It might surprise some people to know that the idea of ‘jubilee’ is actually a Biblical one. They might be even more surprised to find that this idea is found in the book of Leviticus, which probably doesn’t feature in anyone’s top ten favourite books in the Bible! But there in Leviticus 25, we find out the origins of the idea of a ‘sabbatical’ and the Year of Jubilee (which might put our 4-day celebrations into some kind of context!) These ideas were not people’s, but God’s. Rest, freedom and celebration are very much a part of the heart of God.
The idea of the Year of Jubilee was that every Israelite would return to their own property and debts would be cancelled. Freedom would be proclaimed; those who had been slaves would be set free. In fact, the word itself derives from the trumpet blast of liberty which was a significant part of the celebrations.
We have incorporated this word into our recent celebrations and have even added to it – the Silver Jubilee in 1977, the Golden Jubilee of 2002, the Diamond Jubilee of 2012 and now the Platinum Jubilee of 2022, all commemorating the reign of Queen Elizabeth II (but these ideas are also present for wedding anniversaries and any anniversary worth celebrating!) Jubilees are times of great joy and gladness, celebration and community feasts.
We have been pleased to celebrate this Platinum Jubilee with others around us in different ways over the past week, starting with our celebrations in Phoenix Park on Wednesday and culminating (for us) in our celebration service with Afternoon Tea at 4 p.m. this afternoon. We are grateful for the Queen’s service, faithfulness and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and recognise her contribution to our history as the longest-reigning UK monarch. We are even more grateful, however, for the God who orginated all celebration and who loves us so lavishly and who, in the person of Jesus Christ (king of Kings and Lord of Lords) is the incarnation of the Year of Jubilee.
‘The Lord provided for a time
For the slaves to be set free
For the debts to all be cancelled
So His chosen ones could see
His deep desire was for forgiveness
He longed to see their liberty
And His yearning was embodied
In the year of Jubilee
Jesus is that Jubilee
Debts forgiven, slaves set free
Jesus is our Jubilee
At the Lord’s appointed time
His deep desire became a man
The heart of all true jubilation
And with joy we understand
In His voice we hear a trumpet sound
That tells us we are free
He is the incarnation
Of the year of Jubilee.’ (‘Jubilee’, Michael Card)