Salvation in the Old Testament – Was faith in Christ necessary?

In the previous post we introduced the question about what did salvation in the Old Testament look like and was faith in Jesus needed to be saved. We introduced the topic in that post and will further clarify the response in this one.

Individuals in the Old Testament period were saved by grace through faith. Salvation has always been by grace through faith in Christ (Eph 2:8-9); it has always been in Christ and is based on His sacrifice. “The basis of salvation in every age is the death of Christ. The sacrifices pointed forward to the death of Christ in the future. The requirement for salvation in every age is faith. The object of faith in every age is God. It’s the content of faith that changes in the various dispensations.”[1] Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s promise of a Messiah (Gen 3:15; Isa 9; 53), but it was historically impossible to have Jesus as the content of their faith. The concept of faith has always been important because “without faith it is impossible to please” God (Heb 11:6), and it is displayed in the lives of both Old and New Testament believers. It seems that Old Testament individuals did not understand the “redemptive significance” of the prophecies concerning Christ and His suffering, nor is it apparent that they understood that the sacrifices depicted the person and work of Jesus Christ as the church age believers do.[2] The sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed toward the sacrifice of Christ and those done in faith brought temporary forgiveness (Ps 32:1-2; 103:12) because of the sacrifice of Christ that was to come.

“Those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (cf Gal 3:8-9 with Gen 12:3). In Galatians 3:11, Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 saying “the righteous shall live by faith.” Hebrews 11 displays the faith of the Old Testament believers was evident as Scripture says their faith was “counted to them as righteousness,” (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3, 5-8; Heb 11:7). The Old Testament people had the promise of the coming Savior and that He would “save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21; cf. Isa 53:5-6). The people of the Old Testament were saved in the same way we are today, by faith in the Savior. For the Old Testament believer it was the promise of the Messiah because God had only revealed a certain amount to the people of the Old Testament period.

The difference between the faith of the Old Testament believer and a New Testament believer is the content of faith. Thus, God’s requirements for what must be believed is different based on the amount of revelation He has given. Since Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise, He has given us a more complete revelation of the Messiah in the life, work, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Salvation has always been by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Therefore, did individuals in the Old Testament period did need to know about Jesus to be saved? Yes, individuals were saved by grace through faith in Christ based on what God had revealed about the promised Messiah, Jesus, who would bring complete atonement. Since we have the complete picture, our salvation is based on the death of Christ, our faith is the requirement, and the object of faith is God. The content of our faith is different than Old Testament believers because we know that Jesus came to this world, died for our sins, was buried, resurrected, and will return one day.

[1] Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 115.

[2] Dallas Theological Seminary, “Full Doctrinal Statement, Article V, The Dispensations,” internet, 2015, accessed Sep 6, 2015,


Dallas Theological Seminary. “Full Doctrinal Statement, Article V, The Dispensations.” Internet. 2015. Accessed September 6, 2015.

Ryrie, Charles C. Dispensationalism. Chicago: Moody Press, 1995.


Salvation in the Old Testament

We now turn our attention to the overarching theme of soteriology, or the study of salvation. We will journey through this topic by taking a few critical stops along the way to look at some key ideas and themes. Again, I am just a student and not a professor or an expert. I do not have all the answers or even a majority. I am thinking about this and struggling with some of the ideas associated with soteriology like many have done in the past (see all the various denominations with various differing thoughts on salvation) and continue to do today. These are some of the ideas and thoughts that I am thinking about and wrestling with.

We start this journey by looking at salvation in the Old Testament, in particular two questions:

  • Did individuals in the Old Testament period need to know about Jesus to be saved?
  • If not, why do so many Christians today say one must have explicit faith in Jesus to be saved?

How one reads and interprets this question can cause a different response. The question itself is not the clearest because it can depend on how deep or theological one wants to go. The answers to these two questions will be provided in two posts. First, a cursory overview post that will lead into the next post which gives more background and detail. However, the point of answering these two questions is not to write a book on it or even a lengthy paper, but it is to answer them in a short and succinct manner. There are numerous books out there that dissect this at length if you want to know more information but we just want to keep it high level for this exercise.

I believe this is a very interesting and intriguing reflective question. After doing some research, I could definitely see different sides of the argument and how interpreting the question differently could cause some confusion or different answers.

