I love watching World War II documentaries. I recall the scenes from the time of the American soldiers’ liberation of France. They were welcomed with dancing and joy on the streets as they liberated town after town from the captivity of the Nazis. Liberation brings celebration.
Though they may not be as obvious as the Nazis were, today there are many things that still enslave men. Whether it is our sins and past mistakes or the regrets, guilt and condemnations that come from them, these things rob us of our joy and the freedom to celebrate.
That’s why I believe the message of God’s Jubilee year is so relevant today.
In Leviticus 25:8-55, God ordains the Jubilee year for the Israelites. The tenth verse captures the essence of the Jubilee years:
“This fiftieth year is sacred—it is a time of freedom and of celebration when everyone will receive back their original property, and slaves will return home to their families.” Leviticus 25:10 (CEV)
How I love that phrase, ‘slaves will return home to their families’ – free at last!
You see here that God was establishing a very unusual law for the children of Israel. He was asking them that from the time they entered the promised land, they were to mark every fiftieth year as a year of jubilee. It was to be a year to return ownership of real estate to the original title holders and to release slaves.
What happened then (as it could well happen today) was that people would fall into hard ways financially, either through their own mistakes or through the circumstances of life, and because of this, lose their properties. It is the equivalent in our day of one’s house being foreclosed and taken away by the creditors. These were often properties that had been passed down through generations. You can imagine the shame and pain that this kind of loss would bring.
But not only that, in some cases, people got so indebted that they became slaves to their creditors. Even today, we can pass through circumstances and situations in life that leave us robbed of our liberty.
It is against this backdrop of the tragedy of our captivity that the beauty of the message of God’s year of jubilee shines bright. In the 50th year, God ordained that a trumpet be sounded to proclaim this liberty. I can well imagine how that proclamation must have sounded in the ears of those whose past circumstances and mistakes had left them enslaved! They must have danced in the 50th year more than the French danced in the year 1944.
Now the message of God’s Jubilee is not just a concept of the Old Testament. At the start of the Lord Jesus’ public ministry it was the prophetic declaration of the Jubilee year that he used to introduce His mission;
“’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 favour.’” – Luke 4:18-19 NIV
What he called ‘the year of the Lord’s favour’ is the Jubilee year. Christ came to establish God’s season of Jubilee.
The year of Jubilee is an illustration of the grace of God, which was fully demonstrated in Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus Christ when we had lost it all through our sin. We had lost our true inheritance – our relationship with God – and had become slaves to sin and Satan. But through Christ’s death, God’s jubilee is declared over our lives if we will accept it by faith. That which was lost by sin in the Garden of Eden was gained back on the cross of Calvary. When Christ cried out ‘It is finished’ as he died on the cross, it was the ultimate blast of the Jubilee trumpet. We no longer have to wait for fifty years to be free. Through Christ’s death, God’s Jubilee is available to us now.
Our God is the God of jubilee. We no longer have to remain slaves to our past. We don’t have to live with the fear that we will never be free from the indebtedness of our past. God speaks his jubilee over us now and continually every day. And what a powerful message of hope this is!
God restores and redeems our past. Don’t bother about how he will do it. Just trust him and hand over your life to him. And trust him with your past.
Listen and hear the proclamation of God’s jubilee. We are no longer slaves. It is time to dance in the street.
Want to Read this Article Offline?