And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,
The Old Testament jubilee was meant to be a type of the entire New Testament dispensation in three points, imaging by its Sabbatic character the Gospel rest in Christ, by its unreserved deliverance of captives and slaves the Christian redemption from guilt and spiritual bondage, and by its universal restitution of property to the poor and needy the fulness of that inheritance which is treasured up for all the faithful in Christ, whose unsearchable riches, like the national possessions, opened up by the jubilee, enrich all, without impoverishing any who make good their title.
I. The first element of jubilee gladness, common to the Jew of old and the Christian amid the celebrations of the Gospel age, is the joy of distinction or of privilege. There was not a single memorial of blessing or promise, temporal or spiritual, which the jubilee did not recall, and hold up before the eyes of that most favoured nation, so that it was on God's part an impressive reiteration of His covenant, and on their part a grateful recognition that they were indeed a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a peculiar people." The Christian Church, and we as members of it, are privileged (1) as to safety; (2) as to character; (3) as to work; (4) as to suffering.
II. The second great element of the gladness of jubilee is the joy of stability and progression. Traces of progress are to be found in every leading country of the Christian world. The last half-century has seen the cause of missions pass through all its phases, and encounter all its perils from ridicule, neglect, hope deferred, till now it ranks perhaps as the most distinctive and glorious feature of our age.
III. The third element in the jubilee gladness is the joy of anticipation or consummation. We believe that faith and hope shall in God's own time effect a marvellous conquest of this long-revolted earth, and that love, working in a united and purified Church, shall through great periods gather up and treasure the spoils of victory. But it is to Christ's coming that we look forward and hasten, as the crown and consummation of Christian hope.
J. Cairns, Jubilee Services, 1856.
All men ultimately get their living out of the soil. There is a recognition of this in the first chapters of Genesis. Man is placed in a garden to till it, and to eat its fruits. He has no other way of living, and will never have any other. Every human being must have some real relation, direct or indirect, to a certain extent of soil. To get man rightly related to the soil, in such a way that he shall most easily get his food from it, this is the underlying question of all history, its key-note and largest achievement.
I. There are two forces which draw men to the soil: (1) a natural, almost instinctive, sense of keeping close to the source of life, as a wise general does not allow himself to be separated from his supplies; (2) the pride, and greed, and love of power of the strong. In all ages the relation of man to the soil has been characterised by deep and cruel injustice. The main oppression in the world has been a denial of man's natural rights in the soil.
II. The remarkable feature of the Jewish commonwealth is its anticipatory legislation against probable and otherwise certain abuses. The struggles of other nations and the skill of statesmanship have been to correct abuses; in the Jewish commonwealth they were foreseen and provided against. The Jewish theocracy had for one of its main features a system of Sabbaths curiously and profoundly arranged for the interpenetration of Divine and political principles. Every half-century formed a grand Sabbatical circle. The fiftieth year, or year of jubilee, settled at the outset the problem that no other people ever solved except through ages of struggle and revolution.
III. Its design and effect are evident. (1) It was a bar to monopoly of the land. (2) It was a perpetual lesson in hope and encouragement. It was a constant assertion of equality. (3) It fostered patriotism, a virtue that thrives best on the soil. It kept alive in every man a sense of ownership in his country. (4) It was an inwrought education of the family, fostering a sense of its dignity, and guarding the sanctity of marriage and legitimacy of birth.
IV. Though a political measure, it is informed with spiritual significance. It shadows forth the recovery from evil, the undoing of all burdens that weigh down humanity, the eternal inheritance awaiting God's children when His cycle is complete.
T. T. Munger, The Freedom of Faith, p. 171.
References: Leviticus 25:11—Homiletic Magazine, vol. vi., p. 86. Leviticus 25:55.—Parker, vol. iii., p. 138. Lev 25—Old Testament Outlines, p. 32; Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 379.
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD.
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.
And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee,
And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.
And 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.
And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour's hand, ye shall not oppress one another:
According to the number of years after the jubile thou shalt buy of thy neighbour, and according unto the number of years of the fruits he shall sell unto thee:
According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it: for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee.
Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the LORD your God.
Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.
And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.
And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase:
Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.
And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.
The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.
And in all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land.
If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.
And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it;
Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession.
But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubile: and in the jubile it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession.
And if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year may he redeem it.
And if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is in the walled city shall be established for ever to him that bought it throughout his generations: it shall not go out in the jubile.
But the houses of the villages which have no wall round about them shall be counted as the fields of the country: they may be redeemed, and they shall go out in the jubile.
Notwithstanding the cities of the Levites, and the houses of the cities of their possession, may the Levites redeem at any time.
And if a man purchase of the Levites, then the house that was sold, and the city of his possession, shall go out in the year of jubile: for the houses of the cities of the Levites are their possession among the children of Israel.
But the field of the suburbs of their cities may not be sold; for it is their perpetual possession.
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.
Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.
Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.
I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.
And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant:
But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubile:
And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.
For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen.
Thou shalt not rule over him with rigour; but shalt fear thy God.
Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids.
Moreover of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land: and they shall be your possession.
And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever: but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour.
And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger's family:
After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him:
Either his uncle, or his uncle's son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself.
And he shall reckon with him that bought him from the year that he was sold to him unto the year of jubile: and the price of his sale shall be according unto the number of years, according to the time of an hired servant shall it be with him.
If there be yet many years behind, according unto them he shall give again the price of his redemption out of the money that he was bought for.
And if there remain but few years unto the year of jubile, then he shall count with him, and according unto his years shall he give him again the price of his redemption.
And as a yearly hired servant shall he be with him: and the other shall not rule with rigour over him in thy sight.
And if he be not redeemed in these years, then he shall go out in the year of jubile, both he, and his children with him.
For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.