Cross Cultural Review of Spirit of the Rainforest

Today, we continue our Spirit of the Rainforest book review series by examining what are some of the positive aspects of the Yanomamo culture. While they are in a completely different place and have a completely different set of rules, are there aspects of their society that they do better than we do? Is there something we can learn from them? The next post will look at some of the negative aspects of that type of culture.

Positive Aspects

A major positive aspect of the Yanomamo culture is a strong sense of loyalty and community. The Yanomamo are so loyal that any offense to one is an offense to all. This loyalty is tested as those who want to live in Honey often have to give up their families in order to live in the Honey culture of peace and love. The Yanomamo’s are also very generous, even saying being stingy is deserving of the fire pit.[1] Compared to the nabas who never shared, the Yanomamo’s provide a model of a generous community helping out, particularly in the story of Yoshicami and Honey village.[2]

A major difference between the Yanomamo worldview and the secular American worldview is that the spiritual world is intimately tied to the physical world far more for the Yanomamo. The spirit world is more important to the Yanomamo than many Americans, as Americans separates these two worlds much more. Yanomamo generally seek out healing, advice or help from the spirits first, whereas Americans will typically turn to a medicine, science, or their own efforts first, then will turn to spirituality as a last resort. In addition, the Yanomamo display a greater obedience to their spirits leading, even prompting Jungleman to say, “When you have spirits as wonderful as mine are, you would never think of ignoring their advice.”[3] My culture tends to wrestle God for control, oftentimes not submitting to His leading.

[1] Ibid, 96.

[2] Ibid, 190.

[3] Ibid, 42.

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Walk by faith, not by sight

I want to take a brief moment to discuss with you a personal matter and take a break from the theology for minute. This was a profound realization that i want to share because someone may need to hear it as well:

On my way to work this morning, I was listening to the radio when I heard a teaser for a story about why people want to see miracles. Since I am always fascinated by descriptions of miracles or the supernatural, I decided to stick around another ten minutes to hear this story. Thinking it would be about how God did some miraculous healing or a miraculous escape from attackers or any number of things, I had a certain expectation about hearing a miraculous story.

The radio show host came on and described the title again of why people always want to see miracles. One of the show’s hosts describes how her and her husband were in dire financial needs and needed $1,000. They began praying and all the sudden the husband of the radio host was prompted to check the credit card points. The points totaled the exact need of $1,000. The radio personality begins to talk about how so often Christians fall into the trap of walking by sight instead of faith. We get so fixated on the “what’s next” of life, or the counterfeit gods of money, fame, and power that we put our trust in those things. The point the show’s host was trying to make was that we try to provide our own fixes for the problems, or when we don’t see the solution to the problem we begin to doubt God.

All of this was in relation to Moses, the Israelites and the Exodus. As God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt; Pharaoh and his army began to chase them. Moses and the people were at the Red Sea; they had nowhere to go. Every thought was probably going through Moses’ mind at this point. He is facing the sea, looking at his people, then back to the sea, then back at the people. Moses had no idea what God was doing or going to do. It was an impossible situation. A miracle was needed. There appeared to be no solution. It must have felt like a thousand years in those few seconds and minutes. I can’t imagine the spiritual attacks Moses was probably going through either. Suddenly (possibly), a small, yet peaceful voice whispers in his hear (or speaks into his soul): “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (cf. 2 Cor 5:7).

In a moment when everything was against him, there was no place to turn, and a miracle was needed, the Almighty God reached down and did something amazing that only He could. “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.” (Ex 14:21-22).

We have all heard this before, but I share it with you because maybe someone needs to hear this. It comes from a site called Spiritual Inspiration: “God is saying to you today, ‘Everything will work out. I’m in complete control. I know what the medical report says. I know what the financial situation looks like. I see the people who are coming against you. I know how big your dreams are. And hear me clearly; I will not fail you.’”

So, why do I share this with you? Over the past year and a half, I have attended seminary. Last August, we moved from Chicago to Dallas so I could go to school in person. We didn’t have a place to live, we had a baby on the way, no insurance, and no jobs. The living situation was handled, but the others took time. I wasn’t able to go full time to seminary like I had hoped, because I think God had a different plan. Over the past year, I have worked in a corporate job while taking two classes a semester. I am not doing something I know I was called to do nor am I passionate about it. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for a job. I am thankful that God provided a job that does provide a good salary and insurance. There have been many issues at this job and it has been difficult in many ways that don’t need to be described here. The past few months I have been pulled from project to project, from one fire-drill to the next. It gets frustrating after a while. The work environment is not very good but I have met some good people.

I had a frustrating day yesterday where my boss and leadership are having secret meetings amongst themselves about which way a project should go. There is a power struggle that has a colleague and I stuck in the middle. We receive new direction every few weeks. Yesterday, in fact there were three fire-drill and subsequent new directions that we were given. It becomes confusing after a while and it is hard to determine which way is up. We were made aware of conversations about a how this team should be formed or who should work where and on what. The problem is no one ever consulted us or let us know maybe we need to not proceed in a certain way or direction. Our careers were essentially in the hands of strangers as they moved us around like pawns as they had a power struggle. Their only hopes were to make themselves look better to gain more power or acclaim. After talking with our boss about all this direction, we were informed it simply wasn’t our business and we need to just be good soldiers and wait for the new direction. Some business people will agree with that sentiment saying communication with employees and direction on changes affecting them do not need to be communicated to the employee. Some managers will be more considerate and talk things over with their staff about possible changes or different directions. Do they need to? No, but that is what they will do.

