Leviticus 25

 

 

The subject of the sacred seasons is taken up again in this chapter, after the

parenthetical insertion of ch. 24. There remain the septennial festive season and that

of the half-century — the sabbatical year and the jubilee.  The sabbatical year was

instituted not for any supposed physical benefit accruing from it to the land, but, first,

as serving for a link between the sabbath and the jubilee by means of the sacred number

seven — the sabbatical year being the seventh year, and the jubilee being the year

following the seven-times-seventh year; and secondly, and chiefly, as enforcing the lesson

of the weekly sabbath in a manner that could not be overlooked, and symbolically, teaching

the universal application of the sabbatical law, even where physical needs were not

concerned, and in that way suggesting the expectation of a rest to be hereafter attained

by all God’s creatures. The sabbatical year began with the commencement of the civil

year, the 1st of Tisri, just before the autumn sowings, which were intermitted for one year.

The ground was not tilled during this year (v. 4). There was a release of debts

(Deuteronomy 15:1-11), and there was to be public reading of God’s Law

(Deuteronomy 31:10-13). During the previous six years the husbandmen

had been well aware of the coming sabbatical year, and would have laid by in store

accordingly, so as to support themselves and their families during that year. The

release of debts inculcated mercy. The command that the Law should be publicly

read showed that the intention of the institution was not that the year should be

spent in idleness, but that the time saved from ordinary labor was to be given to

devotional pursuits. The law of the sabbatical year was so hard of observance by

an agricultural people, that it was seldom or never acted upon until the Captivity (see

II Chronicles 36:21). But after that time it seems to have been religiously kept

(see Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 11:8, 6; 14:10, 6; 14:16, 2; 15:1, 2; 1 Macc. 6:49; Galatians 4:10;

Tacit., ‘Hist.,’ 5:2, 4).

 

The jubilee was a joyous year appointed to be observed every fifty years. The cycle of

the sabbatical year and the jubilee touched without coalescing.  The forty-ninth year

was necessarily a sabbatical year, and the following year was the jubilee. It has

appeared to some so difficult to believe that two years in which it was not allowable to

engage in agricultural work should come together, that they have assumed that the

sabbatical year itself, that is, the forty-ninth year, was the year of the jubilee. But this

was clearly not the case. Twice in the century the land was to lie fallow for two years

running — from September to the second September following — special preparations

having, of course, been made by laying up a store of grain from the abundant harvest

promised in the previous year (v. 21), and foreign crops being, no doubt, imported to

take the place of the usual home crops. In matter of fact, however, these two blank

years seldom, if ever, occurred together; for as the sabbatical year was not observed

before the Captivity, while there are indications of the existence of the jubilee

(I Kings 21:3; Isaiah 61:1-3), so probably the jubilee ceased to be observed after

the Captivity, when the sabbatical year was carefully kept. Supposing that they did

come together, the second year in which labor was prohibited would end just in time

for the seed to be sown for the next summer’s harvest.  The jubilee affected both

land and men. Land could only be sold for fifty years, its value immediately after a

jubilee had passed being that of fifty harvests, or rather, deducting the sabbatical

years and the fiftieth year, of forty-two harvests. If it were sold, it might be bought

back by the original owner or any of his relations, counting the number of harvests

remaining before the next jubilee, and buying out the previous purchaser with the

sum of money thus estimated. No more effective plan could be well devised for

preserving the various properties in the families to which they were at first assigned.

