The Lord commanded two special years of commemoration for Israel. The first is the Sabbath Year. As a reminder to the people that the Land they would enter was His land and not theirs, they would plant crops and work the land and vineyards for six years, but on the seventh they would enter a year of solemn rest. They would not plant, prune, gather or harvest from their fields and vineyards every seventh year. Instead they would rest in the Lord and trust Him for their provision. In verses 6-7 the Lord promises this provision.
“The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired worker and the sojourner who lives with you, 7 and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food.”
He further promises provision in verses 20-22.
“And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we may not sow or gather in our crop?’ 21 I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years. 22 When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating some of the old crop; you shall eat the old until the ninth year, when its crop arrives.”
For an entire year the people rested, they depended wholly on God for their food and care. They were reminded that He is The LORD, He is their Provider, Sustainer, Comfort, Peace, and Joy. He is Sovereign and He is Sufficient. They were reminded that the Promised Land is His and they themselves were His.
Believer, you and I have entered God’s rest permanently. We no longer work to earn God’s favor, we have it. We can’t warrant His grace. We are redeemed because we are His. We are saved because He chose us and called us into His rest. Hebrews 4:9-10 tells us,
“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,10 for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.”
Israel practiced a day of rest on the seventh day, and a year of rest on the seventh year, but it was not eternal. Many didn’t have faith and they didn’t enter the Promised Land and they didn’t enter God’s rest. They were given the chance to have faith and only a few were faithful. Salvation is by faith. It cannot be earned. We do not merit salvation, God gives it freely to those who call on Him. Israel turned the Sabbath into a ritual rather than a rest. They went out of their way to make God’s rest into a list of rules that were difficult to keep instead of a time to enjoy friendship with Almighty God.
The Lord also commemorated a special year every 49 years, the fiftieth year was The Year of Jubilee. It too was a year of rest and began on The Day of Atonement when the trumpet sounded. It was much like the Sabbath Year but in this year although they couldn’t plant or prune, they could eat the produce the land produced. Verses 8-12 describe it.
“You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field.”
The Year of Jubilee was very special. Not only did the people rest for that entire year and celebrate The Lord, they also were able to be redeemed from debts, sold property, and slavery. Whoever had become poor and sold property could get the property back if he or a close relative could pay for it. Verses 23-24 say,
“The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me. 24 And in all the country you possess, you shall allow a redemption of the land.”
Those who had become poor and sold themselves as bond-servants and slaves could also be redeemed. Verses 47-49 read,
“If a stranger or sojourner with you becomes rich, and your brother beside him becomes poor and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner with you or to a member of the stranger's clan, 48 then after he is sold he may be redeemed. One of his brothers may redeem him, 49 or his uncle or his cousin may redeem him, or a close relative from his clan may redeem him. Or if he grows rich he may redeem himself.”
As long as the debt was paid, the slave would become free. The Lord didn’t allow Israelites to enslave Israelites. So an Israelite who chose to become a slave had to be a slave to the sojourner, the stranger, or the Gentile.
Believer, we live now in The Sabbath, and one day soon we will hear the trumpet sound the beginning of our perpetual Jubilee. Our Redeemer paid our debts, when we couldn’t. He paid dearly for us, not to purchase us as His slaves but to give us freedom, to proclaim our liberty. When we hear the trumpet sound we will go to our eternal Home, New Jerusalem. The Jubilee will be forever. We will eat from the land that we didn’t harvest. We will be forever in His rest and in His joy.
Matthew 24:29-31 describes it like this,
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
Our Redeemer is coming soon. We are in His rest now, but soon He will take us to His Home and we will celebrate the ultimate wedding feast. We are promised to Him now. We are His. On that day, we will be completely united with Him, transformed instantly, and the celebration will never have to end.
Revelation 19:6-9 reads,
“Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”--
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.”