This story of Moses got me thinking about how I have to trust a mortal man about my next direction for a project. The boss may be a good man but at the end of the day, he really doesn’t care about me or my career. I am essentially “trusting” him as he moves me around or puts me on the next project. I don’t get communicated about what is happening; it just happens.

Similarly, this led to exactly what I need to be doing about this time of waiting in my life. I need to be walking by faith not sight. God has no obligation to talk things over with me. He doesn’t need my input no matter how much I give Him or want to give Him. I struggle because I wrestle Him for control. I try to tell Him, “We need to do this,” or go here or do this in this timing. Actually, while I struggle with this, I need to remember that God has an amazing plan for the right thing at the right time. I may want to get to that next stage now, but He still has things to teach me during this time. That my friend is tough.

The difference between my boss and God is obviously numerous but I want to focus on a couple of things. It breaks down to my boss is not invested in me nor does he truly care about me. He is doing what is best for him. In contrast, God has invested in me and truly cares about me. He loves me infinitely. He as a perfect plan for me. He doesn’t need my input, but He allows me to discuss and pray things over with Him. It may not and probably will not change His mind, but I am thankful that He still listens and lets me talk about it with Him.

All this being said, I don’t know what your situation is but God has not forgotten you. He does have a plan. It may take time. You may not see it, it will be difficult, it could take a long time, but God is working things out. Be faithful. Pray for faith and help with the unbelief.

What Jesus Taught on Living in the Spirit

Continuing the series on the ministry of the Spirit during the life of Jesus and the teachings of Jesus about the Spirit, this post will focus on what Jesus taught about living in the Spirit. Having concluded the portion on the ministry of the Spirit, we introduced this section last time by looking at what the Gospel writers included in their books on this important subject. Throughout the Gospels, we see a number of references that Jesus makes to the Spirit and His coming. He presents a number of teachings on the Spirit, but the main one is how a person is to live in the Spirit. Through that dependence on the Spirit, we are able to worship, minister, and follow God in the Spirit. By living, we are to depend on the Spirit. In a culture where our independence is celebrated, Christianity stands apart. It calls for one to live a life of dependence on God. In fact, we boast in how much we need Jesus. 

In our own lives, think today of how is independence showing up. What are ways that you can depend on the Spirit. Ask God for wisdom to show you those areas.


 

Christ’s statement in Luke 11:13 to His disciples “How much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him,” shows not only had the disciples not asked for the Spirit, but characterizes a forward step in the progressive relationship of the Spirit with men during the Gospel period.[1] The disciples were now granted this privilege of asking for the Spirit. Jesus prayed to the Father that “the Spirit Who was then with them might be in them and abide. He then breathed on them and they received the indwelling Spirit; yet they were commanded not to depart out of Jerusalem. No service could be undertaken and no ministry performed until the Spirit had come upon them for power.”[2] In the confrontation between the Pharisees and Jesus in Matthew 12:25-32, Jesus condemned the Pharisees and warns them that “anyone who speaks (blasphemes) against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (v. 32; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10) gives evidence of what He had just done was done by the power of the Holy Spirit.[3] This blasphemy refers to people who become enemies of God (Isa 63:10). The awful sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan, has no forgiveness. Failing to recognize the Spirit at work in Jesus’ ministry is to therefore considered to blaspheme the Holy Spirit.[4]

Jesus Himself is the bearer of the Spirit.[5] Being baptized with the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19; Luke 24:48-49) identifies the believer with God and clothes them with power from God to preach and teach to all nations. Jesus had told the disciples that the Holy Spirit “will be in you” (John 14:17) and adds in John 16:12-15 a great and momentous truth that the indwelling “Spirit of truth” will guide them and lead them into a “measureless ministry” that will glorify Jesus.[6] The Spirit bears “witness” of Jesus Christ (John 15:26; 16:14) and reveals God’s will and truth to the Christian. As God breathed life into Adam (Gen 2:7), so Jesus “breathed” on the disciples, imparting the Spirit upon them (John 20-22-23). This indicated that they were being prepared and empowered (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4) for the new movement they will lead.[7] Jesus also taught that the disciples (and believers) should not worry about what to say, specifically when on trial, because the Spirit would give them the words to say “for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit” (Matt 10:20; Mark 13:11).

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, He that is Spiritual, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1918), 11.

[2] Ibid, 12.

[3] Erickson, Christian Theology, 793-795.

[4] C. Zoccali, “Spiritual Gifts.”

[5] D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 301.

[6] Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 6, 223.

[7] E. A. Blum, “John,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, eds. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985), 343.

Jesus Living by the Spirit

Continuing the study on the ministry of the Spirit in the life of Christ and what Jesus taught on the Spirit, this post will focus on the life and ministry of Christ and how He lived in the Spirit. Right after Jesus was baptized, He was led into the wilderness by the Spirit. From there, we see how the Spirit was active in the life of Christ as He walked this earth fully human, yet fully divine. We see how Jesus depended on the Spirit during the wilderness temptations, which gives modern believers an amazing example we are to follow during our times of trials and temptations.


