What is a Jubilee Year and what does it mean to each of us, both materially and spiritually, especially regarding our relationship with our Holy Father?
What significance does the Jubilee Year have for Israel, and what does it mean for South Africa?
Biblically, the Jubilee Year is a time of restoration in which if you lost property, ancestral home, inheritance or land, you got it back – you were restored.
The Jubilee Year is the Lord God Almighty’s gift of restoration in relationship to Him, our families, each other, land and debt.
The current Jubilee Year
The current Jubilee Year started on Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement at sundown on September 23, 2015 and lasts until Yom Kippur 2016.
Although Jubilee looks similar to the English word “jubilation”, it does not mean “a feeling of great happiness and triumph”, instead, according to MessianicBible.com, the term comes from the Hebrew word “yovel” that means ram’s horn and refers to the blast of the shofar, which is traditionally made from a ram’s horn.
These rams’ horns were blown on the Day of Atonement to announce the start of the Jubilee Year and call us to return to our inheritance in God, says MessianicBible.com: “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. … surely I have a delightful inheritance.” (Psalm 16:5–6)
A Jubilee Year is related to a Sabbath or shemitah year that takes place every seventh year, which requires that agricultural land be allowed to lie fallow, as a Sabbath for the earth, while the poor are permitted to help themselves to fruit that falls from trees and personal debts are forgiven.
A Jubilee year is calculated by counting seven sets of shemitah years, 7 X 7 = 49, and then the Jubilee begins on year 49 on the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur and ends on Day of Atonement of Year 50.
We are told about the Jubilee in Leviticus 25:8-11 “And you shall count seven Sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family. That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine”.
Restorations for Israel
This restoration of land or returning of “each man to his possession” of a Jubilee Year has, in recent history, manifested in restorations for Israel.
In an article titled “Is the ‘Super Shemitah’ Manifesting?” Charisma News reports that the ‘Super Shemitah’ or Jubilee Year revealed the time parameters of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 that lead to the creation of the modern state of Israel.
A half-century later in 1967, its impact was felt during the Six-Day War when Israel fought against the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria who had joined together against Israel and while it seemed like Israel was doomed, Israel overcame and at the end of the war had brought Jerusalem’s holiest site under Jewish control for the first time in 2 000 years.
Now, 50-years-on, we are already well into the current Jubilee Year. Bestselling author and Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, known for his books The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah, poses the question as to whether the Jubilee, the ancient year of restoration, could hold the key to Israel’s prophetic restoration and end-time events?
However, he says although prior Jubilees were marked by war and end-time restorations for Israel, God “doesn’t have to repeat or continue the mystery”.
On the other hand, Cahn says He could.
Charisma News says Orthodox Jew Gideon Ariel and evangelical Christian Bob O’Dell suggest in their book, Israel First! Your Key to Understanding the Blood Moons, Shemitah, Promises to Israel, and the Coming Jubilee, that what might happen could be related to the temple, but they emphasise they’re not sure.
O’Dell says one of their big questions is whether “God might desire to restore freedom of prayer for Jews on the Temple Mount during the Jubilee year”.
Vital for SA
As significant as the Jubilee Year is for Israel, it is also vital for South Africa and each of us, especially in relation to our relationship with our Holy Father.
Dr Arno van Niekerk, a member of the organising committee of Repentance-SA and author of Genoeg! Hoekom is Ons Hier? says as God’s children we should be focused on returning from our self-motivated ways to His ways during this Jubilee Year.
“In a Jubilee Year we are called on to search our hearts through the Holy Spirit, to uncover areas in which we need to repent, personally and as a nation, and return to the Lord’s ways.
“We are required to forgive if we seek forgiveness, and be part of the healing process, which is needed. We are obliged to forgive as many times as is necessary to achieve healing, whatever it takes, even if we have to forgive 70 x 7 times in a single day.
“When we humble ourselves before God and our neighbours then healing takes place in a way that no worldly or political reconciliation can replicate, because it is by the Spirit of the Lord, which will them impact politics, economics and the rest of society.
