1. The sabbatical year and the year of Jubilee
   a. The sabbatical year
   b. The year of release for slaves
   c. The year of Jubilee
      i. Rest
      ii. Release
2. The relevance of the Law under the New Covenant
3. Introduction to Jubilee in Christ
4. Jubilee in Christ
   a. Jubilee (Lev 25) as a whole
      i. A release from materialism
      ii. A care for the brethren
      iii. An obedience to God
   b. Being our brother’s liberator
      i. God does the miracles
      ii. Delegated authority
      iii. Enforcing the Jubilee release in the early Church
      iv. Our attitude and provision
         1. Faith in the name of Jesus
         2. The power at the believer’s disposal

1. The sabbatical year and the year of Jubilee

This section deals with the Mosaic legislation of Leviticus chapter 25 and is intended to give the reader a broad overview of the subject without projecting it in anyway into the NT and the fulfilment in Christ. However, I’ve discussed an ‘aside’ at one point and related it through to a fulfilment in Christ as there’s no opportunity in the notes to conclude what is being hinted at later in the text.

It’s quite possible that this section will get just a little bit like trying to wade through treacle as it’s pretty much dealing with commandments and procedures rather than trying to draw spiritual truth from it.

But do try and persevere as the conclusions drawn are important to sections 3 and 4.

a. The sabbatical year
Lev 25:1-7, Deut 15:1-11, Ex 23:10-11

God ordained that every seventh year was to be a year of rest for the land of Israel. To be able to understand the context of this command, we need first to determine which period of time was considered to be the ‘year’ in this context.

As the ‘sabbath’ was tied in with allowing the land rest from cultivation, then it should logically be also tied in to the Israelite agricultural year.

The agricultural year was considered to begin immediately after the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles with the sowing of the fields so that, as detailed in Lev 25:9 with regard to when the year of Jubilee began, the agricultural year would have been counted from around this time, when the harvesting had been fully completed and next year’s crop needed soon to be sown with the advent of the ‘former rains’ which should have begun at the latest by November.

It may even be that Rosh-ha-shanah, the beginning of the civil new year (occurring on the first day of the seventh month along with the festival known as ‘Trumpets’) was chosen as the point from which the agricultural new year was taken to begin (see Rosh-ha-shanah 1:1 in the Mishnah where the four ‘New Year’ days are listed).

However, from an inscription found during the excavations at Gezer, it’s usually thought that we can determine the agricultural cycle that was in existence in Biblical times. AEHL (in the article ‘Inscriptions’) records concerning this that

‘In the excavations at Gezer a seven-line inscription, written on a plaque of soft limestone measuring 3in by 4in, was discovered. This, known as the Gezer Calendar, is considered to be the most ancient Hebrew Inscription. It dates from about 950-900 BC, that is, the days of Solomon’

and Zondervan (under ‘Agriculture’) records for us the actual translated text which reads

‘His two months are (olive) harvest;
‘His two months are planting (grain);
‘His two months are late planting;
‘His month is hoeing up of flax;
‘His month is harvest of barley;
‘His month is harvest and festivity;
‘His two months are vine tending;
‘His month is summer fruit’

These twelve months represent a chronological order of the farming year, beginning with the period mid-September to mid-November and ending where it begins, and may therefore have been a memory aid in use for remembering the agricultural year.

Other interpretations have been proposed but the fact that the agricultural procedures of the inscription tie in with the cycle as demonstrated in the seven annual festivals of Leviticus chapter 23 are indicative that the farming year began on or around Rosh-ha-shanah or even after the Feast of Tabernacles (that is, either the 1st or 23rd of the seventh month - corresponding roughly to our September/October). I’ve detailed this more fully below underneath the first chart.

In the period from the Israelites’ entry into Canaan until the exile of the people to Babylon, nothing much is recorded that indicates to us whether the sabbatical year was observed in the land, though II Chr 36:21 points us to the belief that, on the whole, it was ignored.

In NT times, the seventh year was probably observed amongst most religious Jews, the tractate Shebiith being devoted exclusively to the legislation concerning it. Just how widespread it was amongst the nation is difficult to determine, however, as it can’t be imagined that the Roman authorities would have been pleased to accept a year in which no produce was being cultivated.

In present day Israel (and I’m here speaking about the year 1986 when I visited the land on one of the most mind-numbing tours I’ve ever been on - we seemed to drive past the really important sites and stop at the contrived or uninteresting ones - like crusader fortresses and even, I remember, stopping to look over Jerusalem at the top of one of the hills that was the place of Jerusalem’s rubbish dump!), I overheard a conversation that was being held between a friend of mine and the owner of a vineyard that produced wine that was ‘kosher’.

This necessarily required him to leave the land fallow on the seventh year but, upon further questioning, he admitted that, although they allowed the land ‘rest’ in the sense that they didn’t tend the vines, the grapes that were produced were still picked and fermented into wine that was sold as ‘non-kosher’ - something that the Law didn’t permit (the produce of the land during the seventh year is supposed to be for the poor - Ex 23:10-11).

As with Jubilee, the sabbatical year brought in release and rest, and was a time when the poor benefited, though what actually took place was different on these two occasions. These twin aspects of release and rest are outlined for us in the Mosaic legislation.

i. Rest
Ex 23:10-11, Lev 25:5-7
The land was to rest and be uncultivated for one year thus providing all labourers also with ‘rest’. What grew of itself (with no tending, pruning or reaping) was primarily intended for the use of the poor of the land (Ex 23:10-11) though it could also serve as food for households (Lev 25:6), for cattle (Lev 25:7a), and for the wild beasts of the land (Lev 25:7b, Ex 23:11).

ii. Release
Deut 15:1-6
The Sabbatical year was also to be a time of release (Deut 15:1) but only in one specific aspect - that all debts between the children of Israel were to be cancelled (Deut 15:2), though a foreigner’s debt was not annulled (Deut 15:3). That the Scriptures teach a cancelling of outstanding debt and not just an annulment of the interest on the debt is clear from Deut 15:7-11.

This legislation sought to remove the yoke of bondage to labour from the children of Israel. Instead of the Israelites relying upon the activity of work to produce ever greater harvests, to become richer by the extent of their hard labour, they had to desist from activity for a full year and use up what provision they might have had.

By the eighth year, most families should have begun the next six year period on the same terms as they had at the beginning of the previous six years of work. If what you had was to be used up, then there was more likely to have been a desire to look after the interests of others and so a collective concern rather than a selfish one would have been cultivated (excuse the pun, please!).

b. The year of release for slaves
Ex 21:1-6, Deut 15:12-18

It’s very easy for us to always see in the mention of a six year period followed by a year of release, a reference to the sabbatical year but, in the following legislation, this isn’t the case. The Law relating to the release of a Hebrew slave after six years’ work didn’t relate to this cycle but to any six consecutive years that the slave served a master.