 

Jesus Living by the Spirit

Jesus’ ministry was conducted through the Spirit’s power and direction. The immediate result of Jesus being filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1) after His baptism was the series of temptations at the inception of His ministry.[1] Jesus is described as being led (Matt 4:1; Luke 4:1-2) or sent (Mark 1:12) by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where the temptation took place. What is noteworthy here is that the presence of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life brings him into direct and immediate conflict with the forces of evil.[2] Being led by the Spirit into the desert, and through His victory over temptation, Jesus was now ministering “in the power of the Spirit.” The Spirit’s power was the source of Jesus’ authority, which Luke describes in chapter 4-6.[3]

Luke introduces Jesus’ ministry as a fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-2, which affirms Jesus will be empowered by the Spirit to fulfill His role as God’s agent of deliverance.[4] Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1–2, and asserted that it was now fulfilled in him (Luke 4:18–21), thus claiming that this ministry was a result of the working of the Holy Spirit in and upon Him.[5] Through His teachings and miracles, Jesus’ whole life was “in the Holy Spirit.” “Jesus was ‘full of joy through the Holy Spirit’ (Luke 10:21) when the seventy-two returned from their mission. Even his emotions were ‘in the Holy Spirit.’ This is a description of someone completely filled with the Spirit.”[6] The Gospel narratives show Jesus and His disciples performing activities that are empowered by the Spirit, such as exorcism (Matt 12:28) and healing (Matt 11:2-5; see also Acts 2:22, 43).

John 3:34 says, “For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.” This describes that the Father gave the Son the Spirit without limit which is different from the Old Testament prophets where the Spirit came on them for a limited time and purpose (cf. 1 Cor 12:4-11).[7] There is no evidence of growth of the Holy Spirit’s presence in Jesus’ life. “Other than the conception and the baptism, there is no series of experiences of the coming of the Holy Spirit. However, there is a growing implementation of the Spirit’s presence.”[8] The Spirit-led ministry of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke foreshadows the activity of the Holy Spirit initiating and empowering the Church for ministry in the book of Acts.[9] “The New Testament Gospels attest to the activity of the Spirit surrounding the advent and activity of the messianic movement of Jesus of Nazareth.”[10]


 

[1] Eduard Schweizer, The Holy Spirit, (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1980), 51.

[2] Erickson, Christian Theology, 793-795.

[3] J. A. Martin, “Luke,” 214.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Erickson, Christian Theology, 794.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Thomas Constable, “Notes on John,” Sonic Light, 2015, accessed 25 January 2015, http://soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/john.pdf.

[8] Erickson, Christian Theology, 785-86.

[9] D. S. Huffman, “Luke, Gospel of.”

[10] C. Zoccali, “Spiritual Gifts.”

The Significance of Women in Luke: Mary, Martha and Luke 10-11

Continuing the discussion of the significance of women in the gospel of Luke, this post will focus on the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Luke continues to discuss and show true discipleship by providing a snapshot of the events that took place with these two sisters and the raising of Lazarus. While many sermons have come out of this section, our focus here is just to take a brief look at how Luke portrays this story and what he emphasizes. We conclude this section by bringing discipleship back up and what true discipleship is based on.


 

Mary and Martha

The story of Mary and Martha (10:38-42) is rooted in attentiveness to Jesus and the ability listen. While it is uncertain if they had husbands or children, they appear as faithful, godly women.[1] While Luke omits all of John’s details about Mary and Martha and the raising of Lazarus, he instead focuses on the teaching of getting one’s priorities straight by highlighting the unique story of Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet while Martha was absorbed with serving. The message of listening ties back to words that Jesus spoke earlier in regards to His family, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice” (Luke 8:19-21). While Mark’s Gospel (Mark 3:31-35) does not include the hearing reference that is found in Luke, the point Jesus makes is that a true relationship to Him is grounded in hearing His Word and doing it.[2] Luke’s special interest in disciples and women is found in this story as Mary is praised for hearing Jesus’ words.[3] This story further demonstrates Jesus’ acceptance of the education of women and becoming a part of His ministry, which is sharply contrasted with the common rabbinic practice.[4]

Luke follows up this theme of listening and doing God’s will in describing the story of the woman who cried out blessing the womb that bore Jesus (11:27-28). Jesus responds that true blessing is found in those that hear the word of God and do it. His correction shows that discipleship and blessing is not found in a physical relationship, but one grounded in faith.[5]


[1] Benson, “The Women of Luke’s Gospel.”

[2] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 197

[3] Rosalie, “The Women from Galilee and Discipleship in Luke,” 56.

[4] Stein, Luke, 241.

[5] Kopas, “Jesus and Women: Luke’s Gospel,” 198.

Summary of Praying to the Father Through the Son in the Spirit

In an effort to recap what has been talked about over the last few posts, I want to provide a summary of what it looks like for praying to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Also, we will bring our discussion about prayer, its benefits, the reasons to pray, and what prayer looks like following the instructions of Christ.

Summary of Praying to the Father Through the Son in the Spirit

By borrowing the sonhood of the true Son, the believer can approach the throne of grace and call on God as Father, who will receive them because they pray in the style that was taught by the Jesus, the Son of God: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matt. 6:9).[1] Jesus and the Spirit are divine Persons who occupy the offices of intercessor and mediator to bring us before the Father. There are few prayers to Jesus in the New Testament and no recorded prayers to the Spirit.[2] “As John 14 makes clear, the closer we come to understanding the threeness of God, the more we are summoned to fully Christian prayer.”[3] “The Holy Spirit may be prayed to. He is God. But the Holy Spirit is not to be prayed to in such a way as to mask the mediatorship of Christ and our location in Christ as members of his body.”[4] Christian prayer has double intercession, the Son and the Spirit, built into it. “The Father not only welcomes prayers, but he has provided mediation and perhaps even mediation of the mediation. Your prayer life is secure in the two hands of the Father. That built-in logic of mediation is the grain of prayer.”[5]

