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Chapter 64


The Year of Jubilee

Leviticus 25:1-55


“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 jubile 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. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. A jubile 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 jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.” (Leviticus 25:8-13)


The year of my redeemed is come” (Isaiah 63:4). — “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9).


Sabbath Days


In the Old Testament everything revolved around the sabbath. At the end of creation, the Lord God rested on the seventh day, the sabbath. In the giving of the law, the Lord commanded Israel to keep the sabbath day holy. But, did you ever notice how many sabbath days the Lord required the children of Israel to keep? He required them to keep a seventh day sabbath, a seventh week (50th day) sabbath, a seventh year sabbath, and a fiftieth year sabbath.


50th Year Sabbath


This fiftieth year sabbath is discussed in great detail in Leviticus 25. This fifty year sabbath was a year long sabbath called “the year of jubilee.” I have no hope of expounding this text or this subject. I will simply draw your attention to seven things involved in this year of jubilee and show you how this sabbatical year, which the Lord God required the nation of Israel to observe every fifty years, was typical and prophetic of our Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel of God’s free grace in him.


            The year of jubilee was a season appointed by God during which the children of Israel were required to adjust their social affairs once every fifty years, setting their brethren free from bondage and free from all debt, and restoring lost possessions, lost property, and lost inheritances to those who had lost them.


            The year of jubilee portrayed and typified the great work of our Lord Jesus Christ in restoring chosen sinners to God and to one another, and bringing us at last into that great sabbath of eternal rest in “the glorious liberty of the sons of God.”


            To many throughout the land the year of jubilee was “the accepted time” and “the day of salvation.” It was announced by the blowing of a trumpet throughout all the land. That is, of course, a representation of gospel preaching (Isaiah 27:13). — “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance” (Psalms 89:15).


            Pause, O my soul, adore and wonder. Rejoice and give thanks. Blessed are these ears that have been made to hear the joyful sound of God’s free grace, of God’s great, free, everlasting salvation in Christ!


Four Trumpets


There were four distinct and special sounds of the trumpet in the camp of Israel. Each one distinctly portrayed the preaching of the gospel. Memorial trumpets were sounded to announce the new moon and call the people together in a joyful assembly of worship (Leviticus 23:24; Psalm 81:3). Battle trumpets, trumpets of war (Judges 3:27), were sounded to gather the people to battle (1 Corinthians 14:8). Trumpets of alarm warned men of impending judgment and called them to repentance (Joel 2:1). And the jubilee trumpet spoken of here in Leviticus 25 announced liberty, forgiveness, and restoration throughout the land.


            The jubilee trumpet was different from the others. This trumpet’s sound was never heard except once every fifty years. Yet, its sound was so sweet and so distinct that no poor captive in the land of Israel was at a moment’s loss to know its music and its gracious meaning.


            That is just exactly the way it is when God the Holy Spirit causes poor, needy, captive sinners to hear the gospel. When he proclaims pardon to the guilty, pardon by the blood of Christ, he causes the sinner to understand that atonement has been made and accepted. At that very moment, jubilee commences. The soul, long held captive to sin, to Satan, and to the law, is set free and walks (dances!) in liberty. — What a joyful sound! What a joyful day! When the gospel jubilee trumpet first sounded in my soul, the acceptable year of the Lord began (Isaiah 61:1-2; 63:4).


Oh for a thousand tongues to sing

My great Redeemer’s praise!

The glories of my God and King,

The triumphs of His grace!


He breaks the power of cancelled sin

And sets the prisoners free!

His blood can make the foulest clean—

His blood availed for me!




The year of jubilee began on the day of atonement. — “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” (v. 9).


            This is where the preaching of the gospel begins. The gospel has not been preached until atonement has been proclaimed. There can be no joyful sound apart from the sin-atoning blood of Christ. The jubilee trumpet declared atonement blood shed, atonement blood accepted, atonement finished. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was delivered unto death under the wrath of God because our sins were made his sins and our guilt was made his guilt. He was raised again the third day because our justification was accomplished, because our sins were forever put away. This trumpet was blown by a man. It proclaimed the year of jubilee. And the trumpet was blown throughout the land.




Here’s the second thing revealed in Leviticus 25. — The year of jubilee began on the Day of Atonement, and it began with the proclamation of liberty, liberty according to the very demands of God’s holy law (v. 10).


“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.”


            Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us plainly that he is the Liberator and the One who proclaims liberty (Luke 4:17-21). This liberty proclaimed in the year of jubilee, the liberty proclaimed in the gospel, is the blessed liberty of grace; but it is liberty demanded by God’s holy law. Unlike the ceremonies we read about in the previous chapters of Leviticus, this law concerning the year of jubilee was given at Sinai, at the very time God gave the law to Moses (Leviticus 25:1). The ceremonial requirements described in the preceding chapters of Leviticus were given at the door of the tabernacle.


