This year is our FEMC Jubilee, celebrating 50 years of ministry in the valley!
I did a little research around the number 50, and there are two biblical meanings around that number that I’d like to highlight in our newsletter.
The first meaning of the number 50 we covered is connected to the Day of Pentecost, also known as the “Feast of Weeks” or “Shavuot”.
Jesus rose from the grave at the Feast of Firstfruits – the “firstborn from the dead.”; fifty days before Pentecost.
One of the main historical observances around Shavuot was to memorialize the giving of God’s Law on stone tablets to Moses at Mount Sinai .
At this Shavuot/Pentecost, God keeps a promise He made about the “Law” no longer being written on stones, but it will be written in our hearts. (Hebrews 8:10)
On the Day of Pentecost, the “firstfruits” of the church were gathered in the upper room and received the filling of the Holy Spirit.
Some 3,000 people heard Peter present the gospel after the Holy Spirit had empowered and indwelt the disciples.
The second meaning around the number fifty in scripture is the “Year of Jubilee”.
Every 50th year, any ancestral land that Israelites families had sold was given back to them.
Also, any Israelite who, induced by poverty, had sold himself (or been sold) into slavery to a fellow Israelite regained his liberty.
Not only the people, but the land itself was “freed” from being worked, for no planting or sowing, harvesting or reaping took place during the fiftieth year.
Jubilee year was a great sabbath or rest for the people of YHWH and the land that belonged to him.
Therefore, because of the Jubilee Year, the number fifty is closely associated with the remission of debts, emancipation of slaves, and rest within God’s protective care.
Here’s where the boring history lesson ends and the neat stuff begins…
Despite the commandments around a Jubilee Year, there is no record of this amazing season of redemption and rest ever actually happening in Israel.
So while Israel believed in a Year of Jubilee, and likely longed for it, they had never experienced one.
That is, until Jesus comes on the scene…
Luke 4:16–21 (Jesus) went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
The “Good News” is the Gospel that Jesus has redeemed his own.
Man may have been lax in keeping the Jubilee, but God was faithful!
“The year of the Lord’s favor” is here!
Jesus declares Jubilee right at the beginning of His ministry!
Here’s where the plot even gets thicker…
Technically, an Israelite didn’t even have to wait for a Jubilee Year to exercise his right to redeem himself or lost ancestral lands.
All he needed was a “kinsman redeemer”, in Hebrew, called a GOEL. (go-ell)
The goel could pay the required price to redeem the fellow Israelite or his property.
(Remember the story of Ruth and Boaz? Boaz was Ruth and Naomi’s kinsman redeemer.)
Jesus was presenting HIMSELF as the kinsman redeemer to Israel (and ultimately to the whole world).
Jesus himself is presented as the anointed (messianic) herald of the long-awaited Year of Jubilee.
God is reclaiming his own people – Jesus is our jubilee!
So what does this mean for us, at the “Jubilee” 50 year celebration of our church?
His message is our message.
His mission is our mission.
We are people who have been redeemed, pointing others to the Redeemer.
From the inception of this church 50 years ago, our mission has never changed.
For fifty years we have declared that the messiah has come, and God is calling men and women, boys and girls, into His family.
For fifty years we have experienced transformation and redemption, and we have extended it beyond our walls.
If anything, in our neighbourhood, our community, our world, we need to walk as the redeemed and declare God’s saving power today more than ever.
Let’s purpose in our hearts to keep declaring jubilee, on into the next fifty!