Conclusion

“One’s understanding of prayer is indeed correlative with one’s doctrine of God.”[6] Prayer is an act of worship, in that it is an act of worshipping the Persons of the Godhead in a dependent and powerful way by seeking the kingdom of God, praising His name, and being still in awe of the glorious God that has called us His children by the work and authority of Christ. To pray in a Trinitarian way is to remember that the doctrine of the Trinity is vitally important. The doctrine of the Trinity helps us know and understand more about this unfathomable, incomprehensible, and infinite God. We should allow this doctrine to deepen our love and appreciation for God. We exist to worship God and He wants us to worship Him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Christians must always seek to go deeper in their worship of God. One of the greatest writings on Trinitarian prayer comes from C.S. Lewis in his acclaimed Mere Christianity where he discusses God as the goal of an ordinary man being caught up in something extraordinary:

An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows that what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God—that Christ is standing beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying—the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on—the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers. The man is being caught up into the higher kinds of life…he is being pulled into God, by God, while still remaining himself.[7]

 The goodness of the Father is shown in that He loves, hears and honors our prayers even when they are not addressed correctly. The Triune God invites us into fellowship with Him and has provided a way for us to talk with Him. The amazing part of it all is that the Creator God wants to talk with us. He eagerly awaits our conversation. But in the fast paced world of today, one of the most important tools we have to fight evil, face the daily battles, and be strengthened for each day is prayer. Many take this wonderful opportunity for granted and do not seek out the help and strength of the Triune God. But, as Christians we find an infinite well of courage, faith, strength and help in a prayerful conversation with God. “If we are truly speaking of the true God, then the truest form of that speech can never be abstract discussion about God.  It must be speech addressed to God. It must be worship. It must be prayer.”[8] It can be daunting and difficult to think of a finite being reaching out to an infinite and holy God. When one truly thinks about the distance and dissimilarity between us and God, it is easy to wonder whether we have the ability to pray and whether coming into God’s presence is a good idea anyway.[9] Our fellowship with God should only be enhanced by consciously knowing that we are relating to and seeking a tri-personal God. We must echo what St. Anselm said, “Let me seek Thee in longing, let me long for Thee in seeking; let me find Thee in love, and love Thee in finding.”[10]

We have an opportunity to bring our experience and our awareness into alignment with the structure of the economy of salvation. As the economy of salvation has revealed God’s tri-unity, we come before God the Father in a way that retraces the path of His sending the Son and Spirit to reveal Himself and redeem us.[11] God is inviting us into a conversation that is occurring between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we pray, we are joining that conversation. An advantage of Trinitarian prayer “is that it aligns your prayer life in particular with your spiritual life in general.”[12]


[1] Sanders, The Deep Things of God, 217.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Tom Wright, The Prayer of the Trinity, Internet, accessed 1 December 2014, http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Prayer_Trinity.htm.

[4] Graham Cole, Engaging with the Holy Spirit, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 64.

[5] Sanders, The Deep Things of God, 213.

[6] Friedrich Heiler, Prayer, trans. and ed. Samuel McComb and J. Edgar Park, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1958), 353.

[7] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2001), 163.

[8] Wright, The Prayer of the Trinity.

[9] Sanders, The Deep Things of God, 212-13.

[10] Anselm, Proslogium, (LaSalle, Ill: Open Court Publishing, 1903), 6.

[11] Sanders, The Deep Things of God, 215.

[12] Ibid.

Delighting in Trinitarian Prayer

Throughout these past few months, we have looked at various terms and definitions that are pertinent to knowing about the Trinity, its development through the years, the trustworthiness, and its foundation to faith. Over the next few posts, all these things will come together as we look at what it means to delight in the Trinity and what Trinitarian prayer looks like. Many times, our prayers may not reflect a Trinitarian model.

So what to expect? More information will be put forth on each member of the Trinity taking many of the terms we looked at and putting it all together. After that, a model of prayer will be set forth that will hopefully be helpful for all of us in talking to the Triune God. Finally, I will show how this relates to my own life and how I intend to apply it.

Delighting in Trinitarian Prayer

The path into the kingdom is open. All the barriers have been removed and the King himself eagerly awaits your presence. He knows that you have something to say. He has heard your cries and wants to hear your petitions. Then you realize how inadequate you are and think, “Who am I to talk to the King?” How does one even begin to talk to the powerful King about requests that are important to a few, but are very small when compared to the business of the kingdom? Do you talk directly to Him? Are you supposed to talk to the royal publicist who will then talk to the King? Are you to talk at all? You then realize that you are before the great throne of the King and have no idea what to do with this honor.

In many cases, Christians will take the great honor of praying to the Almighty Father and truly not know or understand how to pray to the Triune God. How are Christians to pray? Do we talk directly to the Father? Or do we pray to the Son, Jesus Christ? What about the Holy Spirit? Do we pray to Him? Is it wrong to pray to the Spirit? For many, including myself, the privilege of praying to God is often taken for granted; and many times, our prayers to God do not follow a Trinitarian model. We will pray to the Father thanking Him for dying on a cross, or we pray to Jesus calling Him “Abba.” The writer intends to answer these questions and provide the reader with a model of Trinitarian prayer. Prayer is to step into the great throne room of the King of kings, who eagerly desires to have a conversation with all of us, and for us to humbly kneel in awe of the Triune God and talk to our heavenly Father through the Son and in the Spirit.