The other point chiefly affected by the law of the jubilee was slavery. In case a

brother Israelite became poor, it was the duty of his richer brethren to help him,

and to lend him money without interest, to set him up in the world again. But if this

did not succeed, the poor man might sell himself as a slave, either to an Israelite or

to a foreigner living in

the land. In the former case it had been already enacted that his slavery was not to last

beyond six years (Exodus 21:2). To this enactment it was now added that he must be

also set free whenever the year of jubilee occurred.  If he became the slave of a non-

Israelite, he must be set free, not as before on the seventh year of his slavery, but still

at the jubilee. He had also preserved for him the right of being redeemed by any kinsman,

the price paid for him being the wages which would be paid up to the next jubilee. In either

case, he was to be treated without rigour, and it was the duty of the Israelite magistrate to

see that no undue harshness was used by the foreign master.  The principle is, as before,

that as the land is God’s land, not man’s, so the Israelites were the slaves of God, not of

man, and that if the position in which God placed them was allowed to be interfered with

for a time, it was to be recovered every seventh, or at furthest every fiftieth, year. The

possession of slaves was not forbidden — the world was not yet ready for such a prohibition.

The Hebrews might purchase and own slaves of alien blood, but between Hebrew and

Hebrew the institution of master and slave was practically abolished, and superseded

(in most respects) by the relationship of master and servant.

 

 

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,  2 Speak unto the

children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give

you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD.” - The sabbath of the

seventh year could only be observed when ye come into the land which I give you.

The habit of making no distinction in the seventh year during the whole of the life in

the wilderness may have led to the neglect of the law after the settlement in Canaan.

3 Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard,

and gather in the fruit thereof;  4 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.  5 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.  6 And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for

thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for

thy stranger that sojourneth with thee.  7 And for thy cattle, and for the beast

that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.”  As to sowing and

reaping, an exception was made with respect to the barley sown and reaped for the

Passover sheaf, and the wheat sown and reaped for the Pentecost loaves. The

spontaneous fruits of the earth, and they were very large in the rich fields of the

valleys and plains, were to be the property of all alike, whether the owners of the land

or not, “that the poor of thy people might eat” (Exodus 23:11). And what was left by

man was to be food for the cattle and beasts of the field. The cessation of agricultural

labors must have served, and may have been intended to serve, as an encouragement to

mercantile pursuits, as well as to the study of the Divine Law (Deuteronomy 31:10-13).

The Feast of Tabernacles of the seventh year was specially appointed by Moses as a

day for reading the Law to the assembled people (ibid.). And the Mishna appoints

the following passages of Deuteronomy to be read on that day: — Deuteronomy 1:1-6;

6:4-8; 11:13-22; 14:22; 15:23; 17:14; 26:12-19; chps. 27 and 28. (‘Mish. Sotah.,’ 7:8).

The other ordinance connected with the sabbatical year, the release of debts to the poor

(Deuteronomy 15:1-6), was, like the fifth commandment, made of none effect by rabbinical

traditions — notably by one which required a debtor, when his creditor said, “I remit,” to

insist that nevertheless he should accept payment. The moral purpose of the sabbath of

the seventh year is well drawn out by Keil: — “In the sabbatical year the land which the

Lord had given His people was to observe a period of holy rest and refreshment to its

Lord and God, just as the congregation did on the sabbath day; and the hand of man was

to be withheld from the fields and fruit gardens from working them that they might yield

their produce for his use. The earth was to be sacred from the hand of man, exhausting

its power for earthly purposes as his own property, and to enjoy the holy rest with

which God had blessed the earth and all its productions after the Creation. From this,

Israel, as the nation of God, was to learn, on the one hand, that although the earth was

created for man, it was not merely created for him to draw out its power for his own

use, but also to be holy to the Lord and participate in the blessed rest; and on the other

hand, that the great purpose for which the congregation of the Lord existed did not

consist in the uninterrupted tilling of the earth, connected with bitter labor in the sweat of

the face (Genesis 3:17,19), but in tile peaceful enjoyment of the fruits of the earth, which

the Lord their God had given them and would give them still, without the labor of their

hands, if they strove to keep his covenant and satisfy themselves with His grace.”

 

8 And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven

years; and the space  of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and

nine years. 9 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee” - The word jubilee

 (as it is always spelt in the Authorized Version) is taken from the Hebrew word yovel,

 and it came to mean a year of liberty (Ezekiel 46:17; Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 3:12, 3),

because it freed men and lands from the obligations to which they would otherwise

have been liable – “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.  10 And ye

shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto

all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every

man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.  11 A

jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that

which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.

