Q+A 5: The Year of Jubilee?
Last Sunday we sang a song (Days of Elijah) which included the line Its the year of Jubilee. The question was asked: what is the year of Jubilee?
In the OT Law, God gave different sorts of instructions for how his people were to relate to him and to each other, as well as instructions for various feasts, celebrations and ceremonies as reminders of who God is and what he has done for them.
The year of Jubilee was one of those events, and was supposed to happen every 50 years (see Leviticus 25:8-55, among other passages).
There were a number of stipulations regarding the year of Jubilee, and while I can’t be entirely certain of what the author of the song included reference to the year of Jubilee, my guess is that its to do with the return of property.
According to the OT Law, people in Israel were not to sell their land permanently. When property was sold, we are to think of it as more of a lease, lasting until the year of Jubilee, at which point it returned to its original owners.
In Lev 25:23, the explanation is that the land is actually God’s – and he has given his people an inheritance of land that they cannot give away, trade, squander or sell. It cannot be taken from them, confiscated, compulsorily acquired or removed by government. It is God’s to give, and God alone can remove it.
I think its included in the song as a reminder that the inheritance we have from God is not land, but salvation in Jesus. The verses of the song point to Jesus as the fulfilment of God’s promises in the OT (Elijah and the dry bones, a temple after David, righteous instruction as through Moses), and despite the fact that we face famine, darkness and sword (difficulties and persecutions), this period of time is our year of Jubilee – its the time we receive from God the inheritance he promised, and that cannot be taken from us (that inheritance being eternal life in His Kingdom).
We look to Jesus’ return and the final fulfilment of that, but nothing can take that inheritance away from us when we trust in Jesus.