Final Doctrinal Statement on God

Recently, I posted a few blog posts on a synthetic definition of God that included a doctrinal belief on the trinity, God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Spirit (Holy Spirit). After posting that, I realized there was a couple of items that were left out that I wanted to include. Instead of posting very similar posts all over again, I thought it best just to publish the whole doctrinal statement (aka synthetic definition) on God. The changes are minimal but will hopefully add a little more definition and clarity on the different Persons of the Trinity.

DOCTRINAL STATEMENT OF GOD

I believe in the Holy Trinity. I believe in one true God, that eternally exists as three Persons –Father, Son and Holy Spirit – and that these three are one God.[1] I believe that God is one in essence, three in Person each fully God and equally God each equal in nature, attributes and glory, and worthy of worship and obedience.[2] I believe the three Persons of the Trinity to be God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.[3] I believe that none is greater or less than the other but all equal and united.[4] I believe that the primary names[5] of God are Adonai[6], Elohim[7] and Yahweh[8] as revealed in the inspired Scriptures for His creation to call Him.[9] I believe that the Triune God is perfect[10], immutable[11], eternal[12], omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.[13] In God being very God, He is true, holy, just, good, faithful, loving, merciful and gracious.[14] God is beyond all human comprehension.[15]

I believe in one God, the Father[16], the all-powerful Lord and Master, the Glorious and Majestic God of all. I believe that God is the Creator and Maker of heaven and earth, and all that is seen and unseen.[17] He is the only God, the Creator and Sustainer, the Most High One, the Lord.[18] The Father is completely self-existent, self-sufficient and free.[19] I believe the Father is the Divine Source[20], Sovereign Ruler[21], Lord Chief Justice[22], Compassionate Reconciler[23], Him to Whom All Things Return[24], and the Father of the Son.[25]

I believe in the One and Only Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, eternally begotten of God the Father, being God from God and of the same Being as the Father, not created.[26] I believe that through Him all things were created and are sustained.[27] I believe that Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit, became incarnate[28] and received a sinless human nature.[29] I believe that He was at the same time truly God[30] and truly man[31], being at once in two natures fully human and fully God with the essences of each being preserved.[32] I believe that the eternal Son of God came into this world fulfilling Scriptures that He might manifest God and redeem fallen humanity as a ransom for all.[33] I believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Sacrificial Lamb that atoned the sin of the world saving all those who believe in Him from the righteous judgments that God must execute to satisfy His wrath.[34] I believe Jesus was crucified, dead and buried and on third day rose from the grave in accordance with Scripture; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father.[35] I believe that He is the Christians’ Mediator to God and will come again to judge all mankind.[36]

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, and that He is of God the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.[37] I believe that He is to be worshiped and glorified just as the Father and Son.[38] I believe that He is the promised Counselor indwelling every believer according to the divine promise and by His baptism unites all to Christ in one body.[39] I believe the Holy Spirit is a divine Person evidenced by His intelligence, volition, and emotions;[40] yet functions as the personal presence of God in the world.[41] He spoke through the prophets to produce the inspired Scriptures.[42] I believe the Spirit is active in the world today helping unbelievers come to know Christ, empowering the church, and leading believers into holiness to exemplify Christ.[43] I believe that that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is an unforgiveable sin.[44]

[1] J.I. Packer, Knowing God, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 20. “…[S]ince ‘God is spirit,’ ‘Holy Spirit’ can be predicated of the whole Trinity; the Father and Son both being ‘spirit,’ and both ‘holy’… But the Holy Spirit, as a proper name in the Trinity, is relative to the Father and the Son, since the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son.” – Augustine, De Trinitate 5.12, in Henry Bettenson, ed., The Later Christian Fathers: A Selection from the Writings of the Fathers from St. Cyril of Jerusalem to St. Leo the Great, trans. H. Bettenson (London: Oxford Univ. 1970) 231. Deut 6:4-5; Matt 28:18-19; Mark 12:29; John 14:6-17; Acts 5:3-4; 2 Cor 13:14; Col 1:13-19.

[2] Athanasian Creed lines 3-20. The Creed speaks to the Father, the Son and the Spirit each uncreated, incomprehensible, eternal, almighty; yet they are not three “almighties,” “eternals,” “uncreateds” and “incomprehensibles” but one. Each is God and Lord. “It is most important that we think of God as Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance.” – cf A.W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy, (New York: HarperOne, 1961), 20. “Within God’s one, undivided being is an ‘unfolding’ into three personal distinctions. These personal distinctions are modes of existence within the divine being, but are not divisions of the divine being.” – cf Matt Perman, “What is the Doctrine of the Trinity,” http://www.desiringgod.org, Jan 23, 2006 (accessed Oct 8, 2014). Also see Dallas Theological Seminary Article II from Doctrinal Statements, http://www.dts.edu/about/doctrinalstatement. John 1:14; 2 Cor 13:14; Heb 1:1-3; Rev 1:4-6.

[3] Athanasian Creed lines 3-20.  Matt 28:19; John 15:26; 1 Cor 8:6.

[4] Athanasian Creed lines 25, 27. “The Persons of the Godhead… have one will. They work always together…. Every act of God is accomplished by the Trinity in Unity…. It is a real if understandable error to conceive of the… [Trinity] as conferring with one another and reaching agreement by interchange of though as humans do.” – cf A.W. Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy, 22. “When we speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together we are not speaking of any greater being than when we speak of the Father alone, the Son alone, or the Holy Spirit alone.” And “the being of each Person is equal to the whole being of God.” – cf Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 255.

