"The fiftieth year will be set apart as holy, a time to proclaim release for all who live there. It will be a jubilee year for you, when each of you returns to the lands that belonged to your ancestors and rejoins your clan." Leviticus 25:10
Who can return too often to the truth, that Jewish services are framed with closest reference to Christ? This is their wondrous worth. Hence day by day the victims bleed, and constant rites portray the scheme of grace. He, who is Spirit-taught, distinctly reads the Gospel in this page of types.
But one recurring season is as the sun in the bright skies of signs. It is the year of Jubilee. Faith here delights to revel with especial joy. It is the richest foretaste of Gospel-truth. May we gain wisdom from its various parts!
In Israel's land each fiftieth year is universal rest. No toiling hand may move. The sickle and the spade are laid aside. Tillage and harvest sleep. No seed may now be sown. No crop may now be reaped. The grape, the olive, wave their treasures, but no gatherer collects. Repose is the one law for man—for beast—for soil. A year-long Sabbath reigns. Here God asserts His sovereign right to earth. No fields are to be tilled or used, except as He is pleased to grant.
This is a lesson, which man slowly learns. His pride is prone to call the lower world his own. He thinks—he acts—as if he were creation's lord. His imagination builds a throne, and crowns himself the king. But this decree establishes God's rule. We are dependent tenants of His fields. When He permits, we occupy. When He forbids, we pause. And never is the gift enjoyed, but when we meekly bow before the glorious Giver. Happy the man, whose grateful heart often sings, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." Ps. 24:1. This is the Jubilee's first note.
We next are taught God's power to provide. A plentiful harvest depends not solely on our prudent thought. God wills, and crops abound. He speaks, and garners are full. Thus through this year of rest, need never came. This marvel is more marvelous, because the Jubilee succeeds a Sabbath-year. In that, also, seeding and reaping had not stirred. In that no grain had been collected with precautionary care. But God gave forth a triple harvest in each forty-eighth year. Thus through the long repose previous abundance ministered full food. As the poor widow's meal and oil, it proved an unexhausted feast. As Joseph's well-replenished store, it fed the hungry, and never failed.
When God provides, need disappears. The unbelieving heart will sometimes strive, by undue means, to heap up wealth. Alas! what madness and what sin! The unpermitted gain is poverty's worst poverty. None can succeed, without the Lord; and none shall lack, who truly follow Him. Faith has the richest table. It works, when God says, 'Work'. It rests, when God says, 'Rest', and in obedience thrives.
Next mark, this year is an emblem of soul-rest in Christ. The soul is the real man. There is no gain, except the soul get benefit.
Before the refuge of the cross is seen, the awakened mind frets like the troubled sea. It has intense desire to flee the coming wrath. It trembles at the prospect of unending woe. Heaven seems a height beyond all reach. Hell gapes before the feet. Can there be peace? All efforts must be made. Each nerve is strained to form anew the inner man—to bring to God the offering of a better life—to blot out guilt by tears, and sighs, and prayers, and religious forms, and self-inflicted pains, and a long train of doings and undoings. Such striving is in vain. Wrath is not thus appeased, nor heaven thus won. But when the Spirit shows Christ's finished work, then toil for reconciliation ends. Christ's blood atones. What more can be required? Christ's righteousness completely covers. What can be added to it? The soul sees this, and sits content beneath the sheltering shadow of the cross. Its Jubilee has come. It rests in Christ, and only lives in exercise of grateful love. Reader, reflect, that man can never be self-saved. Jesus is all, for sin's remission, and repose of heart.
Observe the entrance to this consecrated year. It instantly begins, when the Atonement-day has ceased. When penitence has deeply mourned—when the Scapegoat has borne sins out of sight—when the High-Priest has sprinkled the mercy-seat—this holy season dawns.
A light here shines upon the path, which leads to rest. It lies through penitence and sense of pardon given. How many live, with little knowledge of their state! They feel no burden pressing them to hell! They smite not on the breast with penitential shame. Their life may be a drowsy dream, but it is far from Gospel-peace. To them no Jubilee has come.
Others, with consciousness of soul disease, see not the precious remedy. They lay not the hand upon a Savior's head. They tell not out to him their miserable need. They do not thus transfer the overwhelming weight. To them the Scapegoat is an idle tale. Therefore to them no Jubilee has come.
Others rejoice not in a risen Lord. They see Him not within the veil. Darkness conceals His great transactions there. To them no Jubilee has come. Reader, do not forget, it is acquaintance with atonement made, and Jesus sprinkling the throne above, which introduces Jubilee-repose.
And now the day arrives. The trumpet sounds throughout the land. In every place—by every ear—the long-expected notes are heard. They tell no doubtful tale. They speak, and Israel knows, that Jubilee's great joys are theirs. They speak, and universal happiness prevails.
