The Promise of Jubilee
July 21, 2019
One of the things we've been seeing through the book of Leviticus is that Israel is the distinct people. They're unique amongst the nation. God said to them, "I called you out of Egypt, I brought you out of the troubles and all the difficulties and trials to be your father, to be your God." In other words, to have a special relationship. That's why He says to them, "Do not live as those in Egypt live that place from where you came, do not live as those in Canaan live the place where you are going. You're in the kingdom of God now." That's the whole thing. There's a whole different set of principles that apply. You're in the kingdom of God now. He gave them the statutes and the laws to show them what it meant to live differently than the world and He gives them this premise. If you will honor God, then God will bless your nation, God will bless the land and God will bless each one One of them individually.
There's where the application is also applied to our lives. We're called out of the world. He says, "Don't live like the world around you, be different, be distinct." You're in the kingdom of God now and all different set of principles apply. If you will honor God, then God will pour out His spirit, God will pour out His life on you as well. When you get to Leviticus 25, he's describing an interesting aspect. He starts out by discussing what is called a Sabbath year. This is an entire year that they were to observe set aside every seventh year was to be a Sabbath. Then this year, they were to give the land rest. They could not sow, they could not reap or prune their vineyards. However, anything that grew on its own. Now if you've ever been on a farm or worked in a farm, you know that much will grow up on its own. We call them volunteers. Volunteer tomatoes, volunteer corn, it grows up on its own. He says, "Whatever grows of its own, you may have it freely and everyone can go out to the fields and it's free. Just go into the abandonments and have all but the land gets to rest, no sowing, no reaping no pruning."
Giving the land it's Sabbath rest is going to make the land more productive. It's also a demonstration of faith because they've got to take God at His Word. They've got to trust that He will bless them. If they do what God says then He will bless them. If they will live in agreement with God's word, then they would see abundance and prosperity and live in that land securely. Today in our modern scientific farming methods, we understand that those principles are exactly right. Today, modern farming, you've got to give the land rest. If not, it will be depleted and will no longer become productive. It's not only true for us physically we need rest but we also need to see it spiritually. If you don't have spiritual rest, if your spirit is not rejoicing and reignited and filled, then you will find the emptiness that comes by living by your own efforts.
You begin spiritually burning out. In these verses that we're studying today, God gives them yet another aspect, an additional year. "Not only do you have the seventh year but every 50th year, I want you to have another Sabbath year." Two of them, it'd be two in a row. This is called the Year of Jubilee. In this Year of Jubilee, not only will the land have an additional year of rest and you then the those who would be there would get that rest but then also every person who is indebted, sold themselves into slavery because of indebtedness is set free and their debt is forgiven and everyone gets to return to his original land. The land can never really be sold because it always is to revert back to that original family on the Euro Jubilee and they get to start over. It's like a fresh start. I just love that perspective. You get a fresh start and all who had sold themselves in the slavery because of poverty, they get to be set free. It's a beautiful picture.
There's many applications I want us to look at. Leviticus 25 and we'll begin in verse eight. "You were to count off seven Sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years so that you may have the time of the seven Sabbath, namely 49 years." He does the math for us there. "You shall then sound a ram's horn abroad on the 10th day of the seventh month on the day of Atonement." This is John Cooper. On that day on the 50th year, you sound the ram's horn abroad. In other words, north, south, east, west proclaim it and sound it throughout the land. Verse 10."You shall consecrate the 50th year and you shall proclaim a release," the word in Hebrew is literally liberty. "You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land." North, south, east, west through everyone. "It shall be a Jubilee for you and each of you shall return to his own property and each of you shall return to his own family. You shall have the 50th year as a Jubilee. You shall not sow nor reap, it's after growth nor gather in from its untrimmed vine. It's a Jubilee. It shall be holy to you, you shall eat of its crops out of the field. Just go it's free, eat of the abundance but the land gets its rest."
