The Acceptable Year of the Lord: Jubilee Year
Luke 4:18-22
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted…

If you turn to Leviticus 25. you will see what the arrangements of the Jewish jubilee were. It was intended to cure four great political evils which oppressed that nation, and which have oppressed many nations since — viz., slavery, debt, chronic pauperism, and alienation of the land from the people. The Jewish jubilee was a system intended to abolish by anticipation all these four great evils. Every fiftieth year every man who had been a slave was set free; he could not be kept in slavery after that year of jubilee. Every one was then restored to freedom; the nation took a fresh start of freedom. Men became slaves for various reasons; they might have been captured in war, they might have sold themselves into slavery in the payment of debts, or in several other ways — but in the year of jubilee all were set free. There might have been an accumulation of debts which they were unable to pay off altogether, but at this jubilee debts were all cancelled. Chronic pauperism was to be cured by making certain provisions every seventh year and fiftieth year, by which those who had sunk through incapacity, or illness, or intemperance, or from whatever cause it might be — at this time they had an opportunity of starting again. It was not possible for any family to part with its hereditary property irrecoverably: at the year of jubilee all went back to its original owners. Such was the system; but there is no proof that it was ever carried out. Neither the Old Testament nor any other history affords the slightest evidence that these laws were ever observed as a whole. When they are examined, one can see such difficulties that it would require strong evidence to convince us that such laws had worked at all. Still they remained on the statute-book, and therefore formed the ideal and the hope of the people; but the ideal never came. Why did it not come? Because these laves presupposed a condition of morality, of brotherliness, of good feeling among the people, which never existed. When laws are pitched in too high a key they become as it were dead laws. The laws do not precede morality; they follow it, they perpetuate, they register it. A nation tins to raise its standard of morality; then the laws can be made which will perpetuate that morality; but you cannot make the laws first. It would be of no use for any Government now to make some law far above the standard of existing morality, because the law could not be worked. That was the case in Judah. It would presuppose a willingness to part with their property, a willingness to give up their slavery; it would presuppose willing industry again on the part of the people, and a greater level of mental and moral equality among them than ever existed; and so the law remained simply a dead letter.

(J. M. Wilson, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,

WEB: "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 heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed,

The Acceptable Year of the Lord
Top of Page
Top of Page