Have you ever felt trapped? It’s not a good feeling is it? Thom was swimming in a lake with friends one time. They were jumping and wrestling on top of a bouncy trampoline out on the lake when Thom was knocked off and the trampoline turned over on top of him. Thom was under water struggling to get free. It was a terrifying experience.
Being oppressed, being trapped, whether physically or feeling trapped in your situation can cause great fear. You can feel as if you are being squeezed in. Do you know it’s a lot easier to get into a tight space than it is to get out of it?
God knew that we were quite proficient at getting ourselves into tight spaces and that we weren’t nearly as good as getting out of them. He saw our inability to live in the freedom He desired for us to know and experience and so He sent Christ to bring liberty and freedom to us. We read in Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
Freedom is something we treasure in America. Approximately 650,000 men and women have given their lives for freedom since the birth of our nation. We honor the men and women who are brining physical freedom to people who are oppressed everywhere, but we worship the One who has made ultimate freedom available to us. Jesus is the TRUE LIBERATOR. John 8:36-“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!”
Stand with me as we read about an Old Testament concept of freedom.
Leviticus 25:8-10 8 “‘Count off seven sabbaths of years–seven times seven years–so that the seven sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you.
Let me try quickly unpack three main points in our Leviticus passage concerning the year of Jubilee.
Release-Slaves Were Set Free
We read in Leviticus 25:39-54 that those who had become slaves to people were to be set free. It didn’t how matter how large their debt was. It didn’t matter what the reason or reasons were that they had become slaves. It didn’t matter how long they had been slaves. Every 50 years, they could count on emancipation. This would keep slavery from becoming an institution. It would keep servitude from becoming perpetual. Everyone say “release.”
Recovery-Retrieve what you have lost.
Look at the end of Leviticus 25:10 “Each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan.” If you had become indebted to someone and had lost your property as a result, during the Year of Jubilee, you would get it back. Remember the Jewish people had a claim to the Promised Land. Whatever land had been parceled out to them had become a gift from God to each of them.
Jubilee was a way for God to remind the people that the land was not really theirs but that God had entrusted it to them. This kept people from buying up huge parcels of land. No one could grow rich, and no one would be perpetually poor. No matter how bleak a person’s life was, the year of Jubilee provided hope. Everything would be made right at the Year of Jubilee. Everyone had a claim of Promised Land. Everyone say “recovery.”
Renewal. There would be rest.
During the year of Jubilee, people wouldn’t work at raising crops. Look at verse 11 of Leviticus 25. “Do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.”
The land and the people would take a rest from work. Verses 20-22 explain that God would bless them so much that they could take the year off from working the land, and they would have enough to see them through during the year they would be off.
You get the sense that Jubilee provided everyone with a fresh start, a new chance and a level playing field.
Fast forward to the book of Isaiah. About 760 years had passed since the institution of the Year of Jubilee in Leviticus. The Hebrews had been taken into exile because of their sin. They had continually committed spiritual adultery by worshiping gods other than the one true God.
But God promised hope to these dislocated people by providing a Deliverer. What kind of person will this Deliverer be? Listen to the description given in chapter 61:1-3:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor…” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
Isaiah promised a Deliverer that will bring hope, healing, and, most of all, freedom. The principal of jubilee had been converted from a promise and practice to a personal experience with a Person. Another seven hundred years would pass before the promise would be fulfilled.
Fast Forward to Luke 4:16-4:20. Turn there as quickly as you can. That which was promised is on its way. Here it is:
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Did you catch the enormity of Jesus’ statement? “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The promised Jubilee prophesied by Isaiah was here. His name was Jesus. Jesus was saying, “I’m the Jubilee.” I’m the freedom you’ve been waiting for. And it’s not just a year of freedom, but a lifetime, an age of freedom that never has to end! And the OT components of jubilee are epitomized in the life and ministry of Jesus.
We see in Jesus a tremendous opportunity for RELEASE.
Each one of us was a slave to sin because we were born sinners. Sin was our master. We followed our inclinations. We did that which was contrary to God. Even if we didn’t plan on doing it or even want to do it, we found ourselves living in darkness.
