THE YEAR OF JUBILEE

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    [Leviticus:25:1-46].

    Lesson No.: 
    89
    Class: 
    Junior
    Memory Verse: 

    “The LORD knoweth the days of the upright:  and their inheritance shall be for ever”  (Psalm 37:18).

    Notes: 

    Canaan Promised
    God had promised Abraham, hundreds of years before the Israelites left Egypt, that He would give Abraham’s children a wonderful land to live in. The houses would already be built for them, the grapes would already be planted, the trees would be bearing fruit ([Deuteronomy:6:10-11]). All they would have to do would be to move in -– if they obeyed God. Of course they would have to drive out the heathen people who lived there -– and some of them were giants -– but God had promised to go ahead and fight their battles for them if they obeyed Him.

    The Israelites were the children of Abraham, several generations later. When they came out of Egypt they started for Canaan to take the land God had promised. But they had many lessons to learn before they reached there.

    One lesson God wanted to teach the Children of Israel was to be kind and thoughtful of one another. He did not want some people to be rich and own all the land, and others to be poor and have to be slaves of the rich. If the people became poor and had to work for someone else, the men they worked for must be kind for them and remember that they had once all been slaves in Egypt. If God had not had mercy on them and delivered them out of captivity they would still all have been slaves. God wanted them to be grateful for their freedom and treat one another s free children of the Lord.

    Land Divided
    When the Children of Israel came into Canaan God divided the land so that each tribe would get a suitable inheritance. He wanted them to keep that section of the country in the possession of the tribe to which He had given it. They had not earned that land; they had had no money to pay for it; it was a gift of God.

    All that we have comes from God, and we must thank Him for it. When we sit down to eat our meals, we must first thank the Lord that He has given us food to eat. When we go to bed at night we thank Him for a home and for a bed to sleep in. When we get up in the morning we thank Him for the rest He gave us, and for the clothes we have to wear. We ask Him again to give us food for the day, and He does. When we show Him that we appreciate what He gives us, He is pleased to give us more.

    Sabbath
    When the Children of Israel started their journey to Canaan God told them to rest every seventh day. That day was called the Sabbath. God fed the people by sending manna, which they gathered off the ground every morning except the Sabbath. On the sixth day there was enough manna on the ground so they could gather enough for two days -– and it would not spoil as it did any other day when they gathered more than they needed for that day. God had told the people they must keep the Sabbath Day holy, and He insisted that no work be done on that day.

    When they came into Canaan there was to be a Sabbath of the land. It was a very good land, and God wanted them to take care of it. Every seventh year they were to plant no crops so that the land could rest. The soil does not get tired like people do, but when crops are sown year by year the plants take so much food from the ground that after a while, it is said to be “worn out.” When people do not have fertilizer to put upon the ground, it will renew itself if allowed to lie idle for a year.

    Besides taking care of the ground, God wanted to further teach the lesson that He would feed His children. He promised that in the sixth year their crops would be so great that the would be plenty of food for the Sabbath year. The things that grew that year without being planted were to be left for the poor and the animals ([Exodus:23:11]).

    God will not let His children starve. His promise to the righteous is: “He shall dwell on high: his place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks: bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure” (Isaiah:33:16). David wrote in one of his Psalms: “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm:37:25). All through the 40 years that the Children of Israel spent in the wilderness God gave them manna to eat. They should have always believed that God would take good care of them and not let them go hungry.

    God wants His people today to trust Him, and not worry about what they are going to eat nor what they are going to wear. Jesus told His disciples when He was on earth, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” (Luke:12:6). If God takes care of the little birds, will He not also take care of His children?

    Year of Jubilee
    After seven such periods of seven years each, or after 49 years, came another year of rest. This was called the Year of Jubilee, or the year of liberty or release. It came right after a Sabbath year, which made two years in succession when they planted no crops. But God takes care of everything, and He promised them that they would raise so much grain and vegetables and fruit in the sixty year that it would last through the seventh and eight years and until the harvest of the ninth year.

    The Year of Jubilee was announced with a great blast of trumpets on the evening of the Day of Atonement. That day had been a solemn time when the people remembered their sins. But after all the sacrifices had been made as God had commanded, the people were very happy. And then when they heard the trumpets which according to tradition was the particular time of release of servants and restoration of property, they rejoiced indeed.

