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. 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. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.
In this year of jubilee each of you shall return to his property. And if you make a sale to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor, you shall not wrong one another. You shall pay your neighbor according to the number of years after the jubilee, and he shall sell to you according to the number of years for crops.
The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me.
If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave: he shall be with you as a hired worker and as a sojourner. He shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee. Then he shall go out from you, he and his children with him, and go back to his own clan and return to the possession of his fathers. For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. Leviticus 25:8-10a, 13-15, 23, 39-42 ESV
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:22-23 ESV
In Charleston, South Carolina, just a few days before the Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union, the African American community held a parade. They called it a jubilee of freedom, because they knew that slavery had come to an end and that they were free. There was marching, singing, bands, banners, and even a hearse which was a symbol of the death of slavery. It was a joyous celebration for the community at the end of the American Civil War.
The word jubilee comes from the Bible. Every seven years was to be a year of rest for the land, but after seven times seven years came the year of jubilee. Two things happened that year. If anyone had become poor and sold his land, he would get it back in the year of jubilee. Because the land belonged to God, people couldn’t sell it forever. They could only sell it for awhile, but it would always stay in the family in the end. Even more important, sometimes people became so poor that they sold themselves into slavery. But they would not be slaves forever. They were God’s people, and no one else could own them always, or take their children away. In the year of jubilee they would be free to return to their home and relatives. The year of jubilee was meant to be a year of joy and freedom, a reminder that the land and the people belonged to God alone.
Because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we are free from a different kind of slavery, slavery to sin. We belong to God and serve him only. Nothing else–not sin, not death, not the devil–has any claim on us. We serve God as humble slaves, but because we were created to be God’s people, this kind of slavery gives us freedom and dignity. In Jesus we are what we were always meant to be, God’s people forever.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us freedom from sin and making us your people. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.