[5] God is called by many names but these are the most predominant names that are found in Scripture. Other names include: ALL POWERFUL (2 Cor 6:18; Rev 1:8; 4:8; 11:17); ANCIENT OF DAYS (Dan 7:9); FATHER (Rom 1:7; 8:15; Gal 4:6; James 1:27; 1 Pet 1:3); HOLY ONE, MOST HOLY (Isa 1:4; 6:3, Rev 16:5); JUDGE OF ALL THE EARTH (Gen 18:25); MASTER, LORD, SOVEREIGN LORD (Luke 2:29; Jude 1:4); KING/MY KING (Ps 5:2; 44:4; 1Tim 6:15); MY LORD, MY HUSBAND (Hos 2:16); ROCK OF ISRAEL (Gen 49:24); SHEPHERD, MY SHEPHERD (Gen 48:15; Ps 23:1).

[6] Adonai literally means “my lords, or master, lord, Lord.” It is found 425 times and is used exclusively of the true God, often together with Yahweh (310 times, 2 Sam 7:18). – cf Dr. J. Scott Horrell, Chapter 1 God’s Names and Attributes, ST102 unpublished class notes, DTS, 2. Gen 15:2; 18:3; Ps 35:23; 110:1.

[7] Elohim literally means “powerful ones or God, gods or most high ones.” It is found 2,602 times in the OT and describes God as Creator-Sustainer of the universe, usually translated as “God” in the NT. Typically, it stands in direct relation to Yahweh and Adonai (Deut 10:7) – cf Dr. J. Scott Horrell, Chapter 1 God’s Names and Attributes, ST102 unpublished class notes, DTS, 1. Gen 1:1; Ex 20:2-3.

[8] Yahweh (or YHWH) means “LORD, I AM; Jehovah.” It is probably from the verb “to be,” and found 6,828 times in the Old Testament. Generally it is God’s personal name in covenant with His creation (Gen 2:4) and His people, especially Israel (Ex 3:13-15). In the New Testament, it is typically translated Lord, related to “I AM” in Ex 3:13-15, see John 8:58 – cf cf Dr. J. Scott Horrell, Chapter 1 God’s Names and Attributes, ST102 unpublished class notes, DTS, 2. Gen 9:26; 12:8; 15:2,8; Ex 3:14; Is 16:4.

[9] Ex 3:13-15; Jdg 13:17-18; Gen 2:4. Other sources for the doctrine of the Trinity include acts of God in history such as the resurrection, the apostolic and Christian tradition such as the Nicene Creed, and the threefold experience of the Christian God. While God has progressively revealed Himself to creation, the Bible is the foundational source for the doctrine of the Trinity and God’s revelation about Himself. The importance of God’s name is: they reveal His Person (Ex 3:13-15; Jdg 13:17-18), represent Him (Ps 8:1; 75:1) and are therefore sacred (Ex 20:7; Matt 6:9).

[10] God is the definition of the measure or standard of all that is right, excellent, worthy and complete. Deut 32:4, Hab 1:13; Ps 18:30; Matt 5:48; 1 Tim 4:4.

[11] God never differs from Himself. “God cannot change for the better. Since He is perfectly holy, He has never been less holy than He is now and can never be holier than He is and has always been. Neither can God change for the worse. Any deterioration within the unspeakably holy nature of God is impossible…. All that God is He has always been, and all that He has been and is He will ever be.” Any attempt to think of God as changing, that object is no longer God and becomes something less than He is. A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 49-50. Ps 102:27; Mal 3:6.

[12] God exists infinitely before when time began, everlasting (in time) but also stands outside of time.

[13] Incommunicable attributes of God. “God is at once far off and near, and that in Him men move and live and have their being….There is no limit to His presence…He surrounds the finite creation and contains it. There is no place beyond Him for anything to be.” – cf A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy, 74. God is both transcendent (beyond and outside of creation; 1 Kings 8:27; Isa 40:12-28) and immanent (God is everywhere sustaining creation but is not creation itself; Jer 23:23; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:3).

[14] Communicable attributes of God. True: Job 9:4; Ps 33:10-11; John 17:3; Rom 11:33. Holy: Lev 19:2, 21:8; Ps 24:3, 99:3. Good: Ps 25:8, 34:8. Faithful: Deut 7:9; Ps 25:10. Loving: John 17:24; Rom 5:8; 1 John 4:8, Merciful: 2 Sam 24:14; Ps 86:16; Luke 1:78. Gracious: Ex 34:6; Ps 103:8; Eph 2:4-5.

[15] Athanasian Creed, line 9. “The intellect knoweth that it is ignorant of Thee because it knoweth Thou canst not be known, unless the unknowable could be known, and the invisible beheld and the inaccessible attained.” – cf Nicholas of Cusa, The Vision of God (New York: E.P. Dutton & Sons, 1928) 60. Job 36:26; Ps 139:6; Rom 11:33.

[16] Deut 32:6; 2 Sam 7:14; Ps 68:5; Jn 6:27, Rom 1:7, Eph 4:6. “[T]he term God or theos generally denotes the person of the Father, with only a few important exceptions.” Dr. J. Scott Horrell, Chapter 3 God the Father who Draws Near, ST102 class notes, DTS, 7. “Everything that Christ taught… is summed up in the knowledge of the Fatherhood of God. ‘Father’ is the Christian name for God.” J.I. Packer, Knowing God, 224.

[17] Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

[18] God reveals His name most frequently as Yahweh (LORD, I AM), Elohim (powerful ones or God, gods), and Adonai (Lord, master).

[19] God does not originate from or depend on anything outside of Himself. He sustains all things and is necessarily self-existent. Job 41:11; Acts 17:24-25; Rom 11:35-36.