"On this year of jubilee, each of you shall return to his own land, his own property. If you make a sale, moreover to your friend or buy from your friend's hand do not wrong one another." He tells you how to do it. "Corresponding to the number of years after the Jubilee you shall buy from your friend. He is to sell to you according to the number of years of crops because the land itself has never actually sold. In proportion to the extent of the years, you shall increase its price and in proportion to the fewness of years, you shall diminish its price for it is the number of crops that he is selling to you, not the land. You shall not wrong one another in this but you shall fear your God for I am Jehovah, I am the Lord your God. You shall thus observe my statutes and keep my judgments so as to carry them out that you may live securely in the land."
I. God Wants You to be Free
These are the verses I want us to look at and of course, I'll cover the other verses around it on Wednesday. I want us to see how many applications there are for us because it's really a very wonderful insight. It's all fulfilled in the Lord. What we're recognizing He wants it to be seen, wants it to be known several important things starting with this. God wants you to be free, the year of Jubilee. The year of Jubilee was unique amongst the nation. No other nation had such a thing but it required faith. It required trust, that God would do what He said he would do. If they forgave the debts, if they set free those in servitude, and gave everyone who needed a new beginning, God will bless their land. It took faith to believe that but unfortunately, there is no evidence that Israel ever did it, no evidence that Israel ever took God at His word and honored these verses thus they missed the opportunity to revere God and sanctify God by keeping the Year of Jubilee. It's a very important thing because of the message, what it says of God's heart.
A. Jubilee is for releasing
There are several aspects I want us to see. First of all, Jubilee is for releasing. Notice in verse 10, when it says, "There is a release to every inhabitant in the land." In other words, if the Hebrew became so poor, that he sold himself as a slave, then he was to be released in the year of jubilee. They didn't have the idea of bankruptcy. If a person got into destitute things and they would sell themselves to be a servant, to be a slave but on the year Jubilee, they're set free to have a fresh start to begin again. I love that about the Lord. There's a lot of people frankly, who need a fresh start. God is that new beginning, that new restoring. I just love that. In fact, he gives more description of it in Leviticus 25:39, just jump there if you would. He says, "If a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you then you shall not subject him to a slave service." In other words, you've got to respect him, he's your brother.
He shall be with you like a hired man as if he were a sojourner with you until the year of jubilee. He shall then go out from you, he and his sons with him and he shall go back to his family that he may return to the property of his forefathers. "For they are my servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt, they're not to be sold." These are very important pictures he's giving to us. In verse 10, back to Leviticus 25:10, it literally says, "You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land." shout it out, I want liberty proclaimed. That phrase right there, you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land, that phrase might ring a bell because that phrase is in fact engraved on the Liberty Bell, that famous Liberty Bell I'm referring to is the one in Philadelphia. When they rang that bell on July 8, 1776, so that the citizens of the city could come and hear the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. They wanted that scripture engraved on that bell, proclaim liberty throughout the land.
See God wants captives set free. See is by the releasing of the debt, it's an opportunity to start over. We love that about the Lord, an opportunity to start fresh, to start over, having your debts forgiven, captives set free. Now, there's two aspects of this that we have to understand when it comes to this year of jubilee. Now, for those in the bondage and in debt, a jubilee is absolutely liberty and freedom but there are then the others who must be willing to forgive that debt, who must be willing to set the captives free.
See, there's two sides. See, in Christ, our debts are forgiven and we are set free. We love that about the Lord. In Christ, our debts are forgiven. Oh how much we have been forgiven. It's a glorious thing to receive but here's the thing. We love receiving the blessings of the Lord. It's wonderful to receive them but there's another aspect. They had to be willing to forgive and there's the same thing for us. There's two parts. We love receiving forgiveness of the Lord but you have to be willing then to forgive those who have trespassed against you. Have you been forgiven? How much has God forgiven? Amazingly much. Then should we not also forgive? Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind to one another," Paul writes, "Be tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ has forgiven you."
Then Peter mentioned something similar when he comes to the Lord, this is Matthew 18:21-22 when Peter came to the Lord and he said, "Lord, how often shall my brothers sin against me and I forgive them, up to seven times?" I'm convinced that when Peter said this, he thought he was saying something magnanimous because and that day in that culture, the theme of the day was three strikes and you're out. All right, that's one. I'll overlook it this time, pal. All right, that's the second time, I've overlooked this now twice. Well, that's a third time, you're out, you're done. That's it or three strikes, you're done. That was the way it was in that culture. Peter, he makes a statement. He's sure, he's convinced Jesus is going to commend him for this. How many times should I forgive if my brother sins against me, up to seven times?
