This morning I want to speak with you from the Word of God about one of the most profound concepts in all of Scripture – it is so profound and different to anything we know that there is nothing like it in all of modern life. Yet it is so profoundly a part of everything we believe.
Turn with me to the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament and to the 25th chapter. My title this morning is “Your Jubilee.” Let me tell you about the Levitical Jubilee.
Sabbath – 7th day
Sabbatical year – seventh year
Jubilee – seven times seven – 50th year
All debts are cancelled. We look like the kind of group that would think that was good news.
All prisoners are set free. I know some of you get nervous at that point. You say, "I don’t mind the debt thing. Maybe that’s a good thing. But prisoners set free? Murderers, rapists on the streets? That scares me." Don’t get nervous. I have read the Old Testament. The only thing they put you in jail for in those days was debt. Everything else, they killed you.
All land is given back to those who originally possessed it, a redistribution of the land. All of this, of course, was good news for the poor. The jubilee was a new start for poor people. For those who had lost out in life’s race, it was a chance to get a new beginning, a point of hope.
The thing that in Israel was supposed to turn economics from the dog-eat-dog world we inhabit into a 50 year game with a reset button.
The Year of Jubilee was God’s big ‘Reset’ button – it was the ‘Reboot’ in the system, the ‘Ctrl-Alt-Del’ in the universe.
Year of Jubilee – a year-long party that was preceded by a year-long party.
Why did God create a Jubilee? Because it was His desire that His children should never live in bondage and should never be bound by poverty.
Now here is the incredible truth – although God have given Israel this 50 year reset button, this unique opportunity to celebrate worth, to express justice, to honor life - not once did Israel ever celebrate a Jubilee year. They talked about it, they taught about it, they referred to it – but not once in their history did they ever actually celebrate it. They agreed with it, they believed it – but they never did it.
As a matter of fact, by the time we get to the New Testament thousands of years later, they had still not celebrated Jubilee, not even once. But by then they believed that when the Messiah came, He would bring back Jubilee, He would show them how to do it.
So Jesus arrives on the scene in Nazareth where He had grown up, and early one Sabbath He makes his way to the temple as He was accustomed to, and motions that He has something to say. He is recognized and He call for the scroll, the one containing the book of Isaiah. Let’s pick up that account in Luke 4:17-21.
What was Jesus doing? He was proclaiming the Year of Jubilee. He was saying that He was the Messiah. You see, Isaiah had said in chapter 61 that the Messiah would come, and He would proclaim the year of Jubilee. Jesus proclaimed it – and said, ‘I am He.’ But He doesn’t seem to simply have been inaugurating a Jubilee year. Rather, He was announcing a Jubilee age - the kingdom of God.