Nehemiah 5 sermon – Jubilee People

God’s Mission Strategy: The Church

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Introduction

I wonder if any of you said this sentence this week:

I wish we could have a jubilee weekend every year.

I said that this week, did you?

I even heard one person from this church, who shall remain nameless,

We should have a jubilee weekend every week.

Three day working weeks, what do you think about that?  As far-fetched as that sounds, the Bible’s got an even bigger holiday to imagine: What about a whole year of Jubilee celebrations?

In the Bible “the Jubilee” lasts all year.  Did you know jubilee originated in the Bible.  In the Old Testament, every 50 years they had a Jubilee celebration – and it lasted all year.

But the Bible’s Jubilee is very different to our Jubilee celebrations.  In the Bible, Jubilee is very much about the commoners, not the royals.  It’s very much about the underprivileged.  The Bible’s Jubilee was for the poor, the oppressed, the enslaved and the indebted.  It was a massive levelling of wealth and privilege.

You’re thinking, what’s that got to do with Nehemiah 5?  It’s got everything to do with Nehemiah 5.  Let me explain…

Every 50 years, Jubilee was proclaimed and all debts were cancelled, all slaves were freed, all accumulated wealth was redistributed, everyone returned to their ancestral home and they all take the whole year off.

Leviticus 25 says this:

Count off 49 years… 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 one of you is to return to his family property and each to his 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.

13 “‘In this Year of Jubilee everyone is to return to his own property.  (Leviticus 25:10-13)

There’s plenty more in Leviticus 25 but let me summarize.  In the Year of Jubilee all debts are cancelled; all slaves are freed; all accumulated wealth is redistributed; everyone returns to their homeland.  And notice where it all begins?  It all begins with the Day of Atonement.

If you understand the Day of Atonement, you’ll understand Jubilee.  And if you understand Jubilee, you’ll understand Nehemiah 5….

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