Uniform Adult Sunday School Lesson For May 20, 2018
To consider the biblical understanding of jubilee and how to celebrate jubilee today
Background: Leviticus 25
Leviticus 25:1-12 (CEB)
1 The Lord said to Moses on Mount Sinai, 2 Speak to the Israelites and say to them: Once you enter the land that I am giving you, the land must celebrate a sabbath rest to the Lord. 3 You will plant your fields for six years, and prune your vineyards and gather their crops for six years. 4 But in the seventh year the land will have a special sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord: You must not plant your fields or prune your vineyards. 5 You must not harvest the secondary growth of your produce or gather the grapes of your freely growing vines. It will be a year of special rest for the land. 6 Whatever the land produces during its sabbath will be your food—for you, for your male and female servants, and for your hired laborers and foreign guests who live with you, 7 as well as for your livestock and for the wild animals in your land. All of the land’s produce can be eaten. 8 Count off seven weeks of years—that is, seven times seven—so that the seven weeks of years totals forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet blown on the tenth day of the seventh month. Have the trumpet blown throughout your land on the Day of Reconciliation. 10 You will make the fiftieth year holy, proclaiming freedom throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It will be a Jubilee year for you: each of you must return to your family property and to your extended family. 11The fiftieth year will be a Jubilee year for you. Do not plant, do not harvest the secondary growth, and do not gather from the freely growing vines 12 because it is a Jubilee: it will be holy to you. You can eat only the produce directly out of the field.
You will make the fiftieth year holy, proclaiming freedom throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It will be a Jubilee year for you: each of you must return to your family property and to your extended family. (Leviticus 25:10)
Growing up on a farm in Indiana in the 1940’s & 50’s, we practiced a form of the sabbath year. Back then it was common to rotate crops from year to year and different fields would get rested. Farmers had learned what God told the Israelites thousand of years earlier, the land needs to be rested. Today because of modern farming methods and chemicals, the ground is rarely plowed, and it has become more effective, to do less toiling of the soil and use more chemicals.
What God revealed to Moses at Mt. Sinai was that once they got to the land God had given them, this was what God wanted them to do. Reminding them it was His land and this is the way he wanted it farmed. If they did as He commanded they would have sufficient crops in the six prior years to carry them through the seventh year. Back on the farm, when we left a field rest, it would often produce what we called volunteer crops, that is crops would appear that had not been planted, this is what God if referring to when He refers to secondary crops.
While they were allowed to eat from the secondary crops they were not suppose to harvest them for storage, but rather use them for everyday meals.
The following command applied to the year after they had observed seven sabbatical years or the fiftieth year. It was to be a year of Jubilee, celebrating seven sabbaths for the land, and a returning to the original hiers all of the land that had been put up as collateral for debts and foreclosures. As you can imagine from a financial standpoint this became problematic for lenders during that time just prior to the Year of Jubilee.
This seven year sabbath for the land became a real big problem after the end of the Judges reign. Because the people failed to obey this sabbath law for the land, God counted that in the 490 since Saul was King, they had not observed this sabbath rest for the land. So, God forced the land to rest for seventy years while the nation was taken captive by the Babylonians and Assyrians, from 586 - 516. One year for each sabbath year missed in the previous 490 years.
At the end of this time, the people were restored and debts forgiven and the temple was rebuilt. All of this shows God’s mercy and grace towards His people.
It should serve to us as a reminder, God keeps His word, and is willing to forgive, when we repent. Today we have redemption promised by the acts of Jesus resurrection and death. Today we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the nation of Israel being established in 1948, an anniversary celebrated by the USA establishing it’s embassy in the city of Jerusalem. The words of the prophet are coming true.
My hymn for this week is “Jerusalem.” or "The Holy City"