Day 49: The Year of Jubilee

Exodus Ch 35-40 The final six chapters of Exodus detail the construction of the sanctuary, the furnishings, and the vestments for the priests. At times it repeats nearly word for word the directions God gave in Ch 24-31. The purpose of this narrative is to show the importance of the various components of Jewish worship and how carefully the people of Israel obeyed the precepts of the Lord. These passages reveal the enthusiasm with which the people supported the construction of the Tabernacle. (CCC 1069-1070, 1097)

Leviticus Ch 24:23-34 Former property owners had the right to purchase back the property they had sold. If they did not have enough to cover the original price at which it sold, a close relative could contribute money to assist in the repurchase. The relative who made this free contribution was called a goel, which means “redeemer.” Christ the Redeemer supplied the price needed to purchase back our heavenly home; without the merits of Christ, no one would be able to obtain everlasting life in Heaven. (CCC 1)

Ch 25:35-55 An Israelite could not charge a fellow Israelite interest on a loan. Excessive interest on money lent, called “usury,” is an offense not only against the Seventh Commandment but also against the Fifth since it extorts material goods needed to sustain the basic necessities of life. (CCC 2269, 2440)

Psalm 81 A relationship with God was at the heart of the Old Covenant. God revealed himself through his Laws, inspirations, and directives to those he placed in authority. God invited his people to a loving response through prayer and fidelity to his Laws. Despite all that God had done for the people of Israel, however, they often strayed into sin and idolatry.

The focal point for Christians of a dialogue with God is Jesus Christ, who is the visible expression of the love of God the Father. Through Christ God constantly invites every person to repentance and forgiveness, and in Christ we can clearly see that God desires our salvation and everlasting happiness rather than the punishment of eternal damnation. (Cf. St. John Paul II, General Audience, April 24, 2002)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Key Event 24: The Tabernacle (Exodus 36-38)

The Tabernacle is the portable tent-sanctuary that accompanies Israel through its wilderness wandering after the Exodus. The God who revealed His presence on Mount Sinai thus continues to abide with His people. The inner room of the Tabernacle is the HOLY OF HOLIES, which contains the ARK OF THE COVENANT, where the Lord is “enthroned upon the cherubim” (Ps 99:1). The Tabernacle foreshadows the risen body of Jesus, in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col 2:9; see Jn 1:14)

  • We repeat the things that ARE IMPORTANT

  • We highlight the things that are important by uttering them again

  • Here is God repeating some of the things He as revealed in Leviticus and parts of Exodus

  • It is IMPORTANT for us because it is revealing THE HEART OF WORSHIP

  • There is no greater human act that anyone can do than THE ACT OF WORSHIP

  • This is why God is teaching the Israelites how to worship

  • Exodus might have sounded quite familiar today.

  • We once again have the story of our two skilled workers, Bezalel and Oholiab

  • Why is this so important?

  • What we are talking about is for the WORSHIP OF GOD

  • From the dimensions of the Tabernacle to the fine jewels and the fine resources that go into creating not only the Tabernacle, but what is inside, what the priests are wearing etc.

  • All of these things are important to The Lord

  • It isn’t important because God needs us to use acacia wood

  • It’s because the worship that God instructs us to offer does something for US

  • It has to touch not just the one day we might go and offer worship

  • It has to touch THE REST OF OUR LIVES

  • This is part of why God repeats Himself a number of times in the Old Testament when it comes to worship.

  • Getting worship right is so CRITICAL

  • When we INVENT worship, we are doing something completely wrong

  • When we CREATE worship, we are doing things so backward from what God is instructing us to do

  • That’s how a lot of churches are run these days

  • Not enough churches ask the question, “How is God commanding us to worship Him?”

  • Here is the New Testament priesthood that is the fulfillment of the OLD TESTAMENT PRIESTHOOD

  • Here is the New Testament eternal sacrifice that is the FULFILLMENT of the old sacrifice

  • God tells us to “Do this in memory of me”, “Take this all of you and eat of it. This is my body. This is my blood.”

  • That’s what we do because God (Jesus) gave us those instructions to do that

  • Worship is not just meant for a single hour in our lives once a week

  • The heart of religion is WORSHIP

  • The heart of worship is SACRIFICE

  • We need to recognize that this sacrifice is a sacrifice of TRUST AND LOVE

  • What did God mean by the “sabbatical year”?