The answer to the question is “no” they did not need to know about Jesus because it was impossible for them to know about Him since Jesus had not been revealed or accomplished His work. However, if the question is “was the promised Messiah a part of their faith?” then I think the answer is yes. From the protoevangelium of Gen 3:15 to the sacrificial system pointing to an ultimate sacrifice to the prophecies in books like Isaiah and Micah, there is a progressive revelation about the coming Messiah. Their faith was not specifically in Jesus since that is impossible and He was not yet revealed, but their faith would include the coming of God’s promised Messiah. This latter way is the way I interpreted the question and wrote my response.

The history and theories of Genesis through Judges

This post concludes our big series on the history of the books Genesis through Judges. We look at the final significant events and different theories that are out there that are associated with these books. This post is not affirming or denying these theories, just trying to provide some background. Again, this is a high-level overview and not comprehensive. This is too encourage further study and knowledge as well as trying to point out the major events and ideas that occur throughout these beautiful books.

Passover-in Hebrew, pesah, “to pass over”. To “pass over” means “to protect”. The Lord himself will block the entry of the destroyer, He will be a protective covering for His people. Exodus 12 outlines the specifics of the Passover and is concerned with the when, why, how, and who. Moses at the original Passover, focuses exclusively on the role of blood-that the blood is to be extracted from the lamb’s body and smeared over the doorposts and the horizontal beam atop the door (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 167-169).

Exodus-After the Plagues and the Passover, Pharaoh allows the Hebrews to leave Egypt, known as the Exodus. We are told in Exodus 12:37, six hundred thousand men, besides women and children, leave Egypt.

Mosaic Covenant-given to administer the fulfillment of Abraham’s promises to his descendants in the time after Moses until the cross; the promises include (1) the possession of the land of Canaan, (2) an innumerable offspring, and (3) world-wide blessing through Israel (Notes for Pentateuch, p 12-13).

Ten Commandments-a summary given to Israel of all the stipulations that God would place upon His people in the covenant which He gave on Sinai and inscribed on stone, Deut 5 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 124).

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heave above or on earth below.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother
  6. You shall not commit murder
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.

Tabernacle-place of worship; instructions given for the tabernacle and the priesthood that will be protect the holy Yahweh from the unholy people, Ex 25-31 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 17).

Golden Calf-while Moses received the Ten Commandments, Aaron led in the building of the calf so that the Israelites might have something to worship. Moses pleaded with God not to destroy Israel and returned to their camp. Upon arriving back at the camp, Joshua thought there was noise of war, however Moses corrected him saying that it was the sound of singing. Moses displayed great anger, throwing the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments to the ground and destroying the calf. Moses rebuked Aaron for his leading in this corrupt act, Ex 32 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 62).

Ark of the Covenant-After the law was given to Moses, he gave it to the priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, Deut 31 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 143).

The Offerings (Burnt, Grain, Fellowship, Sin, Guilt) Burnt Offering-primary worship and atoning sacrifices, must be male, its blood applied to the altar, the animal burnt entirely on the altar. Grain Offering-might be cooked in various forms but always with oil, salt, and incense, and offered in a memorial portion on the altar, the rest being for the priest to eat as a sign that God accepted the sacrifice. Fellowship Offering-must be as expensive as the worshiper can afford, its fat, kidneys, and liver burned on the altar, its blood sprinkled around the altar since fat and blood are prohibited for human consumption, being holy to Yahweh. Sin Offering-represents the dignity of the person who has sinned unwittingly and has brought defilement into the presence of the Lord, effecting cleansing and atonement with the forgiveness it brings. Guilt Offering-must be offered for defrauding God or man, in addition to restoring 120% of what was lost by the fraud, thus gaining forgiveness by atonement, Lev 1-5 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 68-73).