He said He came to proclaim freedom. Right? He didn’t say He came to force freedom on people, but to make it possible. No one can make you free, right? It wouldn’t be freedom if something was imposed on you. Freedom is something that not only has to be made possible by someone else, but it’s something you have to choose.
What good would it do for one of our soldiers to bravely risk their life to free a prisoner of war if after a calculated effort, great expense and great personal cost the soldier the prisoner decided he or she didn’t want to be rescued?
You may say, “That’s ridiculous and would never happen.” And yet, spiritually speaking it happens day after day. People realize they are in bondage and yet they choose to stay chained up rather than walk into the freedom that Christ has made possible. His shed blood on the cross has made it possible for us to be released from the penalty of sin which is spiritual death. His victory over sin, death and hell has made it possible for us to live as people who have also overcome all three.
The release Jesus offers is not just one dimensional. There is spiritual release. There is also emotional release. The jubilee prophesied in Isaiah which was fulfilled in Jesus says, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.”
I think we can agree that when things are broken, they lose their worth. Their value decreases. I believe we think the same is true of people. When we are hurt and disappointed, abused and made fun of, cheated or abandoned, minimized or looked over, rejected or deceived, betrayed or forgotten-all of these kinds of things cause our hearts to be wounded.
At the point of the wound we often receive and believe a message about ourselves that isn’t true. We think things like, “I’m unlovable.” “I’m stupid.” “It’s my fault.” “I’m not good enough.” “I am powerless.” “I am nothing.” When our hearts are broken our worth, in our eyes, decreases.
Do you see why Jesus, our Jubilee, would come to bind up our broken hearts? We can’t walk in freedom and victory if we think we are damaged and worthless. Do you see why He would go to great lengths to show us we are valuable? We are worth so much to God that He believed we were worth dying for. The demonstration of God’s love through Christ’s death is meant to convey a message to us and that is that any message we have received that has caused our hearts to be broken and diminished our worth is to be replaced with the message that God thinks we are amazing. Tell your neighbor, “God thinks you’re priceless!”
What has to happen in order for someone to bind up a broken heart? They have to be sympathetic. They have to be compassionate. They have to demonstrate care and concern. Jesus has all of that and more to offer you. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” People who demonstrate compassion have to get close to the person who is hurting. God has come close to you in the person of Jesus. He has come with a different message for you than the messages that have caused your heart to break. You’re worth it. You’re special. You’re unique. Your life has meaning and purpose. You’re loved with an everlasting love. You can find release from the messages that have crushed you and squelched you. Jesus has healing in his hands that will renew your heart and with a healed heart you can live a renewed life. Find release in Jesus, your Jubilee today.
Just as in the OT Jubilee, Jesus’ coming makes recovery possible. You’ll recall Jesus said He came to bring “recovery of sight to the blind.” Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist dealt with some depression and doubt as he was in prison and was to be executed. He started to wonder if Jesus really was the Messiah. He sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask him if he really was the One John had prepared the way for. Jesus replied in Luke 7:22-23, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. (Luke 7:22-23)
One of the marks of the Messiah would be giving the blind back their sight. Again and again, Jesus healed the blind (see Luke 18:35; John 9:1). Jesus wanted John to know that recovery was going on and it was proof that He was the Messiah.
Again, there is a deeper spiritual meaning here. Jesus came to restore our spiritual sight. You’ll remember before his encounter with God, Saul who later became Paul was committed to destroying the church and killing Christians. Paul met Jesus face to face on the Road to Damascus and the encounter left Paul blind for three days. God directed a committed follower to go lay hands on Paul and we read in Acts 9:18 “Something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again.” That event transformed Paul not only in name, but it completely changed the way he lived. He regained not only physical sight, but he had spiritual sight for the first time and became an amazing force for the Kingdom of God.
You see, when sin came into the world, not only did it enslave us, but it changed us and caused us to live differently than God intended. Jesus, our Jubilee, came to help us recover our identity and purpose for living. Without spiritual sight, we can never be what we were created to be. Satan keeps us blinded so that he can keep us from recovering who we were meant to be. II Cor. 4:4 says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” This Scripture reminds us that Satan works overtime to keep us blind to the truth God has for us. He wants to keep us “in the dark” when it comes to God wanting a personal relationship with us. Right now, Jesus wants us to recover our spiritual sight.