  • On the seventh year, just like every seventh day, you are called to rest

  • For the seventh year, you do not harvest or plant crops and let the land rest

  • It seems so backward

  • We live in such a culture that demands consumerism and acquisition and GO GO GO

  • But God tells the Israelites on the seventh year, REST

  • It is not just resting

  • It is not just affirming that the Israelites are no longer slaves

  • It is affirming TRUST IN GOD (recurring theme eh?)

  • We know that God is just and that is why we NEED to be like HIM and TRUST HIM

  • 7 weeks of years = 7 x 7 years = 49 years

  • The 50th year is JUBILEE

  • If you had property that you had to let go of because of bad fortune, you got your property back in the Jubilee year

  • If you had to sell yourself into slavery because of bad fortune, you were set free in the Jubilee year

  • If you had any debts, they were forgiven in the Jubilee year

  • The year of Jubilee is the YEAR OF RESTORATION

  • This is the reality of life (back then)

  • Slavery was just as much a part of economy back then as we have contracts today

  • Remember slavery in this sense was actually INDENTURED SERVITUDE

  • It wasn’t slavery like we had in the United States

  • It wasn’t based on race

  • IN FACT, Leviticus said that “you shall not LORD it over these slaves, you shall not ABUSE THEM.”

  • Why? Because I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD (and He does not treat us like slaves)

  • Who was he talking to?

  • He was not talking to 21st century westerners

  • He was talking to people who themselves experienced what it was like to be slaves

  • Israelites were slaves for 300-400 years

  • They knew what it was like to be under the domineering hand of a ruthless taskmaster

  • God tolerated this kind of slavery now for the Israelites for a while as a way of supporting themselves

  • If you could not feed yourself, clothe yourself, or house yourself, you could sell yourself to be someone else’s labor

  • So what happens then?

  • The master will feed you, they will clothe you, they will house you

  • Those who purchased the slave WOULD NOT LORD IT OVER THEM OR ABUSE THEM

  • More importantly, in the Jubilee year they would be RESTORED TO FREEDOM

  • We do not get this do we?


  • But remember these were people who knew absolutely what it was like to be slaves

  • They knew what it was like to have harsh taskmasters

  • God permits it WITH RESTRICTIONS

  • They were not to be harsh taskmasters


  • It’s the +1 theory of education

  • God is helping the Israelites move from level 2 to level 3 and level 3 to level 4 and level 4 to level 5

  • We as 21st century westerners think, “YO THIS IS CRAZY!”

  • It’s because God has brought US to level 14 or whatever level we are at now

  • We understand that this slavery is problematic

  • Yet God tells us, “Yes it is, but we had to start somewhere”

  • These people who knew what it was like to be slaves, also had to LEARN what it was like to NOT BE SLAVES

  • Therefore, every 7th day REST, because you are not meant to be slaves

  • Every 7th year REST, because you are not meant to be slaves

  • Every 50th year (7 weeks of 7 years), REST AND BE SET FREE BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT MEANT TO BE SLAVES

  • The Bible is not meant to be STRAIGHTFORWARD (yeah, no kidding!)

  • The Bible is oftentimes an account of a reality that is not the best, the easiest, or the most straightforward

  • But the reality is TRUE

  • The reality is GOOD

  • Even if we have to read between the lines to understand what God is allowing, saying, and trying to TEACH US TODAY

  • If Fr Mike is not clear enough for you, LOOK IT UP ;) (but trust only Catholic sources!!)

Prayer by Fr Mike: “Father in Heaven, we give you praise. We thank you so much for your Word. We thank you for confounding us. We thank you for confusing us. Lord God, when we hear about slavery, when we hear about these things that have been such a scourge on humanity for so many years, we just ask that you enlighten our minds, to be able to understand what is the reason that you allowed for this to take place. What is it that you’re teaching us in doing this and allowing this to be a part of the life of the people of Israel, your people. Lord God, help us to not harden our hearts, nor tell our minds to be darkened. But, open our hearts and open our minds to not be minds of cynicism or skepticism, to not have hearts of distrust. Open our hearts to trusting you. We make this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.”