“Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land… It shall be a jubilee for you…”
We don’t know if the Year of Jubilee was ever actually celebrated by Israel. There’s no record of it later in the Bible. But it was supposed to be the capstone year of seven series of seven years each. It was a Super-Sabbath Year celebrating that the land belonged to the covenant Lord.
In ancient Israel tracts of land were parceled out to tribes, clans, and families, but the land was still God’s. Each person had his or her place in the land. Jubilee assured that this right could not be denied. A bad harvest could drive an Israelite into debt. Payment might demand that the debtors sell their land—or even sell themselves into slavery.
But Jubilee set things right. Jubilee restored slaves to their families. It restored farmers to their family parcels. It restored the poor to a place in society. It restored the hard-worn land to productivity.
All the children of Israel had inherited a place in God’s land, even though they may have lost their place in Israel’s economic system. They continued to have a right to their hereditary plot of land, which could sustain them and their family.
When Jesus came, he preached Jubilee (see Luke 4:18-19). He came to restore all who suffered. He came to create a society in which all would have a place, sufficient for their livelihoods within the family of God.
Lord, we need a place with you and within your church. Help us to restore those who have lost, or have become lost. May we bring the good news of Jubilee to others. Amen.
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