The Law makes it clear that after six years of service (regardless of when they should fall) the Hebrew slave is to be set free with no charge being incurred (Deut 15:12, Ex 21:2) - he doesn’t find release on the national sabbatical year but only after a period of six consecutive years’ service. Notice also that in the Jubilee year, the slave left with his family (Lev 25:41,54) but not necessarily so here (Ex 21:4) and in Jubilee the slave went out to receive a possession (Lev 25:41) whereas here he went out armed with some financial help (Deut 15:13-14).

The year of Jubilee (discussed below) also released Hebrew slaves (Lev 25:40-41) but so that they would return to possess their inheritance, and no provision was given for a slave to remain a part of his master’s house as it was in the seventh year.

When the year of Jubilee came and a slave had already committed himself to remain ‘forever’ in his master’s house (Ex 21:6, Deut 15:17), it would appear that the year of Jubilee took precedence and the slave left the master’s house to obtain possession of his tribal inheritance.

So the Jews of Jesus’ day understood it. Kiddushin 1:2 in the Mishnah says that

‘A Hebrew bondman is acquired by money or by writ; and he acquires his freedom by [service lasting six] years or by [the entering in of] the year of Jubilee or by [redeeming himself at] his outstanding value...The bondman that has his ear bored through is acquired by the act of boring, and he acquires his freedom by [the entering in of] the year of Jubilee or by the death of his master’

The Mishnah is remarkably quiet concerning the law regarding the year of Jubilee (unlike the sabbatical year which takes up an entire tractate and has numerous references elsewhere within its pages) so that it’s a possibility that the Jubilee rest wasn’t a part of Israelite experience under the Roman occupation - or even considered to be a particularly relevant concept in first century Israel.

The passage referred to about the slave who has his ear bored through is Ex 21:1-6 in which we read that, once the slave has his ear bored through

‘...he shall serve him for life’

where the RSV obscures the Hebrew word that’s employed at the end of the sentence and that’s normally translated as ‘forever’ in other places.

This Hebrew word (transliterated ‘olam’ - Strongs Hebrew number 5769) is the word used elsewhere to refer to the ‘eternal’ nature of the Law given to the Israelites through Moses. For instance, in Lev 23:14 we read that the law concerning the festival of first-fruits on which Jesus rose from the grave

‘...is a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings’

and concerning the ordinance of the Passover, we read in Ex 12:14 that

‘...you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever’

Vines notes that

‘In the largest number of its occurrences, olam...appears with the preposition le [as it does in the Ex 21:6 Scripture quoted]. This construction is weaker and less dynamic in emphasis than the previous phrase [when used with the preposition ad], insofar as it envisions a “simple duration”’

This word, therefore, holds the meaning of ‘until the vanishing point’ in certain contexts and the RSV’s translation of the word as ‘for life’ in Ex 21:6 is consistent with the word’s meaning because death was the point at which the slave/master relationship would have been naturally broken and is the point at which the arrangement ‘vanishes’.

But, similarly, the point at which the relationship ends can also be taken to refer to the year of Jubilee when all Hebrew slave/master relationships were annulled (Lev 25:40-41).

Commenting on when the Hebrew word olam stands on its own with no preposition, Zondervan writes that

‘Fundamentally, the Hebrew noun in the singular and plural means “duration”, both of antiquity and futurity...To speak of a “bondman forever” (Deut 15:17) manifestly limits the word to the duration of a human lifetime...The word...applied to God...signifies the eternal and everlasting in the literal and absolute sense of the term’

In neither of the two other passages quoted above (Lev 23:14 and Ex 12:14) is any preposition used, but here the general interpretation is that the word means an indefinable period of time (the RSV translates it as ‘forever’ as previously noted).

That the same construction of the Hebrew to denote a fixed amount of time is used in Deut 15:17 as that which is used, for example, in Lev 23:14 and Ex 12:14 should point us to the possible conclusion that the ‘everlasting’ nature of the Law of Moses was not intended in absolute terms - though this conclusion needs to be made rather tentatively.

What the legislation should naturally be taken to imply is a continuance of the Law well in to the future but it doesn’t deny the possibility that there might be a time when that continuation would come to an end.

That point of ‘end’ for the Law, seen from the christian perspective, can be understood to have now come ‘in Christ’ who has fulfilled the OT legislation through both His life and death - without denying its continued relevance. Therefore Jesus says in Mtw 5:17

‘Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them’

And Paul, writing many years afterwards, in Col 2:16-17, exhorts his readers

‘...let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ’

The Law, having been given to Israel for an indefinite period of time, is now fulfilled in Christ who has become the end of all the legislation and ordinances seeing as they pointed towards Him and spoke about both Him and the work that He was to accomplish.

But, far from being ‘ended’ and ‘abolished’ in the sense of being of no use to present day mankind, they’re equally relevant today as they’ve always been.

When the Law states (Ex 20:15) that

‘You shall not steal’

it’s saying something fundamentally significant about the character of God - and, because His character doesn’t change, then neither can the importance of the command (see also the subject ‘Covenant’ and ‘Justification’).

However, getting back to the original passage under consideration, the Law concerning the Hebrew slave who was released after six years of labour doesn’t refer to the sabbatical year as defined in the previous section, and the ‘eternal’ possession that he could become after these six years of service was only until the ‘vanishing point’, this phrase including in its meaning the occurrence of the Year of Jubilee.

The underlying reason for this legislation (the same reason that existed throughout all the statutes concerning both the sabbatical year and the year of Jubilee) was that it taught the children of Israel that all things now bound must find a release.

c. The year of Jubilee
Lev 25:8-55

The word ‘Jubilee’ is a transliteration of the Hebrew word (yobel - Strongs Hebrew number 3104) usually taken to mean, by translation, a ‘blast’ of the trumpet. It’s either derived from another Hebrew word meaning ‘to flow’ (which speaks of the trumpets’ ‘continuing’ or ‘flowing’ sound) or from a Phoenician word meaning ‘ram’ (because the trumpet would have been made from the ram’s horn).

The Israelites were to count seven sabbatical years (7 periods of 7 years = 49 years) and during the following year (the 50th), the year of Jubilee was to take place (Lev 25:8,10). The year was proclaimed on the tenth day of the seventh month, the Day of Atonement (see Leviticus chapter 16 and the study ‘Yom Kippur’ for a discussion of this subject) with the blast of a trumpet throughout the land of Israel.

In Jesus’ day, the Jews had changed the date of its proclamation to the first day of the seventh month - Rosh Ha-shanah 1:1 reads that

‘There are four “New Year” days...on the first of Tishri is the New Year for [the reckoning of] the years [of foreign kings], of the Years of Release and Jubilee years...’

That day was also the annual festival of ‘Trumpets’ (Lev 23:23-25) so it may have been felt that it was necessary to tie in the proclamation of this festival along with Jubilee, and, on it, the shophar was blown (a transliteration of Strongs Hebrew number 7782 which, like ‘yobel’, is also a word used for a trumpet made from a ram’s horn).

