The Year of Jubilee
In the time of Christ they read from the Torah on every Sabbath and then they had certain selections that would be read for each of the feast days and for the new moon and certain other celebrations in the Jewish Year. It would take them 3 ½ years to read from Genesis 1:1 to the end of Deuteronomy in their Sabbath readings. Then they would go back and repeat the process beginning with Genesis 1:1 for another 3 ½ years.
When Jesus came into the world, He was called the Word made flesh. John 1:1, 14 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” During Jesus time the main teaching in any synagogue was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. The High Torah readings would be from one of the prophets, but the main teaching was from the Torah. Acts 15:21 speaks of how they read the books of Moses in that day. “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.”
When you closely examine Jesus ministry, you find that much of what He did and the miracles recorded were done on the Sabbath, or Saturday. Mark 1:21-27, “And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.” Mark 3:1-5 “And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.” Luke 13:14 “And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.” Luke 14:1-6 “And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? And they could not answer him again to these things.”
The interesting part about Jesus’ healing on the Sabbath was the problem that it caused because they had developed these man devised traditions of not doing any work on the Sabbath, that were man made additions to the commandment of God to not work on the Sabbath. Exodus 20:8-10 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work…” But beyond God’s commandment to them, it was forbidden to do anything, any kind of labor, per their own definitions of what labor was.
For instance there were 39 major works laid down by the father’s by the time Jesus came on the scene, as you couldn’t carry a burden on the Sabbath. This developed into some rather ridiculous traditions of men. For instance: An man could spit on the pavement and rub it with his foot and if it didn’t make a rut it was okay, but if he spit on the dirt and rubbed it with his foot and it made a rut or indention he was guilty of breaking the law of plowing on the Sabbath day. They could not wear what was their version of an artificial limb on the Sabbath because that would be carrying an excessive burden and therefore, work which God forbid by the 4th Commandment. They had a certain way to cut their finger nails and a certain way to cook their food before the sun set on the Sabbath day. This is the kind of problem that Jesus continually had to deal with.
Maybe that’s why they veiled their women back them. You know, if they couldn’t fix their hair or brush their teeth, they might as well just hide behind a veil. No, that’s but a joke, but the point is that their rules had become absolutely ridiculous. The laws that were established by them were what Mark called the traditions of men in Mark 7:3-5 “For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?” Note that even they called them “the tradition of the elders” and not the commandment or law of God.
Then you read about how Jesus would heal the sick on the Sabbath you also read about how the Pharisees kept condemning Him for breaking the Sabbath and calling Him a sinner because of those healings. John 9:24-25 “Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” John 9:16 “Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.”
But what Jesus was doing was acting out or demonstrating what they read about that day in the Synagogue. When Jesus would go out and heal the leper, it was on the day that they read about the leper in the Torah. On the Sabbath that they read about a woman during her time of the month, when she was menstruating, when she had an issue of blood, Jesus went out to where a lady with an issue of blood was that was healed in Mark 5:25-29 because she believed that if she could touch the hem of his garment, she would be made whole. “And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague.” In the Synagogue they would read all the teachings of the law and Jesus would then go out and demonstrate what was read and taught on.
One proof of this statement, showing the reasons why Jesus did what He did, when He did, on the Sabbath, was in fact to fulfill the scripture is shown at the Feast of Lights or Dedication, known as Hanukkah at the temple when he healed a blind man. John 9:1-7 “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.” John 10:19-22 “There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind? And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.”
For Hanukkah, the priests in that day had a great menorah, that was so big that when they lit it a person could read a small scroll on the mount of Olives. This was besides the menorahs that were in the temple. When the priest lit that Menorah, he would say, “I light the world.” And then Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). Then Jesus healed a man who had never seen. So, in the setting of the event, Jesus would demonstrate that event showing that he did not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17). We would say that He came to act out, or live out what was written about Him.
Something interesting happens with His ministry as it relates to His beginning His public ministry. His first message was taught in the Synagogue. The synagogues would have balconies and the women would sit in the balconies and the men on the main floor. They also had a special seat for the guest speaker, which I will take more about later.
After Jesus had been temped of the Devil for 40 days (Matthew 4:2-11, Luke 4:2-13), He comes out of the desert or place of temptation in the power of the Spirit and goes to Nazareth into the synagogue. Luke 4:13-14 “And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.”
Luke 4:15-21 “And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 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. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” It is important to note that he closed the book before He then spoke the words; “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Jesus quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2. But you will find out that He did not quote the entire second verse, but stopped in the middle of verse two. He didn’t read about “the day of vengeance of our God”. Why? Because during His earthly ministry, He did not come as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah to defeat His enemies and claim the world back for Himself with a rod of iron. He came then as the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world. He did not come to proclaim vengeance, but the acceptable year of the Lord. The first time Jesus came to the world, He came to bring salvation. The second time Jesus comes, it will be to bring judgment upon the world. That term, “The acceptable year of the Lord” doesn’t mean a lot to us in English, but from a Hebraic point of view, it makes a big difference.
