posts, we will be looking at the year of Jubilee. This celebration where every 50th year, there was a year of freedom, rejoicing, celebration and rest. The purpose of this is to look at the reasons for the year, why was it set up, what was its significance and how does it apply to the modern believer today. We will start with a short introduction and build upon this the next few days.

the year of Jubilee: its significance and application for today:

Let the trumpet sound! Let the people rejoice! Hear the sound of joy and gladness for Yahweh is the God of peace. Liberty has been proclaimed. This is the year of the extraordinary. The year of faith and trust in the provisions of God. A year of restoration, redemption, and rest for the people and land of God. In Leviticus 25, the Lord spoke to Moses to institute the observance and instructions for the Sabbath year (Lev 25:1-7). In the fiftieth year, God introduced a special year that followed the Sabbath year, called the Year of Jubilee. The Year of Jubilee “was a kind of imposing memorial of the sacred rest, to see slaves emancipated and become suddenly free; houses and lands returning to their former possessors who had sold them; and in fine all things assuming a new face.”[1] The Year of Jubilee was a means of regulating the value of property, reminding the Israelites that God is the true owner of the land, preserving the inheritance from God, releasing the Hebrew slaves and is the year of the Lord’s favor.[2] This extraordinary year displays the provisions and faithfulness of God in addition to His forgiveness and redemption for His chosen people.

This discussion will examine the instructions and meaning for the Year of Jubilee, why it was significant for the people of Israel and how it applies to modern day Christian. Jubilee presents the perfect picture for God’s faithfulness, His call to believer’s obedience, and the freedom and redemption He provides in Jesus Christ.

[1] John Calvin and C.W. Bingham, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 451.

[2] Martin H. Manser, “Year of Jubilee,” in Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies, (London: Martin Manser, 2009), under sec. 7482, “The Year of Jubilee,” Logos Bible Software.

Life lessons and writing them down

As I have gone through this time of heartache and uncertainty, one of the things that I haven’t done well at is what I need to be learning during this time. As I was looking through some old notes and journal entries, I came across the following lessons. I remember writing them down during a time of tribulation with health issues of my wife and financial worries. As the worries mounted, God kept working and teaching me things daily. Sometimes it seemed He was teaching me moment by moment.
God kept reminding me of so many important lessons that I needed to learn during that time. He kept giving me strength to persevere and reminders to not look at the pain or worry and focus on Him. One day at work during a meeting, I didn’t want to lose these valuable lessons. I wanted to be able to write down all that God was doing in my life. I wanted to be reminded of how God loves me and how He has a plan for me. I may not understand it or get it (or even like it), but he was teaching me so much about trusting Him in the middle of a storm. I wanted to be able to look back one day and not forget God’s faithfulness.
Guess what? I came across a file called “lessons” and with the click of a mouse, I was reminded of a hard time but how God got me through. There are definitely times where I will look back and not remember the best times or even that I got through it unscathed. There are unfortunately many occurrences in my life where if I was to look back, I would see a bunch of pain and heartache. But by the grace of God and the nudging of His Spirit will I be able to see some amount of good that came from it. The best thing is when we look back at a hard time, and while it may be full of hurt and pain, it was a time we wouldn’t trade because of how God transformed us and how close we felt to Him. It was a time that took our relationship with God to a different level. Maybe a time of hope for the future. Maybe being reminded this isn’t our home and the only thing that satisfies is Our Father. Maybe any number of reasons.
It is amazing to look back and be reminded of what God did. What was even more amazing was to be able to apply it to my current situation. As I went through each point, I was sad to think I forgot something or did the same mistakes I have done countless times before. No matter how much I want to change, why oh why do I feel like I stay the same.
As I read these, God quickly reminded me to take my eyes off of pain and turn to Him. He reminded me that this is a time of growth. I don’t know what He is teaching me. I don’t know what I am to learn. But I know this, I will start a practice and encourage you as well to try and write down someplace whether in a journal or on a computer or a phone, just what God is doing in our lives. What He is teaching me and what I need to learn and do better at. Sometimes, I feel God is being silent, but maybe just maybe I need to do better at being silent and listening to His whispers. It isn’t easy, but I need to be a better listener (and learner).
I didn’t change these lessons but how funny it is that they still apply.