The Feasts (Passover, Unleavened Bread, Weeks, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles)Feast of Passover-Israel must keep Passover in the month of Abib, sacrificing at Yahweh’s sanctuary and eating it with unleavened bread for seven days to recall the deliverance from Egypt, eating all the flesh on the night of Passover. Feast of Unleavened Bread-provides an opportunity to teach successive generations about Yahweh’s deliverance; it was designed to cause children to ask and fathers to explain Yahweh’s great deliverance from Egypt. Feast of Weeks-Seven weeks from the beginning of the harvest, Israel must celebrate the feast of weeks bringing a free-will offering to the central sanctuary, rejoicing with all the people, including the slaves and poor, remembering their slavery in Egypt. Feast of Trumpts-on the first of the seventh month, Israel must observe a rest, for blowing trumpets as a holy convocation, presenting an offering by fire to Yahweh. Day of Atonement-on the tenth of the seventh month, Israel must observe this feast, doing no work, but humbling their souls and presenting offerings to Yahweh, since it was a day to make atonement, a day of complete rest not to be violated. Feast of Tabernacles-After the final ingathering Israel, including the slaves and the poor, must keep the feast of tabernacles for seven days at the central sanctuary, when Yahweh would bless all they would do and they would be very joyful. Lev 23 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 86).

Year of Jubilee-Israel would acknowledge Yahweh’s ownership of the land by returning any purchased land to its original tenant and by trusting Him to provide their food during the whole period, Lev 25 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 87).

Censuses-The Lord commanded two censuses of the Levites, first as the redemption for Israel’s first born, and second to determine who would tend to the tabernacle on the march, Num 3-4 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 92).

Nazirite Vow-conferred a sanctity on the layman next only to the high priest, requiring separation from all products of the vine, refrain from cutting hair of the head, and from all dead bodies, a new beginning of the vow for the defiled, and very expensive sacrifices, such as the those for the consecration of a high priest, for the consummation of the vow, Num 6 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 94).

Cloud of Fire-As Israel left Sinai, Yahweh’s cloud rose from the tent, leading Israel out of the camp to the fulfillment of His promises, Num 10 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 97).

The Rebellion of Kadesh Barnea-Because of unbelief and rebellious fear, Yahweh drove the generation of Israel and even Moses back into the wilderness as punishment for their unbelief. Israel sent spies in to Kadesh-Barnea, who brought back a positive report of the land, but were frightened and did not want to obey Yahweh by taking the land. Israel thought that God hated them so that He brought them to the desert to die at the hands of the Amorites at Kadesh Barnea, Deut 1 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 119).

Bronze Snake-Israel, afflicted by serpents sent by Yahweh, realized and confessed their sin so that after Moses’ intercession, they set up a bronze serpent as a sign for the people’s healing, Num 21 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 109).

Cities of Refuge-6 cities set aside from the 48 Levitical cities that would be available to protect people guilty of unpremeditated murder from the blood avenger. These cities would not offer refuge to the premeditated murder who must return to his own home to face the avenger, Num 35 (Notes for Pentateuch, p 118-119).

Blessings for Obedience/Curses for Disobedience-Israel was constantly given blessings for their obedience to Yahweh, and curses/punishments for their disobedience and unbelief.

Conquest of Canaan-led by Joshua, Israel crosses the Jordan, defeats the cities of Jericho, Ai, and the region of Gibeon, the conquest of northern Canaan, Josh 6-11 (Joshua Notes, p 4-7).

Gibeonite Deception- Fearful of Israel’s defeat at Ai, the Gibeonites deceive Israel, sending an envoy claiming to be foreigners.Israel enters into a covenant of protection for the Gibeonites and region of Gibeon without consulting Yahweh. As a result of the oath, their land is protected, however the people become enslaved becoming wood cutters and water men for the tabernacle, Josh 9 (Joshua Notes, p 6).


  1. 2000 (Abraham)

1446 (Exodus; Judges 11:26; I Kings 6:1)

  1. 1400 (Conquest of Canaan)

1350-1050 (Period of the Judges)


Enuma Elish-a story from Mesopotamia in which creation is a prominent theme. Varying opinions exist on the origination of the Enuma Elish (either during the second millennium B.C. or not earlier than 1100 B.C.). The primary purpose of this epic is theogonic—to explain the origin of the gods, and especially Marduk; secondary purpose was its composition with religious functions in mind (to be read aloud at an annual Babylonian festival). Third key is to understand the Babylonian concept of gods—origin, character, and destiny in which creation is told in terms of procreation. Fourth, heaven and earth are not spoken into existence, but are formed from the corpse of a slain god and lastly, humankind is created to relieve the gods of the necessity of manual labor (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 35-39).

