The Jubilee / Sabbath Years

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The principles of God's Sacred Calendar extend far beyond the year to include the Sabbath year and the Jubilee year. The pattern of the seventh day of rest in the week for the weekly Sabbath continues with the seven yearly Sabbath days in a year. This pattern of seven is also the number of weeks between the first yearly Sabbath of Passover and Pentecost. The pattern continues with the seventh year, which is a Sabbath year to the land.

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD.
3 Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof;
4 But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
5 That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.
6 And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee,
7 And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.
Leviticus 25:1-7

There was no explicit command not to work but in an agrarian society, much work was effectively eliminated. Depending on God's providence during this year is a valuable lesson in faith. I suspect much of this time was intended to be devoted to Bible study. "Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible" is fascinating reading on this subject.

Continuing God's pattern based on the number seven, the seventh Sabbath year was followed by the additional Jubilee year of release and rest to the land.

8 And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
9 Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.
10 And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
11 A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.
12 For it is the jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.
13 In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.
Leviticus 25:8-13
These patterns of seven lead directly to one of the reasons why I believe in the six thousand years of toil in sin before the seventh millennium of rest.

Promises and Warnings

After these startling and difficult to comprehend statutes comes one of the beautiful statute keeping promises.

18 Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.
19 And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.
Leviticus 25:18-19

Those who do not readily understand God's intent are given special detailed explanation. The harvest of one year will feed them for three years.

20 And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase:
21 Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.
22 And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.
Leviticus 25:20-22

My understanding is Israel never properly observed the Sabbath year and this triggered this warning.

14 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments;
15 And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant:
16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.
Leviticus 26:14-16
33 And I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.
34 Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye be in your enemies' land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.
35 As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.
Leviticus 26:33-35

This is part of the reason for the Babylonian captivity. There were seventy years of captivity to repay for 490 years of failure to observe God's command.

11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
Jeremiah 25:11

Practical Application

We have only scratched the surface of this fascinating subject. As we dig deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God's Sacred Calendar we find these subjects of which we know so little. There is so much more we need to understand.

This chapter is really just an introduction to the topic of the Jubilee and the Sabbath years. Deeper research and study is needed. Now we will try to increase our understanding of this subject.

The first thing, which draws our attention, is to wonder how this applies to our daily lives in these modern times. Before you get very far on this thought you will also wonder, when are the Jubilees? I am sure it does not surprise you this is a controversial subject.

Just as we cannot tell, only by the scripture, what day of the week is the seventh day or exactly which is the first month of the year or other practical applications of God's calendar and must depend on tradition and the historical record for guidance. We must sort through the conflicting traditional interpretations and teachings to find the truth.

We are encouraged by the promise of the Messiah. The truth is there and God will see to it we know what we need to know.

31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 8:31-32

We are also encouraged by the Messiah to be diligent seekers of truth.

7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
Matthew 7:7-8

The first controverted point is whether the Jubilee is every fifty years or every 49 years. The Sabbath year is every seven years and the Jubilee is the year after the seventh Sabbath year, which is the fiftieth year. The controversy is whether the count of years starts over after the Jubilee or continues through the Jubilee.

The majority view is the Jubilee is every fifty years. I disagree with this. I believe the Bible is clear. The seven-year cycle is stated separately. I believe it continues without interruption every year, as does the weekly Sabbath. Therefore, while the Jubilee is the 50th year of the cycle, it occurs every 49 years.

The next thing needed is a reference point. There is more research needed on this topic. A preliminary review indicates the assumption the year the Messiah began His ministry in 27 AD was the Sabbath year before the Jubilee. This message is believed to be the proclamation of the Jubilee.

18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Luke 4:18

There is also a historical note where Josephus the historian identified 27 AD as the Sabbath year before the Jubilee. I have not thoroughly researched either of these claims. I will use these as starting assumptions just to give a frame of reference. I am not certain in my own mind about the accuracy of these claims.

If we accept 28 AD was a Jubilee, there are some interesting dates to note. 1840 was a Sabbath year before the Jubilee of 1841. 1844 was in the middle of the week/Sabbath year. The year 1888 was the year before 1889, which was a Sabbath year before the Jubilee of 1890. The last Jubilee was in 1988 and the next will be 2037. 2008 was the last Sabbath year and the next will be 2015. 2012 will be the middle year of the Jubilee and the Sabbath year.

