The Modern Believer and the application of the Jubilee

Today, we finish our year of Jubilee research series by looking at the implications of this festival for the modern evangelical. It is a way to summarize what we have talked about and apply those principles for our daily living. In Christ we are free. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. This glimpse at an Old Testament festival provides many practical applications for us and how Christ and His work is a fulfillment of the Messiah.

  • In light of the biblical data, it seems that a general principle for applying the “Jubilee” is that the further we move away from the emphasis on forgiven sin and the restoration of the relationship between God and his people found in the NT, the less faithful we are to the meaning of Jesus’ Jubilee fulfillment.[1]
  • Furthermore, both the Roman Catholic Church and Protestants have all too often failed to proclaim Jubilee in the way that the NT teaches: striving for an economic and social justice that points to the reality of forgiven sin and the reconciliation of God, his people, and the world.
  • But God also designed and instructed us to rest. In fact, God considered it so important that his people rest that he built a rhythm of Sabbaths into the individual and corporate lives of Old Covenant Israel every seventh day (Leviticus 23:3), every seventh year (Leviticus 25:3–4), and every fiftieth year — the Jubilee (Leviticus 25:8–17).
    • This rhythm was intended by God to give his people regular and repeated experiences of receiving from him refreshment and provision so that they would not trust wholly in their own labors either for tomorrow’s survival or the next generation’s material security. It was a built-in spiritual discipline of laying aside works and laying hold of faith. If they observed his Sabbaths he promised them blessing (Deuteronomy 15:4–6), if they ignored them he promised them curses (Deuteronomy 28:15–68).
    • As New Covenant Israel, we now know that the fulfillment of the Sabbath is Jesus, who is both Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5) and himself our Sabbath rest (Matthew 11:28). We are no longer required to keep the Old Testament Sabbath laws (Acts 15:28–29).
    • But this does not mean that we are not to rest. It means that our rest is even more profound. We rest from trying to attain holiness and God’s acceptance through keeping the requirements of the law by trusting that Jesus kept all the requirements of the law for us (Romans 8:3–5). In fact, Jesus stressed that our most important work is to believe him — a form of resting in his promises — not producing a lot of stuff for him (John 6:29). All our productivity is to flow from the rest of faith, otherwise it’s just sin (Romans 14:23).
    • But this more profound rest still must include rhythms of ceasing from work activities for the purpose of refreshment, reflection, renewal, and recalibration. [2]
  • General Implications
    • Give generously
    • Trust
    • Faith
    • Obedience
    • redemption
    • God is the Provider
    • All we have we owe to God
    • Freedom in Christ
  • Certainly there is a Biblical basis for voluntary debt forgiveness. But there is a significant difference between a debt that is paid and the mandatory forgiveness of debt.  Jubilee is clearly an example of the former and not the latter.  Jubilee is not a celebration of forgiveness of debt but of freedom from debt now paid.
  • 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 (Romans 8:2; Galatians 5:1; 3:22). The debt of sin we owe to God was paid on the cross as Jesus died on our behalf (Colossians 2:13-14), and we are forgiven the debt forever. 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 (Hebrews 4:9-10).
  • This year of rest typified the spiritual rest which all believers enter into through Christ, our true Noah, who giveth us comfort and rest concerning our work, and the toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed, Gen. 5:29. Through him we are eased of the burden of worldly care and labour, both being sanctified and sweetened to us, and we are enabled and encouraged to live by faith. And, as the fruits of this sabbath of the land were enjoyed in common, so the salvation wrought out by Christ is a common salvation; and this sabbatical year seems to have been revived in the Christian church, when the believers had all things common, Acts 2:44.[3]
  • Those that were sold into other families thereby became strangers to their own; but in this year of redemption they were to return. This was typical of our redemption by Christ from the slavery of sin and Satan, and our restoration to the glorious liberty of the children of God. Some compute that the very year in which Christ died was a year of jubilee, and the last that ever was kept. But, however that be, we are sure it is the Son that makes us free, and then we are free indeed.[4]
  • his next kinsman might (v. 25): The redeemer thereof, he that is near unto him, shall come and shall redeem, so it might be read. The kinsman is called Goel, the redeemer (Num. 5:8; Ruth 3:9), to whom belonged the right of redeeming the land. And this typified Christ, who assumed our nature, that he might be our kinsman, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, and, being the only kinsman we have that is able to do it, to him belonged the right of redemption. As for all our other kinsmen, their shoe must be plucked off (Ruth 4:6, 7); they cannot redeem. But Christ can and hath redeemed the inheritance which we by sin had forfeited and alienated, and made a new settlement of it upon all that by faith become allied to him.[5]
  • This typified our redemption from the service of sin and Satan by the grace of God in Christ, whose truth makes us free, Jn. 7:32. The Jewish writers say that, for ten days before the jubilee-trumpet sounded, the servants that were to be discharged by it did express their great joy by feasting, and wearing garlands on their heads: it is therefore called the joyful sound, Ps. 89:15. And we are thus to rejoice in the liberty we have by Christ.[6]

[1] Chris Bruno, 100.