Gilgamesh Epic-a secular account of the flood from Mesopotamian literature, named after Gilgamesh, king of Uruk dating to approximately 1600 B.C. Key ideas about the epic: it is silent about motive for the flood, it is difficult to discern a reason why one mortal is saved, dimensions of the ship built by the heroes are strange, and it lacks a clear didactic function. Essentially, in the Gilgamesh epic, the storyline is more concerned with the hero Gilgamesh and his search for immortality; the flood is merely a subplot to the overarching theme (Handbook on the Pentateuch, p 64-67).

JEDP Theory-a theory regarding the style of passages in support of the scholarly position of the Pentateuch. J-the Yahwist, a neutral, undefined document, in traditional historical criticism. It is what is left over when each of the other documents have been subtracted from the text of the Pentateuch; has been defined as being a lively, imaginative style. E-the Elohist, containing less continuous narratives than J and is more restrained in its narrative style than J. D-the Deuteronomist, most interested in legal material, contained a religious evaluation of Israel’s history (obedience yields divine blessing, disobedience yields divine curse; demonstrated the necessity for a prounounced sense of social justice under the provisions of the covenant relationship) and is marked by exhortation. P-uses the same terms for deity as E, but uses a style described a prosaic, precise, formulaic, repetitious; lacking in metaphor and simile; P includes genealogies, ritual directions, and various lists (Notes for Pentateuch, p 2-3).

Dating of the Exodus 1440 or 1290

Use of Treaty Language in Deuteronomy Suzerain-vassal treaty: Overlord or emperor rules over other nations, with client kings as vassals, or servants. Structure is: Preamble (1:1-4; historical prologue 1:5-4:49; stipulations, 5-26; sanctions, 27-30; dynastic disposition, 31-34). Covenant of grant treaty: rewards a faithful servant; territory and vassals; continuity of rule to his sons; protection; vassal obligation treaty: king has acquired a people by warfare; treaty protects the king from the possible disloyalty of the people.

Significant Locations in Genesis through Judges

In continuing our wrap-up of Genesis through Judges, we look today at significant places or places were significant events happened through these books. The descriptions are not completely detailed but try to offer a high level overview of some of those events. In the upcoming posts, we will look at the significant events, main themes, significant dates, and a brief background on the secular accounts.

Significant Places

Shechem-the northern region that we know from the book of Joshua that Israel took the land in one of three campaigns. 1. Abraham promised the land. 2. Jacob buys a plot of land; Dinah is raped. 3. Jacob’s sons are tending the sheep here before Joseph finds them in Dothan. 4. The covenant is confirmed during the Conquest. 5. The city is set aside as a levitical city and a city of refuge. 6. Joseph is buried here. 7. The ten tribes reject Rehoboam

Bethel-the central region that we know from the book of Joshua that Israel took the land in one of three campaigns. God grants the Abrahamic blessing to Jacob who in response vows to worship Yahweh at Bethel giving a tithe tribute offering. Means house of God, was originally still called Luz. God spoke to Jacob.

Hebron-significant to the narrative of Abraham and Israel; it was near Hebron that God first promised Abraham that he would inherit the land, it was from this area that he set out to defeat the coalition of kings; it was in Hebron that Abraham acquired his only piece of real estate for the burial of his wife and where the other patriarchs were buried . Sarah died in hebron.

Sodom/Gomorrah-wicked cities that God executes the curse against the Canaanites, delivering only Lot for the sake of Abraham, Gen 18-19 .

Beersheba-location of a treaty between Abraham and Abimelek/Phicol, the commander of the Philistines. Once the treaty had been made, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree and called on the name of the Lord, Gen 21.

Peniel-the location where Jacob wrestled with God; Jacob named the place Peniel, saying “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared”, Gen 32.

Marah-location where the Lord tested Israel with bitter water to conform them with the call to careful obedience. The people, fearing death from thirst, grumbled against Moses because he led them for three days into the wilderness to Marah where there was only bitter water. Moses cried out to Yahweh who showed him how to sweet the water. Yahweh made a decree that if they would obey Him, He would not bring any of the disease of Egypt upon the people, Gen 15 .

