THE YEAR OF THE JUBILEE
1. In 1851 the Pennsylvania Assembly commissioned the production of a special bell to be used in marking the fiftieth anniversary of William Penn’s “Charter of Privileges.”
a. They may not have suspected that it would become an American icon, but it has. We know it as the Liberty Bell.
b. Part of the reason is the phrase they had inscribed on it: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
c. The quotation, from Leviticus 25:10, was fitting because it is how the fiftieth years were to be announced in the promised land.
2. The fiftieth year was to be holy to the people as a jubilee for them.
a. On the Day of Atonement in the fiftieth year the trumpet was to sound throughout the land and liberty was to be proclaimed to all.
b. The year that began that day was the “jubilee,” a term that is thought to have come from “ram” because the trumpets were made from the horns of rams.
c. In the year of jubilee, the holiness of the people of God was expressed in relation to time in a unique way.
3. “The year of the jubilee” (Lev. 25:40) is not expressly mentioned in other scriptures outside this context, but the concepts introduced through it are very meaningful to Christians.
1. What was to happen in the year of the jubilee?
a. Rest. The LORD wanted the land to rest through the year.
i. Lev. 25:11
ii. In this way the jubilee was similar to the Sabbath year (25:4, 5).
iii. “You may eat the produce of the field” (25:12).
b. Return. God wanted persons to be able to return to their inheritance in the land and to their families.
i. Lev. 25:10b
ii. One result was the prevention of the land being amassed by a few of the wealthy and the powerful.
iii. Another was restoration, a fresh start for those who had been distanced from their heritage by hard times or difficult circumstances.
iv. God provided for this two be done without wrong being done to anyone; the approach of the jubilee was not to be used to defraud (25:18-17).
c. Release. The LORD wanted there to be the right of redemption for both persons and their property.
i. A prominent aspect of this year was the possibility of being “released in the jubilee” (25:31, 33).
ii. Lev. 25:25-28 provides for the release of property.
iii. A similar release of persons from indentured servitude is required in 25:39-41, 47-54.
2. What were the people to learn from the year of the jubilee?
a. The LORD did want them to learn from the observance; it was not meant merely as year off.
i. At the end of every seven years, the people were to be gathered and the law was to be read in their hearing (Deut. 31:9-11).
ii. In this way, their children to learn to fear the LORD their God and to be careful to live in the land according to his word (Deut. 31:12-13).
iii. Following the seventh of these cycles, the year of jubilee was to occur. Think of how impressive, in view of the reading of the law of the LORD, this observance would have been!
b. What the LORD wanted them take from the jubilee may be summarized with three statements.
i. “I am the source of the blessings of life.”
(1) Lev. 25:18-22
(2) Lev. 25:6
(3) It would take some trust to act as if God would do this!
ii. “The land is mine.”
(1) Lev. 25:23-24
(2) One could not sell the land in perpetuity because he was not the owner; God was.
(3) Both responsibility and hope depend upon a personal grasp of the concept of stewardship: any man is only using what belongs to God.
iii. “These people are my servants.”
(1) Lev. 25:42-43, 55
(2) They are not to be bought and sold because they are servants whom the LORD brought out to be his own.
(3) No one is to rule over any of them ruthlessly because reverence for God is due that person, too.
3. What are the concepts in the jubilee that enable us to grasp great spiritual truths?
a. The Gospel. The year of the jubilee, while not specifically cited, prepares us to appreciate the proclamation of liberty in the year of the Lord’s favor.
i. Isa. 61:1-2
ii. Lk. 4:16-20
iii. 2 Cor. 6:2
b. Rest. The hunger and thirst for rest that is implied by the provisions of the jubilee has a fulfillment.
i. Matt. 11:28-29
ii. Heb. 4:6-11, 2-3
iii. It will finally be complete in “the city that is to come” (Heb. 13:14).
c. Sojourning. Since we have been set at liberty but are not home yet, we are to conduct ourselves and sojourners and pilgrims with God.
i. What he taught Israel to do through the jubilee is what those who live by faith have always done (Heb. 11:13).
ii. 1 Pet. 2:11-12
iii. 1 Pet. 1:17
1. The year of the jubilee was an another expression of what the book of Leviticus is about: the holiness that comes from belonging to God.
a. His people were set apart to him by their worship, by their ethical conduct, by their cleanliness, and by their use of time as well.
b. They were different from the nations because they belonged to God.
c. Belonging to God showed through in every aspect of their lives.
2. The gospel of Christ emphasizes two similar points:
a. God has done something which makes it possible for any of us to belong to him.
b. If we belong to him, we are to grow toward character like his.
3. Let us proclaim liberty throughout the land!