Leviticus 25:8-22 Jubilee Years

Time to start again. The return of what was lost.

God calls for a rebalancing every 50 years. The slates are cleared and the people return to their allotments in the Promised Land that God has prepared.

The year of Jubilee would become very important to the people of Israel. First was the fact that, even if you lost your house due to circumstances beyond your control, on the year of Jubilee it came back to you completely. This requirement would impact the property value and long term contract.

How many years were left before the next Jubilee impacted the price one could sell their property for. The fewer the years before the Jubilee the lower the selling price. At the same time the more years before the Jubilee the larger the selling price. God insisted on fairness here. The price was required to be adjusted to reflect the actual use that the new owner would get.

The buyer was in essence leasing the land. When the year of Jubilee came the sale was null and void. The Lord required the property be turned back to its original owners WITHOUT cost. This is why the “price fixing.”

Contract lengths would be affected by the year of Jubilee too. I don’t know where we are in the cycle but when a long-term bargain was struck accounting for completing the payments in time was important. Few years made the payments higher and longer lengths made them smaller. I would suggest NEVER buying anything of significant value during the last few years in the Jubilee cycle!

I wonder about this “rebalancing” of the scales. I’ve heard it said that if all the wealth were taken from everyone and divided equally amongst all the people, it would only take a few years before those who had amassed much were once again in control of the majority of the finances.

When the people who had to sell their land due to hardship returned in the year of Jubilee they didn’t have to pay for the property’s return. But they would have to find some way to afford to work the land afterwards. Where would that money come from? Would they wind up having to sell it again for money to live on?

During that Jubilee year the people were not allowed to plant crops or tend their vineyards. They were allowed to eat what grew naturally but not to harvest it for sale. This was the same restriction God gave concerning the Sabbath years.

Something else that has me wondering is the fact that the Jubilee follows right after a Sabbath year. Later in our reading God promises the people that during the sixth year of each Sabbath year cycle that the He would increase the crops so they would have enough for three years. This would address the problem of a two year period of planting restrictions. But that would also mean that the people had to be diligent in managing what they took in on the sixth years, especially the one just prior to Jubilee.

Did you notice that the year of Jubilee started on the beginning of the civil calendar year? We are not told when the Sabbath year starts. Do they both start and end at the same time or does one follow the civil calendar and the other the religious one? If they followed separate calendars they could overlap making them take up less time. Just a thought.

I wonder if the reason the Day of Atonement was chosen for the start of the year of Jubilee was because of what it signified. The Day of Atonement was the wiping clean and starting over again; forgiveness for sin. The year of Jubilee was a fresh start, a return to the way things should have been. Did the people value that new start? Did they use it as a hope to hold onto or as a tool to manipulate to their advantage? Probably both by different people. That is a lot like how grace and forgiveness are seen. Some see them as precious and long for their gifts where others see it as a way to do whatever they want up to the last second and then turn back at the edge of destruction.

Father God, thank You for making a way for my slate to be wiped clean. Thank You for putting limits in place too. Let me NOT take advantage of Your grace or take it for granted! Thank You that I have hope as clearly as the Israelites did with the year of Jubilee. There is an end to this world’s chaos and corruption. There is a home waiting for me in Heaven. And I have forgiveness for my sins when I bring them to You and STOP engaging in them. More than anything else though Father, thank You that my hope doesn’t lie in a number on the calendar but in our relationship. You are beyond timeless so I don’t have to wait until the clock strikes to have our time together. I never have to worry about what to do when the “year” ends either. I have You and Your love yesterday, today and forever. My Jubilee freedom is eternal because of You.

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