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

[3] Henry, M. (1994). “Leviticus 25:1-7” Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (pp. 181–182). Peabody: Hendrickson.

[4] Henry, M. (1994). “Leviticus 25:8-22,” Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 182). Peabody: Hendrickson.

[5] Henry, M. (1994). “Leviticus 25:23-38,” Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 182). Peabody: Hendrickson.

[6] Henry, M. (1994). “Leviticus 25:39-55,” Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 183). Peabody: Hendrickson.

Advertisements

Biblical references for the Year of Jubilee

This is the next to last article of the Year of Jubilee research. Today’s post will focus mainly on Biblical references to this year, what else is mentioned outside of Leviticus, and are there any New Testament references to it. For the NT references, it can be seen as a fulfillment in Jesus as the Messiah and the eternal liberty that is found in Him.

  • Summary of Leviticus 25
    • Ross suggests the following as a summary of the Jubilee regulations in Leviticus 25: “The acceptance of God’s sovereignty over his people and all their possessions leads to the magnanimous and compassionate treatment of the poor and the destitute, because at the end of the age everyone will be released from bondage.”[1]
    • The Ross statement excludes the crucial component: the centrality of the covenant. The reason that Israel was to treat the poor among them with compassion was not simply out of magnanimous spirit, but as a demonstration of their loyalty to YHWH, their understanding of their own place as his redeemed people, and their trust in his care for them.[2]
    • With respect to the Jubilee, Eugene Merrill concludes, “No clearer statement could be found to affirm the role of Israel as the blessed, if undeserving, vassal whom God had graciously brought into covenant fellowship with himself.” [3]
  • Other references in OT
    • In its original context, the proclamation refers to the restoration of property and persons as well as giving the land its rest. Later references refer especially to the restoration of property and persons. 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, YHWH’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 YHWH’s permanent restoration of his people and covenant.
      • Bergsma argues that in its OT development, the Jubilee, which was originally a legal stipulation, took on an eschatological/messianic significance.[4] The legal/economic significance of the Jubilee in Leviticus 25 certainly has an eschatological flavor in Isaiah 61 and perhaps Ezekiel 46.[5]
    • Luke 4
      • Therefore, it is quite clear that in Luke’s account of this event, liberty is emphasized. Given the links to the Jubilee year in Isaiah 61, it is quite likely that Luke’s emphasis on liberty has a similar link to the Jubilee. Finally, the quotation in Luke 4 ends with the mention of the Lord’s favor and omits the parallel reference to retribution from the Lord found in Isa 61:2b. In short, the anointed one in Luke 4 is to bring good news of to the poor, blind, captives, and oppressed. [6]
      • Jesus’ claim to “fulfill” Isaiah 61 must be seen as a claim to inaugurate the eschatological Jubilee of God’s people, the time when their freedom from captivity and oppression would be permanent. Jesus stops short of mentioning both the retribution of YHWH and subsequent comfort for those who mourn in the midst of that retribution as found in Isaiah 61. Therefore, it seems that the fulfillment of the Jubilee through Jesus’ ministry was an inauguration, but not completion, of the eschatological 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. [7]
      • In the NT, the economic aspects of the Jubilee, although not altogether absent, are of a piece with the forgiveness of sin. In this way, Jesus’ claim to fulfill the Jubilee is closely connected to the eschatological reality of the Jubilee in Isaiah 61. He claimed to fulfill the role of YHWH’s anointed agent, and perhaps, in his authoritative proclamation of the year of God’s favor, claimed to fulfill the role of YHWH himself. While other aspects of Jubilee, particularly physical and economic relief, are present in the ministry of Jesus, they are pointers to a greater reality, namely, the forgiveness of sin and the restoration of the relationship between God and his people. [8]

[1] Allen P Ross, Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002) 463.