    The trumpet call began a year of release. Everyone who had sold some of his land during the previous 49 years could take it back for nothing. If anyone had become so poor that he had had to sell himself to work for someone else, he could now go back home free. Think how happy all the people were when their debts were forgotten and they could enjoy their inheritance as they had before they became poor!

    God did not want the poor people to be mistreated by the rich, but neither did He want the poor to cheat the rich. If they sold their land many years before the Year of Jubilee, they could charge a big price, but if it were only two or three years until the Jubilee they could charge only what the use of the land would be worth for that length of time. It was more like a lease than an actual sale, because everyone had to give up the land he had bought, at the fiftieth year.

    Redeemed Before Jubilee
    Whenever land was sold, two deeds were made out. One, containing the purchase price, was sealed and put into a safe place. The other one was open and went with the property every time it changed hands. If someone from the same family as the original owner wished to buy back the land for his people, he could open the sealed deed, and find out the price, and buy it before the Year of Jubilee. This was called redeeming the land, and the person who bought it was the redeemer.

    We find in the book of Ruth an illustration of a relative redeeming the land. Naomi, her husband Elimelech, and her two sons became very poor because of a famine in the land of Judah, and they went to another country to live. Many years later, after her sons had married and had both died, and her husband had died also, Naomi decided to return to her own country. Ruth, one of her daughters-in-law, went back with her. They were still very poor, and they wondered if there would be some relative who could redeem their land for them. Ruth went to see Boaz, a wealthy man who belonged to the family of Elimelech, and told him about their condition, to see if he would buy back their land. Boaz promised to perform the “part of a kinsman” (or a relative), if another man who was a closer relative did not want to do it. The other man gave up his right to redeem the land by giving his shoe to Boaz, which was the custom at that time. So Boaz bought the land, which had belonged to Elimelech, and he married Ruth. Their great-grandson was King David, who wrote many of the Psalms in the Bible. Many generations later Jesus was born into their family.

    Our Redeemer
    Jesus is our Redeemer. As sinners we sold ourselves to Satan and had nothing with which we could buy our freedom. Then Jesus came to wash away all our sins and break the power of the enemy from our lives and make us free again. He performed for us the “part of a kinsman.” He was the only One who could buy our redemption, and He paid for it with His own Blood.

    The Acceptable Year of the Lord
    In one of the first sermons that Jesus preached, He read some verses from a prophecy Isaiah had made about Him hundreds of years before. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke:4:18, 19). The “acceptable year of the Lord” was the spiritual year of jubilee that would release sinner from the bondage of sin, that would make sick people well again, that would make everyone happy who believed upon Jesus. When Jesus had read those verses, he sat down and said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke:4:21). The bringing of forgiveness for sins, peace for troubled hearts, sight for blinded eyes, was much more important than the return of a piece of ground that had been sold. We can still receive that freedom through Jesus if we come to Him in repentance and ask Him to forgive our sins. We can enjoy our “year of release” today through the Blood of Jesus.

    As the trumpets blew on the Day of Atonement to announce the beginning of the Year of Jubilee, so John the Baptist came proclaiming the coming of Jesus to earth. A part of his message was, “Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth” (Luke:3:5). That did not mean that the mountains would really slide down into the valley to make the land level; it meant that Jesus was going to make everything equal again as in the Year of Jubilee when every man returned to his inheritance. Only this was not speaking of a parcel of ground that each man should own, but that everyone could have a spiritual inheritance in Jesus. The rich and poor can all be saved in the same way.

    The Next Great Jubilee
    There is going to be still another Year of Jubilee when Jesus “shall send his angel with a great shout of a trumpet and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew:24:31). Then will begin a thousand year’s of peace when Jesus will be King. Those of us who make ourselves the true children of God will receive their inheritance in Heaven. There will be no danger of losing it. It will be their forever.

    Questions: 

    1. What was the Year of Jubilee?
    2. What were the Children of Israel to eat during that year?
    3. What did God want to teach the Israelites through the Sabbatical Year and the Year of Jubilee?
    4. Who could buy back the land that had been sold before the Jubilee?
    5. Who is our Redeemer?
    6. What is the “acceptable year of the Lord”?