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Leviticus Bible Study – Lesson #13

Lesson 13:  Leviticus 25    

THE SABBATICAL YEAR AND THE YEAR OF JUBILEE 

The legislation in chapters 25–27 was given to Moses on Mount Sinai and not from within the tabernacle (Lev. 25:1; Lev. 26:46; Lev. 27:34).

Lev. 25:1-7 Every seventh year was to be observed as a sabbath. The land was to lie fallow (uncultivated). Food for the people would be provided from the crop that grew of its own accord. The owner was not to harvest it, but leave it for free use by the people.  This shows how the physical needs of the people were supplied during the Sabbatical year. The land was so productive that it was not necessary to plant each year. The ground in Israel produced enough to supply the needs of the owner, his servants, and the stranger. Even the cattle could survive and probably grew fat by grazing on the untilled land. God took care of both man and beast, Israelite and stranger, rich and poor during the year of rest. They were all given enough to eat. However, they could not harvest anything to market it.

This Sabbatical year for the land was to deliver the Israelite from covetousness. Actually, it was the breaking of this regulation concerning the Sabbatical year that sent Israel into the seventy years Babylonian captivity (2 Chron. 36:21). They failed to keep seventy sabbatic years over a period of 490 years; so they went into captivity for seventy years.

There is a curse upon the earth as well as upon man, and it is by the sweat of man’s brow that he extracts bread from the soil. There will be a day when the curse shall be lifted from creation (Rom. 8:20-22 and Isa. 35:1-2).

Lev. 25:8-17 The fiftieth year was also a sabbath, known as the Year of Jubilee. It began on the Day of Atonement following seven sabbatic-year cycles (forty-nine years). This was the crowning point of the entire sabbatical structure of the nation. It was the SHeNATH HAYOBHEL, the year of Jubilee. In many respects it was the most anticipated and joyful period of the Mosaic economy. The KEREN HAYOBHEL meant the horn of a ram, and in the time the YOBHEL came to mean trumpet.

Slaves were to be set free, the land was to lie fallow, and was to revert to its original owner. The price of a slave or a piece of land decreased as the Year of Jubilee approached (Lev. 25:15, 17), and all business transactions were supposed to take this fact into account. The words “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Lev. 25:10) are inscribed on the United States Liberty Bell. Believers today may liken the Year of Jubilee to the coming of the Lord. As we get closer to His coming, our material wealth decreases in value. The moment He comes, our money, real estate, and investments will be worthless to us. The moral is to put these things to work for Him today!

This is how we are freed today. The Greek word for trumpet is kerux and the verb kerusso means to proclaim or to herald. The year of Jubilee is likened to this age of grace when the Gospel is preached to slaves of sin and captives of Satan. “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:17, 18, 23). The Lord Jesus Christ said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:32, 36).

In the year of Jubilee everything went free. All mortgages were canceled. When you come to Jesus Christ, my friend, the sin question is settled. He paid the penalty. It is all settled, and you go free. He makes you free! “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life” (Rom. 6:22). “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1).

Lev. 25:18-22 With regard to the sabbatic year, the people might wonder how they would have enough food to eat that year and the following year. God promised them that if they were obedient, He would give them sufficient crops during the sixth year to last for three years.

Once every fifty years, there would be two successive years when there would be no sowing or harvesting, that is, when the regular sabbatic year would be followed by the year of jubilee. Presumably the Lord gave enough crops in the forty-eighth year to last for four years. At any rate, this is an ancient example of good ecology: conserving the land’s fertility by enforced rest. In modern times man has become concerned about preserving our planet’s resources. As so often, God’s Word is centuries ahead of the times.

Lev. 25:23-28 Land could be sold, but not permanently, because Jehovah is the Owner. There were three ways in which land could be “redeemed” (revert to its original Jewish owner): The nearest relative could buy it back for the seller (Lev. 25:25); the seller (original owner), if he regained financial solvency, could redeem it, paying the purchaser for the years remaining until the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:26-27); otherwise, the land automatically reverted to the original owner in the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:28).

Lev. 25:29-34 A house in a walled city was subject to redemption for one year; after that, it became the property of the new owner permanently. Houses in unwalled villages were counted as part of the land and therefore reverted to the original owner in the Year of Jubilee. Houses owned by the Levites in the special cities assigned to them were always subject to being bought back by the Levites. The field assigned to the Levites for common-land was not to be sold.

Lev. 25:35-38 If an Israelite fell into debt and poverty, his Jewish creditors were not to oppress him. They were not to charge him interest on money or demand additional food for food that was lent.

Lev. 25:39-46 If an impoverished Israelite sold himself to a Jewish creditor for nonpayment of debt, he was not to be treated as a slave but as a hired servant, and was to be released in the Year of Jubilee, if this came before the end of his six years of service. The Jews were permitted to have slaves from the Gentile nations, and these were considered their own property, to be handed down to their descendants. But Jewish people were not to be slaves themselves.

Lev. 25:47-54 If a Jew sold himself to a Gentile who happened to be living in the land, the Jew could always be bought back and set free. The redemption price was determined by the number of years remaining until the Year of Jubilee. The relative redeeming the Jew could use him as a hired servant until the Jubilee. If no relative redeemed him, then he automatically went free in the Year of Jubilee.

This is the application of the law of Jubilee to the person (see verse 10) who not only had lost his property, but had to sell his person as well. He could have the services of a kinsman-redeemer if there was one who was willing and able to deliver him before the year of Jubilee.

You and I have a Kinsman-Redeemer. He is rich. Yet, for our sakes He was willing to become poor so that He might shed His precious blood to redeem us. He has redeemed not only our persons but He has also paid the price for this cursed earth. It too will be redeemed from the curse that is on it now. The law of the kinsman-redeemer points to our Lord Jesus Christ who is our Kinsman-Redeemer.

Lev. 25:55 This verse is a vivid reminder that the Israelites and their land (Lev. 25:23) belonged to the Lord and that He should be recognized as rightful Owner. Neither God’s people nor God’s land could be sold permanently. Even thou Adam’s disobedience has “sold” us into bondage to Satan, we will be redeemed and set free because we truly belong to the Lord God.