Once in a lifetime the Jews experienced a year of debt cancellation. The fiftieth year of Jubilee was a super-Sabbath. A ram’s horn trumpet (shofar) signaled its beginning.
Everyone knew about Sabbath years; they happened on the seventh year. The land was allowed to rest—no sowing, pruning, or gleaning. Crops that sprouted from the soil on their own became the food source (Lev 25:1-7). The Jubilee was similar but slaves were also released, debts canceled, and land returned to its original owner (Lev 25:8-17).
Slavery in Israel functioned like indentured servanthood. When a person got into debt, one option was to work for the creditor and pay the debt with months or years of labor.
Indebted families that owned land could “sell” it to a farmer. Sales were more like leases because the value depended on the number of harvests before the next Jubilee—how many crops could the farmer produce and what were they worth. The year of Jubilee was fair and it preserved the tribal land allotments; no one could accumulate the property of the unfortunates (Ezek. 46:17-18).
Israelites never had to fear losing everything. They knew that once in their lifetime the slate would be wiped clean and everyone could make a fresh start. The trumpet call was a note of freedom and fairness.
Jesus offers freedom and a fresh start all the time. The Christian life is one big Jubilee. Respond to His call by repenting from sin and He will forgive. He broke the bonds of a far more vicious slavery to Satan. He canceled a life-stifling debt of sin. We can expect Him to provide for us when we work diligently, but we don’t have to strive to survive—He promises to supply our needs.
Those who suffer for His name or live with diseased bodies or relationships live in hope of a future trumpet. When He calls us home, every trace of suffering will be gone.
The Jubilee trumpet spells freedom and a new start.