Jubilee, What a Wonderful Year!
What is a Jubilee? Or more precisely, the year of Jubilee? Amidst the fervent anticipation of Christians, but also of Jews in Israel and the world over for the imminent appearance of Messiah, we are seeing a growing 21st century interest in this ancient decree issued by God for the Hebrews. Why has a regulation that hasn’t been kept by Judaism for some 3,000 years; one that even Jewish Rabbis can’t agree on in terms of whether it is a 49-year or 50-year cycle; nor one that can be identified by actual historical dates, regained profound prominence in the last decade or so?
The quick answer is because a few Bible scholars—observant Jews, Messianic Jews, and Gentile Christians, including me—are seeing a remarkable connection between two 20th century events that are 49-50 years apart. Both of these milestones directly reflect on and relate to the very heart and purpose of the Jubilee, which is a general restoration of Jewish property in the Promised Land back to its original owners in the 50th year, or the Year of Jubilee. Applying this principle to Israel as a nation, we can make an unmistakable correlation between the Year of Jubilee—emancipation, freedom, restoration, redemption of both people and land—and the remarkable return of Jews to Israel to sovereignly reclaim the land taken from them by Gentile nations for nearly 2,500 years.
Based on, in part, some notable prophetic calculations made by Sir Isaac Newton (who was more interested in Bible prophecies than the astounding scientific discoveries he made, i.e. law of gravity), Bible students such as Mark Blitz, Jonathan Cahn, Bob O’Dell and Gidon Ariel (and myself, but not necessarily based on Isaac Newton) have identified these two historical events in the 20th century as pivotal dates to demonstrate that the Year of Jubilee is playing a significant role in end-times fulfillment of prophecy. This all started not long ago by looking backwards to the incredible dates of June, 1967 and November, 1917—the recapture of Jerusalem in the Six Day War and the Balfour Declaration that gave Jews the right of return to Palestine, respectively. These two enormously important dates are 49-50 years apart, the calendar cycle of a Jubilee.
Then looking ahead to the next Jubilee year which some say began on September 13, 2015 (the beginning of the new Jewish year of 5776). With very few others (like me) who place the beginning of the Jubilee year in the first month, Nisan, of the original Jewish calendar (March/April of the Gregorian Calendar, this year beginning April 9th), we can prophetically propose that another noteworthy occurrence will take place in the next year or two, perhaps even the Rapture itself. But at the very least, a momentous episode pertaining to freedom of and in the land of Israel; for example, the possible opening of Temple Mount to Jewish and Christian worship.
In that regard, please refer to a recent Eye of Prophecy article entitled, The Legacy of Temple Mount, published 1-2-16.
The difference in the actual sequence or interlude of a Jubilee—whether 49 or 50 years—has been debated by both Bible Scholars and Jewish Rabbis for centuries. Time/space does not permit an in-depth study of these two views (including the disagreement as to which Jewish calendar should be used to identify when a Jubilee Year begins) except to say that I personally am in the camp of those who contend that a Jubilee is every 50 years. However the 50th year is also the first year of the next Jubilee period, i.e. year one of that 49-year cycle for purpose of counting off the number of years.
In the final analysis, it’s not imperative that we absolutely know for sure; as there remains a small time-gap window of opportunity for the next Jubilee year to begin … whether 49 or 50 years from the previous Jubilee, whether beginning in the fall or spring, it’s still a year or less.
Later in this article, I’ll once again present evidence that the aforementioned events in 1917 and 1967 were but two of three incredible events that took place in the 20th century return of Jews to Israel. The third (2nd in chronological sequence) was the November, 1947 United Nations Resolution that entitled Israel to become a State, which she did in May, 1948. In addition to a complete (exact or almost exact) Jubilee cycle taking place between the first event (Balfour Declaration of 1917) and the Six-Day War recapture of Jerusalem by the IDF in 1967, we have the twofold beginning of an actual generation of which Jesus, himself, said was a crucial time-frame indicator in the last days of his return. Recalling his words, he said: “…this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34, italics for emphasis).
