During the Year of Jubilee, the Israelites celebrated the release of slaves, the forgiveness of debt and the return to tribal land. Property sold due to poverty was restored to its original owner and the land had another year of rest.
In today’s sermon, we briefly explored connections between Isaiah 61 and Luke 4 and the way the Jubilee prophetically looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. But is there a hint of more Jubilee in the book of Acts?
After Jesus rose from the dead, right before He ascended into Heaven, the disciples are gathered around Him and they asked, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6b ESV). Jesus responds that it’s not for them to know “times or season” (1:7).
Consider these words in context of the concept of Jubilee. The Jubilee was a “season” or a “time” where land was restored to its original owner. What do the disciples ask Jesus? “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
The disciples want restoration. They are looking for a time. Could this be a hint of their discernment that the ultimate Jubilee was to come through the ministry of the Messiah? Jesus’s response certainly seems to indicate that what they are looking for is a specific “time or season” that has not yet fully occurred.
Later on, in Acts 3, Peter speaks to the people of Israel from Solomon’s portico and he challenges them to, “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (3:19-21 ESV, emphasis mine).
Notice again this language of both refreshing and restoration. Both words are connected with the word “time” or “times.” A time of restoration was to come (and still is to come), an unprecedented season of refreshment upon Israel and the earth for all of God’s followers.
Do these texts use the term Jubilee? No. But they sure do seem to reflect the concept.
Though Jesus fulfilled the spiritual Jubilee that Isaiah predicted (Isa 61:1-3//Luke 4:17-21), the fullness of that fulfillment is yet to come!