The Year of Jubilee

This is my year of Jubilee. Last Saturday I turned 49. That means I am now in my 50th year. They say some things, like cheese, get better with age. I hope that’s true of me!

In the Old Testament the Israelites were commanded

to observe the year of Jubilee. After 7 sets of 7 years the Jubilee would be declared. It’s not clear to scholars whether that was the 49th or 50th year. Furthermore, we don’t really know if the year was ever properly observed.

The Jubilee dealt mainly with land and property rights. However slaves and prisoners were to be set free as well. Debts were to be forgiven so that the poor would have a fresh start and not be subject to generations of poverty. “You shall make the fiftieth year holy, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee to you; and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family.” (Leviticus 25:10) In addition, they were not to work the ground that year but to let it rest.

The year of Jubilee was all about freedom and restoration. It was to be a kind of ‘re-set’ button that would enable everyone to begin again, get out of debt, reclaim their inheritance and declare that God was the true ruler of everything.

The laws relating to the Jubilee in the Old Testament were for the nation of Israel. But it pointed towards the coming of Jesus and something even better for those of us who come to faith. Jesus is our Jubilee. Jesus has come to give us liberty and freedom. Paul tells us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Christ has come to set us free, not just once every fifty years but each and every day.

I’ve been thinking about what Christ sets me free from: from sin, from the need to conform to the power of this world, from the opinion and oppression of others, from fear, from guilt, from jealousy, from bitterness, from unforgiveness and, even from a sense of inadequacy. Sin had once enslaved me but Jesus declared me to be free and then, by his Holy Spirit, empowers me to live in this new freedom.

There is nothing magical about my 50th year. Each and every day I have the opportunity to walk in the freedom that Jesus offers me. This is also true for you. While people in the Old Testament had to wait for good things to come – our wait is over. Jesus has appeared and says to all of us:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

I pray that you are experiencing the freedom that comes with knowing Jesus and the joy of Jubilee.

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