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The Year of Jubilee
In the Old Testament everything revolved around the sabbath. At the end of creation, the Lord God rested on the seventh day, the sabbath. In the giving of the law, the Lord commanded Israel to keep the sabbath day holy. But, did you ever notice how many sabbath days the Lord required the children of Israel to keep? He required them to keep a seventh day sabbath, a seventh week (50th day) sabbath, a seventh year sabbath, and a fiftieth year sabbath.
50th Year Sabbath
This fiftieth year sabbath is discussed in great detail in Leviticus 25. This fifty year sabbath was a year long sabbath called “the year of jubilee.” I have no hope of expounding this text or this subject. This sabbatical year, which the Lord God required the nation of Israel to observe every fifty years, was typical and prophetic of our Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel of God’s free grace in him.
The year of jubilee was a season appointed by God during which the children of Israel were required to adjust their social affairs once every fifty years, setting their brethren free from bondage and free from all debt, and restoring lost possessions, lost property and lost inheritances to those who had lost them.
The year of jubilee portrayed and typified the great work of our Lord Jesus Christ in restoring chosen sinners to God and to one another, and bringing us at last into that great sabbath of eternal rest in “the glorious liberty of the sons of God.”
To many throughout the land the year of jubilee was “the accepted time” and “the day of salvation.” It was announced by the blowing of a trumpet throughout all the land. That is, of course, a representation of gospel preaching (Isaiah 27:13). — “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance” (Psalms 89:15).
Pause, O my soul, adore and wonder. Rejoice and give thanks. Blessed are these ears that have been made to hear the joyful sound of God’s free grace, of God’s great, free, everlasting salvation in Christ!
There were four distinct and special sounds of the trumpet in the camp of Israel. Each one distinctly portrayed the preaching of the gospel. Memorial trumpets were sounded to announce the new moon and call the people together in a joyful
assembly of worship (Leviticus 23:24; Psalm 81:3). Battle trumpets, trumpets of war (Judges 3:27), were sounded to gather the people to battle (1 Corinthians 14:8). Trumpets of alarm warned men of impending judgment, and called them to repentance (Joel 2:1). And the jubilee trumpet spoken of in Leviticus 25 announced liberty, forgiveness, and restoration throughout the land.
The jubilee trumpet was different from the others. This trumpet’s sound was never heard except once every fifty years. Yet, its sound was so sweet and so distinct that no poor captive in the land of Israel was at a moment’s loss to know its music and its gracious meaning.
That is just exactly the way it is when God the Holy Spirit causes poor, needy, captive sinners to hear the gospel, when he proclaims pardon to the guilty, pardon by the blood of Christ, he causes the sinner to understand that atonement has been made and accepted. At that very moment, jubilee commences. The soul long held captive to sin, to Satan, and to the law is set free and walks (dances) in liberty.
What a joyful sound! What a joyful day! When the gospel jubilee trumpet first sounded in my soul, the acceptable year of the Lord began (Isaiah 61:1-2; 63:4).
Oh for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
He breaks the power of cancelled sin
And sets the prisoners free!
His blood can make the foulest clean—
His blood availed for me!
The year of jubilee began on the Day of Atonement — “Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land” (Leviticus 25:9).
This is where the preaching of the gospel begins. The gospel has not been preached until atonement has been proclaimed. There can be no joyful sound apart from the sin-atoning blood of Christ. The jubilee trumpet declared atonement blood shed, atonement blood accepted, atonement finished. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was delivered unto death under the wrath of God because our sins were made his sins, our guilt was made his guilt; and our sin and guilt, being made his, were justly imputed to him. He was raised again the third day because our justification was accomplished, because our sins were forever put away. This trumpet was blown by a man. It proclaimed the year of jubilee. And the trumpet was blown throughout the land.