12 For it is the jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof

out of the field.  13 In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his

possession.  14 And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbor, or buyest ought of thy

neighbor’s hand, ye shall not oppress one another:  15 According to the number

of years after the jubile thou shalt buy of thy neighbor, and according unto the

number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee:  16 According to the multitude

of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of

years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years

of the fruits doth he sell unto thee.  17 Ye shall not therefore oppress one another;

but thou shalt fear thy God:  for I am the LORD your God.”  - The Israelites were

only tenants of God. They might regard themselves as owners for fifty years, but at the end

of every fifty years the land was to come back to him to whom the Lord had assigned it,

or to his representative. It might be bought and sold on that understanding, the value of the

purchase being found by reckoning the price of the harvests up to the next jubilee day;

but in this period only “the years of the fruits” were to be counted, that is, the

sabbatical years, in which there would be no harvests, were to be deducted.

 

 

18 Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and

ye shall dwell in the land in safety.  19 And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye

shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.  20 And if ye shall say, What shall

we eat the seventh year?  This would present itself with double force when the sabbatical

and the jubilee years came together – “behold, we shall not sow, nor

gather in our increase:  21 Then I will command my blessing upon you in the

sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.  22 And ye shall sow the

eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in

ye shall eat of the old store.”  (If they would but obey, the Lord promised to take

care of the situation! – CY – 2010)

 

23 The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine for ye are strangers

and sojourners with me.” - Many incidental advantages, if some difficulties,

arose from the jubilee law (which will be the more appreciated if we compare the

evils resulting from slavery and the accumulation of land in a few hands, found in

the history of Rome or any other ancient nation); but its essential features, so far as

the land was concerned, was its inculcation of the lesson of the proprietorship of the

Lord. Palestine was God’s land:  He divided it once for all in the time of Joshua

among His people, and every fifty years He required that recourse should be had

to that original division, in order that in each generation the people might feel

themselves to be His tenants, not independent owners, possessores, not domini.

24 And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant  a redemption for the

land.

 

25 If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession,

and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his

brother sold.  26 And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to

redeem it;  27 Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the

overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his

possession.  28 But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold

shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubile: and

in the jubile it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession.” - The right

of redemption of land sold continued always alive, and might be exercised by the

original owner or his kinsman. If not exercised, the owner returned into his possession

at any rate in the jubilee year. If a man had to sell his land, he was bound to offer it to

his nearest kinsman first (see Jeremiah 32:7-8).

 

29 And if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it

within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year may he redeem it.” – A

year’s grace was allowed during which they are to have the right to buy it back  -

30 And if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that

is in the walled city shall be established for ever to him that bought it throughout

his generations: it shall not go out in the jubile.  31 But the houses of the villages

which have no wall round about them shall be counted as the fields of the

country: they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubile.

 

32 Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their

possession, may the Levites redeem at any time.  33 And if a man purchase of

the Levites, then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go

out in the year of jubile: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their

possession among the children of Israel.  34 But the field of the suburbs of their

cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession.”  On the other hand,

the land belonging to the Levites, in the suburbs of the Levitical cities, which was used

for the pasturage of the flocks of the Levites, could not be sold except to a Levite,

and therefore no question between the Levites and members of the other tribes could

arise regarding it

 

35 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.” – Concerning slavery, it is presumed that no Hebrew will become a

slave except on the pressure of poverty, and this poverty his brethren are commanded

to relieve; but foreseeing that either want of charity on the part of the rich or unthrift

on the part of the poor would certainly bring about slavery, the legislator makes

regulations so as to soften its character as far as possible.  36 Take thou no usury

of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. 

37 Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for

increase.”  Why?  Because 38 I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth

out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.”