Lessons over the past week
1. Wait on the Lord
2. God know what you need and will give it to you when He says it is right
3. He has plans to prosper you, it may just not be your way
4. You are greedy, don’t be. Worship God alone and lust after Him
5. Don’t seek the things of this world, its satisfaction, desires. Seek the Lord first and only, live righteously and He will give you everything you need.
6. Surrender. Don’t just say it, live it. All for God, not just some of your life. He is worthy of it all
7. He knows every detail of your life, surrender control. Don’t try to control God or a situation; it will only make things worse. Don’t try to manipulate a situation, let God be God
8. God is with you, even when you do not feel Him or sense Him, He is near and with you in this
9. This is a time of transformation, give it to God. Let him transform you, refine you, purify you. Let him redeem you. God, I pray that you would pour yourself into this time and transform me into the man you want me to be
10. This is a time of processing. Don’t be so fixed on the end that you miss the journey and adventure, let God work.
11. Surrender this time to God, give it to Him and He will help you, transform you. Don’t waste this time. God can take this harm and make good come from it
12. Focus your gaze on Jesus. Amidst the storm and chaos, focus only on God.
13. Remember who God is. Focus on who He is. Remember what He has done, remember He is your hope, remember all He can do, but most of all remember who He is. Don’t focus on what or how or when but on who
14. Faith in God. Don’t trust a big company or what analyst/doctors/people are saying. Trust in the Lord. Don’t let your decisions be guided by emotion, trust in the Lord and trust in Jesus
15. Think long. Long term goals. Life is a journey, enjoy it, and learn from God. You can’t go to millionaire overnight or an apostle, let God prepare you and teach you
16. Don’t be consumed with money, be consumed with God and his plan
17. Look to invest in people and ministries. Money and food will spoil and rot away, but faith in God never will.
18. Sometimes we have to take the long way. Sometimes it is about going the long way instead of taking the shortcut. You may go up a mountain and make wrong turns, wondering why God is letting you do this or why it seems like you have been wandering around aimlessly, but there is a purpose. You will get to the top. You will see the oasis that awaits, but as you take the wrong turns and make mistakes, learn from them. Grow from them. Keep trusting God and His plan. There is a reason to it all. Grow in the journey
19. Be heaven minded. Stop focusing on worldly things and being earthly minded. Focus on God, what matters and the reward of growing closer to Him. Thank you Father for this time of growth. It has been hard and painful and stressful, but thank you for showing me what is important and what I need to do. God help me follow through and learn.
20. Obedience. No matter how tough, no matter if you can’t see where it is going or what is going to happen, be obedient. Obedience to God is more important than anything. Trust Him that he will provide. Trust Him, simply trust and be obedient.

Cling to Truth

​Over these past few days, I have had to remind myself of several truths to cling to. It is never easy for me in the midst of a storm to remember the calming truths that God has given to us. No matter how much God has done for me in the past, I easily forget His faithfulness.
A few months ago, while my wife Rachel was going through her health issues, there was another family member going through severe health issues as well. During that dark time of uncertainty, I would read and remember a few verses of God’s power and strength. They became such a battle cry for me. As I read those words and promises, God overwhelmed me with His peace. It wasn’t easy to go through but God used these passages to teach me… and to remind me that He was indeed near me.
As the storm calmed down and health returned, I wrote down those verses that had reverberated through my mind those few weeks and months. I didn’t want to forget them. I didn’t want to forget their power, the comfort and help that God provided to me through those words.
As time moved on, my mind moved away from those important verses. My mind began thinking of things that were unimportant. As life moved on, those important truths seemed like they moved further away. My mind began forgetting those powerful words, those powerful truths that I had clung to just a short while ago. The verses that I could recite, the truths that comforted my aching, pleading heart had been pushed out of the way by worthless things of this world.
During this time, God still taught me. He still reminded me of different things about Him. He still used His amazing Word to teach and inspire me. But as time went by, satan clouded my mind and I easily forget God’s blessings and answers to prayers.
I think there are times in our life where we hold to certain verses or cling to a part of a sermon that really touched us, but it amazes me how quickly I can forget those things. Over these past few weeks as I still struggle with family health issues and possible implications, I have been reminded of how impactful those truths were and how I need to cling to them in this dire moment. Over the past few weeks, Ephesians 3:20 has just gone through my mind over and over and I can’t even tell you how many times I have prayed it. It also seems to keep appearing in my life through listening to the radio. The verse reads, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”.
I very much want to cling to this truth and many more, but why oh why do I let worry and anxiety creep in and take my eyes off of the goodness of God. I struggle and struggle and struggle, yet God meets me where I am and is guiding me back. During the initial health scares, I wrote down all these verses and saved it on my computer at work. Finally, the other day I looked for them… and found them. As I read, I was reminded of God’s provision. I was holding on to each truth. I started to pray each one. One by one I read and was strengthened.
I am thankful that I have that document to look back on, but oh how I need to remember them in my heart. To not just say them, to not just have them in my memory, but to cling to the One they point to. The One that strengthens, comforts and sustains. The devil will attack and deter me, but God will lead me. And thankfully He will always lead me back to Him.
A few months ago, there was an “inspiring word” from a pastor on a radio station that dealt with the issue of trust. It compared us to trusting our GPS. When we go somewhere, we blindly trust our GPS to take us to where we need to go. When it tells us to turn we turn and if we miss that turn it recalculates and tells us what to do next. Often times we like to argue and wrestle with God about where He is leading us. We try to go our own route. Even though we have no idea where we are going or what is next, we try to decide when we turn. Unfortunately, we get off track more times then not. I need to do better at trusting His leading, His turns, His directions instead of arguing with Him. I must trust His leading and pray Oh Lord for your help to trust even if it leads me right into the storm.