[2] Chris Bruno, 88-89

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

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

[5] Chris Bruno, 94.

[6] Chris Bruno, 97.

[7] Chris Bruno, 98.

[8] Chris Bruno, 99.

Research notes for the provisions of the year of jubilee

The continuation of the small research involved in the year of Jubilee paper. I share this in an effort to show where the paper was formed, some influences on my own opinion, but also to show what some scholars think and say about this topic. We don’t always get to see too much of the details behind the scene that these scholars do. We may see snippets of their work here or there, but they have such deep knowledge of things that this becomes almost an “ode” to all those who have invested so much time and effort into these individual topics.

  • Provisions
    • four main provisions applied.
      • 2.1. Land Return. This is perhaps the main provision of the Jubilee year, without parallel in the sabbatical year. In the Jubilee year, any land that had been sold in the previous forty-nine years was to be returned to its original family of ownership according to the Mosaic land distribution [1]
        • The theological motivation for the Jubilee law of land return was that the land belonged to Yahweh, so the law regarded Israel as being “aliens and tenants” with Yahweh (Lev 25:23). Israelites technically were stewards of the land, not its owners. This theology of the land undergirds the whole Jubilee legislation. The land, of course, is crucial in the OT for the *promises and purposes of Yahweh as well as being an indicator of the relationship between Yahweh and Israel.
        • The overarching principle for land ownership and tenancy is found in verses 23–24. The land is YHWH’s; the people of Israel were resident strangers on his land. Therefore, they had no right to sell it irretrievably. Thus, both buyer and seller were to recognize the temporary nature of their arrangement and anticipate the eventual return of the land to the seller or his family. [2]
        • If possible, kinship structures were to prevent the control of land from leaving the family. If, however, land must be sold, it must be sold commensurately with the number of years remaining until the Jubilee, for in that year, the land is to be returned to its original owner.
      • 2.2. Release of Israelite Slaves. In addition, Israelite slaves were to be released (Lev 25:39–43). Presumably the return of land coinciding with slave release would give freed slaves the resources to make a new start. A distinction is made between Israelite slaves and foreign slaves; the provision of release did not apply to the latter (Lev 25:44–46). Even if an Israelite became a slave of a resident alien, the right of redemption still applied, so that Israelite slaves could redeem themselves if they prospered or a family member could redeem them. The details in Leviticus 25 regarding slaves make it clear that slaves were to be treated generously and not harshly. The theological undergirding of this law is that the people of Israel are the servants of Yahweh who redeemed them from Egypt (Lev 25:55). This is not unlike the theological motivation regarding the sabbatical law of slave release (Deut 15:15). This theological expression also relates to the land-return law. Both land and Israel belong to Yahweh.[3]
        • If it becomes necessary for an Israelite to come under another’s authority as a tenant, this person is to be treated with compassion and released in the Jubilee year. However, if slaves are acquired from the surrounding nations, they are kept as property, and, presumably, not released in the Jubilee (vv. 44–46). Finally, if an Israelite farmer is indentured outside of his clan, a kinsmen has the first right of redemption, and if this is not possible, then the farmer is to be released in the year of Jubilee. [4]
      • 2.3. Cancellation of Debts. If, as has been suggested above, debt repayments were suspended during the sabbatical year, then in the Jubilee year they were cancelled entirely. Though Leviticus 25 does not explicitly discuss debt cancellation, the return of an Israelite to his land plus the release of slaves implies the cancellation of debts that led to slavery or the loss of land (see Sloan, 7–9). Related to this provision is the proscription of interest charged to fellow Israelites (Lev 25:36–37). This provision is also grounded in Yahweh’s redemption of Israel from Egypt.
      • 2.4. Fallow Land. As in the sabbatical year, the land was to lie fallow in the Jubilee year (Lev 25:11–12). Similar to God’s provision of *manna in the wilderness, the year preceding the sabbatical and Jubilee years would produce sufficient for the fallow years (Lev 25:21).[5]
        • Rest for the land. The command for the land to rest is given first. Here, YHWH gives his assurance that if they are faithful to keep his command to give the land its rest, the Israelites will not lack food. Rather, YHWH will bless the crop of the sixth year so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years (vv. 21–22). Thus, the crop of that year will provide for the year itself, the next year when the land is resting, and a third year, the first year of the new cycle, while the people are waiting for the crops to come in again. [6]
      • During this year of joy and liberation the law stipulated three respects in which the land and people were to be sanctified: (1) It was to be a time of rest for the soil as well as people (Lev. 25:11). The unattended growth of the field was for the poor to glean and for the beasts of the field (Exod. 23:11). (2) All land was to revert to the original owner (Lev. 25:10–34; 27:16–24). The original distribution of land was to remain intact. All property which the original owner had been obligated to sell (and had not yet been redeemed) was to revert (without payment) to the original owner or his lawful heirs. Some exceptions to this pattern are noted in Lev. 25:29–30; 27:17–21. (3) Every Israelite who had sold himself—either to his fellow countryman or to a foreigner settled in the land—because of poverty and remained unredeemed was to be freed along with his children (Lev. 25:39–46).[7]
      • The use of the ram’s horn was significant. With this 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).[8]
        • 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.”[9]
        • No sowing or reaping was to take place, as during the sabbatical years (v. 11). God promised to provide for His people as they rested in response to His gracious promise (vv. 18-23).