 

 

39 And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee;

thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant:  40 But as an hired servant,

and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of

jubile.  41 And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with

him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers

shall he return. 42 For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the

land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen.” - The fact that an Israelite could

not be kept in slavery for more than six years (Exodus 21:2), and that the period of

his service had to be still shorter if the jubilee fell before the seventh year, and the

further fact that at the time of the jubilee he would not only be free, but recover any

ancestral property that he had forfeited, so that he might become once more on an

equality with his master, would have made his position totally different from the hopeless,

helpless state of the Greek or Roman slave, (or American, for that matter)

even without the positive command that he was to be treated, not as a bondservant:

but as an hired servant, and as a sojourner. All alike, master and bondsman, were

the slaves of God, and therefore not only were they, so far, on an equality one with

another, but the master would be encroaching on the right of God if he claimed

God’s slaves for his own inalienably.

 

43 Thou shalt not rule over him with rigor; but shalt fear thy God.  44 Both thy

bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that

are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.  45 Moreover

of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy,

and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they

shall be your possession.  46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your

children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen

for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over

another with rigor.  47 And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy

brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or

sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger’s family: 48 After that he is sold

he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him:  49 Either his

uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of

his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself.  50 And he

shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto

the year of jubile: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of

years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him.  51 If there

be yet many years behind, according unto them he shall give again the price of his

redemption out of the money that he was bought for.  52 And if there remain but

few years unto the year of jubile, then he shall count with him, and according unto

his years shall he give him again the price of his redemption.  53 And as a yearly

hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall not rule with rigor over him

in thy sight.  54 And if he be not redeemed in these years, then he shall go out in

the year of jubile, both he, and his children with him.  55 For unto me the children

of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land

of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

 

 

 

                                                ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

The jubilee, being a year of deliverance and joy, came to be a type of the Messianic

dispensation, and of the final deliverance and state of happiness which is still to come.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to

preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the broken-

hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them

that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:1-2). We have

our Lord’s authority for saying that these words bear spiritual reference to His ministry on

earth (Luke 4:21). They are partially fulfilled in His kingdom here, and will be fully

accomplished at “the restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21) in His kingdom hereafter,

when His people shall “rest from their labors” (Revelation 14:13) and be delivered

from the burden of their debts and emancipated for ever from slavery.

 

 

 

                                    The Fallow Year (vs. 1-7)

 

(See Deuteronomy 31:10-13. We have here a ceremonial appendix to the fourth

commandment. The land must have its sabbath as well as man, and so every seventh

year was to be fallow year for the ground. The necessity of giving land rest is recognized

still in agriculture. Continual cropping impoverishes a soil, and reduces it eventually to

barrenness. This was one of the grave charges made by political economists against the

slavery of North America, that, in consequence of the inefficiency of slave labor, the

land was subjected to a monotonous process of cropping, and in consequence killed.

The finest virgin soil was being reduced to wilderness, for the land was allowed neither

variety nor rest.  This arrangement in Israel, therefore, was economically most wise. But

the sabbath of the fields” had a wider basis than this mere natural one. It was

attended by most important religious results.

 

  • THE FALLOW YEAR PROCLAIMED THAT THE LAND BELONGED TO

      THE LORD. For if the fourth commandment really implies that the people,

      called from their own work to do God’s work on God’s day, belong to Him,

      and so are under obligation to obey this call, in the very same way the claim

      that the land should rest proclaims that the land is His. What was thus claimed

      in Canaan is only part of a still wider claim; for “the earth is the Lord’s, and

      the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For He hath  

      founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods” (Psalm 24:1-2).       

      The demand for “a sabbath of rest unto the land” is for “a sabbath for the

      Lord.” He thus stamps the land as His, and had we the clear vision, we might

      see the “sign manual” of the Lord upon all the world.

 

  • THE FALLOW YEAR CHANGED AGRICULTURAL INTO PASTORAL LIFE.

