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The year of jubilee began on the day of atonement, being announced by the jubilee trumpet; a year long sabbath began in Israel. It was a year in which poor, needy, bondmen and debtors were given liberty, forgiveness, and restoration throughout the land, all based upon blood atonement.
The year of jubilee began on the Day of Atonement, and it began with the proclamation of liberty, liberty according to the very demands of God’s holy law (Leviticus 25:10).
“And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us plainly that he is the Liberator and the One who proclaims liberty (Luke 4:17-21). This liberty proclaimed in the year of jubilee, the liberty proclaimed in the gospel, is the blessed liberty of grace; but it is liberty demanded by God’s holy law. Unlike the ceremonies we read about in the previous chapters of Leviticus, this law concerning the year of jubilee was given at Sinai, at the very time God gave the law to Moses (Leviticus 25:1). The ceremonial requirements described in the preceding chapters of Leviticus were given at the door of the tabernacle.
The law of God, being totally satisfied by the blood of our Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ, demands the liberty of every redeemed sinner. Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20-21).
The year of jubilee was also a time of forgiveness. — “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee” (Leviticus 25:35).
The poor wretch who had lost everything, who had incurred such a tremendous load of debt that he sold his land, then his house, and at last sold himself into bondage, when the jubilee trumpet sounded, was released from bondage and released from debt, forgiven completely, freely, and forever. His debt did not bar him from the joy of jubilee. His debt qualified him as the one for whom the trumpet sounded.
God sends his servants to preach the gospel, to blow the jubilee trumpet, to the poor.
“Not the righteous, not the righteous,
Sinners Jesus came to call!”
His blood has cancelled my debt. I am entirely, forever forgiven. That is liberty!
Next, the year of jubilee was a year of rest (Leviticus 25:3-5).
“Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.”
The gospel of Christ is a proclamation of rest, calling weary sinners to the blessed rest of grace and faith in Christ, and promising eternal rest (Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:1-11; Psalm 116:7).
How their Gentile neighbors must have mocked and derided the Jews during the year of jubilee. They thought they were a bunch of lazy sluggards. They had no idea what they were doing. But what they were doing was worshipping, depending on God alone for everything. — Resting! That is called “faith in Christ” (Galatians 5:1-4).
Moreover, the year of jubilee was a year of great, unparalleled bounty. — “And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety” (Leviticus 25:19).
Oh, what a gospel we have! In Christ we are made to dwell in complete safety in a land of infinite bounty. Here we lie down in green pastures and fear no evil. Our treasury is the unsearchable riches of Christ. — “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s!” We who have been brought by the grace of God into the liberty of the gospel have been brought into his fulness. Let us therefore be careful for nothing, but in all things give thanks.
In the year of jubilee every man who had lost his inheritance had it returned to him in total, free and clear, with no mortgage of any kind, no lien of any kind against it. — “In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession” (Leviticus 25:13).
All that we lost in Adam, Christ has restored. All that we lost by our own willful rebellion and sin, Christ has restored. David understood this. He sang, “He restoreth my soul.” We who “were by nature children of wrath, even as others” are now made to be “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.”
In the year of jubilee the children of Israel were required by law to love their brethren. — “Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 25:17). In the gospel jubilee saved sinners are constrained and taught by grace to love one another. — “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Have I been loved freely? Let me love freely. Have I received freely? Let me give freely. Have I been forgiven freely? Let me forgive freely. Let all who know the love of God in Christ walk in love for their brethren in Christ. Let us ask God for grace ever to show to our brothers and sisters the love of Christ in all our thoughts of, speech to and about, and dealings with them.