[1] Barker, P. A. (2003). Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee. In Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2] Chris bruno

[3] Barker, P. A. (2003). Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee. In Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 703

[4] Chris Bruno

[5] Barker, P. A. (2003). Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee. In Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Christorpher Bruno, “’Jesus is Our Jubilee’…But How? The OT Background and Lukan Fulfillment of the Ethics of Jubilee,” in JETS 53/1 (March 2010) 81-101.

[7] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Year of Jubilee. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers. 1694

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

[9] Keil, C. F., and Franz Delitzsch. The Pentateuch. 3 vols. Translated by James Martin. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament. N.p.; reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., n.d. 2:458

Research Process

I recently thought about how much research it takes to write a 7-10 page paper. There are some topics that you can find so much information on that it is really difficult to condense that down into a short and concise paper. This is especially true when you may have a broad topic and 30 pages worth of research material that you have to go through. Then, having to take all of that information and make it into something that is short, concise, and readable all the while showing the audience the author has some level of understanding about the subject. 

One difficulty is taking the research, learning about the subject (there are many things that a general knowledge may be known, but not an in-depth knowledge to where you feel you are a expert or even novice on the subject), putting it all together and finally trying to even put your original thoughts into it. After writing a number of papers this past year and a half, I have found such a greater respect for all writers but especially those that pour out articles and documents every month. I can’t even imagine how many hours of research they invested. For a small paper like the Jubilee paper, I think I invested around 10-15 hours because not only is it about finding articles that touch on the subject, but then it is reading and re-reading. Some times it is trying to condense their thoughts into something smaller all the while still doing justice to the author’s intent.

Even after writing on a subject, you may think you have an intermediate amount of knowledge until one day you read something, watch something or hear something and that author or subject blows you out of the water spouting off things about that subject you never knew. Or you may have already forgotten even though you researched it only a week ago! This is one of the most amazing things about God and Christianity. He is infinite that no matter how much knowledge we ever gain in this world studying Him, or how much He blesses us with about Him; we can never fully and completely understand or know Him. It is mind-boggling and awe-inspiring to belong to a God (the only God) that loves us so much, has a plan for us, wants us to know Him and have a relationship with Him, yet is still a mystery. It is humbling. We could spend our whole lives on one characteristic or attribute of the Father and still never truly or fully grasp that concept.

Over the next few days, I would like to share with you some of the research I found on the year of Jubilee (just a couple of more post then, Jubilee will be over!). My hopes for this are to bring a little more enlightenement to what this special year meant. It has been a fascinating study for me and I hope these post help with either your own research or with a closeness to the Great Mystery, Our Heavenly Father.

