The Year of Jubilee – Part 2
Note: before the study you may want to read all of Leviticus 25.
God gifted Israel with the Land. It was and always would be his! Israel was to work it and look after it, and in the process look after each other. The Sabbath was for the Rest and Restoration of the people. The Sabbath Year was for the Rest and Restoration of the Land – with God promising that the people would be looked after during the two years (one year of Sabbath, another year to get growing again) before full production resumed. The Year of Jubilee was after a Sabbath of Sabbath Years – every 50 years – and can be seen as a “safety net” that their whole economic structure was to be built around – assuring not only Rest and Restoration, but also Redemption.
Last study, we looked closer at the “Care of the Land”, and now we continue with two other areas of the Year of Jubilee.
Whilst we may not see this precise term in our Scriptures, as we look closely at the passages below, it should be clear what the term means. It is a term I learnt as a young adult, and I’ve always found it to be a valuable one – see what you think:
- What was the purpose of a Kinsman Redeemer? See Leviticus 25:25–28 and 25:47–49
- What book of the Bible is all about this practice of Kinsman Redeemer?
- How does the Year of Jubilee fit into this? Leviticus 25:40, 25:50 and 25:54
- How does Jesus fit into this?
As noted earlier, the Land was God’s and he had gifted it to Israelite families. In a similar fashion, God had gifted the people with their freedom and their lives, since he had brought them out of Egypt. This is also an important concept – just as the people didn’t really own the Land, nor did they really own themselves. Everything belonged to God!
So, if economic conditions warranted the sale of land, or even the sale of persons, then a relative could (and should!) remedy this situation. If God blest you with prosperity, you would help your relatives obtain back their land and/or their freedom. We can see this at work in the Book of Ruth.
However, God also built in a “safety net” – when the Year of Jubilee came around, Israelite families would get their land and their freedom back, regardless.
God, in his great mercy, becomes one of us – becomes a Kinsman to all of us – through the Incarnation. Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer, who pays the price needed for the redemption of ALL.
- Why was it necessary for the Son of God to become one of us?
- What price did he pay for our redemption?
- To whom do we belong?
Treatment of Others
Even as the Sabbath was intended for all (as in the rich were not allowed to hire poorer people to do the work they were resting from on the Sabbath), throughout this chapter we see God instructing his people on how to treat others. It is not all about “me” (as much of our modern western culture is), nor is it just about our Country (as we often hear on our news broadcasts) – it is also about the less fortunate, the strangers and, as uncomfortable as it may be, the slaves!
- Read Leviticus 25:35–46 and list the ways in which Israel was to treat the less fortunate.
- This passage allows someone to “sell themselves”. How were such people to be treated?
- Is this condoning slavery?
- Why should Christians treat others well?
The Year of Jubilee is about treating others well. It is understandable in this fallen world that some are going to get into financial messes, and some are going to profit out of that – however, Israel was not to forget her roots – she was once a slave; the land/wealth was not owned by Israel, rather a gift for her to use.
As Christians, we need to also remember our roots – we were (and are) sinners, our gifts are not owned by us but are supplied by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of the Church, and through the Church, the benefit of others.
- What gifts do we have that are of benefit to others?
Many commentators point out that we have no evidence of the Year of Jubilee having ever been celebrated in Israel.
It appears that they didn’t even keep the Sabbath Years:
- Read Leviticus 26:27–35
- Read 2 Chronicles 36:20–21
70 Sabbath Years imply 490 years which is about the time from entering the Promised Land to its fall to Babylon …
We are not capable of properly resting, restoring or redeeming ourselves, even when God supplies all the resources. However, through the Grace of our Father, we have a Kinsman Redeemer who not only will take our burdens, but will redeem us and restore us to peace with God. As every day is a Holy Day due to the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, so every year is a Jubilee as we acknowledge what God has gifted us through his dear Son, and we use the riches we have through the power of the Holy Spirit to spread his Gospel with our words and our deeds – truly a Celebration!
Prayer: Gracious Father, I/we thank you for the precious gift of your dear Son as our Kinsman Redeemer. Thank you for the great lengths you went to for my/our redemption. Help me/us to listen to your Holy Spirit within, and with his guidance, may I/we effectively use your gifts for the benefit of others. In Jesus mighty name I/we pray. Amen.