Such is your work, you ministers of Christ. The gladdest tidings are your theme. Angels might covet your employment. Oh! see, that your lips publish rest in Christ. Then hearts will joy in your report. "Comfort! comfort My people, says your God." Is. 40:1.
There was much cause for Israel's delight. The downcast debtor now was free. The bondman cast away the yoke. All forfeited estates returned. The oppressor might no more oppress. No servant trembled at a lord's stern voice. The former owner claimed his father's fields. The ancient landmarks were rebuilt, and liberty resumed its sway. In every house—in every heart—there was a consciousness of relief. Sorrow and mourning fled away.
So there is all-deliverance in Christ. The Gospel is true Jubilee in every sense. We are poor debtors. But our Lord brings help. We owe obedience to our Maker's will. Our time—our strength—our means—our opportunities—our every faculty—our minds—our frames—are His. We hold a trust and stewards must be faithful. But is it so? Conscience turns pale. Each hour bears witness to a misused gift. God has been robbed. His own has not been paid. His goods have been misspent. Denial is in vain. Our debts exceed the moments of our lives. But justice must have reckoning. There is no trifling with God. Sinner, look onward to the day, when you must face each charge. What can you bring to wipe away your score? Self gives no hope. Your best at every moment fails to meet that moment's dues. If you this day did all, the service leaves past duties unfulfilled. Your state, then, is insolvency. What can you say, why justice should not now arrest you?
But hark! Your Jubilee is come. Christ has come to earth with treasure in His hands. He cries, 'Tell me what justice needs.' The amount is vast. But He avails to pay. The scales are heavy. But He pours in His reconciling death. Its value mightily outweighs. The roll of strict demand is long and dark. His blood obliterates each charge. He touches, and the page is whiter than the whitest snow. Thus all His ransomed ones are free. Let the believer then rejoice in his glad Jubilee. No debt remains. No creditor affrights. Without man's money and self's aid, the payment is all paid by the grand Surety, Christ.
The Jubilee relaxed the ties of bondage. So, also, Christ liberates from fetters. "If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:36. Each soul, apart from Him, is a poor slave. Tyrants are many, and their yoke is hard.
First, Satan enchains the heart, and drags His vassals to vile service. There is no will—no power—to resist. By nature all lie prostrate at Satan's feet. But Jesus wrestles with this cruel foe, and hurls him from his throne, and breaks his scepter, and gives him a death-wound. He can no more detain the freed-men of the Lord. He may—he will—assail, affright, and tempt. He may gain some success. But it is brief. All, who are Christ's, abhor his sway, and breathe the air of liberty. The Gospel-Jubilee sets free from Satan's power.
Then, also, sin rules the captive race of men. It subjugates each soul, and it must reign, until expelled by Christ. All moral principle—all sense of shame—all longings to be pure—are weak as feathers to withstand sin's flood. But when Christ shows His dying love, and His blood streaming to atone, then a new passion gains the throne. The yoke is burst. The Gospel-Jubilee sets free from sin.
Next, this vile world is a foul tyrant. Its smile allures. Its frown deters. Its fashions force compliance. Its laws exact submission. It drives its millions to a slavish toil. But when Jesus unmasks the monster's hideous filth—when He reveals the beauties of the Gospel—then the chain snaps, the enemy is loathed, and its debasing ways are shunned. The Gospel-Jubilee sets free from the world's snares.
Death, also, is a fearful tyrant. Its chilly features terrify. It points to a near grave—it stretches forth an icy hand, strong to bear hence. The stoutest quail. The fear of dying often makes it misery to live. None can relieve, but Christ. He promises to meet His people in their hour of need—to give His arm, as their support—to brighten all the darkness with His smile. Death's dread thus dies. Its coming is a welcome chariot to carry to a better home. The Gospel-Jubilee sets free from death's affrights.
The Jubilee restores inheritance. Here Christ again appears. Sin wrought a cruel work. It drove man from a lovely abode. It forced him to a wilderness of weeds and woe. God's present smile was lost. The blessing of communion ceased. Life was an outcast drudgery. Death led to outcast anguish. But Christ restores in more than Eden-heritage. He places in a land of peace, where God is our near God forever. Here more is found, than was destroyed by sin. They have a sure estate, who realize this property in God. All that He is—all that He has—is theirs.
Reader, would you possess this heritage? Clasp the cross, and all is yours. Christ came—He lived—He died—He reigns—to grant this Jubilee to souls. Hear His own words, and may the Spirit bless them! "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come." Luke 4:18, 19.
Blessed Jesus, Your people praise You—as their life, their liberty, their ransom, their peace, their joy, their hope, their heaven, their glory. Faith lifts its hands, held by no chains, to bless You. Love wings its way, checked by no bands, to serve You. Praise sings aloud, awed by no tyrant's frown, to adore You. The whole soul, free as air, reposes in a Jubilee of joy.