This is a chart of Sabbath/Jubilee years starting 27/28 AD. The Jubilee year is indicated on the left followed by the next seven Sabbath years.

0028   0034   0041   0048   0055   0062   0069   0076
0077   0083   0090   0097   0104   0111   0118   0125
0126   0132   0139   0146   0153   0160   0167   0174
0175   0181   0188   0195   0202   0209   0216   0223
0224   0230   0237   0244   0251   0258   0265   0272
0273   0279   0286   0293   0300   0307   0314   0321
0322   0328   0335   0342   0349   0356   0363   0370
0371   0377   0384   0391   0398   0405   0412   0419
0420   0426   0433   0440   0447   0454   0461   0468
0469   0475   0482   0489   0496   0503   0510   0517
0518   0524   0531   0538   0545   0552   0559   0566
0567   0573   0580   0587   0594   0601   0608   0615
0616   0622   0629   0636   0643   0650   0657   0664
0665   0671   0678   0685   0692   0699   0706   0713
0714   0720   0727   0734   0741   0748   0755   0762
0763   0769   0776   0783   0790   0797   0804   0811
0812   0818   0825   0832   0839   0846   0853   0860
0861   0867   0874   0881   0888   0895   0902   0909
0910   0916   0923   0930   0937   0944   0951   0958
0959   0965   0972   0979   0986   0993   1000   1007
1008   1014   1021   1028   1035   1042   1049   1056
1057   1063   1070   1077   1084   1091   1098   1105
1106   1112   1119   1126   1133   1140   1147   1154
1155   1161   1168   1175   1182   1189   1196   1203
1204   1210   1217   1224   1231   1238   1245   1252
1253   1259   1266   1273   1280   1287   1294   1301
1302   1308   1315   1322   1329   1336   1343   1350
1351   1357   1364   1371   1378   1385   1392   1399
1400   1406   1413   1420   1427   1434   1441   1448
1449   1455   1462   1469   1476   1483   1490   1497
1498   1504   1511   1518   1525   1532   1539   1546
1547   1553   1560   1567   1574   1581   1588   1595
1596   1602   1609   1616   1623   1630   1637   1644
1645   1651   1658   1665   1672   1679   1686   1693
1694   1700   1707   1714   1721   1728   1735   1742
1743   1749   1756   1763   1770   1777   1784   1791
1792   1798   1805   1812   1819   1826   1833   1840
1841   1847   1854   1861   1868   1875   1882   1889
1890   1896   1903   1910   1917   1924   1931   1938
1939   1945   1952   1959   1966   1973   1980   1987
1988   1994   2001   2008   2015   2022   2029   2036
2037   2043   2050   2057   2064   2071   2078   2085

It is interesting to note the 70 weeks of Daniel's prophecy was a period of ten Jubilees though it appears to have ended on a Sabbath year after the Jubilee.

What is the practical significance to us in these days of the meaning of the Sabbath year and the Jubilee? There is a modern use of the word "sabbatical", which implies a rest from normal work every seventh year.

I believe my period of unemployment was a forced sabbatical for me. It does not seem to correspond to an actual Sabbath year but scripture makes it clear God makes up for things, in His own time, in His own way, which have not been observed.

What is the spiritual significance to us in these days of the meaning of the Sabbath year and the Jubilee? The millennium in heaven is a rest to the earth which make up for all the Sabbath years, which have not been observed, as well as continuing God's patterns.

The end of time and the subsequent end of sin are certainly types of the release from debt and servitude commanded by the Sabbath year. The Jubilee is a type of the return of our earthly home to us after having been sold to sin and the devil.

I wonder what other significance God will reveal to those who study this subject deeply?

I wonder what other significance this may have to us in the end of time?

(Additional Material for Research)

Again, I must acknowledge this is still only a little more than an introduction to this topic. You can investigate further on this for yourself with a search on Google for "jubilee year". This is a good place to start:

(Book Contents) Next: The Anno Mundi

Revised 2011-06-26