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Monday, 24 February 2020

Leviticus 25 : 1-28

“For it is the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you…” -Leviticus 25:12

In the book of Leviticus, we read a fascinating law that God gave Israel about observing a year of Jubilee: (Lev. 25:8 -11)

After seven Sabbath years came a year of Jubilee, which along with being a Sabbath for the land, also was a "year of release". This meant that all Israelites who were in bondage were freed, and anyone who had sold his ancestral property would receive it back, and all debts were forgiven. "Jubilee" comes from "Yovel", which is a Hebrew word for the ram's horn that was used to proclaim the year.

So the Jubilee was instituted for one main purpose - to provide for the poor who had gone into debt or lost their land, that they would be able to start over again. Without it, the wealthy would always do better in bad years, and the land would tend to move into their hands while those who had lost their land would become permanently enslaved. Several of the prophets lament the exploitation of the poor by the rich, which hints that Israel never observed a Jubilee year.

The year of Jubilee was a foreshadow of the Messiah- Jesus Christ Himself.  The primary image of the Messiah was that he would be a king like David, so just as the new kings of other countries declared a Jubilee when they came into power, the Messianic king would as well. Isaiah says:  The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor. (Isa.61:1-2).

This is a picture of the coming messianic King, right after he is anointed by God, declaring good news of the Jubilee year. Each phrase is about the how great the "year of the Lord's favor" will be to those who have been imprisoned or enslaved because of their debt. The king will let them go home and start life over, to their great joy. See how Jesus quotes the above reference from Isaiah in Luke 4:18,19 at the start of His ministry.

Throughout Jesus' ministry he uses images from the year of Jubilee, and he takes the image of the poor person set free from debt and uses debt as a metaphor of sin. The poor who are set free in the Messianic kingdom are the poor in spirit, those who know they are in debt to God because of their sin. So the "good news of the kingdom of God" is that the Messianic King has come, and has declared complete forgiveness of debt (sin) for those who will repent, and enter his kingdom. It is good news to the poor rather than to the rich who don't see that they need to be forgiven.

So we see in Jesus' use of the picture of the Jubilee the greatest picture of God's grace through Christ. Those in prison are those who are under a crushing debt they could never repay. We see in Jesus, the new King setting prisoners free of debt that they owe because of their sin. Through Jesus' work on the cross, those who become a part of his Kingdom receive forgiveness of debt that they cannot pay themselves and they can start over as new persons.

The Year of Jubilee was God’s big ‘Reset’ button— the ‘Ctrl-Alt-Del’ in the universe. God created a Jubilee because it was His desire that His children should never live in bondage and should never be bound by poverty.

“Come to me," Jesus said, "all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”

Matt. 11:28


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