3 Nov 2013 by Jason Law CM –
In this year of Jubilee, many churches are celebrating a milestone in their histories. As Christians, we need to know the full significance of the event. The Jubilee proclaims liberty and celebrates God for His compassion and care over His people, but it is also a time to give thanks to God and return to Him what belongs to Him. It is a significant event for recognizing that whatever we have – glory, land, our relationships – rightfully belongs to God and appreciate God for His providence over our lives.
Rev Dr David Wong is the senior pastor of Zion Bible Bishan-Presbyterian Church in Singapore, and one of the mentors of Pastor Edmund Chan. His message, titled ‘The Jubilee Year: Returning to the Lord’, was based on the text about the Year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25:1-17, and puts the Jubilee into context.
Leviticus 25: 8-12: 8 “‘Count off seven sabbath years—seven times seven years—so that the seven sabbath years amount to a period of forty-nine years. 9 Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. 10 Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. 11 The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. 12 For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you; eat only what is taken directly from the fields.
Pastor Rev Dr David Wong’s Message
Pastor David Wong’s message was about the reason for Jubilee, and its meaning. The passage above shows that every 50th year was to be consecrated as a Jubilee year. It was time for celebration, for every land to be returned to its original owners, and for every slave to return to their own families and clan. It was an opportunity to start all over again.
God is making two things very clear here. The land belongs to the Lord, and the people also belong to the Lord. God makes it very clear that we’re not to oppress others, and that He is very concerned about our relationship with each other. Two things take place during the time of Jubilee. It is a time to give back and it is also a time to take back. Debts are cleared, and things are rebooted to a clean slate.
Leviticus 25:23: "'The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.
The year of Jubilee is a time to remind ourselves that what we have does not belong to us. It belongs to God. The three things that are to be given back to God are glory, the land, and our relationship.
Glory belongs to God. There is a subtle danger for those serving in ministry. ‘Honour is given. It cannot be asked for. Honour that is asked for is no longer honour. Have we taken the glory that belongs to God for ourselves or given it to someone or something else? So, in the year of Jubilee, let us return to God the glory that rightfully belongs to Him’ Pastor David reminded.
The land also belongs to God (Leviticus 25:23). This principle is applied to us in the form of the tithe. Rightfully, the whole land belongs to God, but God is gracious; He asks for only a 10th. Pastor David shared that some people feel that since we’re no longer living in the time of law but grace, we’re not obliged to give the 1/10th of our labours. Pastor David encouraged us that grace always gives more than the law. For example, if we’re obligated by the law to give, we do not give more than what is demanded, but if someone is in love with another person, this person will always give more to the person they love. Tithing is a test of our giving.
The time of Jubilee is also a time to return our relationships with one another to God. It is a time to mend and cancel the debts in our relationships. No one should oppress another. It is time to let go of our grudge and revenge. If we owe someone an apology, it is time to seek that forgiveness. If we owe someone our forgiveness, it is time to forgive. Release our relationships to the Lord.
One of the things we receive back during the time of Jubilee is liberty/jubilation. Another thing is freedom from pride and covetousness. If we hold on to things that do not belong to us, we will forfeit our own freedom. If we take glory that does not belong to us, we will always be insecure. If we withhold our tithes from God, God will withhold His blessings from us. And if we hold back our forgiveness, we will become prisoners of our own bitterness. If we do not open our hands to let go, we’ll not open our hands to receive. Freedom will lead to true joy.
The time of Jubilee is also a time for us to return to the Lord ourselves. If we have strayed away from the lord or His Word, it is time to go back to Him. Pastor David ended with 3 questions for us to think about during this time of Jubilee:
1. Are we giving glory to God?
2. Do we acknowledge that all we have belongs to Him, and do we acknowledge this by returning all that belongs to Him?
3. Do we have debts between ourselves and with another person?
The EFCM Jubilee celebration service ended with a closing prayer by Rev Dr Tony Lim, the Dean of Malaysia Bible Seminary (Eng Dept).
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