Beyond Jubilee

Scripture Focus: Leviticus 25.9-10
9 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 of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.

Luke 4.16-19
16 …He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, 
because he has anointed me 
to proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners 
and recovery of sight for the blind, 
to set the oppressed free, 
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Reflection: Beyond Jubilee
By John Tillman

Weekly sabbaths bring us freedom and joy in this world. This freedom and joy grows more expansive as we ponder the sabbath of years and Jubilee.

Sabbath years built, in an exponential crescendo, to Jubilee. After seven septennial sabbath years, trumpets were to announce liberty throughout the land. Liberty from debt. Liberty from enslavement. Liberty that brought a national reset of property and land ownership. Every 50 years, the “monopoly game” was to be folded up, properties redistributed, and the game started over with all participants on equal footing once more. This was to remind Israel that the land did not belong to them. It belonged to the Lord. 

It is difficult for us to imagine such an economic system. In the dominant economic systems of their world and ours, the game never stops and each generation starts the game with an inherited benefit or handicap. Generational wealth and poverty are features, not bugs, of every world economic system in history. 

Biblical laws are intended to be a check on our tendencies toward greed, violence, and inequity. Jubilee was a systemic reboot, restoring the moral code God desired—equity, justice, righteousness, unity.

Talking about Jubilee upsets some people. Some dogmatically demand implementation of Jubilee in today’s economic terms, even though they would not submit to any other laws from the Old Testament. Others work just as stubbornly to deemphasize or even ignore Jubilee because it conflicts with their economic beliefs. (It is beyond the scope of this devotional to discuss how some of us have greater religious devotion to and faith in sociological, economic, and political ideas than we do in scripture or theological ideas…)

We must remember that many systems and laws in the Bible, like Jubilee, are bandaids on gaping wounds. For example, Jesus challenged laws regarding marriage and the sabbath, saying they did not complete God’s intention or will. (Matthew 19.3-12; Mark 2.23-28; Luke 6.1-10; Luke 13.10-16) We have little evidence of how Israel enacted Jubilee, but to whatever degree they did, it was insufficient. Great inequities persisted. (Deuteronomy 15.7, 11; 1 Samuel 2.8; Isaiah 41.17; Matthew 19.21, 26.11)

Implementing Jubilee would be insufficient. The gospel compels us to go beyond it. As the sacrifice of Christ surpasses the sacrifice of lambs, and our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees, our sacrificial generosity should surpass that of Jubilee. (Matthew 5.20)

In Jesus, Jubilee is now and forever. Jubilee is the gospel. (Isaiah 55.1-2; John 7.37; Revelation 22.17

May our voices and actions be jubilant trumpets declaring liberty, freedom, and joy.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Be merciful to me, O Lord, for you are my God; I call upon you all the day long. — Psalm 86.3

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle


Today’s Readings
Leviticus 25 (Listen – 7:41)
Psalms 32 (Listen – 1:34)

Read more about The Gospel and the Year of Freedom
Equity is the default setting of God’s spiritual economy.
Leaders (princes) must set an example, creating fairness and justice.

Read more about Loving God by Loving Others
When we collect all the profit to ourselves we are stealing by keeping what you instructed us to leave for the poor.

Our Opportunistic Opponent

Scripture Focus: Luke 4.13
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

From John:
I decided to do a touchup and rewrite on this post from 2019 as it occurred to me that many of us have been through, or are still in, deserts of isolation and fear in the season of Covid-19 and quarantine. Devils often come out for us in the deserts. I pray that we all will remember Jesus’ example of resistance and, if we have failed, we will remember that Jesus takes back repentant Peter, just as he will take back you and me.

Reflection: Our Opportunistic Opponent

By John Tillman

I doubt that the devil has horns, but when considering demonic influence in our world, there are two horns on which we can be caught.

It is unwise to make too much of Satan. We stumble into dualism when we think of him as an all-powerful, omnipresent evil. When we imagine Satan hiding behind every inconvenience and minor temptation in our world we deny our own propensity to sin and the omnipresent Spirit of God that truly is with us at all times.

It is unwise to make too little of Satan. It is dangerous to consider him and other evil spirits as mere phantoms of psychology or to explain him away as a metaphor of our inward sinfulness. This makes Satan less a dangerous foe and more a delightful fable.

No devil is needed for us to be tempted or tormented. We are sinful, deceiving and tormenting ourselves. We have broken our world, leaving sharp edges at every turn that cause harm. But we will encounter specific times of spiritual opposition in our lives.

Scripture warns that Satan desires to thresh us like wheat, that he prowls like a roaring lion, and that he has power to deceive the elect and to appear as an angel of light.

Satan is a limited, yet dangerous, creature of opportunity. It is wise to attempt to deny Satan opportunity by avoiding temptation, but being led by the Spirit does not always lead to safety. Jesus went into the wilderness to face temptation head on and Satan made the most of his opportunity. The Spirit will often lead us, as he did Christ, into deserts, alone, through times of testing. The devils will come out for us in our deserts.