      The people of necessity gave greater attention to the rearing and the tending of cattle.

      It is evident from v. 7 that the care of the cattle and of the beasts of the field was

      specially contemplated by the arrangement. National life would become in

      consequence more idyllic. A wholesome change would thus be introduced every

      seventh year, and the people would morally be improved. The population

      would become more and more humane, and the whole country profit thereby. 

      Now, in pastoral countries there is of necessity more time for pensive meditation

      and thought. Pastoral life is in the interests of reflection. It is a providential aid thereto.

      Hence we see in the sabbatic year the condition supplied for greater thoughtfulness

      and reflection. If we compare the blank intellectual condition of agricultural laborers,

      ground down by ceaseless toil, with the thoughtful, poetic mood often met with

      among shepherds, we can have no difficulty in recognizing the great moral importance

      of a pastoral year.

 

  • THE FALLOW YEAR WAS A FINE EXERCISE FOR THE NATIONAL FAITH.  

      For men would naturally ask, “What shall we eat the seventh year?” (v. 20).

      And to this the Lord made answer, “Then I will command my blessing upon you

      in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years” - (v. 21).  

      For a nation to prepare for this fallow year, required great faith in God. The sixth

      year was a year of “great expectations;” they looked to God to provide            

      for the coming year of rest, and thus were drawn up to an exercise of faith and  

      hope of the most profitable description. Amid our multiplied methods of            

      livelihood we are in danger of losing sight of the Divine hand altogether, and

      of living a low life of sight. And yet, by periodic returns of hard times and-  

      difficulties, the Lord is still calling on us for faith in Him, to enable us to serve     

      Him. He still desires us to exercise this faith in Him, that none of us shall ever     

      suffer real loss in seeking to serve Him. “So those who abstain from their labors            

      upon the sabbath,” says an old writer in this connection, “it shall never

            impoverish them, for the blessing of God upon the week-days shall supply

            all their wants; so the Lord promised, when they shall go up to Jerusalem

            to serve Him at their feasts, that He would keep their land from the incursion

            of their enemies (Exodus 34:24). We see also (Joshua 5:1-2), when they were  

            circumcised, the Lord struck such a fear and terror into the hearts of the           

            Canaanites, that they durst not touch them, as Simeon and Levi killed the          

            Shechemites when they were newly circumcised. Never man yet got hurt in

            the service of God; he shall still find the Lord’s protecting hand and blessing

            in his service.”

 

  • THE FALLOW YEAR BROUGHT INTO PROMINENCE THE GREAT

      TRUTH ABOUT THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN. Although the land was to

      lie fallow, it gave much in the way of spontaneous growth.  This became public  

      and common property, so that servant, and maid, and hired servant, and stranger,         

      as well as the rightful owner, “had all things common.” In fact, there was, to      

      adopt the modern phraseology, a “commune” established in Canaan so far as the          

      produce of the sabbatic year was concerned. Was this not a recognition of the  

      brotherhood of man, and of the obligation to make some provision for poorer   

      brethren? It was thus the year of charity, when all alike sat at the table of the           

      Divine bounty, and realized thereat their common relation.  It was a similar      

      outcome of the religious spirit which occurred at Pentecost. Then “the

      multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither          

      said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own;

      but they had all things common” (Acts 4:32).  And although the Christian     

      commune did not work well, but broke down speedily, it showed the true         

      tendency of inspired men. The obligation under which they live to do their

      best for all about them, especially for those of the household of faith, is

      cheerfully and gladly recognized. And possibly, in the perfect world and

      sabbath of the spirit, this community of goods will be found workable, the

      selfish elements which now cause friction having entirely disappeared.

