In the book of Leviticus, we read about an amazing system of economics that God provided for the Jews called the Sabbatical year ordinances. A feature of this system was the year of Jubilee. In this lesson, Mike shows how Jubilee was a preview of not only an event in the future but a person who would fulfill all the wonderful promises of the Jubilee year.
These were a collection of regulations that guided the economic life of the people from year to year, and culminated each half century in what was referred to as the Year of Jubilee. We are no longer under this system, but I believe that it contained valuable lessons that continue to be relevant for our decision-making and conduct to this day.
First of all, we need to understand that the terms “Sabbatical Year” and “Jubilee” refer to different things but are both part of a single system.
A. Sabbatical Year
The Lord then spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop,but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year. All of you shall have the sabbath products of the land for food; yourself, and your male and female slaves, and your hired man and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you. Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all its crops to eat.
– Leviticus 25:1-7
God commanded His people to give the land a rest every seventh year and live by what it produced on the sixth year. When they questioned how they would be able to survive when doing this (i.e. it would be two years before they could harvest again), God answered that every sixth year He would provide a harvest that yielded three years’ worth of food (vs. 20-22), which would be sufficient for their needs.
But if you say, “What are we going to eat on the seventh year if we do not sow or gather in our crops?” then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years. When you are sowing the eighth year, you can still eat old things from the crop, eating the old until the ninth year when its crop comes in.
– Leviticus 25:20-22
The command to allow the land a rest every seven years was followed by the instruction concerning Jubilee.
‘You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. You shall then sound a ram’s horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land. You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. You shall have the fiftieth year as a jubilee; you shall not sow, nor reap its aftergrowth, nor gather in from its untrimmed vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat its crops out of the field.
– Leviticus 25:8-12
The term Jubilee meant “horn of a ram” which the Jews used as a trumpet. The connection was that after seven cycles of these Sabbatical years, on the tenth day of the seventh month (Day of Atonement), the trumpets would sound throughout the land announcing the Year of Jubilee. The Book of Leviticus provides details concerning what was supposed to happen during this fiftieth year.