The Lord responds. Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times. I say to you up to 70 times seven." That's 490 times. Now, the idea here is not that you would actually keep track, "Oh, there's an app for that. Yes, I've been keeping track, is right here in my app. Yes. You know what? That's the 483rd time, says right here. Seven more times and you're done." No, the thing is this, the idea is not that you keep track. The idea is, you can't keep track because if you forgive and then you forgive and then you forgive and then forgive and forgive again, that's only five times. Then if you forgive and forgive, that seven but then you forgive and forgive and forgive, that's only 10. Then if you forgive, I'm going to do the whole 490.
The point is this, after a while, you don't have to count because you have become a forgiver. It's who you are now. It's the nature of your character now. You've chosen it. See, when you forgive others, it sets you free. He wants this to be a year of liberty for everyone. See, bitterness and hurt can keep you in bondage. If you hold on and you hold on and you hold on, it can keep you, you need to be set free. Reminds me of when I was back in Bible college. I was in this class and the class was homiletics, how to bring a sermon and I really liked this teacher, this professor was one of my favorites, really liked him a lot. At the beginning of the class, we would often banter about his football team that he liked, Denver Broncos. We would start the day with a little fun, little bantering and then we get into our class.
One day, I come to class and we start as usual saying something about the game and bantering and laughing. Then he starts passing around the papers, all of us had turned in some big report. He brought mine to me, I'm looking at it and I said to myself, "Where's my cover?" Back in those days, when you turn in a paper, oftentimes, you put a nice little plastic cover on the front and the back and the little binder on it. It really makes a wonderful impression but it looks like, "Oh, look at the wonderful detail I put into this," you are surely will be impressed. I only had a few of those. I was just a poor college student and I thought, "I know I put a cover on that one. Where's my cover?" Then he finished passing them all out and then he stood in front of the class and he had my cover. He said, "Class, you know what this is? This is nothing but an effort to impress. This is just for show. Don't do that class. Rise above that."
He walked over and he put it on my desk to which I said in response, "That's the last time I'm saying something nice about the Denver Broncos," and everyone busted up laughing except I burned. When the class was over, I closed the notebook and out the door and I just went from the next several hours just burning in my heart. If he really wanted to say something, he could have said it to me privately but to say that in front of the class, that was not right, not just burning in my heart. Then that afternoon, I was in the administration building and I was rounding the corner. As I was rounding the corner, who should be coming around the corner the other way? Mr. Professor and I literally bumped into him, "Oh, excuse me," and I kept on walking. He reached out for me, "Stop." I looked at him and he said, "This morning, I was wrong and I'm so sorry," and he starts crying. He said, "I need you to forgive me," and I said, "It's okay." He said, "No, I need to hear the words. I was so wrong. I need to hear the words. Please forgive me." Now I'm crying. I forgive you. I needed to be set free. He needed forgiveness that much for sure.
B. Jubilee is for resting
But I needed to be set free. See God wants declare liberty, set the captives free. We need to be set free. That's an aspect of jubilee. Here's another thing. Jubilee is for resting. See, verse 11 says, "In the year of jubilee, the land will have an additional year, two years in a row." The people, however, were also to rest, not just the land, the people. Now today, there are some companies that give a sabbatical to their employees. What's interesting is same word right out of the Bible. Same idea that there needs to be rest because you'll perform better and have a better attitude if you rest because here's the thing, without rest, you become more down but I suggest that it's not just the physical truth. It's a spiritual truth. Too many people are spiritually worn down. They just press through life, press through life, pressing on, pressing on, pressing on and they never understand the understanding of resting and having the Lord refresh your soul.
