Rest in the Lord, Renewal in the Land: Jubilee

‘Two best days, every year. What are they? My answers: Christmas & 4th of July! (Last day of school & 1st day of vacation get honorable mention.) 4th weekend’s here. Glorious! Since a kid, I’ve loved it. Gettin’ picnic-ready: burgers maybe; a crabfeast: better. Newspaper tablecloths, the food, all the kids on the block to play ball with, the dads playing horseshoes, the sparklers, snow cones, fireworks in the yard or at the big show. Home to bed. I hope you have such memories, and make more this weekend.

Now, Scripture has another best day image for us. The 4th and Christmas rolled into one… The Law of Moses prescribed a Sabbath of Sabbaths every seven years! The land was to be rested. Time out was the law: in growing things, business things, all earthly affairs! How incredibly worth waiting for. At the end of 49 years, the 50th begins as the Year of Jubilee! Better than the best of our 4ths, just listen to what this Day of Days holds.  First: LIBERTY! Bondage of every kind is cancelled. (More about this from Jesus.) Next, ALL DEBT IS FORGIVEN. Everyone gets to start over, with all they started with! Next, everything and everybody gets TIME OFF. (Please note: Some stewardship will be required.) And here’s the capper! JUSTICE for all. Nobody gets ripped off, ripped up or run over.

The prophets loved the sound of Jubilee. To them, it was like God’s Kingdom on-earth-as-in-heaven! Jesus loved it, too. He announces his own ministry with Isaiah’s Jubilee words. “The Spirit has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, release to the captive, sight to the blind, liberty to those oppressed. THIS, the acceptable [Jubilee] year of the Lord. And today’s the day!”

Since I was a kid, I “Can’t wait!” for the 4th. And I’ve been Jubilee waiting ever since coming to Jesus. I mean, just imagine it. Please!

Jubilee! All bondage cancelled. REAL liberty really. Not just freedom, like 1776 Philadelphia (Praise God for it!), but 33 AD on a Cross-Crowded Hill. No more spiritual or emotional bondage. On July 5th, let’s celebrate even more than our national birth! How about a personal re-birth? What binds you? ‘Makes you UNfree? Grief? Anger? Fear? An UNcertain faith? Are you imprisoned by your job, keeping up your house, or appearances? Or anything else? Then how about making today the 7th of the 7 Sabbaths and hearing Jesus’ declare your personal Independence? for you “If you live in the revelation I have brought [God’ll give anything for you], you shall know the truth [since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through… Christ], and the truth will set you free! [“I died, and behold, I am alive again for evermore, and I hold the keys of hell and death. Because I live you shall live also.]” (Move over Thomas Jefferson.)

Come Jubilee, ALL DEBT IS FORGIVEN. Everyone gets to start over, in full possession of all you possessed at the start. Even in Bible times, folks built up mountains of debt. You could be literally enslaved for it. Anybody here know the feeling? (‘Kind of the precursor to paying only the minimum balance on your credit card. The debt just goes on and on, and you feel forever UNfree.) Well, in the 50th year, all debt was wiped clean. You get back to the old homestead. You got a do-over. A take-over. An extreme make-over! So let me ask you. Who or what’s “holding the paper” on your life? Whose paper might you be holding? Jubilee liberates both parties! If any one or anything has something hanging over you, this is the set-aside time! If you’ve been spending your time and your soul lording it over somebody, you know down deep it’s a burden. So give it up! Debtor and creditor alike: FREE! Oh, Jubilee means it’s time to go home, at last. ‘To live what you were meant to live. Paul tells us believers that Jesus brings us Jubilee for the body and the soul, “As by a man came death, by Jesus has come the resurrection of the dead. As in Adam all die, in Christ shall all be made alive.” This week, set off some fireworks. You’re forgiven enough sin/debt to get all the way back to Eden’s Garden. And even in a little stroll with God!

GIVE IT A REST! That’s Jubilee joy. Time off for the land. And those who work it. You gotta live on this year’s crop a whole year! (’71 GMUMC, 17cts) Sharing will be the order of the day! This is wisdom before the Green movement. It’s warm-heartedness for Creation long before global warming. The land itself deserves Sabbath from us! And we deserve Sabbath from constant work. (Before we’re 65!) Here’s a real alterative lifestyle to a world headed the wrong way. The Iphone, the Ipod, the Cell, the Net, the PDA and the PC make us the most plugged in, tuned out, hooked-up-yet-disconnected, on-call-yet-outta-time-and-breath folks EVER! JESUS, BRING YOUR JUBILEE. Give us the grace to pause-&-perceive what a picnic it would be! (‘Like Communion as our daily bread!)

Now all this brings us to JUSTICE. Moses legislates it. The prophets demand it. Jesus announces it. With hands-over-hearts, we will pledge it.  Liberty and justice for all. They go together. In the politics of nations, justice is about how disputes are settled and wrongs righted. Biblically, it’s about relationships that don’t produce disputes, actions that do no harm. “Love God above all with all, and your neighbor as yourself.” “He who says he loves God and hates his neighbor is a liar.” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” ‘Not that hard! But not that easy. Justice. Nothing more. Or less. Jubilee!

I can’t wait! Neither can Heaven. How about you?

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