Thus, these three extraordinary 20th century historical end-times milestones (signs) are a divine combination and coordination of Jubilee years and the 100 and 70-year Biblical parameters of an actual generation.
First, let’s examine the original Jubilee commandment as found in the Complete Jewish Bible translation. It comes directly after God’s decree that the land was to be given a complete rest (no planting of crops or cultivation) every 7th year, which the Jews call a Shemitah year. Let’s read about the Year of Jubilee:
The Biblical Record of Jubilee
“You are to count seven Shabbats of years, seven times seven years, that is, forty-nine years. Then, on the tenth day of the seventh month, on Yom Kippur, you are to sound a blast on the shofar; you are to the sound the shofar all through your land; and you are to consecrate the fiftieth year, proclaiming freedom throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It will be a yovel (jubilee) for you; you will return everyone to the land he owns, and everyone is to return to his family. That fiftieth year will be a yovel for you; in that year you are not to sow, harvest what grows by itself or gather the grapes of untended vines; because it is a yovel. It will be holy for you; whatever the fields produce will be food for all of you. In this year of yovel, every one of you is to return to the land he owns” (Leviticus 25:8-13).
There were more instructions, but this passage contains the essence of how Webster’s Dictionary accurately (based on a correct application of the Biblical account) portrays and defines Jubilee:
“A year of emancipation and restoration provided by ancient Hebrew law to be kept every 50 years by the emancipation of Hebrew slaves, restoration of alienated lands to their former owners, and omission of all cultivation of the land.” Then in more general terms: “a special anniversary, a celebration of such an anniversary.”
The Promised Land of Israel was given by the Lord to the Jews, as opposed to any other people or nation; moreover, this land grant was irreversible and was meant to be an everlasting inheritance for God’s chosen people. Nevertheless, when it came to the reasons (too many and too complicated to explain in detail in one article) for the Jubilee, the Lord instructed his people:
“The land is not to be sold in perpetuity, because the land belongs to me—you are only foreigners and temporary residents with me. Therefore, when you sell your property, you must include the right of redemption (buying back)” (Verses 23-24, New Jewish Bible).
Then more details were provided on exactly how and when redemption of both land and people would take place.
But the overriding purpose for keeping God’s meticulous requirements of the seven-year Shemitah and the fifty-year Yovel (Jubilee) cycle was: “Thus you are not to take advantage of each other, but you are to fear your God; for I am Adonai your God. Rather, you are to keep my regulations and rulings and act accordingly. If you do, you will live securely in the land” (Leviticus 25:17-18, New Jewish Bible).
The original commands from God pertaining to remembrance of the Jewish Festivals—such as Passover, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, Tabernacles—as well as observing the Shemitah and Jubilee years was based on the original Jewish monthly (moon) calendar in which the first month was Nisan (March-April on our calendar). It was the seventh month (September-October on our calendar) in which the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur, and the Feast of Tabernacles were to be observed. Later, in Jewish History the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashana) became the start of a new calendar year for the Jews. Thus they have what might be called a religious calendar and a secular calendar.
The announcement of the year of Jubilee was to be made on the tenth day of the seventh month (Yom Kippur), which would still be in the 49th year that began in March/April of that year. But the year of Jubilee wouldn’t begin until the following spring, which was the actual calendar commencement of the 50th year (of Jubilee). I believe this is the correct understanding of Leviticus 25, because verse 11 states: “You shall have the fiftieth year as a jubilee; you shall not sow, nor reap … for it is a jubilee; it shall be holy (set apart) to you…” (New American Standard Bible).
Although there were fall crops, the primary harvest season was understood to begin in the spring, the first month of the Hebrew calendar; which is why the actual Jubilee year wouldn’t begin until the following spring, after having been proclaimed throughout the land in September or October, the month of Tishrei, or the 7th month (of the 49th year).
