Friday, March 14, 2008

Jubilee

Today I'm celebrating my 50th day of consecutive blogging! So to honour the number 50, I'd like to consider the biblical concept of the Jubilee Year. I've written before about how we have tended to undervalue the idea of sabbath. The Bible doesn't just prescribe a rest every 7 days, but some very special legislation comes into place every 7 years and the pinnacle of the sabbath concept occurs after 7x7 years - the Jubilee.

In the Jubilee year, God's interest in distributive justice is put into practice. All lands are returned to their original owners so that the inequities which result in any society over time are once more levelled out. This is the final piece of justice making which also involves the freeing of slaves and remission of all debts - what an incredible image and what a challenge to our world today! I doesn't take long to think of the impact that this would have on issues like third-world debt, human trafficking and the rights of indigenous peoples. Think of families that are living in intergenerational poverty that suddenly have the same opportunities as the next person!

The Jubilee is such a radical concept and challenges our own security and material interests so deeply that most biblical scholars doubt whether it was ever put into practice. I don't see this as a valid excuse for ignoring its meaning. When Jesus proclaimed that his ministry heralded the 'year of the Lord's favour' (Luke 4), he was announcing a Jubilee. The Jubilee is a call to a new kind of justice - let's listen to it.

Now, only 316 more days to go...

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