The Year of Jubilee

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom to the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities destroyed long ago. They will revive them, though they have been deserted for many generations. —Isaiah 61:1-4 (Cf Lk 4:16-21)

A lot of scholars say that the language in the first four verses of Isaiah 61, that Jesus quoted in Luke 4, points back to a system and celebration for “setting people free” that God gave Israel called “the Year of Jubilee.” A lot of scholars say this is the language of Jubilee: “…to proclaim freedom to the captives…the year of the Lord’s favor…”

The Year of Jubilee gets described in Leviticus 25:10. The gist of this celebration was that at the end of 49 years — in other words every fiftieth year — was to be called, “the Year of Jubilee.”

Jubilee was a very rare word. It’s the Hebrew word for a ram’s horn.

The Jewish people were instructed to fashion a trumpet out of the horn of a wild ram and this was to be so sacred that it was to be played only once every fifty years. Then there would be Jubilee. This was an amazing system and celebration! Here’s why…

In “the Year of Jubilee” any individual who had fallen on difficult times and had acquired debt, had their debts completely wiped out.

Any individual who had fallen on hard times and sold himself or his family into slavery in order to cover those debts was set free

Finally, every piece of property that had been mortgaged or sold to someone outside the family line went back to the original family or owner.

During “the Year of Jubilee”…

•          DEBTS WERE CANCELLED!

•          SLAVES WERE RELEASED & SET FREE!

•          PEOPLE GOT THEIR INHERITANCE BACK! INHERITANCE WAS RESTORED!

In other words, at Jubilee everybody got a FRESH START or a NEW BEGINNING!

Unfortunately, Israel basically ignored God’s system for decades. They never put it into practice the way God designed.

But in Isaiah 61, Isaiah basically said, “Guys! Guys! When Messiah comes, Jubilee won’t just roll around once every fifty years… and Jubilee won’t get ignored and swept under the rug… But Jubilee — cancelling debts, setting people FREE and RESTORING a lost inheritance — that will be what the ministry of JESUS is all about! His ministry will be all about FREEDOM and RELEASE and RESTORATION!”

That’s what Jesus announced in Luke 4. That’s what He lived His entire ministry! That’s what you and I have been called and commissioned to do! 

Because of Jesus, Jubilee isn’t something that just rolls around once every 50 years! Because of Jesus, every day is Sabbath and every year is Jubilee!

REST, FREEDOM and LIBERTY are the hallmarks of movement Jesus launched and is still leading!

Check out verses 2-3:

to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor (that’s Jubilee) and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion.

Isaiah is using the imagery of a funeral…  Why? Because this is how a lot of people live! It’s where a lot of us hang out!  It’s what the lives of the people Isaiah was writing to felt like.  They were grieving loss: a loss of purpose, a loss of identity, a loss of dignity.

But Isaiah wants us to know that because of Jesus… because of Messiah…  EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED!

In fact, Isaiah says, “Instead of living life like you’re going to a funeral, God is preparing you for a WEDDING!”

It’s interesting that when Jesus quotes this passage in Luke 4, he stops after saying, “…to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor…” He doesn’t say anything at all about “…the vengeance of God…” Why?

Because Jesus understood that at the cross, the wrath of God would be poured out on Him, making it possible for you and me to receive GRACE, MERCY and LOVE!

So, what are our priorities?

Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4:18-19 describe the primary ministry of Jesus like this:

•          Salvation – “proclaim good news to the poor…”

•          Healing — “…recovery of sight for the blind…”

•          Deliverance — “…proclaim freedom for the prisoners…”

•          Emotional Healing – “…heal the broken hearted… / set the oppressed free…”

•          Fullness of the Spirit – “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me and He has anointed me...”

This was not only Jesus’s ministry, it’s our ministry!

This is not only His mandate, it’s OUR MANDATE! 

If you want to know our priorities, they’re listed right there!

…as he is so also are we in this world. —1 John 4:17 ESV

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” —John 20:21 NIV

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. —John 14:12 ESV

How can we see this happen?

The presence of God working in and through you is the difference between what you can do and what God can do.