Like the sabbatical year, the year of Jubilee began at the end of one harvest (the 49th - though the 49th year was also a sabbatical year when no crops were grown) and before the sowing of the following year’s crops. It’s not surprising that two main calendars sprang up in Israel - one being the ‘Religious’ calendar beginning on the first day of Nisan and following the span of the seven annual festivals commanded to be celebrated by YHWH (Ex 12:1-2, Leviticus chapter 23), and the other the ‘Agricultural’ or ‘Secular’ calendar beginning between the end of the year’s harvest and the beginning of the next year’s sowing celebrated today by Jews worldwide as the first day of Tishri (the seventh month) called ‘Rosh Ha-shanah’ and translated by the phrase ‘the head of the year’ - see above). There were two other ‘New Year’ days but they don’t appear to have been as significant as the two mentioned.

The Jubilee year brought both release and rest to the Israelites and to their land and cattle and it’s these twin aspects that we must now consider.

i. Rest
Lev 25:11-12

Like the sabbatical year, the land was to be rested or released from work. Yet what grew of itself could be eaten, only no work (such as sowing, tending, pruning and reaping) could be undertaken. Lev 25:18-22 tells us that God promised to abundantly bless the works of their hands in the sixth year so that it would provide food for the 7th (49th), 8th (50th) and 9th (51st) year until the following harvest, with seed over to sow the fields for the 9th year.

As the celebration of a ‘New Year’ on the first day of the seventh month is unknown at this time in Israel’s history, the year spoken of in Lev 25:18-22 could be taken to mean the Jewish year that began on the first of Nisan but it’s better understood to refer to the agricultural year as defined above in section a.

Notice also that God’s provision from the sixth year’s harvest was dependent upon the Israelites’ obedience to the Mosaic Law. Lev 25:18 begins by stating that

‘You shall do My statutes, and keep My ordinances and perform them; so you will dwell in the land securely’

before it goes on to outline the promised provision.

The following chart gives us a clearer picture of the time between the 48th and 51st years and when both sowing and reaping were to take place. Considering the time that the Israelites were to be without a fresh harvest, the crop reaped at the end of the 48th year must have had to have been seen to be believed!

My demarcation of the 7th month in the chart as being the beginning of the year shouldn’t be taken as 1 Tishri - that is, the day on which the Festival of Trumpets took place - but an indeterminable point somewhere within the seventh month when the Agricultural year was considered to have begun.

Both Ex 23:16 and 34:22 speak of the Festival of Tabernacles (15-22 Tishri) as being ‘the end of the year’ and, as this time was the festival at which the harvest was celebrated, it’s more logical to accept the new Agricultural year to have begun anytime from 23 Tishri onwards with the planting of next year’s crop.

It would also mean that the proclamation of the year of Jubilee on the Day of Atonement took place in the 49th Agricultural year (which was also a Sabbatical!) so that the Israelites, presumably, had enough warning (in case they’d forgotten) that the Jubilee was upon them.

ii. Release
Lev 25:13-17,23-55

The land was to be released from all ownership and returned to its original owner.

When Israel came into the land of Canaan, land was allotted to the tribes (Joshua chapters 18-19) and the tribal land divided up for individuals (for example, Joshua 14:13-14, 19:49-50, I Kings 21:1-3). This land belonged to the Lord and was ‘on loan’ to the Israelites (Lev 25:23) but, as a family was allotted a certain piece of ground, God made the provision that even if they fell into difficult times and had to sell the land (to pay off debts, for example) it would remain their everlasting inheritance by reverting back to their ownership on the year of Jubilee.

Practically, it meant that this occurred once in a person’s lifetime.

Because of this, the Israelites’ financial assessment of the land was as a potential value of profit from crops (Lev 25:16) rather than as a piece of real estate. God’s inheritance for His people may have to be removed from them for a time through hardship, but God provided a year when it would be redeemed free of charge.

Notice that Lev 25:29-34 tells us that houses in cities were not subject to these regulations as they weren’t an inheritance (Lev 25:29-30) unless the city had no walls - meaning that it would have been more of a home with attached agricultural land which was an inheritance (Lev 25:31).

The Levites had no appointed inheritance among the tribes (Deut 18:1), God was their inheritance (Deut 18:2) but, even so, God gave them cities to live in (Num 35:1-8, Joshua 21:41-42) and pasture land for their animals. Unlike other Israelites, the Levites’ houses in the cities were their homes and the pasture land necessary for them to live. For this reason, the Levites’ houses were released in the year of Jubilee (Lev 25:32-33) and the pasture land could never be sold (Lev 25:34).

The passage Lev 25:35-55 outlines the legislation of Jubilee as it related to the slave. The sabbatical year preceding Jubilee had brought about the annulment of all debts, making it possible for each and every Israelite to be set free from bondage and return to their allotted inheritance to make a totally new start. Whether a Hebrew slave belonged to a Hebrew master (Lev 25:40-41) or a Gentile (Lev 25:47ff), he had to be released at Jubilee so that he could return to take possession of his allotted inheritance.

As has already been noted, an already freed slave who had chosen to stay with his master after six years of service, would have been expected to return to and take possession of his family inheritance.

In all the commands concerning God’s desire for man to find both release and rest in His community, it was still up to the people of God to bring His will into existence through their obedience. God commanded both rest from work and release from all bondage, but it was up to His people to effect it.

2. The relevance of the Law under the New Covenant

Before we go on to see how Jesus Christ has brought in and fulfilled the Year of Jubilee, we need to pause and make certain in our own minds that ‘spiritualising’ (for want of a better word) OT passages and legislation to see Christ in them is a correct method to employ.

Perhaps it would have been better to begin this entire series of teachings with this subject seeing that, as has been the case, a lot of what we’ve dealt with in previous subjects has been just this!

Our premise is that the OT Law is a shadow (that is, a ‘type’ or an ‘illustration’) of who the Christ was to be and what His death, burial, resurrection and ascension were to achieve for all mankind (though, for the Jew first!). It’s not that the Law was a dreamed up series of statutes that were cunningly put together to project an image that the Israelites wanted to see but that the Law was given, as the Scriptures say, to a real people to be observed - but that they were also given by God Himself to shadow the life and work of the One who was to come.

They not only reformed Israelite society but they looked forward to the time when God’s anointed King would fulfil what they alluded to. We find support for this in Mtw 5:17-18 where Jesus is quoted as saying

‘Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished’

and the writer to the Hebrews (Heb 10:1) states that

‘...the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities...’

where the writer is concerned to show the Law as only having a glimpse of the realities that have now become available to believers ‘in Christ’ rather than it having the ability to bring those realities through its observance (see also Gal 3:24 where the RSV’s translation ‘custodian’ is the Greek word used to denote a slave who transported His master’s sons both to and from their teacher to give them safety and to keep them out of mischief).