Desert of Sin-the location where Israel grumbled against Moses because they feared starving to death. Yahweh promised Moses, as a test of their obedience, to rain bread from heaven that they were to gather daily, except on the Sabbath, Gen 16 .

Mt. Sinai-location where the Law was given to Moses, and the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel.

Kadesh-location at which the Israelites came to and then sent spies to the land of the Amorites; Israel displayed unbelieving fear that led them to fail in covenant loyalty, Deut 1 .

Edom-brother nation, region in which descendants of Esau resided. God fulfills His promise to Abraham to bless Esau by making him a great royal people allied with kings, having separated Esau from Jacob of Canaan, Gen 36-37. As Israel moved to Canaan, the region through which Israel tried to pass through, Edom refused causing Israel to turn away, Num 20 .

Moab-location at which Yahweh made a renewed covenant with Israel through Moses; third location in which God made an important revelation to Israel, Deut 29 .

Peor-Num 25 or Deut 3. Joshua was commissioned. Where Israelites stayed. Israel men had sex with women who caused them to worships Baals of Peor. They had to put to death these people. Phineas killed an Israelite man who brought a midianite into the camp.

Mt. Nebo-Mountain opposite from Jericho; Yahweh allowed Moses to see the land [Canaan] from Mt. Nebo to survey it and then die without entering it since he broke faith with God at Kadesh, Deut 32 .

Jericho-city to which Joshua had spies sent; there they encountered Rahab, Josh 2. The city in which the Israelites are instructed to march around once per day for six days and then march around 7 times on the seventh day, after which the walls of the city will be destroyed. After this, Israel attacks Jericho and they are commanded to completely destroy the city (except for the home/family of Rahab), Josh 5-6.

Ai-city to which Israel is given victory over. Joshua leads the people in an ambush, and Israel is directed to keep the spoils for themselves, Josh 8 .

Gibeon-Fearful of Israel’s defeat at Ai, the Gibeonites deceive Israel, Israel enters into a covenant of protection for the Gibeonites and region of Gibeon without consulting Yahweh. As a result of the oath, their land is protected, however the people become enslaved becoming wood cutters and water men for the tabernacle, Josh 9 .

Hazor-The location of Israel when under oppression from King Jabin during the time of Deborah’s judgeship.

Dan-region from which Samson’s mother was from, Jud 13 .

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,, 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.

Research For the Land is God’s

Our series on the research for the Year of Jubilee. Today’s post focus mainly on the theme that THE LAND IS YAHWEH’S. This will involve the theological justification. One thing that I need to remember as a Christians is that all that I have been blessed with is God’s. I have done nothing to to earn or deserve any blessing. Yet, God in His grace has given me and all us so many blessings that I easily forget how much He does. I lose that gratitude and thankfulness. I let my human flesh get in the way and think it is mine, when in fact it all belongs to God.