For example, the Balfour Declaration of November, 1917 would have taken place in a year of Jubilee that began officially in March/April of that year (month of Nisan). Counting off 49 Jewish years (360 days in a year) or actually 49 years and 8 months on our calendar, from March/April 1917 brings us to the months of Sept/Oct in the calendar year of 1966. If the Jews were still keeping the Jubilee years, the Jubilee would then have been announced in the seventh month (Sept/Oct of 1966) and officially commenced the following March/April, which would have been 1967 on our calendar, i.e. the 50th year (of Jubilee). The Six-Day War, therefore, would have taken place in the year of Jubilee, because it occurred in June, 1967.
(Photo of Israeli Troops Entering Jerusalem, Six-Day War)
However, when the secular Jewish calendar was introduced after the Babylonian Captivity, the new Jewish year–for purpose of counting and recording the years–began on Rosh Hashana, the first day of the month of Tishrei, September/October of the Gregorian calendar. Thus, the Jewish year 5776 began on September 13, 2015.
Confused? That’s okay. In part the confusion is healthy. Why? Because it prevents us from precise date setting as to the Rapture which will usher in the Day of the Lord and all end-times events thereafter. Moreover, the seven to eight month overlap provides some built in flexibility when trying to match up (for example) the November, 1917 Balfour Declaration with the June, 1967 Six-Day War. Same thing when adding 49 or 50 years or something in between from the 1967 Six-Day War to the present year 2016.
If we hold to what I believe is the Biblical formula, then the next Jubilee would be proclaimed in the fall of 2016; but actually begin in the Jewish month of Nisan (March/April) of 2017, not the calendar year of 2015 or 2016 as some suggest. This would also be the Jewish year of 5777, a tremendously important set of numbers to both the Jews and those who are students of Biblical numbers. With five representing the number of Grace (God’s favor poured out) and the three sevens a perfect three-fold extension of the divine number seven.
It Is God Who Has Restored the Jubilee
Whatever month or months we choose in 2017 or 2016 or even 2015 as the beginning of another year of Jubilee, the most important feature of this entire study is to realize that the Year of Jubilee is a phenomena that God has taken the initiative to restore as part of his spectacular plan for the last days.
In fact, it is God who introduced the New Covenant of Grace through his Son, who sealed that covenant with his very blood … with his death, burial, and resurrection from the grave. It is God who providentially planned and instigated the return of the Jews to Israel. It is God who sovereignly orchestrated the rebirth of Israel as a nation, and who has divinely renewed the Jubilee cycle. All the while opportunely matching the Jubilee of 1917 and 1967 with the two definitions of generations found in Scripture, i.e. 100 years and 70 years, which more than coincidentally correlate with the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the United Nations Resolution granting Statehood rights to Israel in 1947.
Then the entire 26th chapter of Leviticus is God’s promise of his blessings on Israel if they worshipped only him; if they loved, respected, and obeyed him and the commandments given to them for their own good. Followed by God’s warnings if they did not, “…listen to me and obey all these mitzvot (commandments or more broadly—general principles for living), if you loathe my regulations and reject my rulings, in order not to obey all my mitzvot but cancel my covenant, then I, for my part, will do this to you: I will bring terror upon you … I will set my face against you—your enemies will defeat you, those who hate you will hound you, and you will flee when no one is pursuing you” (Leviticus 26:14-17, New Jewish Bible).
Throughout this stunning 26th chapter of Leviticus, the Lord specifies four successive seven times over punishments that he would inflict on his people if they began and continued their disobedience. Which is exactly what they did leading up to the Babylonian Captivity, but also following their return to Israel after seventy years of exile. Then continuing without interruption to and through the Diaspora that began with the Roman conquest of Israel and destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.
The worst of this divine discipline took place during the horrible Holocaust; which, however, led to the rebirth of Israel in 1948 and the final end of Gentile domination of the Jews in 1967.