      “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither

      whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie:  but they which are

      written in the Lamb’s book of life” – (Revelation 21:27) and it is a place

      wherein dwelleth righteousness” – (II Peter 3:13)

 

  • THE FALLOW YEAR AFFORDED SPECIAL FACILITIES FOR

            PROMOTING NATIONAL EDUCATION. It is evident from

                        Deuteronomy 31:10-13 that the sabbatic year was to be a season of

            special study of the Law. The Feast of Tabernacles with which it began

            was to be devoted to the public reading of it. Not only the adults, male and

            female, but also the children, were to be instructed in it. So that the

            national desire might very properly find its expression in the words of the

            Psalm (119:19), which celebrates the Divine Law, “I am a stranger in the

            earth: hide not thy commandments from me.” A pilgrim people in

            extemporized tents applied themselves in the sabbatic year to the study of

            God’s commandments.

 

Thus national education was promoted, and this education was of such a character

that “the revival of religion” must have resulted if the sabbatic years had been

faithfully kept. It would seem from such a passage as Jeremiah 34:14, however, that

Israel was not careful about the sabbatic year, and the result was judgment without

mercy (Jeremiah 34:17-22).  The institution was most valuable, morally and

spiritually, but it was disregarded by an apostatizing people, who came in

consequence into an inheritance of judgment rather than of blessing.

 

 

 

 

                                    The Jubilee (vs. 8-55)

 

(See Isaiah 61:1-13; Luke 4:18-19) -  We have here a further appendix to the fourth

commandment. After seven sabbatic years there came another year, called the jubilee,

which was also sabbatic, and during which there was to be a universal restitution. The

trumpet was to be blown on the Day of Atonement, and the captives were then to be

released, the unfortunate ones who had been compelled to part with their inheritance

had it restored to them, and there was a general restoration of heart and of hope

throughout the land. It was the year of liberty, of comfort, of restoration; in one word,

it was every half-century a bloodless revolution, giving to the entire nation the

opportunity of a new departure.

 

  • THE JUBILEE WAS PRE-EMINENTLY THE LORD’S, AND AS

            SUCH WAS A HALLOWED YEAR. The fallow year was a year of rest

            unto the land, the jubilee was a year of liberty and release unto the people,

            and, as the year which was reached after a series of seven sabbatic years, it

            was hallowed as no other year was hallowed, to the service of the Lord.

            His will ruled all the year, just as His will is pre-eminently regarded on the

            sabbath days. Now, the principle embodied in the jubilee was this: “All

            members of the community are the direct servants of Jehovah, not the

            servants of men, and they must therefore have an unfettered body and

            unencumbered estate, in order to live worthy of their vocation.”  Hence

            God gave His people in the jubilee who had become “servants of men”

            through the pressure of the times, release from their bondage; He gave

            those of them who had disposed of their estates, which they could only

            dispose of until the jubilee, a new gift of their inheritance; He gave every

            exile from his home and family through the exigencies of the times, right to

            return to his family and begin life amid the old associations and without

            encumbrance. This was surely to show that His service is perfect freedom,

            and that when His will is done on earth as it ought to be, men shall have

            such social privileges and such adequate temporal provision as will make

            life an antepast of heaven!

           

            The only exception to the law of restoration was the case of a house in a

            walled town, which, if not redeemed within a year, might become the

            inalienable inheritance of the buyer. It was only by some little possibility of

            this kind that the stranger could have any footing in the holy land at all.

            The growth of cities, and of the civilization which cities bring, was thus

            provided for. If every house as well as field reverted to its former owners,

            every jubilee would have witnessed an emigration of all but the

            descendants of the old proprietors, and business would have been brought

            to n utter standstill. We see in this exception the possibility of a foreign and

            advantageous element amid the native population.

 

  • THERE WAS A SLAVERY WHICH TERMINATED, AND A

            SLAVERY WHICH DID NOT TERMINATE, IN THE YEAR OF THE

            JUBILEE. The slavery which did terminate was that into which a Jewish

            debtor had entered, in order to give his service in lieu of the debt. In fact,

            slavery was the form that the bankruptcy laws took in Palestine. It would

            be well if some such system were engrafted on our own jurisprudence. A

            man who has got unfortunately into difficulties might thus honorably

            redeem his position and his character, instead of compromising both by

            availing himself of present legal facilities.  On the other hand, foreigners or         

            natives of Canaan might become perpetual slaves to the Jews. In so doing,

            they shared in Jewish privileges, and had the advantage of Jewish training.