  • The Year of Jubilee prevented the Israelites from oppression of one another (Lev. 25:17). It had a leveling effect on Israel’s culture by giving everyone a chance for a new start. It discouraged excessive, permanent accumulations of wealth and the deprivation of an Israelite of his inheritance in the land. Families and tribes were preserved by the return of freed bondservants to their own families. Permanent slavery in Israel was rendered impossible.[1]
    • This year was a constant reminder of God’s interest in economic freedom [2]
  • God’s designed arrangement was against both large estates and pauperism. The Israelites were repeatedly given the opportunity to begin anew, and the impoverished were enabled to maintain themselves in society. This year also reflected God’s provision for the soil’s conservation (Lev. 25:11–12, 18–21) During the year of Jubilee, the Israelites were once again taught that they were to live in faith, that the Lord would satisfy their needs[3]
  • It appears that the Year of Jubilee was a time of such complete remission of all debts that it became a season of celebration of freedom and grace. In this year oppression was to cease, and every member of the covenant family was to find joy and satisfaction in the Lord of the covenant. God had redeemed His people from bondage in Egypt (Lev. 25:42), and none of them was again to be reduced to the status of a perennial slave. God’s child was not to be oppressed (Lev. 25:43, 46); and poverty could not, even at its worst, reduce an Israelite to a status less than that of a hired servant, a wage earner, and then only until the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:40).[4]
  • The theological justification for the Year of Jubilee is based in Yahweh’s ownership of the land (Exod 15:13, 17). This concept is highlighted in Lev 25:23 which reads, “The land must not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are aliens and sojourners with Me.” The Israelites could not permanently sell land they did not own.[5]
    • While the land was a divine gift, safety and security in the land were contingent upon maintenance of the covenantal relationship (Lev 25:18). Yahweh’s judgment upon Israel ultimately meant expulsion from the land which was warned as early as Lev 18:24–28. The Year of Jubilee was to serve as a reminder that the land is special to Yahweh and a divine gift to the Israelites. The lasting ownership remained to the family which Yahweh initially chose to share ownership.[6]
    • The theological basis for this is found in v. 23: “for the land is mine.” He is the Lord of land and of economics.[7]
      • 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.
        • Parallel in the manna story of Exodus 16, where God instructs his people not to gather manna on the Sabbath, and instead he provides a double supply on the sixth day to carry them through the seventh. 91
      • Genuine reconciliation with God leads inevitably to a transformation of all other relationships.
      • Genuine holiness spills over into one’s relationship with others – in this case, especially the poor, the indebted, or the enslaved. 92
    • This special year reminded the Israelites that they did not really own the land but were tenants of God, the true owner (v. 23). Moses gave three cases in verses 25, 26-27, and 28 that explain how the people were to do this. A kinsman redeemer could recover the lost property, the seller himself could do so, and the year of jubilee would return it to him.
      • There are three Old Testament references to the responsibilities of a human kinsman redeemer (Heb. goel) in Israel. Additionally the psalmists and other prophets also referred to Yahweh as Israel’s redeemer.
        • When a person sold himself or his property because of economic distress, his nearest kinsman should buy back (redeem) the person and or his property if he could afford to do so (25:25).
        • Perhaps an Israelite could not afford to pay the ransom price so that he could keep a first-born unclean animal for his own use. In this case his nearest kinsman could do so for him if he could afford it (27:11-13).
        • When someone killed a person, the victim’s kinsman redeemer could take the life of the killer under certain circumstances (Num. 35:10-29).[8]
      • The provision of redemption by a kinsman (vv. 47-55) is a very important legal point in the Book of Ruth (cf. also Jer. 32:7-15). Boaz fulfilled the responsibility of a kinsman redeemer by buying Mahlon’s land for Ruth. Furthermore he fulfilled the duty of a levir by marrying Ruth.
        • The system of land ownership in Israel prevented complete capitalism or complete socialism economically. There was a balance of state (theocratic) ownership and private ownership.
        • We who live under the New Covenant also have a promise from God that if we put His will first He will provide for our physical needs (Matt. 6:25-33).[9]
        • “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.”[10]

[1] 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.

[2] 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.

[3] 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.

[4] 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.

[5] Babcock, B. C. (2012). Jubilee, Year of. In (J. D. Barry & L. Wentz, Eds.)The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Babcock, B. C. (2012). Jubilee, Year of. In (J. D. Barry & L. Wentz, Eds.)The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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

[8] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus,” Internet, available from, accessed 22 November 2014.

[9] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus,” Internet, available from, accessed 22 November 2014.

[10] Ross, Allen P. Holiness to the LORD: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, Baker Book House, 2002. 463

Research notes for the jubilee observance and its advantages

We continue our study on the year of Jubilee. First we look at some information that scholars have provided for its observance, did it take place and was it a full year. Next, we will begin looking at some of the advantages and disadvantages of this special year. This means, what it took for the people to follow and the faith it required. We will briefly look at why the theology of the land is so important and emphasized for the Israelites.