This ‘Law’ shouldn’t be considered to be just the

‘statutes, ordinances and judicial decisions’

given by YHWH through Moses to His people Israel, but should be interpreted as the first five books of the Bible (Genesis-Deuteronomy), known as the ‘Law’ books or the Jewish ‘Torah’.

These five books (or ‘scrolls’ as they were originally) are considered to be one complete unit for, by tradition, Moses was the author of all five. Thus their unity.

So, though the Scriptures are true records of real events that took place within the framework of time, we can also see in them examples of the person and work of Christ. To give some specific examples, we can consider the following

i. The sin offering
Cp Leviticus chapter 4 with Mtw 26:28
As was previously noted under the subject ‘Yom Kippur’, it was only the sin offering’s blood that was ‘poured out’ to effect atonement. Thus Jesus relates His death as the ultimate sin offering for mankind by speaking of His blood as being ‘poured out’ for the forgiveness of sins.

ii. The ten commandments
Cp Ex 20:1-7 with Jer 31:31-34
Under the New Covenant, what the Law requires is written upon our hearts - an internal not an external law - and the Holy Spirit is given to believers in order that power is made available to them to live out the requirements of God in them.
Therefore, the OT commandments can be seen to be promises of what is now available in Christ. That is to say, instead of just seeing in ‘you shall not steal’, the command to prevent one’s self from transgressing in this manner, it can be realised that, in the New Covenant, the command becomes a promise that believers will not steal because of the provision that has now been made available to them.
That believers still steal (and I type this to the Church’s shame) is not because God has neglected to provide for the solution but that we set our wills to do what God doesn’t want us to do.

iii. The strikings of the rock for water in the wilderness
Ex 17:1-7 and Num 20:1-13
It has often been said that God’s judgment of Moses for striking the Rock on the second occasion when water was needed miraculously in the wilderness was too harsh a punishment. But his disobedience is a betrayal of the teaching that YHWH is trying to convey about Christ, the Rock (I Cor 10:1-5 esp v.4), that He’s smitten once to release blessing for mankind (that is, the cross), but petitioned thereafter that the spiritual water should flow to believers.

iv. The manna
Cp Exodus chapter 16 with I Cor 10:1-5 and John 6:41-59
The NT sees Christ as the supernatural food that comes from Heaven and that to feed upon Christ is what’s necessary for our souls whereas earthly, natural produce is not sufficient for the task.
The necessity of natural food is not being denied here, only that to think that natural food is necessary for a believer’s growth is incorrect - that needs different food to build them up into maturity and that food is Christ Himself.

v. The serpent on the pole
Cp Num 21:4-9 with John 3:14-15, 12:32-33
Jesus is spoken of as being a fulfilment of the snake on the pole that was used in the wilderness to heal the Israelites after they’d been bitten. When men and women look upon Him (or ‘look to Him’) on the cross by faith (see the subject ‘Faith’) then they receive ‘healing from the effects of sin’ (I Peter 2:24).
Many have struggled to accept that Jesus could be referred to as the ‘serpent’ on the pole seeing as that animal is normally a symbol of satan (see, for instance, Gen 3:1) but in the Israelites’ experience, the serpents were a symbol of their own sin that had brought upon them the judgment of God and, by looking at the serpent, they were told to look to the place where sin’s hold over them is broken.
The same is true with regard to the cross.

And there are numerous other sections that foreshadow the person and work of Christ not only within the Law but within the entire OT. Therefore Jesus says to the Jews (John 5:39) that

‘You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to Me’

and Peter says to the crowds after the resurrection (Acts 3:24) that

‘...all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came afterwards, also proclaimed these days’

In the OT, then, we get a prophetic glimpse of what God was planning in Christ but which wasn’t wholly available until He came (Heb 11:39-40). Whatever part of the Law, the Torah, Genesis-Deuteronomy, we look at, we should be able to see a picture of Christ, what He’s accomplished and what has now become available to us under the New Covenant.

Christ is the Key that unlocks our understanding of the Mosaic law.

And this is equally true with regard to the legislation in Leviticus chapter 25 concerning the year of Jubilee.

3. Introduction to the Jubilee in Christ

As we’ve previously seen, the two aspects that form a continuously recurring theme throughout the legislation of Leviticus chapter 25 are release and rest - a release from any bondage that holds individuals captive and a rest (or freedom) from work.

We shouldn’t think that these two words are absolute labels that we can use whenever we find ourselves in situations that we don’t much like and from which we’re wanting to call upon God to deliver us.

For instance, Paul found himself frequently bound by imprisonment in which he couldn’t secure his immediate release (his final imprisonment in which he was transported to Rome would have taken many years and Church tradition tells us that he was never set free from that bondage) and Paul’s work in the regions where he found himself meant that he probably made do on less sleep than he would have liked (I Thess 2:9, II Thess 3:8).

When we think of God’s ‘release’ we’re primarily thinking of the release of something or someone that’s being held captive by something that it’s not God’s intention for them to be held by. By ‘rest’ we’re thinking of the deliverance from striving and toiling that wears an individual out in their relationship with and pursuit of God.

When Jesus ministered to mankind before the cross, He proclaimed both release and rest, thus making it evident that the fulfilment of the year of Jubilee had come.

a. Release
Luke 4:18-19

The passage cited is an event that took place at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, at its inception after His return from the wilderness in the power of the Holy Spirit.

He sums up His ministry in the words of Is 61:1-2 which says that He has come to

‘...proclaim release to the captives and...to set at liberty those who are oppressed...’

ending the reading with the words

‘...to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord’

When we think of Jesus’ words in the light of the cross, the ‘acceptable year of the Lord’ has to primarily refer to the era of salvation that His death and resurrection was to usher in (II Cor 6:2) but, when we look at the context of His previous words (where the concept of a freedom from bondage is necessary to His entire proclamation), we see that it can only be a declaration that the fulfilment of the OT legislation of the year of Jubilee has now come.

Jesus is saying, then, that God’s promised ‘age’ - foreshadowed in the legislation of Jubilee - has arrived (see also Is 49:8-9 as a prophetic announcement of what the Messiah was to do).

b. Rest
Mtw 11:28-30

Jesus also proclaimed a rest from men’s labours that set a yoke upon them that they were unable to bear. For us to understand the content of Jesus’ words here, we need first to grasp hold of what He’s saying in v.25-27.

Salvation and spiritual insight is a matter of revelation and not doctrine - the word translated by ‘revealed’ in the RSV is transliterated ‘apokalupto’ (Strongs Greek number 601) which carries with it the meaning ‘to uncover’ or ‘to unveil’. It’s God’s choice to reveal Truth to whoever He wills though it must be pointed out that it’s God’s will that it be revealed to all (II Peter 3:9).