            This was compensation for the loss of their freedom. Besides, their considerate

            treatment was carefully secured by the Law of God. It was right, therefore,

            that it should thus be unmistakably exhibited that other nations were only           

            hewers of wood and drawers of water” (Joshua 9:21-23) to the Lord’s

            own people. This was what slavery among the Jews embodied.

 

  • THE JUBILEE WAS THE TYPE OF GOSPEL TIMES. Our Lord

            appropriated the prophecy delivered by Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord God

            is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings

            unto the meek; He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim

            liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are

            bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:1-2;

                        Luke 4:18-19). We are living consequently amid the glorious privileges

            of the Lord’s acceptable year. The gospel, as preached to men, is the

            trumpet blown at the beginning of the jubilee. It is blown over the

            completed atoning sacrifice of Christ.  It proclaims, therefore:

 

ü      The Pardon of Sin. Sin constitutes the great debt, and as sin-burdened

                        hearts feel, the pardon of sin is the great release. What a liberty                                             

                        forgiveness brings!

 

ü      The Gospel Proclaims Freedom from the Power of Sin. For if God gave

                        us liberty to sin with impunity, it would be no real blessing. He gives us

                        through Christ and His Spirit freedom from the dominion of sin. He

                        takes away the love of sin, which is the real liberty.

 

ü      The Gospel Proclaims the Sanctity of Family Life. Just as in the jubilee

                        broken family circles were restored again, and social enjoyments

                        regained, so the gospel exalts the family as the unit, and sets its highest                                    

                        sanctions round the home.

 

ü      The Gospel has Wrought Steadily towards the Liberties of Men. For

      while there was no “servile war” proclaimed in the apostolic time, but    

      seeds of liberty were left to fructify in the bosom of the race, we know  

      they have sprung into vigorous being, and that it is pre-eminently to the  

      force of gospel truth and principle the battle of freedom and its victory

      are due.

 

ü      And the Gospel is the Charter of All Wise Reform. It might be shown

      that true progress and the bloodless revolutions of such countries as      

      England and America are due to the force of gospel principles making   

      their hallowed way among men. It is only so far as the will of God is      

      regarded in the politics and policy of nations that true progress and

      needful revolutions shall be secured.

 

 

  • THE JUBILEE IS ALSO THE TYPE OF THE EVERLASTING REST.

      “There remaineth,” we are told, a sabbatism to the people of God”

      (Hebrews 4:9). This jubilee of Creation is to be ushered in by the trump of

      God (I Thessalonians 4:16). And regarding the heavenly state, we may in this    

      connection remark:

 

ü      That Heaven Will be an Everlasting Sabbath. If the jubilee was a

      Sabbath extending over a year, heaven is to be a sabbath extending over

      an ETERNITY!  All time, if such an element is recognized in eternity,  

      will prove consecrated there.

 

ü      All Wrongs Shall Then be Righted. All the burdens and injustices and

                        sorrows which we endure here will give place in the jubilee of heaven

                        to the utmost justice and the most scrupulous reward.

 

ü      The Divine Family Shall be Complete. The scattered children of God

      shall be restored to their rightful place in the great family circle, and the          

      home-feeling shall be the heritage of all.

 

ü      And Everlasting Progress Shall Characterize the Everlasting Rest.

      For if progress towards perfection is life’s most real joy, we can see

      how heaven itself can afford a field for it. God’s infinite nature and   

      boundless operations will not be comprehended in a flash of intuition;

      but insight will be, let us thankfully believe, the STEADY GROWTH

      OF THE AGES!

 

 

 

 

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