App Notes – May 29
We are facing worry, speed, lack of sleep, and digital sabotage. The biblical concept of Sabbath rest is an invitation to rest.
We will not be ground into dust by this life. We long to be continuously refreshed by Jesus, to pursue what makes us healthy, and to practice the spiritual disciplines of solitude, silence, and sabbath rest.
Fun Fact: My final class in seminary was “Sabbath Economics,” which was a majorly eye-opening exposure to how deeply these concepts are woven in the biblical narrative.
THE YEAR OF JUBILEE
In addition, you must count off seven Sabbath years, seven sets of seven years, adding up to forty-nine years in all. Then on the Day of Atonement in the fiftieth year, blow the ram’s horn loud and long throughout the land. Set this year apart as holy, a time to proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live there. It will be a jubilee year for you, when each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors and return to your own clan. This fiftieth year will be a jubilee for you. During that year you must not plant your fields or store away any of the crops that grow on their own, and don’t gather the grapes from your unpruned vines. It will be a jubilee year for you, and you must keep it holy. But you may eat whatever the land produces on its own. In the Year of Jubilee each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors.
Every 50th year, all Israelite slaves are to be set free. Doesn’t matter how you got there. Your slavery is over. And if you’ve fallen on hard times and have to sell your family’s land, you get it all back in the year of Jubilee.
Fun Fact: If you add up one day out of seven as a Sabbath day, one year out of seven as a Sabbath year, and one year out of 50 as a Jubilee, the Israelites were commanded not to work for 28% of their possible working days over the course of fifty years!
The word “Jubilee” in Hebrew is yoḇēl (ram’s horn; blowing of ram’s horn). Jubilee is literally the year of the trumpet blast.
Fun Fact: In the Vulgate, the first Latin translation of the Bible, the Hebrew word "yobhel" ("blowing of a ram's horn") is translated by the Latin word "iobeleus." Our English word "Jubilee" is derived from the Latin term.
Once or twice in your lifetime, if you’re a slave, if your family has fallen on hard times, if you’re being ground into dust by work, you know that when that trumpet blasts, you get a second chance. You get to return to an Eden kind of life. A life of abundance. A life of justice. A life of rest.
There is hope. Because the year of Jubilee is on the way.
THE DAY OF THE LORD
This “economic reset” for the people of Israel never happened. Jubilee became nothing more than a dream. This nation that was supposed to be holy - set apart - from all the other nations, became just like the rest of them.
The year of Jubilee started to become merged with other ideas or visions of the future, like the “year of the Lord” or “the time of the Lord’s favor.” All of these ideas came together to describe a coming day when God would intervene to make things right in the world.
Sound the trumpet in Jerusalem!
Raise the alarm on my holy mountain!
Let everyone tremble in fear
because the day of the LORD is upon us.
Israel was full of injustice and violence, and when God shows up to make things right, it’s not going to go well for the violent and the unjust. But this future day of the Lord is something those who are oppressed or enslaved can look forward to with great anticipation.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me,
for the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the LORD’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
They held onto hope that when the time of the Lord’s favor comes, injustice and violence will finally be crushed, hope and dignity will finally spring up. Those in chains will finally experience a new beginning.
The year of Jubilee became a symbol of hope for a world made new.
It may be natural to think, like the ancient Israelites, that the year of Jubilee, the time of the Lord’s favor, is all way off in the distance. But Jesus saw things a bit differently.
When he came to the village of Nazareth, his boyhood home, he went as usual to the synagogue on the Sabbath and stood up to read the Scriptures. The scroll of Isaiah the prophet was handed to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where this was written:
“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me,
for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released,
that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free,
and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come.”
He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down. All eyes in the synagogue looked at him intently. Then he began to speak to them. “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!”
The time of the Lord’s favor is now. The year of the Lord has come. According to Jesus, this is the Jubilee.
This world is still broken, but we are Jubilee people, and we are here to un-break it in Jesus’ name.
Fun Fact: You may have noticed that the wording in Luke 4:18-19 is slightly different than that what we just read in Isaiah 61:1-2. This is because our English translations of the Old Testament are based on a Hebrew version of the text (called the Masoretic text), while Jesus and the apostles read from the Greek version, called the Septuagint.
Grab your trumpet.
If you want to experience the rest and abundance and provision of our God, then join him in the work he cares about.
Show people how to find forgiveness and freedom from shame.
Move into the lives of those in pain.
Open your home to the isolated.
Stand up against injustice.
Conquer hatred with love.
And seek the wellbeing of God’s beautiful creation.
Work with Jesus to heal the broken places of this world, and your life will be a trumpet blast of good news.
The Israelites were called to be a holy nation - to show the world a different way to live. That call to be holy extends to you and me.
1 Peter 2:9
You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Does my lifestyle look different than those around me? Does the way that I approach money, or work, or time off, or rest - does it look like I trust that God will give me what I need? Does my life look fruitful and abundant? Do I live like someone who is free?
The time of the Lord’s favor has come through Jesus, and his followers can now live in such a way that we declare to the world: the Jubilee has begun.
Carve out a regular window of time when you are not on the clock.
Make a conscious choice to reject the demands of greed.
Put your phone in its place.
Settle in to the presence of God and let him give you rest.
Fun Fact: One of my challenges to myself on my sabbatical is to spend a week (at least!) with my phone restricted to my kitchen counter. I can use it, but only while I’m standing there. If I’m in bed, if I’m outside, if I’m just hanging out on the couch, etc. I can’t have my phone in front of me. My hope is that this will help me recognize and break myself of dependence on this device!
God’s desire to refresh and sustain you. Will you trust him enough to rest?