Jubilee in the Bible
Let’s learn more about this “Year of Jubilee.”
First consider Leviticus 25 – Here God says that the 50th year was to be a special year. God declared it the year of Jubilee. All who were enslaved were released. Land that had been sold was returned to its original owner. It was a year of celebration and liberty. Leviticus 25:10 states “proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.” This theme of liberty and freedom that God authored in the year of Jubilee was embraced at our country’s founding to the extent that Leviticus 25:10 is inscribed on the Liberty Bell.
Isaiah 61 picks up this theme and expands on it. Here Isaiah speaks of his own ministry as well as a greater ministry yet to come.
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
The Spirit of God came upon the Servant to bring the Gospel, the good news. The Servant came to the poor, the brokenhearted and those in bondage. He came proclaiming liberty and freedom. He also came proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor, the year of Jubilee.
He announced that a year of the Lord’s favor had come and that a day of vengeance also was coming.
The length of God’s favor was to last a year, but it would not last forever. It would end with a day. Then we fast forward to Luke 4. Jesus has just finished His temptation in the wilderness. The very first thing He does is to walk into the synagogue and unroll the scroll and read the above text from Isaiah 61. Then Luke says, “He rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:20-21)
What was He saying? Here He was declaring that He was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words.
Jesus was saying that Isaiah 61 was really about Him. It described His ministry. It was the text that inaugurated His public work. So we look back at Isaiah 61 through Christ, and there we see a glorious picture of the heart and work of Jesus.
Jesus in Isaiah 61
He said that the Holy Spirit of God had anointed Him for a very special work.
He had come to bring good news to the poor. He had been sent to bind up the brokenhearted. He had come to proclaim liberty to the captives and a complete opening of the prison to those who are bound.
Jesus came to the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives and those who are bound. It is never recorded that He actually visited any prisons. Instead we see Him ministering to people who were oppressed by people or bound fast in sin. He came and proclaimed liberty.
The next thing we see is that He came to proclaim a year and a day. He came to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor as well as the day of vengeance of our God. When Jesus read from the scroll He stopped in the middle of this verse. He only spoke of the year of the Lord’s favor and not of the day of vengeance of our God. He had come to inaugurate the new era of Good News.
The mystery of the Gospel was being unveiled, and the Gospel was Jesus Christ. It was not the time to speak of vengeance; as real as it was. Instead, Jesus was declaring that He had come, and the year of the Lord’s favor was here. It had begun. It would not last forever. There would be a day. But now it was here, and the poor would hear good news, and the brokenhearted would be bound up.
Next, we see that Jesus also came to comfort those who mourn and to grant them three glorious exchanges. These words impart glowing vehemence to the style. He has come to those who mourn to give them:
1. A beautiful colorful floral headdress instead of the ashes of grief that had been on their head. Jesus was exchanging ashes for beauty!
2. The oil of joy. What an exchange! Mourning is laid aside, and instead, the joyous oil of a feast is poured out.
3. A garment of praise. The crushed in spirit, the one that is laid low is replaced instead with a beautiful garment of praise. Fainting is turned to joy and praise!
Then the passage turns a wonderful corner. Why has this been done?
In order that those in ashes, those in mourning, those of a faint spirit who have received these glorious exchanges may become oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified!
God takes the discouraged, the sad, the weighed down, and gives them beauty, joy and praise in order that they might become His planting: oaks of righteousness.
Lastly, we see God’s purpose for these oaks. What are the three things those oaks accomplish?
1. They shall build up the ancient ruins;
2. They shall raise up the former devastations;
3. They shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
These formerly broken and hurting people become the instruments and the vessels to build up ancient ruins. They raise up former devastations. They are the ones who repair ruined cities: the devastations of many generations! What a glorious picture. This is what Jesus came to do! This is what He came to do, and this is what we aim to do.
People groan under: Poverty – Broken heartedness – Bondage – Blindness – Mourning – Fainting.
Jesus is the glorious Healer of all these maladies!!! He Himself is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s promise.
He brings the Gospel, and He brings beauty and joy and praise. He reveals Himself as the great answer to our great difficulties. He is the vinedresser who is raising up a planting that will restore and repair the brokenness of generations.
We seek to build up a nursery, an orchard of people who have become fruit bearing, strong trees of righteousness instead of those who are bowed low with sin and calamity. What a beautiful thing it is when a fatherless child weighed down with pain and difficulty is helped to grow up to be an oak of righteousness! What a beautiful thing it is when a battered wife becomes a pillar of mercy! What a beautiful thing it is when a former drug addict becomes a God praising chemical dependency counselor.
Jesus is our Jubilee!
JUBILEE by Michael Card
The Lord provided for a time
For the slaves to be set free
For the debts to all be canceled
So His chosen ones could see
His deep desire was for forgiveness
He longed to see their liberty
And His yearning was embodied
In the Year of Jubilee
At the Lord’s appointed time
His deep desire became a man
The heart of all true jubilation
And with joy we understand
In his voice we hear a trumpet sound
That tells us we are free
He is the incarnation
Of the year of Jubilee
To be so completely guilty
Given over to despair
To look into your judges face
And see a Savior there
Jesus is our Jubilee
Slaves set free
Jesus is our Jubilee