Here I want to pause and refer you to an astounding disclosure that the Lord gave to me nearly ten years ago (October, 2006). Namely, that these four cycles of seven times correction of God’s people was administered consecutively in actual years, both in principle and practice, to correlate with the seven-year Sabbath land cycle and the fifty-year Jubilee cycle. In order to see the amazing details of how this developed historically, coming to an end in the phenomenal year of 1967, please read the three-part Eye of Prophecy series entitled, Seven Times Seven (to the 4th power!) Parts I, II, III, published 1-25-14, 2-1-14, and 2-8-14, followed by the summary article The Omega Generation, posted on 2-15-14.
In that regard, let’s review some excerpts from The Omega Generation article, as follows in italics:
Is it, then, possible to select or identify events/dates in Israel’s contemporary history that correspond to the Biblical definition of a generation … that is one hundred years and/or seventy years? The answer is a resounding, YES. In fact, we’ve already touched on these dates in the previous three articles. In addition, I partially addressed these events some time ago in the Eye of Prophecy article, entitled, When the Rapture, published 8-10-13, as well as The End of the Age article published 11-23-13.
Some Christians are confused about or don’t entirely understand the role of the Church and Israel during the last days beginning with the Rapture. Please fathom one critical premise/truth: Although the Mount of Olives discourse indirectly applies to the Church (composed of all Jews and Gentiles who have been redeemed by Messiah Jesus), the whole purpose of Christ’s majestic return is to set up the Kingdom of Heaven (Kingdom of God) on the earth IN the Holy Land and THROUGH / FOR his chosen people, the Jews. And what triggers the need for Christ to return to Israel is none other than the ultimate and final rescue of the Jews (Israel) from conquest and destruction at the hands of Antichrist.
Concerning the Church, the sole purpose of the Rapture is to snatch away believers from the earth so that we do not have to experience the final wrath of God poured out on an ungodly generation of unbelievers. Otherwise, ALL of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Last Days or End Times focus on Israel, not the Church; in fact, the Church (consisted of all Jews/Gentiles who place their trust in Christ’s sacrificial death) doesn’t even come into existence for over 400 years after the last book of the Old Testament was written. Moreover, from the 4th Chapter through the 18th Chapter of the book of Revelation, the Church is not even mentioned, as such.
So, let’s look again at the three monumentally crucial events of the last 100 years, relating to the return of the Jews to Israel.
Balfour Declaration of November, 1917: England extended official support that Palestine could be a home for the Jews. This was the beginning of Jewish autonomy in Israel, although the land was still called Palestine at that time.
Recognizing this very important event/date, we can then apply the Biblical generational measurement of 100 years. Once again, however, we need to convert Roman calendar years to Jewish years. Doing the math we come up with 101.4 Jewish years which translates to 101 years and 5 months. From November, 1917, this would take us to March or April, 2019.
United Nations Resolution of November, 1947: UN voted to grant statehood rights to the Jews; the nation would be called Israel. (May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion proclaimed the reborn existence of the State of Israel!).
This was the 2nd significant milestone in fulfillment of hundreds of Biblical prophecies concerning the Abrahamic Covenant, i.e. the physical restoration of Israel. Most Bible scholars and historians select the statehood date of May 14, 1948 as the historical landmark, which it certainly is; however, the actual declaration of statehood was almost anticlimactic. Reason: officially, the British Mandate (rule) over Palestine expired on that date. But it was the UN Resolution that delivered the pivotal turning point or breakthrough. Without the UN resolution of November, 1947, there would have been no recognized Israeli State in May, 1948. Yet, there is only a period of 6 months separating these two events; thus, selection of either one would be a legitimate application to the 70-year generational measurement of time.
Again, doing the conversion math, we arrive at a total of 70.97 or (rounding it off) 71 Jewish years. Adding 71 years to November, 1947, we arrive at November, 2018. If we utilize May, 1948 as the benchmark date, the 71 years would take us to May, 2019.