Salvation and spiritual insight, on the other hand, is hidden from the wise and understanding, the ‘wise’ being the spiritually proud who consider that by what they know they stand in a right relationship before God (I Cor 1:20-29). In one very real sense, the ‘proud’ have already chosen the path of acceptance before God for themselves and are often unwilling to consider the way that God chooses to accept mankind.

The ‘babes’ are the poor in spirit (Mtw 5:3), the ones who confess their need of God and humble themselves to seek all their provision from the hand of the Father rather than rely upon their own self-effort (Mtw 18:1-4, Luke 18:9-14).

In this context, Jesus speaks concerning the rest that He can offer all who follow Him.

The heavy labour of the spiritually proud that achieves little inner peace is here contrasted with the wholeness and rest of the spiritually humble - because the latter come to Him, are happy to be united solely to Him and rely solely upon Him.

Legalism weighs down and produces and maintains the spiritually proud in their cause (and creates a burden for them that it’s impossible to bear - Acts 15:10), whereas revelation sets free, liberates and lifts up the spiritually oppressed.

Jesus’ phrase ‘come to Me’ in Mtw 11:27 implies revelation of who the Son is before it’s possible to find the needed rest. Therefore, revelation must be primary and the provision of rest secondary - a right relationship with God by revelation and not legalistic observance comes first before lasting peace and rest can be received.

Or, to put it another way, ‘rest’ comes along as part of the package of a relationship with God and isn’t something that can be striven for and worked towards.

The yoke, as Edersheim writes, of

‘...laborious performances and of impossible self-righteousness’

is that form of legalism that submits an individual to a life-long bondage of searching for something that always remains elusive. But the yoke which Christ bids His followers carry is freedom from any type of legalistic religion and harmony with the simple obedience that comes by revelation.

It’s important to note that the yoke here spoken of by Jesus isn’t that which joined two animals together (as many a preacher has taken it to mean - thus teaching that we’re ‘yoked’ together with Christ in the christian walk).

Though that’s an accurate teaching, it’s not obtainable from this passage. The only passage where the yoke that joins two oxen together is specifically in mind is Luke 14:19 - and a different Greek word is used there to describe it - but the yoke mentioned in Mtw 11:29 was that employed by a single person to enable him to carry a load. The yoke was placed around the neck and the ‘burden’ (such as pails of water) would be attached to either end thus counter-balancing themselves.

The yoke is the way in which we fulfil what Jesus requires of us (‘learn from Me’) while the burden is the actual substance of what God requires from us (obedience to the revelation received from Christ).

With the yoke of Christ, we’re able to fulfil all that the Father asks, thereby entering into the rest that God has prepared for all those who ‘come to Jesus’ and learn from Him. Instead of ‘working’ at being converted, it becomes a matter of ‘rest’ and is, therefore, a fulfilment of one of the two aspects of the year of Jubilee.

Practising release

Jesus proclamation of these aspects of both release and rest didn’t stop with just words. Jesus went about practising what He taught the people and brought both these to people’s lives. Firstly, Jesus effected release.

In Luke 13:10-17 (esp v.12) we read the story of the woman who had had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years and that Jesus met one sabbath as He was teaching in the synagogue. Jesus proclaims release to her by saying

‘Woman, you are freed from your infirmity’

His explanation of what has just taken place (v.16 - ‘...whom satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond...’) refers his listeners to the proclamation that demonic influence has been removed.

Again, when Jesus walked about the nation of Israel, great crowds followed after him, pressing upon Him to touch Him for some ‘blessing’ (Mark 5:24). A woman came up from behind and touched His garments, immediately being made well (Mark 5:25-29). Though the woman had tried to gain release from her sickness through many different physicians and methods, she only found the release that she needed in Christ.

And, finally, the paralytic who was lowered through the roof to get Him to Jesus was in bondage to sin (Mark 2:5) so that forgiveness needed first to be made a reality in his life before healing could take place.

In each of these situations (and in many more besides), Jesus released individuals from the things that were enslaving them, demonstrating to all who were following Him that the Jubilee release foreshadowed in the OT was being fulfilled and brought in through Him.

Practising rest

Secondly, Jesus also brought rest from the misconception that a legalistic salvation was what God required. He went about proclaiming that salvation was to be received into a person’s life rather than being earned.

In Luke 12:32, we read Jesus telling His disciples that

‘...it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom’

Rather than the ‘kingdom’ being a reward for those faithful enough to have obeyed sufficiently well in their lives, Jesus was saying that God wanted to freely give it to everyone.

And, when Jesus sat at a Pharisees’ table to eat, a woman came in to them who would have been despised by His hosts because of her lifestyle. Nevertheless, Jesus proclaimed salvation to her with the words ‘you are forgiven’ and ‘your faith has saved you; go in peace’ (Luke 7:36-50).

The Pharisees who’d striven to be saved by their works and good deeds discovered that God was giving out what they so desperately wanted as a free gift to those who hadn’t seemingly even tried to ‘be good’.

Finally, by the time Jesus came to earth, sabbath observance had turned more into a work day through all the rules and regulations that the rabbis had attached to it in an endeavour to keep it holy to the Lord.

A few years back, I remember hearing about an incident (which I presume took place in Israel though it could equally well have fitted in to the States) in which a Jew rang his Rabbi up on the sabbath (which may or may not be considered as ‘work’ - I don’t know) to see if it was allowable to ring the Fire Brigade on a sabbath now that their house had caught fire.

I don’t know what answer he got (perhaps it was okay to ring the Fire Brigade if life was at risk but not if only possessions were being destroyed [Yoma 8:6]?).

We may find that mildly amusing but we’re often guilty of the same type of thing within the Church when we allow ourselves to be restricted by rules and regulations that we impose upon ourselves and that aren’t of God’s making.

But Jesus cut through the bondage of the sabbath restrictions (Mtw 12:2,7-8) and proclaimed rest for the day. The inference for the Pharisees was plain - their legalistic way of being pleasing to God was worthless and God was not in the least bit bothered about man’s regulations trying to safeguard His commandments - except that He was anxious to remove them out of His sight so that men and women could find rest from their strivings to know Him.

Jesus’ death on Calvary provided the means whereby release and rest are readily available to all.

The year of Jubilee began on the Day of Atonement (Lev 25:9) when, annually, the nation’s sins were dealt with (Lev 16:16) so that a covenant relationship continued to exist between themselves and God.

It was the time when the two goats of the one sin offering (Lev 16:5 tells us that there were ‘...two male goats for a sin offering...’) were sacrificed, foreshadowing the death of Christ - the one goat to have its blood shed to make atonement, and the other making atonement by bearing the sins of God’s people (see the study on ‘Yom Kippur’).