  • Introduction
    • The basic principle of Sabbath years is found in verses 3–4: every seventh year, the people of Israel were to refrain from cultivating the land as a “Sabbath to YHWH” (v. 2). Following this explanation, the rest of the chapter presents a general principle for the practice of the Jubilee year, followed by a series of specific instructions.
      • Every fiftieth year, on the Day of Atonement (see note below), Israel was to sound the trumpet and declare a year of Jubilee. The Jubilee command, at its simplest, is found in verse 10. Israel must consecrate the fiftieth year in order to “proclaim liberty throughout the land.”
        • The “year” of Jubilee actually begins in the seventh month of the year. Therefore, it seems likely that the year began in the seventh month of either the 49th or 50th year and extended until the seventh month of the 50th or 51st year. Allen P. Ross summarizes three major options for the chronology of the Jubilee: (1) the Jubilee took place at the end of the seventh Sabbath year, so that the land was not worked for two consecutive years; (2) the Jubilee and the seventh Sabbath year were simultaneous, and “fifty” is a general way of speaking about the 49th year; (3) the Jubilee began in the first month in the civic calendar but the seventh in the cultic, so that whether one considered it the 49th or 50th year depended on which calendar was being used (Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002] 459)
      • Description of the year:
        • The singular institution of the Jubilee year had more than one purpose. As a social and economical arrangement it tended to prevent the extremes of wealth and poverty. Every fiftieth year the land was to revert to its original owners, the lineal descendants of those who had ‘come in with the conqueror,’ Joshua. Debts were to be remitted, slaves emancipated, and so the mountains of wealth and the valleys of poverty were to be somewhat leveled, and the nation carried back to its original framework of a simple agricultural community of small owners[1]
        • This was the most illustrious Sabbath, since the state of the people, both as to their persons and their houses and property, was renewed; and although in this way God had regard to the public good, gave relief to the poor, so that their liberty should not be destroyed, and preserved also the order laid down by Himself; still there is no question but that He thus added an additional stimulus to incite the Jews to honour the Sabbath. For it 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. They called this year Jobel, from the sound of the ram’s horn, whereby liberty and the restitution of property were proclaimed; …its main feature was the solemnity which shewed them to be separated from other nations to be a peculiar and holy nation to God; nay, the renewal of all things had reference to this, that being redeemed anew in the great Sabbath, they might entirely devote themselves to God their Deliverer. [2]
        • a joyful shout or clangour of trumpets, the name of the great semi-centennial festival of the Hebrews. It lasted for a year. During this year the land was to be fallow, and the Israelites were only permitted to gather the spontaneous produce of the fields (Lev. 25:11, 12). All landed property during that year reverted to its original owner (13–34; 27:16–24), and all who were slaves were set free (25:39–54), and all debts were remitted. [3]
        • the fiftieth year occurring at the end of seven sabbatical cycles of seven years each, in which all land was returned to its ancestral owners and all Israelite slaves were freed. The jubilee is described in Lev. 25:8–17, 23–55; 27:16–25; and Num. 36:4. It was proclaimed with the blowing of the shofar (a trumpet made from a ram’s horn) on the Day of Atonement. The land was also left fallow in the jubilee year. The jubilee was observed in the seventh sabbatical in Second Temple times, so that there was a forty-nine-year cycle.[4]
        • Freedom or liberty is a central notion in the Jubilee year, and God’s liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt is the critical theological background (Lev 25:38, 42, 55).[5]
        • The counting for the year was “seven sabbaths of years.” Most probably the year after the seventh sabbatical year was the Jubilee year, though some scholars have argued that the Jubilee year coincided with the seventh sabbatical year counting the years inclusively (e.g., Chirichigno). However, the provisions for the Jubilee year do not totally coincide with those of the sabbatical year. Certainly Josephus, Philo and rabbinical scholars were unanimous in regarding the Jubilee as the fiftieth year. Also, Leviticus 25:21 seems to say that one year’s harvest would suffice for three years, implying that the Jubilee year was successive to a sabbatical year.[6]
          • Others suggest that the Jubilee may have been a short year, perhaps of forty-nine days, functioning not unlike modern leap days.
        • The 50th year after seven cycles of seven years (Lev. 25:10) in which Israel’s land and people gained freedom. It was begun with a blast from a ram’s horn on the Day of Atonement[7]
        • this was also called the year of liberty (Ezek. 46:17).[8]
        • “The Jubilee legislation found in Leviticus 25 presents a vision of social and economic reform unsurpassed in the ancient Near East.”[9]
        • The word “jubilee” probably comes from the Hebrew yabal, meaning “to bring [forth],” as in the bringing forth of produce. 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. During this year God brought the land back into the condition that He intended for it. The fact that the priests announced the year of jubilee on the Day of Atonement (v. 9) confirms this correspondence. [10]

[1] Alexander Maclaren, “Leviticus 25,” Expositions of Holy Scripture, Internet, available from http://biblehub.com/commentaries/maclaren/leviticus/25.htm, accessed 22 November 2014.

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

[3] Easton, M. G. (1893). “Jubilee,” In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.

[4] Schiffman, L. H. (2011). jubilee. In (M. A. Powell, Ed.)The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated). New York: HarperCollins.

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

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

[7] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Year of Jubilee. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers. 1694

[8] Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Festivals. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

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

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

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.

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.