John Newton was a godless man who was a part of the slave trade in the early 1800s. He was given to outbursts of anger and drunkenness. But then, Jesus Christ opened his eyes. He became an abolitionist and wrote many of the hymns we sing today. In his most famous stanza he describes the process of receiving his spiritual sight:
“Amazing grace/how sweet the sound/that saved a wretch like me/I once was lost/but now I’m found/was blind but now I see.”
I have come today to tell you it doesn’t matter how many years have passed or how far you have strayed from what God intended, you can recover who you were meant to be this very day.
During the OT Jubilee, people were able to recover property they had previously lost. They were able to return back to the land they had to forfeit because of indebtedness to other people. Do you see the powerful nuance which is really a huge statement? Nothing could be permanently taken away from God’s people. They would recover what had been lost. Even if you had lost your land temporarily, legally, it was still yours! When God gives you something, it is YOURS TO KEEP! He means for you to possess it.
Joel 2:25 reads “”So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” Think about this metaphor. Joel used a real-life event, a terrible plague of locusts, to describe the situation of Israel. In agricultural areas in and around deserts, a plague of locusts is devastating. An average locust swarm consumes enough food for 2,500 people per day. What follows is desolation and famine.
There are metaphorical locusts that plague us and can devastate us. It’s easy to give in to despair, but Joel was telling us that we should never despair because however bad things get, no matter how devastating or painful, no matter what is lost, God will restore the years that the locusts have eaten! Remember, those locusts do eat a lot. Sometimes it takes time, but keep looking to God and keep proclaiming His promises. Better days are ahead. Recovery is coming.
Many people have made decisions that have led to lost years, time and productivity. Perhaps you’ve been called into ministry or to some special task and you haven’t yet surrendered. Years have passed. It’s not too late. Maybe you realize now you didn’t consult the Lord when you got married and things haven’t gone well as a result. You feel as if you’ve wasted time. Maybe you’ve chosen to just go with the flow and that caused you to follow the crowd. You’ve gotten caught up in gambling or drugs and alcohol or sexual promiscuity and your life has taken turn after turn for the worse. Hear God speak to you today. He wants to bring complete recovery into your life. Only God can take our mistakes and messes and turn them into miracles. God wants you to know that He is a Restorer. He knows how to recover lost things. God can reverse what seems irreversible. He can take the things that have caused you pain and cause them to bring blessing into your life.
Israel went to work planting seed during the next planting season and a harvest was reaped. In one year the Lord wiped out every trace of the locust’s work. Hallelujah, in just one year there was no sign of the devastation.
You don’t have to merely settle for stability, you can prosper. You don’t have to accept desolation and famine and lack. You can recover what Satan has stolen and what your bad choices have created as your reality. Tell your neighbor, “It’s time to recover.”
Jesus, our Jubilee came with favor to dispense. This is the Year of the Lord’s favor!
I went to the enemy’s camp
And I took back what he stole from me,
I took back what he stole from me,
C7 G/B C
Took back what he stole from me.
I went to the enemy’s camp
And I took back what he stole from me.
He’s under my feet,
He’s under my feet,
He’s under my feet,
He’s under my feet,
He’s under my feet,
He’s under my feet,
G/D D C7
Satan is under my feet.
The final “R” in our freedom through Jesus our Jubilee is Renewal. This renewal comes through rest. In the OT Jubilee, the land was to go un-worked for a year. People were to cease working. As they rested and the ground rested, greater productivity would come when the fields were worked again.
Jesus, our Jubilee said in Matthew 11:28-29 “28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
No more striving for salvation, but choosing to rest in the work Christ did for us. No more going it alone but being yoked to Christ who is gentle with us. Remember, Jesus said He had good news to proclaim, news of Jubilee? Good news does a person’s soul good, amen? And our partnership with Him wouldn’t provide a rest from work but a rest in our work. Deep down, we would be renewed. Deep down in our souls, we would be refreshed. Our restlessness would be gone. Our satisfaction would be found in Him. Jesus, our Jubilee, would be our Contentment. And when we chose to rest in Him for salvation and team up with Him in purpose our productivity for Him can skyrocket.
It’s time to find release from sin and emotional woundedness. It’s time to recover what has been lost through poor choices or the enemy’s attack. It’s time to find renewal and rest.