So, to foreshadow the provision of the cross and to illustrate the importance of what the cross would effect, God commanded (Lev 25:9) that

‘...you shall send abroad the trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement...throughout the land’

It’s as we participate in the sacrifice offered on our behalf, of Christ offered as the fulfilment of the Day of Atonement, that we’ll see the promise of the age of Jubilee be brought into existence in our lives and through our lives into the lives of others, effecting both release and rest. But it’s necessary that we live in Yom Kippur’s reality before we can experience both aspects of Jubilee.

The reader may be wondering just how the death of Christ effects a release from the areas that are being held by certain phenomena described in the Gospels and elsewhere. Previous subjects have been sufficiently detailed enough to illustrate how sin has been defeated, the study ‘Baptism’ deals with release from the old nature, while the study ‘Creation/Restoration of Creation’ (part 2 section 3) deals with the defeat of satan’s authority which can be applied to the deliverance from evil spirits.

The only other ‘release’ that needs to be explained is the release from sickness that we call ‘healing’. This needs to be dealt with separately and is too large a subject to include as a note here. The reader will find a miscellaneous section at the end of the list of main topics in which the subject of ‘Healing’ is dealt with but, here, I’ll just summarise the position.

The three ‘roots’ of sickness - sin, self (the Fall) and satan - have been defeated by the cross so that there’s no longer a foundation for them to be secure upon.

Why some people are still sick after prayer or after becoming a christian or why we all sometimes become unwell (just like I do) is not an easy question to answer - in fact, it probably has no answer. But I’ve tried to deal with this in the study linked to above.

We’ve dealt with the subject of rest in sufficient detail within this section (a further brief consideration of ‘works’ in the context of salvation is made under the subject ‘Justification’) so that, in the following discussion, we shall be concentrating on the aspect of release.

4. The Jubilee in Christ

In section a, we shall take Leviticus chapter 25 as a whole and try and see what ‘mind-set’ not only this legislation but also the NT passages should cause us to have as we seek to live our lives before God. This may call us to radically rethink our attitudes and intentions.

Section b will take a specific example of the way in which Jubilee now applies to the Church and how the function of the ‘kinsman-redeemer’ of the subject ‘Redemption’ is applicable (but with some qualification needed with regards the ransom paid).

a. Jubilee (Lev 25) as a whole

i. A release from materialism
Inner peace

Materialism is the belief that only matter is real or important and so, as a consequence, there’s the rejection of spiritual things. It’s the rejection of God for the possession of something earthly. It’s a devotion to and a desire for earthly things and a rejection of all spiritual things that have no earthly point or advantage. It’s a trust in things that are transient but a distrust of God. It’s a reliance upon earthly possessions for security.

Materialism is, therefore, an example of idolatry. We often limit it to the accumulation of wealth or possessions but it goes much deeper than that.

In Luke 18:18-30 we find Jesus dealing with the ‘rich young ruler’ and trying to show him what he lacked to be able to follow Him as one of His disciples. Jesus’ exclamation (Luke 18:24)

‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the Kingdom of God’

is not a condemnation of rich people in general but a warning. The rich young ruler was alright trusting in God so long as he had earthly security. When that was challenged, he had to make a choice - either trust wholly in God or trust in material things. Unfortunately, he rejected the Messiah and God’s purposes for himself for the possession of something earthly, something that he had always relied upon and which gave him comfort and peace knowing that no matter how difficult the world got ‘out there’ there was always a place of retreat.

Jesus is certainly not condemning the rich and it would be wrong of us to think that He’s trying to teach His disciples that it is a sin to be such - but it’s a sin to seek security in anything material (and, note this, that can include a church building, a way of structuring church meetings or reliance upon one of God’s servants. We need to focus our attention not upon the materialism of those who don’t profess to know God but upon our own lives and how we allow materialism to dominate us).

The Jubilee legislation taught Israel not to be dependent upon or to find security in the accumulation of possessions - each Israelite would end up in the same financial state in which he began the previous fifty years (even if the man died, the family name was to be perpetuated through his sons and they would inherit the father’s land - Deut 25:5-10), thus freeing the Israelites from any grip that materialism had over them.

By the dissolution of the accumulation of both property (Lev 25:28) and people (Lev 25:40-41) and the forbidding of persistent toil to achieve materialistic ends (Lev 25:11), the Israelites need have no anxiety for or striving after self-gain. Eccles 5:10 reads

‘He who loves money will not be satisfied with money; nor he who loves wealth, with gain: this also is vanity [or ‘emptiness’]’

and Eccles 5:12 that

‘ ...the surfeit of the rich will not let him sleep’

These two verses make way for the situation that Jesus found Himself in in Luke 12:13-21 and the parable that He told.

Striving after earthly possessions has got nothing to do with living for God - however much we would like to spiritualise it - because there’s always a selfish desire for us to make our lives easier than they currently are. Yet, at the end of the day, we’ll either have unceasing anxiety or we won’t have been devoted to the things of the Kingdom and in promoting the Gospel - or both.

God intended His people to have peace in their hearts and enjoy life, not to be taken up with the accumulation of transient, earthly riches that could give no lasting satisfaction. When you come to the realisation that the cross of Christ cannot be grasped materially (that is, there’s nothing ‘physical’ that can be obtained that saves an individual - however much some organisations like to have physical objects to focus on) then, if the cross is the most valuable ‘possession’ of your life, material objects begin to lose their appeal.

Jesus talked at some length to His disciples about materialism in Mtw 6:25-33, concluding with the words

‘...seek first [God’s] Kingdom and His righteousness [that is, right-standing - where, see on ‘Justification’] and all these things [material possessions] shall be yours as well’

God will provide for a believer’s needs - but needs aren’t what a believer should be striving for and wasting his energy on.

ii. A care for the brethren

By removing the Israelites’ heart from potential materialism, it opened up the way for them to use what’s earthly for the benefit and welfare of their brethren (especially their immediate family) through the redemption of a brother’s land (Lev 25:25), the redemption of a brother from slavery (Lev 25:47-49) or by the brother’s maintenance (Lev 25:35-37).

The Jubilee legislation had as an underlying principal that other people and not self-possessions are important. Man, created in God’s image (Gen 1:26) is to be safeguarded, cared for and looked after.

In other parts of the Law, this principal comes across just as strongly (for example, read the passages Deut 21:10-14, 21:15-17, Ex 21:28-32, 22:9, 22:16-17, 22:21-24, 23:4-5) for the premise

‘Love God...Love man’

is the sole basis of the Law (Mtw 22:34-40).

Though Israel never fully attained what God had planned for them, it doesn’t nullify the purpose of God in the giving of the Law. This care for the brethren was God’s intention also in the early Church.

The believers forsook any heart-commitment to material things, sharing all things for the maintenance of the poor among them (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-35), even selling land that was under their ownership (Acts 4:36-37). Even a group of believers in one region were committed to another in a different area because of the common bond that existed in Christ (II Cor 8:3-4) and travelling ministers were looked after by the brethren in whichever town they found themselves because of the unity of purpose that each of them shared.

