From the very beginning, God claimed the number 7 as His own – a number of completion and perfection – His number. Creation, as detailed in Genesis, is not only the account of how God spoke everything into existence, but also how He created an entity called a “day” and packaged 7 of them into a week. Interestingly, both of these are measurements of time by which all people on earth continue to shape their lives and mark their existence.
God set apart the 7th day as a holy day called the “Shabbath” (Sabbath) – a day “to cease and rest” and focus on the Lord. Similarly, every 7 years, God decreed that there would be a Sabbath Year – a “shemitah” or “release” in which the land would be given rest and all outstanding debts would be forgiven (Deuteronomy 15:1-2; Leviticus 25:3-6). Our very own Liberty Bell bears the words from Leviticus 25:5. And up until 2005 when it was modified, our modern bankruptcy code was based on this principle and 7-year pattern.
Then God decreed after 7 cycles of 7 Sabbath Years (49 years), the very next year, the 50th year, would be called the “Yovel” or “Jubal” (also known as “The Favorable Year of the Lord”). On the Day of Atonement, trumpets would blow and usher in the Year of Jubilee – a year when not only the land would be given rest and debts forgiven, but also in which any land or property offered as collateral would be returned to the original owner and all slaves would be set free (Leviticus 25:8-13). A release. A rest. A return. A restoration.
Keeping this in mind, let’s fast forward to a day, early in His ministry, when Jesus stood up in the temple to read from the Scriptures. The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him, and He read these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19 NASB).
Then Jesus made a most remarkable declaration: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21 NABS).
The Year of Jubilee was celebrated every 50 years, and according to the Jewish calendar, it was not even time for this event. You can’t just stand up and declare it, but Jesus did. For the words of Isaiah looked to a time when this good news would not be fixed to the calendar, but to the Messiah (“Me”). Jesus came as God’s only Son who was anointed to preach the gospel of the Kingdom, to set people free, and to open blind eyes to the Truth. “This is the Year of Jubilee because I have come.” “Every year is the Year of Jubilee because I have come – even 2016.”
And if you took a look at what Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1-2, you would note that He stopped short of reading the last part of verse 2: “…and the day of vengeance of our God.” Why? “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:17 NASB). Oh, that last part of Isaiah 61:2 is very true and one day Jesus will come again as Judge – as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, but today He comes as Savior – your Savior.
Right now, hear His voice speaking these words from Isaiah over you. Cling to the knowledge that He alone has the power to fulfill them. Listen to His good news, His words of hope and His promises of rest, release, return, and restoration. How can He open your eyes? What is holding you captive? How are you living in oppression? From what can He set you free?!
This is the Favorable Year of the Lord. This is His Year. And according to Jesus, it’s your Year of Jubilee in Him. Rest in Him, receive, and rejoice.
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© 2016 Tim McKenzie
On Every Word Ministries