  • Observance
    • The return of the jubilee year was proclaimed by a blast of trumpets which sounded throughout the land. There is no record in Scripture of the actual observance of this festival, but there are numerous allusions (Isa. 5:7, 8, 9, 10; 61:1, 2; Ezek. 7:12, 13; Neh. 5:1–19; 2 Chr. 36:21) which place it beyond a doubt that it was observed.[1]
    • Many scholars argue that the legislation of the Jubilee year, as well as that of the sabbatical year, is so idealistic as to be impractical. North calls it “hardly realistic” (North, 6.6). Wenham says that “as a social institution the jubilee year remained an ideal, which was rarely, if ever, realized” (Wenham 1979, 318). Admittedly the legislation is exacting, and there is no clear OT acknowledgment that the Jubilee year was ever fulfilled. However, the OT’s silence on this practice need not imply lack of observance. Put simply, we do not know if and when it was observed.[2]
    • While the regulations for the Year of Jubilee are specific, no biblical or extrabiblical evidence confirms that the Jubilee was ever actually observed. Kinship redemption is demonstrated in Ruth 4 and Jer 32. While Isa 37:30 may hint at a Jubilee Year by discussing a double fallow year. The passage may also be the result of invasion—a Year of Jubilee enforced by Yahweh, when Israel would not enforce it themselves.[3]
    • The Israelites were to observe the year of jubilee every fiftieth year, the year following seven seven-year periods. Wenham believed the jubilee was a short year only 49 days long inserted into the seventh month of the forty-ninth year[361] This is a minority view.[4]
    • “The Year of Jubilee is not mentioned in the Old Testament outside the Pentateuch. There is no direct biblical evidence regarding its observance in Israel’s history, but if its practice was normal, there might have been no occasion to mention it. On the other hand, the apparent failure of Israelites to keep the sabbatical years during the monarchial period (cf. 26:34-35, 43; 2 Chron. 36:20-21) suggests that the Jubilee might also have been violated.” [5]
  • Advantages / Significance (part 1)
    • The advantages of this institution were manifold. “1. It would prevent the accumulation of land on the part of a few to the detriment of the community at large. 2. It would render it impossible for any one to be born to absolute poverty, since every one had his hereditary land. 3. It would preclude those inequalities which are produced by extremes of riches and poverty, and which make one man domineer over another. 4. It would utterly do away with slavery. 5. It would afford a fresh opportunity to those who were reduced by adverse circumstances to begin again their career of industry in the patrimony which they had temporarily forfeited. 6. It would periodically rectify the disorders which crept into the state in the course of time, preclude the division of the people into nobles and plebeians, and preserve the theocracy inviolate.”[6]
    • Regulating the value of property See also Lev 25:15-16; 27:16-19,23
    • Underlining the fact that God is the true owner of the land Lev 25:23-24 The restoration of property to those to whom God had originally entrusted it is a reminder that the land belongs to him. See also Jos 21:43; 1Ch 29:15; Heb 11:13
    • A means of preserving the inheritance from God Lev 25:25-28 Families are urged to buy back land assigned to them by God. As a last resort, land is restored in the Year of Jubilee. See also Lev 25:32-33; 27:24; Nu 36:4,7-9; 1Ki 21:3; Eze 46:16-18
    • The release of Hebrew slaves in the Year of Jubilee Dt 15:12-15 The release of slaves reflects God’s redemption and preserves the freedom he has given; Lev 25:54-55 The Israelites may not be held permanently as slaves because they belong to God. See also Lev 25:39-43,50-52; Jer 34:8-9,13-14
    • The Year of Jubilee is the year of the Lord’s favour Lk 4:18-19 Jesus Christ alludes to the Year of Jubilee in proclaiming spiritual release and restoration. See also Isa 61:1-2[7]
    • Theological Significance: Because the sabbath days and sabbatical years are “holy to Yahweh,” they express the conviction that time belongs to Yahweh, who is Lord over it. Furthermore, as we have seen, the *exodus release of Israel from Egypt forms a theological basis for these laws. Thus Yahweh as both Creator and Redeemer provides the theological background to these laws.[8]
    • A theology of the land is also significant. The land is Yahweh’s (Lev 25:23). It is the land of promise, and in this bountiful land there is more than sufficient for all, provided various economic laws are heeded and the bounty of the land is shared. Related to this is the ethical love of fellow people reflected in these laws. In particular, these laws command a concern for the landless classes.
    • Finally, there is an eschatological dimension to these sabbath laws. They anticipate the ideal life in God’s place and under his rule. The emphasis on social concern looks forward to the harmony of God’s people under him. The cancellation of debt and restoration looks forward to the full and final redemption of the people of God. Even the distinctive trumpet sound announcing the Jubilee year, compared to the usual šôpār announcing all other years, can be regarded eschatologically (e.g., Is 27:13).[9]

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

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

[3] Babcock, B. C. (2012). Jubilee, Year of. In (J. D. Barry & L. Wentz, Eds.)The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Thomas Constable, “Notes on Leviticus,” Internet, available from, accessed 22 November 2014.