Such care for the poor amongst the ranks of the Church can only fully exist when the realisation comes to individuals that our eternal treasure of and in Christ is of far more value than any transient, earthly possession. When the believers had their possessions plundered (probably through persecution), they accepted it ‘joyfully’ because they looked to the surpassing value of their eternal possession in Christ (Heb 10:34).

Note well that a materialistic society is one that causes one person to become rich at the expense of another, creating class systems and divisions within a nation. If a nation disregards the importance of material treasure and seeks to supply the need of the poor, that society will recognise no class division. So it would have been in Israel if the legislation of Jubilee - and of the sabbatical year - had been carried out fully.

Before you rush out and think that your nation’s problems can be resolved by a redistribution of wealth throughout the land, it must also be noted that sin is what prevents such altruistic ideals from ever finding a fulfilment. First, sin must be dealt with (that’s why the year of Jubilee could only begin when the Day of Atonement had dealt with the nation’s sin) before a man will have the power to enforce the desire of his new heart.

A non-materialistic society is one that voluntarily makes others rich at their own expense, following the example of Christ who, though he was rich, became poor, so that by His poverty we might become rich beyond measure (II Cor 8:9).

iii. An obedience to God

But, if materialism was to be shunned or disregarded for the sake of inner peace (section i) and for the sake of the brethren (section ii), it was important that the realisation existed amongst the Israelites that it was through their obedience to the commandments of God (not just Leviticus chapter 25 but the entire Mosaic Law) that they would find provision for themselves from God (Lev 25:18-19), as was also the case of the manna in the wilderness - see Deut 8:3 where Moses says to them

‘...man does not live by bread alone, but...by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of YHWH’

It wasn’t the manna that was feeding them but obedience to the word of God concerning the manna which was securing them the provision.

The Lord would provide for every need of theirs - especially a bountiful harvest in the 48th year to see them through the year of release (Lev 25:20-22) - yet not an excess to stockpile, thereby growing rich over other brothers. Each would have enough for their need (Ex 16:17-18).

Returning to a passage that we’ve previously cited, Jesus says in Mtw 6:24 (a paraphrase, I think. If not, I’ve lost the reference of where I got it from) that

‘You cannot desire both material things and spiritual things. Both desires cannot live together - for one is of the spirit and the other is of the flesh’

If we’re to escape the grip of materialism on our lives, we must serve God and not put a false trust in our possessions. We need to kick away the crutches of earthly riches and rely solely on God for support and provision.

It’s by seeking God’s Kingdom (that is, His rule brought into existence in an individual’s life and situation) that the fulfilment of the promise of having every need supplied is discovered (Mtw 6:33). God doesn’t promise us that we’ll be materially rich but that we’ll have every need provided for.

b. Being our brother’s liberator

It’s already been seen how a fellow Israelite was commanded to redeem his brother’s land or his brother’s life in section a part ii (a more detailed discussion can be found in the study ‘Redemption’). Although this didn’t occur during the year of Jubilee, it gives us meaning and understanding as to the intention of the legislation of the year of release when a fellow Israelite no longer functioned as a kinsman-redeemer (Lev 25:25,35-37,47-49 - that is, one who buys back someone or something to effect release) but as a kinsman-liberator (Lev 25:28,40-41 - that is, one who sets free what is under his control and authority).

Though the direct family member was obliged to use his own possessions to redeem, or buy back, his brother’s land, he knew that, if he was unable to do that, the land would revert back to his brother with no payment being made at the year of Jubilee.

The Israelites were to be a people who enforced the commandment of God concerning release and brought liberation throughout their land to all their fellow Israelites - whether through personal investment or by default in the fiftieth year.

Living in the fulfilment of Jubilee should compel us to live out the reality of the last section where earthly possessions become meaningless and worthless when they’re compared to the treasure of the completed work of the cross. But we shouldn’t think of ourselves as ‘kinsman-redeemers’ where we’re forced to pay a price, but as ‘kinsman-liberators’ because the price that secures freedom hasn’t been paid by us but by Christ.

Though we may have to put our own worldly ambition to one side, the price that’s paid the price to secure the freedom of our brother isn’t one that we’ve paid. Jubilee is about free release and is therefore different to redemption which involves a personal price being paid.

This concept is often lacking application within the Church today. Namely that a believer isn’t just one who supports, looks after or financially helps a brother in need but, because the era of Jubilee has now arrived through the victory of the cross, they’ve become God’s representative to effect both release and liberation into a fellow believer’s life and situation. And this, not of their own doing, but because the freedom that was won on the cross is being enforced or brought into reality where it’s most needed.

We are, therefore, channels for the flow of God’s power to brothers in bondage (whatever form that bondage may take).

The early Church realised its potential to effect release. The following points will, hopefully, show us this Jubilee in action in their experience.

i. God does the miracles

There can be little doubt that the early Church never believed that anything they possessed as a natural, human endowment could enable them to heal the sick, raise the dead or cast out evil spirits. They recognised, just as we should, that it’s only through the power and in the will of God that miraculous events take place that effect release in people’s lives and situations.

The Corinthian believers, however, liked to think of themselves as having unequal favour before God - on the grounds, strangely enough, of the christian ministers that they said that they’d allied themselves to (I Corinthians chapters 1-4). Therefore Paul called them to account when he wrote (I Cor 4:7)

‘...what have you that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if it were not a gift?’

Though they prided themselves on what they thought they had, it was necessary for them to realise that they didn’t have anything of any value that hadn’t first been given to them. Therefore, their lives were just as important as any other believer’s.

As Jesus was at pains to emphasise to the disciples when He sent them out to minister to all the villages that they could find (Mtw 10:8)

‘...you received without paying, give without pay’

When the early Church found itself in situations where miraculous wonders were being performed through them, they unashamedly proclaimed the work of God through them rather than try and elevate themselves into a place where the people would have thought that they had, in themselves and of their own strength, the power to heal.

So, in Acts 4:30, we read the disciples coming together in prayer and requesting God that He stretches out His hand to heal and Luke, the Gospel writer, summarising the ministry of the disciples after Jesus’ ascension, uses the words (Mark 16:20)

‘...the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it...’

ii. Delegated authority

Though the Church recognised that what they were doing had its origin in God, they also realised that they’d received a commission from the Lord and that the delegated authority went with that gift. So, whatever situation they found themselves in, they had the means at their disposal to bring God’s will to bear in that situation.

We read in Mtw 10:1 about the twelve disciples that Jesus

‘...gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out and to heal every disease and infirmity’

and, in Luke 10:19, Jesus says that He has

‘...given you authority...over all the power of the enemy...’

Likewise, in Acts 1:8, which concerns all who receive the Holy Spirit (then as now)

‘...you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you...’

that is, the same power that operated in the earthly life of Jesus and which enforced the authority given.

