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OH Jubilee!!! We’ve waited so long …

February 3, 2013

JUBILEE just sounds like a celebration word.  In the Marvel comic series,  X-Men, Jubilee was the sidekick of Wolverine who had the power to generate “sparkles” out of her hands.  Sounds like a gal just waiting for a party, huh?

But in the biblical sense, the year of Jubilee is the year at the end of seven cycles of shmita (Sabbatical years).  

“This fiftieth year is sacred—it is a time of freedom and of celebration when everyone will receive back their original property, and slaves will return home to their families. ” —Leviticus 25:10

In Judaism and Christianity, the concept of the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon.  Ergo, FORGIVENESS is vital to JUBILEE!

In Leviticus, this year of Jubilee is specific to the working of the land, and giving the land a rest in the seventh, or sabbatical year.   The concept is that in this year of shmita, when the earth lies fallow to recuperate from all the toil, it will be more productive in the years that follow. Thus, JUBILEE, celebration or praise for the abundance and provision.

But it’s not just that the earth lies fallow for the sake of “no work.”  The intent is, just like there is a commandment to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy,” the purpose of the shmita is to “let the earth lie fallow for God” and use that time to focus on him. Shmita not only provides physical benefits but also enables humanity to develop spiritually and experience the unity of Creation.  It’s a time to renew fellowship and as we have been studying, forgive and free. (action verbs)

So … while the act of forgiveness can see daunting, it is possible and it is necessary in order to come to “fertile ground” where the fruit of love, hope and faith can grow.  It’s been proven many times in biblical history and secular history.

Let’s consider a few examples:

Jacob (Israel) stole his brother’s, Esau, birthright. They were at odds for many years.  After Jacob decides to take his lot and flee from his father-in-law (Laban) to return (at God’s direction) to his homeland, he sends word to Esau that he’s coming home and hopes to find favor from his brother.  His messengers come back and tell him that Esau is coming with his crew to meet up with Jacob.  But Jacob is afraid that he’s coming for a fight and not for favor.  (Read in Genesis 32-33)

As it turns out, when the two tribes meet, Jacob bows down before his brother in humility and respect.  All of his tribe behind him, also kneel down to honor Esau.  Much to Jacob’s surprise, his brother has not come with any ill-intent.  He’s come to embrace his brother, forgive his brother and free his brother from the guilt/shame and dysfunction that have separated them for many, many years.  Thus, celebration — JUBILATION!

In Genesis 45 and 50, Joseph, after being roughed up and sold into slavery by his brothers, came into a position of power.  He found himself in the precarious situation to inflict revenge upon his brothers, when they came to his city to purchase food during a famine.  But more than revenge, Joseph wanted restoration of these very important relationships in his life.  He forgave his family and subsequently, a celebration … jubilation was the result.

Being angry, seeking revenge, holding a grudge, being hurt, avoiding contact —- these actions take work … wear out and bear down on the physical, emotional and spiritual health of everyone involved.   I don’t have the scientific proof to back up this notion, but I am certain that it takes more energy to make a fist or hold a grip on something, than it does to release your hand.  AND, in the same notion, if you are anticipating jubilee and a celebration, which sometimes leads to clapping your hands or taking a bit of something delicious or shaking a tambourine, you can’t really do those things effectively with a clenched fist or jaw.  You’ll just miss the party if you can’t, don’t or won’t, “LET GO.”

Sometimes, we tend to “nurse our un-forgiveness” like it is a helpless, or even wounded animal that needs our loving care and support so it can grow and become stronger.  A friend of mine once told me that after he husband left her, she held on to her pain/anger and un-forgiveness like it was a “present” in a precious, beautifully decorated box.  She compared it to the selfishness of a child who would not share a toy … for fear that it would be taken away or destroyed and she would not be able to “enjoy” it any more.

Holding on to this “little gift” was consuming her time and taking her focus off of every other good and purposeful thing (and blessing) in her life.  She could not think about anything except what was in this box.  She wasted too much time and energy being mad and hurt, and she just could not let it go in order to move on. 

Using another analogy from a popular comic, UNFORGIVENESS is like “kryptonite” to Superman.   Kryptonite, a radioactive element from Superman’s native planet, was the one thing that weakened his ability to overcome all evil.  Well, synonymously, there is something “native” to being human that would lead us to hold on to our hurt/pain/anger — un-forgiveness.   We might even see it as a means of “self-preservation.”  But, when we encounter the “kryptonite” of un-forgiveness in our lives, we are greatly weakened.  We are dysfunctional.  AND, our ground certainly becomes mighty unfertile.

It’s time … to let the ground lie fallow … to recuperate from all the toil and wearing out of the soil … focus on strengthening our relationship, fellowship and following of the Lord … and prepare for a GREAT JUBILATION.   My friend, who held tightly to the little box filled with pain, hurt and anger, received some “wise discernment” from a friend.   In a nutshell, he told her that “letting go” does not come easy, but we have to be willing.  AND, if we are not at the place where we are “WILLING” — then we need to at least be “WILLING to be WILLING.”  Basically, at least stop digging in the ground or making a furrow … STOP and let the ground lie fallow, to rest … stop spending so much energy and focus on God.

Jesus told a story of a man and his son who had been separated by years of waste and sinful living.  The boy had squandered all the wealth and blessings he had received from his father, and in his pursuit of his own kind of “jubilant lifestyle” he found himself in squalor and homeless.  At the end of himself in desperation and shame, he went back to his father asking for forgiveness and a job as a servant. His father was so relieved that his son had returned to his home, he welcomed him with a huge celebration, gifts and complete restoration to the family and community.  JUBILATION! 

It’s a concept and act that is not always understood or embrace by those on the outside looking in (such as the prodigal son’s brother), but for those in the midst of the exchange — it is well worth the effort to forgive and move on.

Jesus tell us another story to exemplify this:

Luke 15 

1Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.


What a precious imagery of our heavenly Father’s forgiveness of us when we    go astray … leave the fold … seeking greener pastures or just not paying proper attention or giving due diligence and value to the relationship we have.  He seeks us, and forgives us … and restores us back to the safety of His care.   A celebration ensues that a lost sheep [ lost relationship]  is recovered.

One point … on this note … this is and should be a two-way street.  Rather than sitting around waiting for the other to make the first move … just do what it takes to get to the place of Jubilee.  Esau went to Jacob —- Joseph sought purpose in the pain —- Job kept his focus on God — David asked God to give him a “clean heart” — the prodigal let go of his pride — my friend put her box on a shelf until she had no more use for it —- and JESUS, looked down from the cross and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Let’s stop working in a field that needs some rest.  Let’s let the ground lie fallow.  Let’s look to Jesus for healing and restoration. Let’s have a JUBILEE!

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