“It is the non-obvious answer for the nation, which can only be done through the Holy Spirit. We need to pray, to wait on the Lord, to move and act in the Spirit of the Lord then the end-result will be healing – the Lord wants to restore,” says Van Niekerk.
“The sons and daughters of God are led by the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is truth,” he adds.
Van Niekerk says the Jubilee Years represents a time of fulfilment and freedom.
“In both of the contexts of freedom and fulfilment, I believe South Africa is at a culmination point at which we desperately need the Lord to release us from our bondages, and likewise we need the fulfilment of His promises.
“The Jubilee speaks of the time having come for us as a nation to humble ourselves before the Lord and return to His ways, because politically, economically, and socially we have run out of answers, whereas fulfilment speaks of the promises of the Lord manifesting.
“As a nation we have reached a point at which we need to repent, bow before Him, acknowledge Him as King of kings, and acknowledge our complete dependence on Him that will unlock a season of fulfilment and restoration of families, which will extend to a restoration and healing of communities, towns and the nation.”
Restoration through repentance
Van Niekerk says the Jubilee Years represents the potential activation of this process of restoration through repentance, which is, essentially, our hearts being yielded to the Lord so that He can bring healing.
Cahn says the greatest and most rapid historic decline in morals is currently taking place. Yet, despite this widespread sinning against God, as individuals we can intercede, sincerely repent and pray for mercy and the restoration of families, communities, towns, our country and other countries – “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Francis Frangipane, in an article called Repentance and the Way God Calls Holy, makes a call to repentance. He says 2 Chronicles 7:14 not only calls us to pray but to follow through by humbling ourselves, aggressively turning away from evil.
“In that spirit, we then seek God’s face. There is far too much compromise among us. We need a breakthrough into brokenness. A move of God is coming, but it will only be as deep as our repentance prepares us.”
He says repentance should take us beyond simply feeling sorry we sinned: “God wants to bring us into an attitude of repentance that persistently returns to Him until the fruit of righteousness comes forth in our lives”.
The truth of repentance as a persistent and on-going process rather than a one-off event is underlined by Dave Turner, a lay pastor in the Middelburg Family Church, who says he recently learned in the Hebrews 6 Foundations course of the ‘baptism of repentance’, which motivates that repentance is a process that we have to remain immersed in, saturated with, having a continual readiness towards and willingness to do; and not just a once-off-every-now-and-then occurrence.
The Jubilee Year is a time of grace from Lord God Almighty for coming into a deeper union with Him through this process of repentance.
MessianicBible.com says this process, which is referred to as teshuvah (repentance) or a spiritual return to God, is not passive. For teshuvah to be effective, we must set aside personal time away from distractions so that we can examine our hearts and consider our relationships with others, because we know that holding grudges only hurts ourselves.
Now is the time to repent (change our minds) and rid ourselves of resentments so we can relate to the Lord with a clear conscience.
The Year of Jubilee is essentially a time of return to the Lord. It is a call by our Holy Father for us to consider our ways and search our hearts. Wherever we find that our ways are not His ways, to repent and return to His ways.
MessianicBible.com says as we take steps to repent, nullify our debts against others, consider our own character, draw closer to God and prepare for a new beginning through greater dedication to Him and His word, we should also contemplate on His manifold mercies. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
“As believers, we know that the throne of God is always accessible to us through Yeshua. Yet, we sometimes need a structured time to make right what has gone wrong,” says MessianicBible.com.
Most of us will only experience one Jubilee Year in our lifetimes as mature, aware adult followers of Christ, so in this Jubilee Year let us take full advantage of God’s grace and spend structured time in His Presence, grateful for the opportunity of being drawn closer to Him.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Return to Me,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Zec 1:3)
Let us make the most of this opportunity to “return to the Lord” by: repenting of our sinful ways against neighbours and against God; being grateful for His forgiveness as we extend forgiveness to those who have sinned against us; reconciling with our family members; and interceding for the nations as instruments of His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.