Therefore, though God heals and brings freedom into men and women’s lives, delegated authority is given to His followers to be used in situations that require release and freedom bringing to them (see the subject ‘Creation/Restoration of Creation’ part 2 section 3 for an explanation of how Jesus won back the authority for mankind over the power of satan).

There needs to be a differentiation between the concepts of ‘power’ and ‘authority’ to clear up any misunderstanding that exists in our own minds as to what these two words represent.

Authority denotes a position of command, and we speak of one thing having more authority than another because we recognise that certain items should be relied upon more than others. A policeman has authority (delegated to him from the country that employs him) to enforce the will of that state wherever he goes in the line of duty.

But, though he may have authority, he may not always have the power to enforce the will of the state. For instance, a policeman may have the authority to forbid three hundred youths from destroying a shopping precinct but he hardly has the power on his own to stand in front of them and enforce that authority - unless they’re willing to recognise that authority and submit to it.

He needs, rather, reinforcements to back up the state’s rule of law - he needs more power to be at his disposal to enforce his delegated authority.

When we think about the delegated authority that the Church has been given, the same rules hold. In order for a believer to enforce God’s authority given to him, he must also have Heaven’s power available to him to bring about the will of God.

In section iv part 2 this ‘power’ will be briefly looked at but, for now, it needs to be remembered that the twin concepts of power and authority must both be present for release to be effected even though we’re primarily concerned to speak of ‘authority’.

iii. Enforcing the Jubilee release in the early Church

To use a natural illustration, if a car belongs to you there’s no requirement laid upon you to seek permission to drive it, but if it belongs to another then authority must be bestowed upon you by that owner before you’re rightfully entitled to use it. Then, once you have that authority, you have permission to drive it wherever you choose but within the guidelines or restrictions laid down by the owner.

The early Church operated in much the same way - they’d been given both power and authority by Jesus so they used it to effect release in people’s lives and situations. They didn’t continually ask for the power and authority every time they needed it, neither did they ask Jesus to heal, deliver or raise the dead, when they were faced with an area of bondage that needed release.

They ministered the power and authority they had to effect release - they healed, they raised the dead, they cast out demons. For example, consider the following NT Scriptures.

Acts 3:6 - ‘...in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk’
(not ‘Jesus, please heal this man so that he can walk’)
Acts 9:40 - ‘...Tabitha, rise...’
(not ‘Please, Jesus, if it’s Your will, let her no longer be in a bondage to death’)
Acts 14:10 - ‘...stand upright on your feet...’
(not ‘Would someone give this person a hand to get up and we’ll see if Jesus will heal them?’)
Acts 16:18 - ‘...I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out...’
(not ‘Jesus, please get this evil woman off my back and deliver her’)

Confronted by a bound situation, the disciples used their delegated authority and changed the situation. The early Church spoke and it came into being because they realised what was theirs in Christ and used it accordingly.

Because the age of Jubilee has now arrived through the death and resurrection of Christ, God’s command is that we also effect release in bound situations and in lives of bondage, by functioning according to His will and purpose.

iv. Our attitude and provision

Before we conclude this discussion of how the early Church brought in the ‘acceptable year of the Lord’, we need to notice both their attitude of heart in the things they did and the power that was at their disposal to enforce the delegated authority that they’d been given.

This then needs to be reflected within our own lives for the Jubilee release of God to be brought in.

1. Faith in the name of Jesus

In order that freedom might be brought in, there needed to be faith in the name of Jesus.

That is, believers who are aiming at bringing freedom in must be assured that the authority of the name is absolute and sufficient to overcome any situation that’s causing something to be bound into a condition that it’s not God’s will for it to be bound in to.

Therefore, we read various Scriptures in the NT such as these four below.

Acts 3:16 - ‘...faith in His name, has made this man strong...and...given this man perfect health...’
Acts 4:10 - ‘...by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth...this man is standing before you well’
Acts 4:30 - ‘...signs and wonders...through the name of...Jesus’
Mark 16:17 - ‘...in My name they will cast out demons...’

But, using ‘in Jesus’ name’ as a magic formula isn’t what is in mind (see Acts 19:13-16 as a warning against such usage), neither a mere knowledge that Jesus died on the cross of Calvary (see James 2:19-20).

The phrase ‘in Jesus’ name’ means

‘in the will and purpose of Jesus - in accordance with who He is and all that He stands for’

When a believer has an active, experiential faith in the work and provision of the Messiah (by the cross and resurrection), they’re in a position to appropriate it for others to effect release in the areas that they encounter.

The problem with many a would-be ‘liberator’ is that there’s no real relationship with Jesus and, therefore, no knowledge of what the will of God is. Just mind-knowledge won’t be sufficient to bring in freedom but an active and living dependency upon Christ in which the individual experiences not only the mind of God but His desires as well.

That’s why the exorcism went so horribly wrong in the previously quoted Scripture in Acts chapter 19 - the exorcists neither knew Jesus nor had any faith in the work of the cross. They only viewed the phrase ‘in the name of Jesus’ as some sort of magic formula that could be applied to achieve the desired results.

But a living faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ is necessary before the secured freedom can be established in situations and lives that are bound.

2. The power at the believer’s disposal

If our faith in the name of Jesus (faith in the authority of that name) is necessary to see release brought in, then so too is it necessary to have the power that enforces the authority - the power is the impetus that establishes the will of the rule of authority.

So we see that Jesus, in the passage outlining the fulfilment of the Jubilee year, proclaims (Luke 4:18) that

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me...to proclaim release...to set at liberty...’

and, in Mtw 12:28, that

‘...it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons...’

It’s the Holy Spirit, then, who effects the release in situations and lives, even though it’s God who’s chosen to use His Church as the channels through which He (by the Holy Spirit) flows out to others.

The Living Water (the Holy Spirit) that God’s put within believers isn’t a static provision that stagnates, but a continually flowing stream that brings life and release to whatever it waters (John 7:37-38 - see also Ezek 47:1-12. There are interesting parallels with Mikwaoth chapter 1 in the Mishnah where six grades of water are defined and linked back into OT Law. But to deal with them here is beyond the scope of this study - the reader should refer to my notes on the ‘Festival of Tabernacles’ under the heading ‘Simchat Beth ha-She’ubah’).

Many within church fellowships see the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts chapter 2 as a provision solely for the early Church and that such an experience is no longer valid for today. But, when viewed in the light of the Jubilee fulfilment in Christ, we see that power is vitally necessary if freedom is to be brought in by the enforcing of delegated authority.

Therefore, neither the infilling nor the outflowing of the Holy Spirit can be absent from the life of an individual if they’re to experience a re-establishing of freedom in situations and individual lives.


Concluding, the year of Jubilee commanded in the OT legislation sees its ultimate fulfilment in the person and work of Jesus Christ who brought in release and rest wherever He went - something which the early Church continued to bring in after His resurrection and ascension.