Takes faith to believe that resting is the key to the spirit. Takes faith to believe that. See, because the idea, "Well, I will press, I will pull myself up by my bootstraps," is self-effort and there's no faith in it. It takes faith to say, "God if I rest in you, then you will be the one who blesses my life. Takes faith to believe that. See, Hebrews chapter 4:1-2 he says a very similar thing. You speak into it and he says, now, therefore let us fear if while a promise remains of entering His rest, anyone of you may seem to have come short of it for indeed we have had good news preached to us just like they did also the Hebrews, but the word that they heard did not profit them because there was not united by faith in those who heard it. They didn't unite faith in the word and that's it. Did not profit them. It takes faith. It takes faith to believe that if you will rest in the Lord and have your soul refreshed in him, that he'll bless your life. See, rest comes when you truly believe that God is a strength.
See, Psalm 46:9-11 listen to these words. It is He who makes Wars to cease through the end of the earth. God does that. It is. See her breaks the bow and cuts the spirit to God does that and is he burns the chariots with fire. God does that and then he adds this powerful phrase, cease striving and know that I am the Lord. Now, some of the translations say, "Be still and know that I am the Lord." The better translation and I think the more powerful one is cease striving. Stop it. Stop all this self-effort, all this self pulling self up by bootstraps. I will buy myself efforts to succeed. God says, "Be still cease the striving and know this. I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth and if you let me, I'll be exalted in your life."
C. Jubilee is for restoring
See, then we see this Jubulilee is also for restoring verses 13 to 16 the year of Jubilee it's a year for restoring the land to those who belong to it originally. Now, in Israel is going to enter the land that God promises and each family's going to be given a portion as a perpetual inheritance of the Lord. If for any reason that land is sold, then it's going to revert back to the original family in the year of Jubilee. The land can never actually be sold. The land could be leased, you might say up to 50 years and the price would be determined by how many years remained until the year of Jubilee and He explains why this is and adds an amazing aspect to it. In Leviticus 25:23, he explains, "The land moreover shall not be sold permanently for the land is mine."
There's a lot of debate today about the area in Israel, the Palestinian Israeli debate. Whose land is it exactly? God says, "It's my land and I give it to who I say. It's my land but notice this, the landlord over shall not be sold permanently. The land is mine for you are, but aliens and sojourners with me." What an interesting perspective. You're just an alien here. You're just as a soJourner in this life. You're on a journey and you're on that journey with me. In other words, the land is not the end. The earth is not the end. We're just aliens and so sojourners here, don't wrap yourself up in this land. Don't wrap yourself up in the material things of this land and the accumulation of all that you can gather. You're just as their sojourner here. You're just an alien here and your journey is with God.
I used to love that perspective. It's about the journey and God says, and I am on this journey with you. You're on this journey with me. You're just an alien here. I just love that perspective. This is a provision that's an opportunity for those who sold their land because of poverty to start over, to be restored, to have that which was lost, return and get a fresh start. See, I love that. We love that about the Lord. God restores that which is lost because I'll tell you what sin can cause a lot of loss. What does sin cost? Relationships are broken, lives destroyed, souls sickened, but in Christ, there is restoring. Crisis they're restored, God is the one who rebuilds. God is the one who gives a fresh beginning a new start.
It's like Joel 2:25-26. He says, "I will restore to you the years that the swarming locusts have eaten. The crawling locust, the consuming locust, the chewing locust, migrate army, which I sent among you." He says, "And you will eat in plenty and be satisfied and praise the name of the Lord your God who has done wondrously with you and my people will never be put to shame." God wants to rebuild. God wants to restore, and this time he's going to rebuild on a better foundation. He said, "I am that foundation. I am that rock. You rebuild your life on this rock and that storm that beats against you will not overcome you."
II. Jesus is Our Jubilee
So powerful point. We need restoring. There are so many people even in this room who need a new beginning. God is the rebuilder because here's the point, all of this is really a Jubilee. It's a joyous thing, but it's all fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus is our Jubilee.
Here's the thing. Leviticus 25 was never fulfilled by the Jews. They never honored this instruction, but God did. God fulfilled it. He is fulfilling it in Jesus Christ. It is prophetic. He is the grateful filming of it.
