‘Jesus’ concept of the kingdom was borrowed extensively from the prophetic understanding of the Jubilee year’ J H Yoder (Politics of Jesus p. 36)
God’s work in creation set a precedence: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, rest; this is seen in the Sabbath day Deut 5;12-15 and the Sabbath year Lev 25:17
Barnabas (Paul’s apostolic companion) takes it further in The Epistle of Barnabas 13: 3, 4, he writes:
‘... And God made in 6 days the work of his hands; and he finished them on the seventh day, and he rested the seventh day, and snctified it. Consider my children, what this signifies he finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this; that in
6, 000 years the Lord God will bring all things to an end.’
Sabbath year of sabbath years = Jubilee Lev 25:8ff extra rest!
4 themes characterise Jubilee:
(ii)forgiveness of debts
(iii) liberation of slaves and the oppressed
(iv) redemption of property
Jesus and jubilee
Lk 4: 18,19 Jesus’ first public sermon – announcing the arrival of the kingdom – couched in jubilee terms
It is claimed that AD 26 was the actual year of the Jubilee – the jubilee age has arrived.
1. Celebration (jubilation) (Lev 25 v 9) - sounding of the trumpet: a proclamation everyone around knew about it.
2. Atonement (v 9) - all that we do rests upon what Jesus has accomplished in and through the cross.
3. Family (v 10) - all returned to their families; the oppressed go free
4. Work/ rest (v 11) - our work is shaped by obedience to God; the importance of rest - no workaholism here!
5. Reliance upon God (v 12) unless God blesses we starve!
6. Economics (v 14ff) land (v )- the gospel is for all of life, it affects how we buy and sell, the economic powers etc: all of life is to be redeemed.
7. Release from debt - 'forgive us our debts'. Debts were forgiven. Good news for the poor.
8. Stewardship of the land (v 23) - environmental concern
8. Care (v 35).
9. Above all it was a restoration - people were restored, redeemed.
Release and restoration characterises the jubilee themes - a message taken up when Jesus declared jubilee (aka the year of the Lord's favour) in Lk 4.
Eschatalogical anticipation - a foretaste of the 'not yet' now. Echoes of the exodus too (v 8, 55, etc)
Lk 12:22-31 cf Lev 25: 20-22.
There is much emphasis in our society on work – but not enough on rest. Paul Marshall writes:
This rest is more than recuperation and preparation for work. It is a God-given human response in its own right.
We are the image of God – God works and then he rests.
Rest is not just what we do in our spare time, it’s not just a holiday, or a day off; it is so much more:
We rest from out labours – in more than one sense of the word. Rest is a reminder that we can’t do it in our own strength.
When most people ‘rest’ we consume; the numbers in the mall are testimony to that fact. I’m no different, I hate the mall, but I love amazon!
Forgiveness and liberation
Lk 11: 4 release (aphiemi) our debts (opheilema = monetary debts); as we release everyone that is indebted to us ie practice Jubilee
Mt 18: 23 the kingdom of heaven is like... Jubilee!
verse 27 aphiemi
(aphiemi LXX in Lev 25)
Redemption of property
land = wealth, capital
Lk 12: 32-34 sell your possessions and give to the poor
Mk 10:21 rich young ruler ‘ practice jubilee’
Lk 19: 8-10 Zacheus
The implications of Jubilee
1. It is God’s new order bursting in
economic, social, religious, political, ... cf Gal 3: 28
All areas under the influence of Jubilee – hence and image of the kingdom.
2. It shows God’s concern for the poor and oppressed
Provision for the poor:
(i)0% interest rate
(ii) third year tithe given to the poor
(iii) debts were cancelled every seven years
(iv)debtors sold into slavery were to be released every seven years
(v)fallow land was available for the poor
Jubilee prevented exploitation of the poor and oppressed – it not only provided for them it gave the a new start.
Early Israel was an egalitarian society. Later the gap between rich and poor increased; they moved away for the jubilee principles (Is 58; Amos 2:6)
It prevented Israel becoming permanent slaves.
3. It shows God’s concern for the earth
‘the land is mine’ underlines the Jubilee
It is a reminder that we are stewards
It enabled the land and the animals to rest.
Amos 3:21 restoration of all things
Rom 8, Rev 21 the whole earth is to experience release and liberty – at the Jubilee of Jubilees!
R.B. Sloan, Jr, The Favourable Year of the Lord: A Study of Jubilary Theology in the Gospel of Luke. Schola Press: Austin, Texas, 1977. Pp. 213