Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Year of Jubilee (Lev 25)

Last Sunday I preached from Ephesians 6:5-9 and Lev 25 on the Year of Jubilee. First, I spoke about the fact of slavery in the first century Church and how Paul had to navigate between exhorting the slaves to be obedient to their masters and also the freedom that they had in Christ. That ties in well with the concept of Jubilee where one of the pillars of which is that an enslaved Israeli would be freed in the Year of Jubilee, the 50th year. The land sold would be returned to its original owner in the year of Jubilee. Every Israelite is commanded to return to their lands and clans in the year of Jubilee (Lev 25:10,13). Why is it that the year of Jubilee is so significant to Christians today? I venture to suggest 4 reasons.

The year of Jubilee teaches us to trust in God to provide for us as the Israelites had to rest from working on their lands in the 7th year (sabbatical year) and when Jubilee comes, it means not working for two years (49th year being a sabbatical year and 50th year being Jubilee). How then can they survive? God promises to bless them threefold the 6th year, especially on the 48th year so that when they plant in the 51st year after Jubilee the people are still eating from what they have stored up in the 48th year. It is a remarkable concept that each Israelite has to rely on God's provision and it is God who blesses us. Second, one is freed from debts as all obligations are waived and debts released in the Year of Jubilee. I told the church that ideally one is freed from debt, and I cited the example of the moratorium which extended the loan for 6 months, and that if possible they should pay off their debts and not rely on the moratorium. "A borrower is slave to the lender" (Prov 22) and the year of Jubilee teaches us to avoid debts so as not to fall into slavery or bondage to anyone. Third, returning to the land in the year of Jubilee. I related the fact that it is common for indigenous peoples to sell off their lands to the people including foreigners when they fall into hardship and many people work now on rented land previously owned by them but sold to others. Jubilee teaches us to value our lands so that we have a place called our own to return to and I think this point touches a cord in many of my members and about 7 or 8 leaders texted me later to thank me for the sermon. Praised be to God. Fourth, returning to one's clan during the year of Jubilee. Each will have to maintain good familial relations as God so desires that we return to our families in the Year of Jubilee. During the sermon, I did not mention that Lev 25:8 was one of the key verses that led to my return to Sabah from Singapore in 2014. I returned to my land in Kota Kinabalu. I returned to my clan, the SIB church and my own immediate family. I have returned in the year of my Jubilee when I turned 50 years old. Now I am working again in the 51st year, after Jubilee and thrice blessed by God, I will catch fishes of men and nations, numbering 153. 

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