[5] Lindsey, F. Duane. “Leviticus.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, pp. 163-214. Edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, Victor Books, 1985. 211

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

[7] Manser, M. H. (2009). “Year of Jubilee,” Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.

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

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

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, 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

Concluding thoughts on the Year of Jubilee

Today, we wrap up our series on the Year of Jubilee by offering some concluding thoughts. In brief, to summarize what we have discussed these past few posts and point to the great and magnificent work of Christ. It is a great reminder of the freedom and joy we believers can experience in our Mighty Deliverer


While the Year of Jubilee may not have been practiced, there are many aspects of this year that the modern believer can glean. It is a time when the Israelites were called to trust God that He would provide for all their needs. Jubilee is not only a reminder for the Israelites that the land belonged to Yahweh and the Israelites were the stewards, it is a reminder for the modern believer as well that all that we have belongs to God. The Christian is to trust God, obey His will, be good stewards, and rejoice in the freedom of God’s grace and redemption through Jesus Christ. The believer may be called to practice a leap of faith much like the Israelites with the Year of Jubilee, but the Christian can be sure that even in uncertainty and trials, they can confidently trust in a faithful God. Jubilee reminds the believer even when we are not faithful, God always is because He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim 2:13). The Year of Jubilee’s “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.”[1]

The Year of Jubilee typified the spiritual rest all believers enter into through Christ. He eased the burden of worldly care and labor enabling and encouraging the believer to live by faith. Just as the fruits of the land for Jubilee were enjoyed in common, so the salvation brought about by Christ is a common salvation to be enjoyed by all. Jubilee exemplified a Christian’s redemption from the service of sin by the grace of God in Christ who sets a believer free (John 7:32). As the Year of Jubilee was an expression of a resounding shout of joy and freedom, so Christians can rejoice in the liberty provided by Christ.

[1] John Calvin and C.W. Bingham, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses…, 451.


Barker, P. A. “Sabbath, Sabbatical Year, Jubilee.” In Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. 696-706. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Babcock, B. C. “Jubilee, Year of.” In The Lexham Bible Dictionary, edited by J.D. Barry and L. Wentz. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012.

Bergsma, John Sietze. The Jubilee from Leviticus to Qumran: A History of Interpretation. VTSup 115; Leiden: Brill, 2007.

Bloom, Jon “Lay Aside the Weight of Restless Work.” Desiring God. 2013. Accessed 23 November 2014.

Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. Eds. “Festivals.” In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003. Logos Bible Software.

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

Calvin, J., & Bingham, C. W. Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010.

Constable, Thomas. Notes on Leviticus. Internet. Accessed 22 November 2014. Available from

Easton, M. G. “Jubilee,” In Easton’s Bible Dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893. Logos Bible Software.

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

Hamilton, Victor P. Handbook on the Pentateuch. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

Henry, Matthew. “Leviticus 25.” In Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, 181–182. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994.

Keil, C.F., and Franz Delitzsch. “The Pentateuch.”  Translated by James Martin. In Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament. Vol. 3, N.p. 1865; Reprint. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2011.

Lindsey, F. Duane. “Leviticus.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament, edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 163-214. Wheaton: Scripture Press Publications, Victor Books, 1985.

Manser, Martin H. “Year of Jubilee.” Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser, 2009. Logos Bible Software.

Merrill, Eugene. Everlasting Dominion: A Theology of the Old Testament. Nashville: B & H, 2006.

North, Robert. Sociology of the Biblical Jubilee. Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1954.

Sailhamer, John H. The Pentateuch as Narrative, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 361.

Schiffman, L. H. “Jubilee.” The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated), edited by Mark Allan Powell. New York: HarperCollins, 2011. Logos Bible Software.

Wenham, Gordon J. “The Book of Leviticus.” In New International Commentary on the Old Testament Series. 239-334. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979.

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.