A. Jubilee begins on the Day of Atonement
Here's one of the ways you can see that because this Jubilee was to begin, the ram's horn was the sound. They were to go through the land proclaiming it on the day of Atonement on that 50th year. The day Atonement is the holiest day of the year. It is that day by which the blood of the bull and the goat would be brought into the holiest of Holy places in the payment for the sins of the people. they would be a tone for on this day, and it's clearly a picture of Jesus Christ. The blood that was poured out on that day of Atonement is a powerful picture of the provision of God. He says, "That is the day that you proclaim it. That is the day you sound the horn. It's a day to shout the Liberty that God proclaims."
You know what Jesus said as He was beginning his ministry at the very beginning. He quotes from a prophecy of Isaiah and refers it to himself. Notice Luke chapter 4:16&19 it says, "He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and that was his custom, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and he stood up to read. The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him and he opened the book and he found the place where it was written, "The spirit of the Lord is upon me because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release," same word, "Release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, set free those who are oppressed and to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." Then He added, "And these words are fulfilled today in your hearing."
It's a beautiful picture of why God sent His son. To proclaim liberty, set the captives free. It's Christ who brings beauty out of ashes and oil of gladness instead of mourning. It's like what Jesus said in John 10:10, " Hey, the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I've come that you would have life and have it abundantly." That's God's heart. The year of Jubilee came once every 50 years, but in Christ, the Jubilee of the Lord comes every single day.
B. Our sufficiency is in Him
I want you to have the favorable year of the Lord lived out in your life every day because here's the point. Our sufficiency is in him. He is our Jubilee. In Him, our debts are paid in full. In Him, captives are set free. He is the one who restores what the locusts have eaten. He is the one who will rebuild your life. By resting in Him, He is your strength for apart from him, you can do nothing.
This weekend we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Actually yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the day. Shortly after the lunar module set down on the surface of the moon, one of the astronauts, Buzz Aldrin, wanted to pause to stop and to recognize God. It's really a powerful iconic moment in history and it's actually captured in a movie by the name Apollo 11, but I want to bring to you today a small little clip that gives us that very moment because it's so powerfully done. Here it is:
Speaker 2: Neil, there's something I'd like to do if you don't mind. I cleared the whole deck, filtered all the grease. Frank and the other staff were reading from Genesis and I can't be specific. Something I want to do.
Speaker 3: Okay.
Speaker 2: Houston to Tranquility, over
Speaker 4: Tranquility to Houston, go ahead.
Speaker 2: Roger, this is the land pilot. I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in whoever or wherever they may be to pause a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way. Over.
Speaker 4: Roger, Tranquility to Houston.
Speaker 2: I am the vine and you are the branches, whoever remains in me and I in Him will bear much fruit. For you can do nothing without me.
It's a beautiful moment and it reminds us of our sufficiency, it's in Christ. That verse I read earlier from Isaiah, it continues to read with a great promise. He says, "The Lord has anointed me to give a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting and they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." God will do that.
Let's pray. Father, thank you so much. Your word is amazing to us, shows us your heart. Lord, I pray for everyone in this room today that we would take hold of these words, live them, apply them. The favorable year of the Lord, the promise of Jubilee, it's for each one. Church, today, as you're before the Lord, would you say to the Lord, "I'm asking that you would rebuild my life, restore my life, set my life on a foundation. God, I'm asking that you would be my sufficiency. I want to honor you in my life. Rebuild, restore. I'm asking, I need my soul refreshed. I need your spirit poured out, and I need my life rebuilt."
Would you ask the Lord for that today? Would you ask Him simply by raising your hand to the Lord and by making it known? By raising your hand you're saying, "Lord, I want to rebuild my life. I want to restore, I want a foundation and I want that foundation to be you." Would you just raise your hand to the Lord and say it by raising your hand? God thank you for everyone raising their hand because they're asking, be that strong foundation, restore their lives.
Father, thank you for your Holy Spirit poured out. We give you thanks, we give you honor, and we give you praise. In Jesus' powerful name and everyone said, Amen and Amen. Let's give the Lord Praise. Can we do that