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Proclaiming the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25)

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CHAPTER 25 Mar. 17 
The Sabbath Year and the Year of Jubilee
Yahweh said to Moses in Mount Sinai, 2Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a Sabbath to Yahweh. 3Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its fruits; 4but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to Yahweh. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5What grows of itself in your harvest you shall not reap, and the grapes of your undressed vine you shall not gather. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. 6The Sabbath of the land shall be for food for you; for yourself, for your servant, for your maid, for your hired servant, and for your stranger, who lives as a foreigner amongst you. 7For your livestock also, and for the animals that are in your land, shall all its increase be for food. 8You shall count off seven Sabbaths of years, seven times seven years; and there shall be to you the days of seven Sabbaths of years, even forty-nine years. 9Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. 10You shall make the fiftieth year holy, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee to you; and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. 11That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee to you. In it you shall not sow, neither reap that which grows of itself, nor gather from the undressed vines. 12For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat of its increase out of the field. 13In this Year of Jubilee each of you shall return to his property. 14If you sell anything to your neighbour, or buy from your neighbour, you shall not wrong one another. 15According to the number of years after the Jubilee you shall buy from your neighbour. Relative to the number of years of the crops he shall sell to you. 16According to the length of the years you shall increase its price, and according to the shortness of the years you shall diminish its price; for he is selling the number of the crops to you. 17You shall not wrong one another; but you shall fear your God; for I am Yahweh your God. 18Therefore you shall do My statutes, and keep My ordinances and do them; and you shall dwell in the land in safety. 19The land shall yield its fruit, and you shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. 20If you were to say, What shall we eat the seventh year? Behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase; 21know that I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for the three years. 22You shall sow the eighth year, and eat of the fruits, the old store; until the ninth year, until its fruits come in, you shall eat the old store. 23The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and live as foreigners with Me. 24In all the land of your possession you shall grant a redemption for the land. 25If your brother becomes poor, and sells some of his possessions, then his kinsman who is next to him shall come, and redeem that which his brother has sold. 26If a man has no one to redeem it, and he becomes prosperous and finds sufficient means to redeem it; 27then let him reckon the years since its sale, and restore the surplus to the man to whom he sold it; and he shall return to his property. 28But if he isn’t able to get it back for himself, then what he has sold shall remain in the hand of him who has bought it until the Year of Jubilee: and in the Jubilee it shall be released, and he shall return to his possession. 29If a man sells a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it has been sold. For a full year he shall have the right of redemption. 30If it isn’t redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city shall be made sure in perpetuity to him who bought it, throughout his generations. It shall not be released in the Jubilee. 31But the houses of the villages which have no wall around them shall be reckoned with the fields of the country: they may be redeemed, and they shall be released in the Jubilee. 32Nevertheless the cities of the Levites, the houses in the cities of their possession, the Levites may redeem at any time. 33The Levites may redeem the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, and it shall be released in the Jubilee; for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel. 34But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession’.
How to Deal with the Poor
35’If your brother has become poor, and his hand can’t support him among you; then you shall uphold him. He shall live with you like an alien and a temporary resident. 36Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God; that your brother may live among you. 37You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit. 38I am Yahweh your God, Who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God. 39If your brother has grown poor among you, and sells himself to you; you shall not make him to serve as a slave. 40As a hired servant and as a temporary resident he shall live with you; he shall serve with you until the Year of Jubilee: 41then he shall go out from you, he and his children with him, and shall return to his own family, and to the possession of his fathers. 42For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt. They shall not be sold as slaves. 43You shall not rule over him with harshness, but shall fear your God. 44As for your male and your female slaves whom you may have; of the nations that are around you, from them you may buy male and female slaves. 45Moreover of the children of the aliens who live among you, of them you may buy, and of their families who are with you, which they have conceived in your land; and they will be your property. 46You may make them an inheritance for your children after you, to hold for a possession; of them may you take your slaves forever; but over your brothers the children of Israel you shall not rule, one over another, with harshness.47If an alien or temporary resident with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him has grown poor, and sells himself to the stranger or foreigner living among you, or to a member of the stranger’s family; 48after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him; 49or his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any who is a close relative to him of his family may redeem him; or if he has grown rich, he may redeem himself. 50He shall reckon with him who bought him from the year that he sold himself to him relative to the Year of Jubilee: and the price of his sale shall be according to the number of years; according to the time of a hired servant shall he be with him. 51If there are yet many years, according to them he shall give back the price of his redemption out of the money that he was bought for. 52If there remain but a few years to the year of jubilee, then he shall reckon with him; according to his years of service he shall give back the price of his redemption. 53As a servant hired year by year shall he live with him: he shall not rule with harshness over him in your sight. 54If he isn’t redeemed by these means, then he shall be released in the Year of Jubilee, he, and his children with him. 55For to Me the children of Israel are servants; they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God’.


