Jubilee Year?

Leviticus 25:8-22

Many churches in Kenya are talking a lot about Kenya being in the Jubilee year, and so everything that happened to the national Israel must as well happen in Kenya! Even the politicians have picked up this shibboleth, so one of the major political coalitions have named themselves ‘The Jubilee Coalition’! Even better, the Jubilee Coalition won the elections held on 4th March 2013, first round and by a margin of almost 1Million votes! Surely it must be the Jubilee year!

They are all saying that the Kenyan people must expect “great and good things to happen”! The discovery of oil in Turkana, the commissioning of Thika Super highway, the groundbreaking ceremony of the construction of Konza Techno City, nicknamed the Silicon Savanna etc., are all some of the ‘evidences’ that indeed it is the Jubilee year! All this is packaged in a very spiritual manner because a passage from the Bible is pulled out – Leviticus 25:8-22, and it is flashed it whenever they are talking about it.

Surely we all want great and good things for this country.  So is it true that this is the Jubilee year for Kenya? Yes, because Kenya is celebrating 50 years since it attained independence from the British colonial masters. But is it true that Kenyans need to mark 50 years by implementing Leviticus 25:8-22 and expecting all the promises therein? I mean, should Kenyans blow the trumpets; have a day of atonement (v. 9); proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; return everyone to his property, and to his clan (vv. 10,13); neither sow nor reap only eat the produce of the land (vv. 11,12); determine the prices of produce by the number of years after the jubilee and in accordance to the number of years of the produce (vv. 14-16)? Is it true that such obedience will lead to God making Kenyans to dwell in the land securely, the land being more productive? Is it true that God will automatically more His blessings?

I want to point out four things you must notice about this passage and then you will discover at least three errors when this passage is applied literally for Kenya.

  1. Notice that this passage is contained in the Law. It is part of the Bible that lays down the law. It is called the Pentateuch, the Law of Moses.
  2. Notice the purpose of the passage is to list the feasts of the Lord. From Lev. 23 – 25, various feasts are recorded, but these feasts are no longer applicable to us. Why? We read that these feasts were shadows of things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ (Col. 2:17).
  3. The Israelites themselves were unable to perfectly obey these laws. They broke these laws again and again and the result is that they were punished by exile in Assyria and Babylon. No one can be justified or saved or even be blessed on the basis of keeping the law, “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in His (God’s) sight, since through the law comes the knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20) and “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, … because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Gal. 2:16).
  4. Finally, notice the New Testament does not mention the Jubilee at all!

Therefore, this passage is part of the old covenant that was faulty  (Heb. 8:8), obsolete and growing old and ready to vanish away (Heb. 8:13). It is a shadow of the reality, which is Christ. Christ is its fulfillment. Its importance is to point to Christ – the true Jubilee for sinners. Notice the errors being propagated in talking about the jubilee for Kenya:

First, the Old Testament is being applied now and here as if there is no New Testament. The basic rule of interpreting Scripture is that Scripture interprets Scripture. The Bible itself says of the Old Testament, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.” (Heb. 8:7). The point is you cannot apply it without a regard for the New Testament.

Secondly, Kenya is not Israel and the times we are living in are different – within the New Covenant. This means that we cannot apply such a passage that had specific instructions to national Israel to Kenya without considering the context and the time.  We have to see the freedom for the Israelites as pointing to the freedom of sinners from sin through Jesus Christ because Jesus Himself said that all Scriptures point to Him (Luke 24:27). For example, we do not celebrate the Day of Atonement because Jesus, by His atoning work on the cross did it all, so that there remains no longer a place for sacrifices and feasts – Jesus paid it all perfectly (Heb. 9:13; 10:4)

Finally it is illogical to apply everything in this passage in wholesale to everyone. Are there slaves in Kenya? Not every Kenyan is a Christian. Who is going to accept to either sell or buy on the basis of the number of years of the jubilee? So how many Kenyans are not going to plant? This manner of applying Scripture makes it impossible to be completely consistent with the rest of the Bible and so it is wrong.

It is particularly disturbing that even Christians have imbibed so much materialism. ‘Great and good things’ to many of them are economic development for the country, and financial prosperity for the individual citizens. Is this the will of God for each one of the believers? Is it not godliness and content, which is of greatest value (1 Tim. 6:6) for a heavenly-minded person? Is it not Christ who is the riches of surpassing worth for Christians? Christ has fulfilled the greatest Jubilee in that He has reconciled sinners to God, by His single sacrifice and has ransomed people from every nation, tribe, language and race.

Is not your delight and satisfaction only in God? May it be that you will ever be satisfied only in God, in Christ alone, in His grace only. Do not let false teachers, who twist the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16) deceive you. Do not let politicians take you for a ride imagining that they will fulfill the wonderful promises they make. Rather, put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and depend only in His word for instruction in faith and practice.

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