June, 1967 Six-Day War (Jubilee Years): In addition to the two Biblical measurements of a generation (100 years and 70 years), what happens if we also select the Jubilee time-frame of 50 years? As stressed in the previous seven times seven articles, the 50-year Jubilee was part of God’s formula for disciplining Israel, as the Jews also failed to keep the Jubilee. Consequently, I believe the Jubilee will also be a component part of God’s magnificent restoration of Israel.
In this instance, we will use the next epic milestone in Israel’s brief modern-history … that of the June, 1967 Six-Day War. We talked about this at great length in last week’s article, to include the fact that it occurred 50 years (not coincidentally, a Jubilee period of time) from the Balfour Declaration of 1917.
Once again we convert 50 Roman calendar years to Jewish time and we come up with: 50.7 years which is 50 years and 8.4 months (8-9 months). From June, 1967, this would take us through February or into March, 2018.
…What other specific events have occurred relating to Israel during the 20th or 21st century that would surpass or supplant the 1917, 1947 (48), and 1967 highlights that we’ve selected as commencement dates for both the 100 and 70-year generations, as well as the equally important Jubilee? In answer to this question, I’ll give you a hint: There are NO other events that even come close to these historical mileposts. In fact, take a look at what constitutes the Jubilee year in Leviticus Chapter 25. Among other things, it is a time to free servants, debts, and captives, which is exactly what happened when the IDF captured Jerusalem and freed all Jews to return to and live in all of Jerusalem—at least in principle.
I then summarized these pivotal milestones in the 20th century with the following conclusion:
Here’s what we find when we combine all three projected dates of generational or Jubilee time-lapse… meaning 100 years, 70 years, and 50 years (Roman calendar). From our three (four, if we also use Israel’s statehood of May, 1948) examples, we will select the earliest possible month/year all the way to the latest month/year.
It’s conceivable that we will hear the blast of the last Rapture trumpet: BETWEEN FEBRUARY, 2018 and MAY, 2019!!
Back to today’s article. (In hindsight, I would have added 2017 to the above quoted time frame, as March/April of 2017 is the beginning of Jubilee, while still within the parameters of the generational period of time).
Once again, what we’re trying to demonstrate is that there have been three incredibly significant events in the 20th century that match up with the two monumentally important factors that give us a time-frame (not the exact time, but a span of time) when the Day of the Lord will begin. One is the Old Testament celebration of the Jubilee Year, which the majority of Jewish scholars and Rabbis strongly believe is connected to Messiah’s arrival. The other is the New Testament discourse of Jesus, himself, concerning the signs of the last days; culminating in his statement that the last (Omega) generation will not pass from the scene until all these things have been accomplished.
Moreover, the Jubilee signifies and represents the restoration of both land and the people living in the land. Concerning the nation of Israel, this began with the right of return of the Jews to Israel afforded by the now famous Balfour Declaration of November, 1917 … a year that could, (and in my opinion did) by definition and by actual experience, be considered a year of Jubilee. But one that also began the countdown of the final generation, based on the oldest Biblical definition of such a generation, i.e. 100 years.
Followed by the second generational event of November, 1947 … the UN Resolution granting statehood rights to Israel. Then the soon to follow formal declaration of Jewish Statehood in May, 1948. I’m firmly convinced that the evidence determines this to be the end-times beginning of the 2nd Biblical definition of a generational period of time … seventy years.
Next is the extraordinary recapture of Jerusalem in June, 1967; which, as I’ve written about, did two things: (1) Ended completely God’s seven times over discipline of his people, along with the Gentile domination of the Jews. (2) Restored the Holy City of the Holy Land to the Jews. Both of these results are part and parcel of a Jubilee. In this case the next to last Jubilee before the magnificent return of Messiah Jesus to begin the final Jubilee, with respect to the nation of Israel and with regard to the Rapture of the Church that will propel us into the Millennial Messianic Age of complete restoration and redemption of God’s chosen people, the Jews.
Here is a quote from an August 12, 2015 article in Breaking Israel News online news source which was written on the subject of the year of Jubilee:
“If it is a positive religious commandment with a clear Biblical source, what is the reason Jews do not currently mark the Jubilee year? According to rabbinic tradition, there are three conditions for the observance of the Jubilee year and none of them are completely fulfilled today.”