Jesus walks into this synagogue and as He does so that day in Nazareth, there was an arc which contained the Old Testament scrolls and they reached in and took out the scroll of Isaiah and Jesus stood up at a podium, opened it up and began to read (Luke 4:16-21) which we already read. Then he sad down on a special seat and taught them. It was a seat for the guest speaker of the day and Jesus sat and taught them after the reading of the scroll. We also see Jesus teaching at other times while sitting. Luke 5:3 “And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.” John 8:2 “And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.” Today we stand behind a pulpit and teach because it has become traditional, but in Jesus day, they only stood for the reading of the word, then the teacher of the day, sat to teach. That special seat that Jesus sat upon in the temple was made of stone. Archeologists have discovered such seats still intact within the ruins of old Synagogues.
Now one of the most important things that Jesus said was that he came to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. That is an extremely interesting term that most Christians today would not understand. If you go back to the book of Leviticus, chapter 23 you will find that there were seven feasts of Israel, but the law of Leviticus also tell us about something else called the year of Jubilee which was heralded in or announced by the blowing of a trumpet (Leviticus 25:9). “Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.”
The Year of Jubilee went like this. Leviticus 25:3-4 “Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.” For six years they worked the land and then on the seventh, they let it rest and didn’t plant or harvest anything. It is similar to the week in which they were to work 6 days and then have a day of rest or Sabbath. To many people it’s Saturday, to Christians it’s Sunday, but more important that the actual day of the week is the issue of having a day to rest from our labors, a day set aside for God, to worship and renew our spirit and hear the Word of God. In the Hebrew, the word Sabbath doesn’t mean Saturday and is not translated as Saturday. For the Jew it was Saturday because that was the 7th day of the week, Sunday being the first as it is even today. The root word for Sabbath literally means intermission. Anyway, we see this parallel between a week and a week of years.
The fact is, is that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Sabbath and we ender into His rest, we cease from our own labors. Remember, it’s first the natural and then that which is spiritual. 1 Corinthians 15:46 “that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.” This becomes spiritual and is not something that is one day a week or one year in seven years, but everyday for we are no longer doing required religious works and rituals as a part of our salvation, but resting in the finished works of Calvary and what Jesus did for us once and for all. Everything in the Old Testament was a type and shadow in the natural of what would be spiritual in the New Testament time, after the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our salvation and the substance of our faith, the object of our faith, the source of our faith, the purpose of our faith and the end of our faith. But that is another message. It is enough to know that unlike some legalist denominations who say that unless you worship on Saturday and cease from work on Saturday and keep it Holy, then you are sinning and not saved. We know that is not true, because Salvation is by faith through grace, it is Jesus plus nothing, not Jesus plus religious works, not Jesus plus how or what method or by what words we are baptized, or which day of the week we separate to the Lord as a day of rest, or that we were circumcised or any other thing by which men try to say that unless you do this or that, this way or that way, you are not saved. That is mockery of the price that Jesus paid in full to accomplish and purchase our salvation.
Leviticus said that in the seventh year they were not to till or work the land. But what God did was like when the children of Israel were in the wilderness and God told them to gather enough manna only for that day, one day’s consumption but then on the 6th day, they were to gather enough manna for two days because there would be no manna provided on the seventh day of the week because that was their day of rest. Here God would so bless their crops in the 6th year that they would have all that they needed for the seventh year without working the land.
Then the Lord told them to count 7 cycles of 7 years, which would be 49 years. Then they blew the trumpet and began the Year of Jubilee. Leviticus 25:8-9 “And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.”
If you were a servant, you were set free because that was the law of Jubilee. Leviticus 25:10-17 “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed. For it is the jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession. And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour's hand, ye shall not oppress one another: According to the number of years after the jubilee thou shalt buy of thy neighbour, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee: According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee. Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the LORD your God.” If you had lost your property because of a bad business deal, you could get your property back if you had a will to prove that it was your property. Prisonars could go free. Land was restored to its rightful owner and they were not to oppress one another on the year of Jubilee.
So God gave such an increase and blessing upon the land on the 6th year that the people didn’t have to work the seventh year. The fruit naturally fell off the trees on that year because they didn’t harvest the trees. And normally a person would only live to see one Jubilee in their lifetime, possibly two at the most if they were born near a year of Jubilee.
However when Jesus stood up at Nazareth and read from Isaiah in Luke 4, cutting off the last part of verse two, not quoting it fully as in our Bible, to include the Day of Vengeance in Isaiah 61:2 it was because His vengeance is for a later time when He will return as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. Revelation 5:5 “And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” Revelation 19:15 “And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”
Then Jesus came to proclaim the acceptable Day of the Lord, which when He spoke He was telling the Jewish people, I have come to declare a Year of Jubilee. But even more, He was telling them, today I am come to become your Jubilee. From the time of Moses to Jesus was about 1500 years. If you go to the first Jubilee, then the second and third and fourth, you come to something interesting in the book of Judges. Most of the Judges that ruled came in and delivered the people from bondage on a Jubilee year. Some of the very judges found in the book of judges, as Sampson and even Deborah. You will see this in Judges chapter 12 & 13. The people would go into captivity for 40 years on some occasions or 17 years in another and God would bring a judge on the Year of Jubilee to bring them out. This is not true about every judge, but several of those Judges came to power and prominence to deliver the people on the Year of Jubilee. This is not found in the surface text, but in following a time line.
