Jubilee. It’s an old word from ancient Hebrew, from the Levitical laws given to Moses by God. It is a unique time. It is a time of celebration, rest, and festival. It is the time when the wealth of Israel is redistributed out to the historic boundaries, so that families who had it rough at some point in the previous fifty years will no longer be scraping by on what little they can scrounge from what they have left. Instead, as boundary markers are used, the historic land returns to the family, so that everyone can start fresh again. You can find the account in Leviticus 25.
It is a radical idea, from our radical God. This celebration of Jubilee shows how God desires for people to have access to what they need to survive. This law declares that land is important and that God has a say in how we share and use our land. It encourages us to be good stewards and managers of the land that we have, so that we are able to care for it and keep it for our children and our children’s children.
Jubilee is when everyone rests. The land rests. Immigrants and refugees rest. Families find each other and celebrate life. Jubilee is when worship happens, when no one is distracted by how they need to get back to the field and scrape another day’s worth of food from the edges. Jubilee is when worship and celebration overtakes the entire community and all energy is delivered to praising God.
Scholars do not know if the formal Jubilee was ever actually celebrated. It may have been part of the narrative of the Israelites, but it may not have changed the way that they lived and cared for those around them.
I wonder how often we have been given such a great idea by God, and we all think, “sure, that’d be great, but it is impossible.” God is the God of the impossible, and we will be surprised when we trust enough to enter into the impossible with God.
I don’t have much of any land these days, but I wonder how else we can celebrate Jubilee. I wonder how a Jubilee Sabbath would change me, and restore me to what God desires for me. I wonder that for all of us. I wonder how much our lives would be changed if we created a time for us to be truly at rest, and truly in a festival celebration.