            The law of God, being totally satisfied by the blood of our Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ, demands the liberty of every redeemed sinner. Grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20-21).

Š      Judicial Liberty!

Š      Spiritual Liberty!

Š      Glorious Liberty!

Š      Eternal Liberty!




Third, the year of jubilee was a time of forgiveness. — “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee” (v. 35).


            The poor wretch who had lost everything, who had incurred such a tremendous load of debt that he sold his land, then his house, and at last sold himself into bondage, when the jubilee trumpet sounded, was released from bondage and released from debt, forgiven completely, freely, and forever. His debt did not bar him from the joy of jubilee. His debt qualified him as the one for whom the trumpet sounded.


            God sends his servants to preach the gospel, to blow the jubilee trumpet to the poor.


“Not the righteous, not the righteous,

Sinners Jesus came to call!”


His blood has cancelled my debt. I am entirely, forever forgiven. That is liberty!




Fourth, the year of jubilee was a year of rest (vv. 3-5).


“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. That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.”


The gospel of Christ is a proclamation of rest, calling weary sinners to rest, promising eternal rest (Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:1-11; Psalm 116:7).


How their Gentile neighbors must have mocked and derided the Jews during the year of jubilee. They thought they were a bunch of lazy sluggards. They had no idea what they were doing. But what they were doing was worshipping, depending on God alone for everything. — Resting (Galatians 5:1-4).




Here’s the fifth thing Moses was inspired of God to tell us about the year of jubilee. — The year of jubilee was a year of great, unparalleled bounty. — And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety” (v. 19).


            Oh, what a gospel we have! In Christ we are made to dwell in complete safety in a land of infinite bounty. Here we lie down in green pastures and fear no evil. Our treasury is the unsearchable riches of Christ. — “All things are yours, for ye are Christ’s.” We who have been brought by the grace of God into the liberty of the gospel have been brought into his fulness. Let us therefore be careful for nothing, but in all things give thanks!




Sixth, in the year of jubilee every man who had lost his inheritance had it returned to him in total, free and clear, with no mortgage of any kind, no lien of any kind against it. — In the year of this jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession” (v. 13).


            All that we lost in Adam, Christ has restored. All that we lost by our own willful rebellion and sin, Christ has restored. David understood this. He sang, “He restoreth my soul.” We who “were by nature children of wrath, even as others,” are now made to be “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.


Brotherly Love


Here’s the seventh thing. — In the year of jubilee the children of Israel were required by law to love their brethren. — “Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the LORD your God” (v. 17). In the gospel jubilee saved sinners are constrained and taught by grace to love one another. — “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”


“Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”

(Ephesians 4:32-5:2)


            Have I been loved freely? Let me love freely. Have I received freely? Let me give freely. Have I been forgiven freely? Let me forgive freely. We read in Matthew 18 of a forgiven servant who took his fellow servant by the throat and demanded payment on the spot. He was obviously bold enough to deal with the man face to face; but he was utterly destitute of the grace, compassion, and forgiveness he had experienced from his master. Let all who know the love of God in Christ walk in love for their brethren in Christ. Ask God for grace ever to show to your brothers and sisters the love of Christ in all your thoughts of, speech to and about, and dealings with them.


Another Jubilee Trumpet


There is another jubilee trumpet we will soon hear. Let us live upon the tiptoe of hope and expectation, listening for its sound (1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 11:15-19). Once that trumpet blows announcing the glorious coming of our Savior and our eternal jubilee has commenced, we shall forever enjoy atonement to its fullest, liberty beyond imagination, forgiveness in its greatest magnificence, rest in perfection, bounty beyond measure, restoration such as eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and the heart of man has never conceived, and brotherly love in unfailing perfection!


            Have you heard this joyful sound? Has the Son of God made you free? Has the Lord Jesus caused you to return to your long-lost, long ago forfeited inheritance? Let us never forget the unspeakable mercy. Hail, Almighty Deliverer, blessed Redeemer of your captives! I had sold my possession, sold myself for nothing; and you have redeemed it for me again without money. I had sold it, but could not destroy it, because the right of redemption was with my Kinsman Redeemer.


            Yes, blessed Son of God, your brethren shall praise you. You are the next of kin, the nearest of all relations, and the dearest of all brothers. And you have redeemed both body and soul, both lands and inheritance by your blood. You, O blessed Christ, have so completely redeemed all that it can never be lost again, and never forfeited!


            Let the jubilee trumpet sound and be heard through all the land in this gospel day! Give liberty to the captive and sight to the blind. Bring forth the prisoners out of the prison, and them that sit in darkness into your great light.


            Oh, cause us to know the joyful sound and daily to walk in the light of your countenance. Cause us, by the sweet influences of your Holy Spirit, to live in the constant expectation of the year of the everlasting jubilee, when the trumpet of the archangel shall finally sound, and all the redeemed shall return to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads. Oh, blessed, blessed hope! Then we shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Hallelujah!






Don Fortner








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