[20] Acts 17:24-25, 28; Eph 1:11, 4:6; Rev 4:11.

[21] Deut 10:14, 17; 1 Chron 29:11-12; Matt 11:25; 1 Tim 6:15.

[22] Gen 18:25; Ex 12:12; Lev 18:4; Luke 23:34; John 8:15-16.

[23] John 3:16; Acts 14:15-17; 1 John 4:8, 16; 2 Cor 5:18-19.

[24] 1 Cor 15:24-28; Col 1:20; Rev 1:8, 21:22, 22:13.

[25] To explain the doctrine of the Trinity more fully, a distinction between essence and persons is helpful. It is helpful to remember that each member of the Trinity is present in every act of God, either in a primary or a secondary role. The one divine essence includes attributes that are equally shared by each member of the Godhead, but these six roles are predominantly ascribed to the Father. Other roles and activities of the Father include: God as husband and Judah/Israel as wife (Hos 2:2-16; Jer 3:1-14); the potter with human beings as the clay (Isa 45:9-10; Rom 9:21-24); the good Shepherd of the sheep (Ps 23; John 10:11-16); and the Vinedresser, with Jesus as the vine, and the believers the branches (John 15:1-8) – cf Dr. J. Scott Horrell, Chapter 3 God the Father who Draws Near, ST102 class notes, DTS, 13. In reference to God as the Father of the Son, see: Luke 23:24; John 3:16, 8:15-16, 17:5, 24.

[26] Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, John 1:1-18; John 10:30. Jesus states that He has every right to the claim of oneness with the God because the Father has sent him into the world (10:36) and “the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (10:38). Also, “If the Word [Jesus] were a created being, then he would have had to create himself for any and all creation came into existence through him: ‘without him was not any thing made that was made’ (1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2)” – cf Dr. J. Scott Horrell, Chapter 4: God Made Flesh, ST102OL Class Notes, DTS, 11.

[27] One role of Jesus Christ was His involvement in creation. Col 1:16-17 summarizes that Christ is the creator, sustainer, and the purpose of all created existence. John 1:3, “Through him all things were made.” “He was the Father’s agent in every act of making that the Father has ever performed.” – cf J.I. Packer, Knowing God, 56. “In him was life…” (John 1:4) speaks of Jesus animating, that is all things exist in and through Him, or are sustained in him.

[28] Incarnate means to become flesh. This is God himself becoming human as Jesus entered physically into the world and became human like us. It is only God who could pay for our sins, therefore God the Son became man to provide atonement for mankind’s sins. “He [Jesus] had not ceased to be God; he was no less God than before; but he had begun to be man. He was not now God minus some elements of his deity, but God plus all that he had made his own by taking manhood to himself” J.I. Packer, Knowing God, 57. Heb 2:17; John 1:1, 14; 1 Pet 2:24.

[29] Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, Luke 1:30-35; Luke 2:40; John 1:18; Phil 2:5-8.

[30] Phil 2:6-7: “who though he was in the form of God… made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant” (Italics mine). Of special note is the term “form” (morphē) which “denotes outward appearance that reveals an inward reality…. The ‘morphē of God’ denotes the heavenly glory… that reveals Christ’s innate deity.” – cf Dr. J. Scott Horrell, Chapter 4: God Made Flesh, ST102OL Class Notes, 17. Douglas McCready states, the only one who can enjoy the status of God is God Himself.” – cf Douglas McCready, He Came Down from Heaven: The Preexistence of Christ and the Christian Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 77.

[31] A major argument is also found in Phil 2:7 over the term “emptied” (himself), which the theological term kenosis (the “self-emptying” of Christ) is derived. Some have argued that because Christ “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,” then He could not have been God. Instead this shows the example of Jesus that because He was “in the form of God” and already existed as God, He “made himself nothing,” becoming a humble human. Kenosis says that “in order to be fully human, the Son had to renounce some of his divine qualities, otherwise he could not have shared the experience of being limited in space, time, knowledge and consciousness which is essential to truly human life.” J.I. Packer, Knowing God, 59. Packer argues why this theory is wrong by showing that when Paul spoke of the Son having emptied himself and became poor, it was not about Jesus laying aside his divine powers and attributes but of his divine glory and dignity citing John 17:5, “the glory I had with you before the world began.” Packer states that there “is no Scripture support for the idea of the Son’s shedding any aspects of his deity” (60). Regarding the controversial text of Mark 13:32 where Jesus says He does not know the time of His return, Packer insists that Jesus lived not as an independently divine person, but as a dependent one. While Jesus was on earth it was not a new relationship with the Father occasioned by the Incarnation, “but the continuation in time of the eternal relationship between the Son and Father in heaven…. The Son was utterly dependent on the Father’s will…. His knowing, like the rest of his activity, was bounded by his Father’s will. And therefore the reason why he was ignorant of (for instance) the date of his return was not that he had given up the power to know all things at the Incarnation, but that the Father had not willed that he should have this particular piece of knowledge while on earth, prior to his passion” (62). Matt 28:18, 20; John 21:17; Eph 4:10.

