Wednesday, February 15, 2012

looking for Jesus in Leviticus: “Jubilee,” part 2

The Word for today:
Leviticus 26

Stand in the Rain is following the Sabbaths all the way from original creation to the restoration of Jubilee. We started yesterday in Genesis and we’ll finish tomorrow in the New Testament. Sabbath and Jubilee illustrate profound and startling spiritual truths, so we hope you’ll come along.


In Genesis, God rested on the seventh day.

In Exodus, Israel was commanded to observe their own Sabbath day, when they should cease from their striving to trust and enjoy God for who he is.

Here in Leviticus, Israel is commanded to let the land rest every seventh year:

Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.  (Leviticus 25:2-4)

This series of sevens does not end with the seventh year. The cycle compounds one more time:

Count off seven sabbaths of years--seven times seven years--so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years.
Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.
It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.
The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to his own property.  (Leviticus 25:8-13)

The word jubilee means, literally, the sounding of a ram’s horn (which happened on the Day of Atonement in the 50th year.)

But it also carries the idea of a release from bondage.  After seven “sevens” of years, in the fiftieth year, they were to proclaim liberty to all the inhabitants. This liberty was to include everything that goes on in their world:

If someone had lost their land (which had been distributed to their clan) because they’d fallen on hard times and had to sell it away, then in the 50th year, everything resets and the land goes back to the clan who owned it originally.

Some people had to sell themselves into servitude/slavery when they fell on hard times. (Their slavery wasn’t like racial slavery, but it was a type of employment arrangement, whereby you sold yourself into the hire of a family.) But in the Jubilee year, RESET.  The servitude was ended, and that person returned to his own land where he could start over again.

So once every fifty years, the land is restored to the original owners, servant/slaves are freed, and debts are forgiven.


Jubilee was representative of a larger narrative that looks all the way back to the original creation and anticipates its future restoration.

Jubilee tells us that hope and justice aren’t too far away. There is always, for everybody, light at the end of the tunnel. No matter a person’s plight, it would not be that way forever. Everything becomes new again in the year of Jubilee.

The Jubilee Year is proclaimed – the ram’s horn is sounded -- on the Day of Atonement, signifying that the basis and precedent for the freedom and reset of Jubilee is what happened on that great Day, when the high priest entered the Holiest Place with the blood of the sacrifice.

Hope, opportunity, and second chances are all based upon the High Priest mediating, as God had prescribed, on behalf of the people.


Ultimate Jubilee is just ahead, so we hope to see you tomorrow.


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