Jesus began His ministry at age 30 and then He preached for 3 ½ years. It began with his being tempted in the wilderness of the Devil (Luke 4:1-14). Then He returned in the power of the Spirit and He returned to His home town of Nazareth to begin His ministry. Why? Because they were going to start the Torah reading all over again and they begin with reading from Genesis and Genesis 1:2 talks about the spirit of the Lord. “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” So Jesus went back to Nazareth just as they began the reading of the Torah to begin His earthly ministry for the next 3 ½ years. John 1:14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Jesus the Word made flesh will preach for that 3 ½ years as they read through the Torah, then at the conclusion of his ministry, at the time when the Torah reading is finished, He will end His ministry and earthly life.
The end of Deuteronomy ends with the death of Moses after his seeing the Promised Land in Deuteronomy 34:1-6. “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.”
The ministry of Jesus Christ is now at the Cross, dying that we might be able to make it to the Promised Land and one day cross the Jordan River. The whole picture is here. So the indication is that He came and began His ministry in the year of Jubilee and proclaimed that He now the fulfillment of what Jubilee was a type and shadow of. Luke 4:18-19 “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.”
When Jesus stood up and said the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he was saying, no longer is the Jubilee a year, no longer do you have to wait for 50 years to be set free, to be delivered, to be healed, but every day is a Jubilee. That is the good news. He had come to say, anytime you pray, I can free you, anytime you pray, I can heal you, anytime you pray, you can be delivered. He was saying, don’t look to another time, don’t look to another season, for I am come to fulfill the law, I have come to act it out and I am your Jubilee. Not only do you see the Jesus ministry being centered around the reading of the Torah, but also His ministry is centered around the seven feasts of Israel.
You have the Torah being read from Genesis to Deuteronomy in 3 ½ years. You have Jesus the Word made flesh, to tabernacle among men doing 3 ½ years of ministry. You have in the synagogue where he is preaching, talking about certain sickness and diseases and Jesus then healing them on the Sabbath, which was an unheard of thing. He was telling them, you have heard it preached, but I am the fulfillment of the Word and He put it into action for them. You have heard it talked about it, let me demonstrate. They told you how to treat a blind man who’s never seen, let me show you how to heal a blind man who’s never seen. He goes out of the Synagogue and starts demonstrating what they just read about on the Sabbath day.
Remember when the brought him the woman caught in the act of adultery? John 8:3-10 Jesus wrote in the dust. Then he said “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?” She said “No man, Lord.” Please note that she called Him Lord. That is important. She had confessed He was Lord, turning from her own sin to His righteousness. Is that not what salvation is? Admitting our own unrighteousness and trusting in His righteousness? What was his writing in the dirt all about? Some scholars believe that Jesus might have been writing their sins down, bringing conviction and causing them to turn away. Let us look at the law concerning adultery.
In Numbers 5:11-28 we are given the story of the trial of bitter waters. When a woman was accused of adultery, they brought her before a priest and the priest took this concoction of bitter water and stirred dirt into it and she had to drink it. If she was guilty and has strange seed in her, then her belly would begin to swell and her thigh to rot and she can’t walk properly and she then become a curse. That woman was at the temple. That dirt Jesus was scribbling in was the dirt a priest should have taken to condemn her. But instead of that dirt being mixed with water and given the woman to drink Jesus, the living water, the High Priest writes in the dust that which should have condemned her and instead of condemning her, sets her free. Jesus acted out the law and the Word and fulfilled it.
Numbers 21:8-9 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” As there was a brazen serpent on a pole, it represented Christ upon the cross of Calvary, taking our sins, becoming our sin offering, to crush the head of the serpent. The burning of the red heifer in Numbers 19:2-4 also represented the crucifixion of Jesus. The Passover lamb in Exodus chapter 12 represented Jesus, the Lamb of God who died at Passover.
So, we have the feasts of Israel. Jesus fulfilled the spring feasts at his first coming and will fulfill the fall feasts at this second coming. We have these examples, as the year of Jubilee and Jesus saying I am your Jubilee. The point is that you don’t have to wait for a certain day or season for God to come down and trouble your water or for an angel to come and bring you a special message and ministry. If you can understand who Jesus was, the Son of God who came to set men free, don’t just see him hanging on the cross, he’s not there anymore. He came into and out of the grave and is risen and sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for you. Romans 8:34 “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Pray and ask Him for help, freedom and deliverance, know that He is your Jubilee. We don’t celebrate Jubilee every 50 years, we celebrate it every day, because if Christ is in you, He is your hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). So this teaching in the Synagogue, “the acceptable year of the Lord” is very important. Jesus said the Spirit of God is upon me, so you don’t have to look anywhere else except to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as your deliverer, savior and healer. In Him is everything you need.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Greek word for save means wholeness. To save from sin, from destruction, to protect from danger, to heal. So salvation is a process that doesn’t just mean forgiveness of sin. That was the message of Jesus then and the Message of Jesus today.