[32] Chalcedonian Definition states, “the Same perfect in Godhead, the Same perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, the Same [consisting] of a rational soul and a body; one essence [homoousios] with the Father as to his Godhead, and one essence [homoousios] with us as to his manhood; in all things like unto us, sin only excepted…. One and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, made known in two natures [which exist] without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the difference of the natures having been in no wise taken away by reason of the union, but rather the properties of each being preserved, and [both] concurring into one Person (prosopon) and one hypostasis— not parted or divided into two Persons (prosopa), but one and the same Son and Only-begotten….” The hypostatic (meaning personal) union is the personal union of Jesus’ two natures. This doctrine of the hypostatic union teaches that these two natures are united in one person. Jesus is not two persons, but one. It is the joining of the divine and the human in the one person of Jesus. This means that Jesus is not half God and half man. He is fully and completely God and man. He never lost His divinity. Athanasian Creed formulates it as, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man… perfect God, and perfect man…who, although He is God and man, yet He is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking of that manhood into God.” Col 2:9; Heb 1:3. For more on hypostatic union see J.I. Packer, Knowing God; Matt Perman, “How can Jesus be God and Man,”desiringgod.org, October 5, 2006 (accessed October 8, 2014).

[33] John 3:16; Phil 3:20-21.

[34] John 1:29; Rom 3:25-26; 2 Cor 5:14; 1 Pet 3:18

[35] Acts 2:22-24; 1 Tim 2:6; John 20:20.

[36] Athanasian Creed, line 40. Apostles Creed, line 7. Jesus as Mediator: 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Tim 2:5; Heb 9:15.

[37] Athanasian Creed. The Spirit is found active in creation, bring life to the universe (Gen 1:2; 2:7; Job 33:4; Ps 33:6, 104:30). The Holy Spirit has been referred to as such in Ps 51:11 and Isaiah 63:10-11. Similar to the Hebrew word ruah, pneuma in the Greek describes the Spirit as “the Spirit of God” or “Spirit of the Father,” or “Son.” – cf F.W. Horn, “Holy Spirit,” Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed David Noel Freedman, 6 vols, (New York: Doubleday, 1992) 3:265. The clearest evidence of the Holy Spirit’s divinity comes from the baptismal formula of Matt 28:19, “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Also see John 15:26 (“the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father” KJV); 2 Cor 3:17-18. Counselor: John 14:16, 16:7. Also called Advocate and Comforter (John 14:26).

[38] Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed. All the divine attributes that God has, the Spirit has (Isa: 40:13,14; 1 Cor 2:10-13; Ps 139:7-9; Heb 10:29; 1 Pet 4:14); and likewise, the Spirit does what the Father and Son do but often times in a complementary role (Gen 1:2; Ps 33:6; Isa 40:12; John 16:8-11). The Holy Spirit may also be described as a divine Person in that He has His own intelligence (2 Cor 2:10-13), has affections and emotions (Acts 9:31; Rom 8:26; Eph 4:30), and in the same way the Son submitted to the Father, so the Spirit submits to the will of the Father and the Son. John 16:13-14; Acts 7:51, 15:28; 1 Cor 12:11.

[39] John 14:16-17; John 16:7-15; Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 6:9; Eph 2:22; Eph 4:3-6. “Virtually all the divine ministrations to Christians are accomplished by the Holy Spirit—regeneration, baptism, sealing, indwelling, anointing, etc. Even more directly, to resist (Acts 7:51), quench (1 Thess. 5:19), grieve (Eph. 4:30) or insult the Spirit (Heb. 10:29) is to do so to God.” – cf Dr. J. Scott Horrell, The Other Comforter, ST102OL Class Notes, DTS, 15.

[40] In general, a person is both a self-conscious entity and a relational being. “Should the Holy Spirit (already seen to be divine) evidence such characteristics [intelligence, volition, and emotion] in his relationship to the Father, Christ, and believers, then this Spirit should well be considered a person in the same sense as the Father and the Son.” Intelligence: “The Spirit demonstrates a divine intelligence which appears at once one with and yet distinct from the mind of God the Father.” See Isa 40:15-17; 1 Cor 2:10-14. Affection/Emotion: The Spirit sympathizes and supports the believer. The title Counselor suggests affective engagement of the Spirit with the believer and cares for and involves himself with each believer. See Acts 9:31; Rom 8:26; Heb 10:29. Volition: The will of the Spirit is manifested obliquely. It is the Spirit that leads the believer into a more Christlike nature. John intends for the reader to see as the Son submitted his will to the Father, in the same way the Spirit subjects His will to the Son and the Father. John 5:19, 30; 6:38; 8:50; Acts 5:9; 7:51; 13:2; 15:28; 1 Cor 12:11. – cf Dr. J. Scott Horrell, The Other Comforter, unpublished ST102OL Class Notes, DTS, 16-19.

[41] Stephen and Philip were chosen as those “known to be full of the Spirit” (Acts 6:3-5). When turning to trust in him and to receive God’s gift of salvation, the believer senses an infusion of the Lord’s presence into their innermost self – cf Dr. J. Scott Horrell, The Other Comforter, unpublished ST102OL Class Notes, DTS, 2 -3. Gen 41:38; Deut 34:9; Luke 4:18, Acts 4:8, 31.

[42] 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20-21.

[43] The Spirit “teaches us to pray, illumines us to the significance of Scripture for our lives, gives gifts to each believer for the building up of the church, and empowers our ministries with eternal consequences.” – cf Dr. J. Scott Horrell, The Other Comforter, ST102OL Class Notes, DTS, 21. 1 Cor 12:4, 8, 13:14

[44] “One of the most convincing arguments… of the Spirit’s deity is Matthew’s record of Jesus’ teaching on the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matt 12:30-32).” This provides another argument for the Holy Spirit’s divine personhood. – cf Dr. J. Scott Horrell, The Other Comforter, unpublished ST102OL Class Notes, DTS, 20-21.

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.

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.