I am currently working on the program for our upcoming Celtic retreat.  The theme for this year is Jubilee and New Beginnings, so I have spent a lot of time researching the Jubilee year. I particularly love the concept of rest and release.   I thought that you may enjoy some of what I have read.  – today the OT tomorrow the NT.  So much encouragement, so much in keeping with the concept of shalom and God’s desire to see all things made whole again

In Leviticus, a Jubilee year is proclaimed to Moses by God every fifth years: “You shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his family” (Lev. 25:10).  It was based on the theological conviction of God’s sovereignty over the land and all creation. ” The Israelites saw themselves as strangers and sojourners on a land that did not belong to them by right, but which has been bequeathed to them by God as an inheritance: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with me.” (Lev. 25:23)  The unusual economic arrangements of Jubilee were directly grounded in this conviction that ultimately the land belonged to God.

Two aspects of Jubilee, release and rest, recur throughout Leviticus 25 – a release from any bondage that holds individuals captive and a rest (or freedom) from work for the Israelites, their land and cattle.  Israelites enslaved because of debt were freed and their debts forgiven.  Land was restored to families forced to sell it out of economic need during the last 50 years. (Lev. 25:28). While its roots were clearly theological, the Jubilee Year was in essence an economic institution. It prevented ownership of the land becoming exclusive to the wealthy few.

The English word “jubilee” is derived through Latin (jubilare) from the Hebrew “yobel,” meaning “ram’s horn” or trumpet, the instrument sounded on the Day of the Atonement to inaugurate this special Sabbatical year.  Liturgically, by connecting the beginning of this holy year with the solemn Feast of the Atonement (Yom Kippur), the Israelites made it clear that the spirit of the Jubilee was to be one of repentance and forgiveness.

In the OT view of Jubilee, we get a prophetic glimpse of what God was planning in Christ,  but which wasn’t wholly available until he came (Heb 11:39-40).  This is a wonderful glimpse into a world in which all can rest without striving, a world in which all are set free physically, emotionally and spiritually to live in harmony, peace and abundance together.  Christ is the key that unlocks our understanding of the Mosaic law and our full understanding of the year of Jubilee.

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