25:10 You shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants- This is alluded to in Lk. 4:19 where we read that the Lord Jesus proclaimed “the acceptable year of the Lord”. We are to make the same proclamation in preaching the good news to all people-  “Repentance and remission of sins should be preached [proclaimed, s.w. 4:19] in his name among all nations” (Lk. 24:47). The year of Jubilee began with the day of Atonement, which is understood in the New Testament as foreshadowing the sacrifice of Christ on the cross for our sins. We are now to live in a permanent state of Jubilee, announcing it to all people. The Hebrew word translated “jubilee” carries the idea of forgiveness, release, freedom. This is our message to all the people of the world.
25:15 The ultimate time of Jubilee will be at the return of Christ. We are to perceive the value of all things we buy relative to this. Effectively, the Jubilee was a time of release from debt. “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Mt. 6:12) is probably another allusion to the jubilee. We release / forgive men their debt to us, as God does to us. If we chose not to participate in this Jubilee by not releasing others, then we cannot expect to receive it ourselves.
25:20 The Lord Jesus implied that we are in a permanent Jubilee year situation when He said that we should “take no thought what you shall eat… Sow not nor gather into barns” and not think “What shall we eat?” (Mt. 6:26,31 = Lev. 25:20). If we put God’s principles first, somehow materially everything works out. We shall not starve.
25:23 The principles of the Jubilee taught that all land and persons belong to God; we are only temporarily using them, and nothing ultimately belongs to us personally; all is God’s. This helps us cope better with ‘loss’ of possessions, and should keep us from the manic materialism which has been bred by capitalism, whereby all seek personal ownership of land and resources.
25:28 Eph. 1:13 speaks of our place in God’s Kingdom as our possession which has been purchased by the blood of Christ, and which we will receive as an inheritance at His return. This is all Jubilee language. The eternal time of Jubilee will be when the Kingdom is established upon earth, and we will each receive both literally and more abstractly an eternal inheritance in that Kingdom on earth, each with a varying number of towns to rule over (Lk. 19:17). Whether we are rich or poor in this life, whether or not we purchase our ‘own’ homes (:29), we are assured that our very own personal possession is assured, and we will return to it eternally in the Kingdom of God at Christ’s return. The Israelite who became “poor”, either by his own failures, others’ manipulations or his own poor decision making, would have continually looked forward to the year of Jubilee- when finally he and his family would be free, no longer in servitude, and could return to their very own land and inheritance as their eternal possession (:34). We look forward to Christ’s return with the same spirit.
25:53 With harshness- Any social superiority we may have over others is temporary, and must be seen in the context of the year of Jubilee which has been announced in Christ. The whole concept was designed to teach humility and gentleness in relationships.
25:55 Those who had servants were to remember that they themselves were servants. Maybe Paul had this in mind when he reminded us that all our brothers and sisters are servants of Christ and not of us, and we therefore have no right to judge another man’s servant (Rom. 14:4). As Israel were to be a nation of servants, so should the Christian community be today.