The author goes on to list these three conditions as: (1) observance of Jubilee is contingent on the majority of Jewish people living in the land of Israel. (2) The Jewish people must live in their Biblically assigned portion of the Land of Israel (each of the twelve tribes). Because ten of the tribes are still considered Lost Tribes, this condition also has not been met in modern times. (3) A fully functional Sanhedrin, which in today’s Israel has not yet been accomplished, i.e. a full complement of 71 judges.
Much could be said in response to these three rabbinical conditions; however, suffice to say that none of them are found, as such, in Scripture. Meaning they are not valid reasons for the continued historical lack of setting apart the Jubilee years. Having said that, however, there is much more to the matter than these or other conditions to first be met before Jews can again celebrate the year of Jubilee in particular and their final redemption in general.
In fact, it is not the implementation of certain conditions in Israel or prescribed actions by God’s chosen people before the Lord will keep his promises to fully restore and reconcile Israel to himself. Instead, it is (as already alluded to) a matter of God, himself, reintroducing the year of Jubilee into Israel’s history, as an integral facet of what is shaping up to be a God-controlled and God-orchestrated plan to restore and redeem the Promised Land to the Jews and the Jews, themselves, back to God.
Another significant condition cited by Jewish Rabbis is that Israelis and Jews the world over must begin to repent (of several things) and intensify their righteous acts or good deeds in order for Messiah to return, whether 2016 or 2017 is a year of Jubilee or not. But then they offer few boundaries or guidelines to say when enough repentance is enough for the Lord to act, and they differ on exactly what form this penitence should take.
I believe we can answer their questions and concerns by pointing to the New Covenant of Grace established by God for Jew and Gentile alike. The only thing that the Lord now requires in terms of repentance is for the Jew (for everyone) to change their minds about Jesus Christ … to believe in him and receive him as Messiah and Savior. That’s what it means to repent … a change of mind. When that takes place individually and within Israel as a nation, then the Lord will change their heart.
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26).
Things to Ponder
There are dozens of Old Testament prophecies about Israel’s restoration that both state and imply that God will take the initiative; in fact, he already has. Although the Jews will express their heartfelt sorrow when they see and acknowledge Jesus as the true Messiah at the end of the seven-year Tribulation, the Lord will not wait for the Jews to first “repent.” As individuals but also as a nation their repentance will be commensurate with recognition of their Messiah … who he was all along.
“Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the family of David and on the people of Jerusalem. They will look on me (Messiah) whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son…” (Zechariah 12:10).
The following is just one of many passages that clearly confirm it is the Lord who takes the lead to redeem Israel, beginning with the New Covenant sealed by the blood of Messiah Jesus, culminating in the final restoration of the Promised Land and redemption of its people:
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘I myself will search and find my sheep. I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day. I will bring them back home to their own land of Israel from among the peoples and nations … I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. I will search for my lost ones who strayed away, and I will bring them safely home again…” (Ezekiel 34:11-16).
Then later the Lord said to Ezekiel regarding Israel: “I will unify them into one nation on the mountains of Israel. One king will rule them all; no longer will they be divided into two nations or into two kingdoms. They will never again pollute themselves with their idols and vile images and rebellion, for I will save them from sinful backsliding. I will cleanse them. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God” (Ezekiel 37:22-23).
As for me, I’m already celebrating by means of eager expectation for Messiah Jesus to take us (believers in Christ Jesus) home during the next Jubilee year. If not then, soon afterward! If not the Rapture taking place in the year of Jubilee, then Israel’s Knesset government sovereignly declaring the right of all Jews and Christians (Muslims already have the right) to visit and worship on Temple Mount anytime they choose.
Once again, listen to the words of Messiah Jesus:
“…When you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:33-34).
That time will truly be a Jubilee jubilation like never before! And that time is near, so very near!