Thursday, December 08, 2005

Jesus is Jubilee

An invitation arrives in the mail. It’s a thick envelope, carefully addressed. The return address simply reads, “Jubilee.”

Befuddled about what type of celebration this could be, the envelope is opened. It seems a 50th year is about to commence. The benefits—all credit card debts are cancelled, the indentured will be set free, and family lands revert to original owners. To participants this invitation spells euphoria.

That imaginary scene resembles the plan in Leviticus 25 where God set in motion the blessings of a Jubilee year. God intended relief every 50th year. At half-century marks, God intended debts be forgiven, servants freed, and farmlands to lie fallow.

Jubilee spelled rest. For those living under the Mosaic Law, at least two reasons existed for this 50th year celebration. If a family succumbed to misfortune, the year of Jubilee provided opportunity for restructure, leveling opportunities for success.

Often the indebted became ordinary servants for fellow Hebrews, assuring the poor of at least shelter and food. However, at the beginning of Jubilee, they were released from the work arrangement.

Also in the fiftieth year, land was not farmed and reverted back to original owners. God wanted his people to remember that “the land must not be sold permanently because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants” (25:23). Occupants only. Not owners.

Isaiah prophesied about a jubilee Savior, a “good news” king to the poor and the brokenhearted. This king would set captives free. The time of these events was proclaimed as the “year of the Lord’s favor” (Isaiah 61:1-2).

Near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry on a Sabbath day of rest, the Christ (Anointed) read from a scroll the words of Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news.”

His message arrived for the bankrupt, those in bondage to sin, and the spiritually blind. Further, Jesus said to them, “Today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16-21). Jesus is Jubilee.

Matthew Henry writes that “jubilee” or “jobel” signifies a particular sound of the trumpet, “distinguishable from any other.” This sound went forth at the end of the Day of Atonement when God reconciled with man.

In the Savior a continuous jubilee is celebrated. Through Jesus, God spelled out “peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

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