The disciples, even when physically present with Jesus, were surrounded by, and succumbed to, temptations of greed, lust for power, anger, vengeance, selfishness, and self-righteousness. That’s leaving out Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s foul mouth.

Temptations are a time for us to come to terms with our limitations and recognize our sinfulness. In times of temptation, when we feel our limitations, there is comfort in knowing that our tempter is also limited. His opportunity to torment us will come to an end. 

By Christ’s mercy, we can resist Satan and he will flee. But just as when Satan left Jesus in the wilderness, he is only waiting for an opportune time to return.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Let not those who hope in your be put to shame through me, Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek you be disgraced because of me. — Psalm 69.7

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle


Today’s Readings
Exodus 1 (Listen – 2:32) 
Luke 4 (Listen – 5:27)

Read more about Pride and Shortsightedness
The tempter overcomes very many, by making them presumptuously confident of their own strength.

Read more about Quotations from the Desert
From the temptations in the garden to the temptations of Jesus and his followers, Satan encourages us to misapply and misinterpret God’s words.

Confessing the Full Grown Christ

Scripture Focus: Luke 4.41
Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

From John: As we move closer to the Christmas season, it is helpful to take a look back at this post from 2018. Baby Jesus is culturally acceptable. The full-grown Jesus is considerably more demanding and controversial.

Reflection: Confessing the Full Grown Christ
By John Tillman

Very few individuals, before the resurrection, stated out loud their belief in who Jesus truly was. Most who did, were women.

Simeon, and Anna
are the first but they have it easier than some. It’s easy to accept baby Jesus as the Messiah while he isn’t making any demands other than food and snuggles. This is why Baby Jesus is widely culturally acceptable. It is only once Jesus opens his mouth to speak that people reject him.

It is more difficult to stand before a man who, by inaction, allowed your brother to die and call that man the Messiah, as Martha did.

It is more difficult to admit that the man who confronted you with your sexual sin is the Messiah, as the Samaritan woman did.

It is more difficult to speak what has been revealed to you by God when you don’t fully understand it yet, as Peter did when he confessed, “You are the Messiah.” Peter showed that he didn’t fully understand, only a verse or two later when he rebuked Jesus for talking about his upcoming crucifixion.

Like Peter, we have a tendency to want to tell Jesus what to do instead of doing what he tells us. Jesus corrected Peter for being concerned about the wrong things, and he might say the same to us today.

Peter, and the rest of the disciples, despite being exposed to so much otherworldly power, still thought in terms of earthly kingdoms and power. Even after the resurrection, moments before his ascension, they asked Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

We must stand and confess, not just the Christ Child and the childish, temporal hopes we may have for this world, but confess Christ the Crucified King. 

We must stand before the man who says, “In this world you will have trouble,” and accept it as he did, “for the joy set before him.” 

We must stand before the man who said, “take up your cross,” and, like him, set our face “like a flint” toward our sacrifice.

When we pray “your kingdom come”, the kingdom must come in our hearts before it can be realized into the world.

The kingdom among us is realized in our work together.
The kingdom among us is realized as we sharpen each other.
The kingdom among us is realized when each part of Christ’s body does its work.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus said: “Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. “ — Luke 10.22

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle


Today’s Readings
Amos 9 (Listen – 3:08)
Luke 4 (Listen – 5:27)

This Weekend’s Readings
Obadiah 1 (Listen – 3:28), Luke 5 (Listen – 5:04)
Jonah 1 (Listen – 2:29), Luke 6 (Listen – 6:46)

Read More about Beyond Admiration
The difference between an admirer and a follower still remains. The admirer never makes any true sacrifices. He always plays it safe…he renounces nothing, gives up nothing, will not reconstruct his life, will not be what he admires, and will not let his life express what it is he supposedly admires.

Read More about Doing All Things Well :: Readers’ Choice
As we follow Christ, we are meant to take on this mantle of confidence and comfort. This is not a confidence in our ability or a comfort in our own power, but an indwelling, filling, and freeing expression of the Holy Spirit with us.

Our Opportunistic Opponent

Luke 4.13
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Reflection: Our Opportunistic Opponent
By John Tillman

I doubt that the devil has horns. But the problem of considering demonic influence in our world does have two horns on which we can be caught.

On the one hand, we can make too much of Satan. We stumble into dualism when we think of him as an all-powerful, omnipresent evil. When we imagine Satan hiding behind every inconvenience and minor temptation in our world we deny our own propensity to sin and the omnipresent Spirit of God that truly is with us at all times.

On the other hand, we can make too little of Satan. We can consider him and other evil spirits as mere phantoms of psychology. We can try to explain him away as a metaphor of our inward sinfulness—less a dangerous foe and more a delightful fable.

No devil is needed for us to be tempted or tormented. We are sinful, deceiving ourselves, and our world is broken, with sharp edges at every turn to harm us. But we will encounter specific times of spiritual opposition in our lives.

Scripture warns us that Satan desires to thresh us like wheat, that he prowls like a roaring lion, and that he has the power to deceive the elect and to appear as an angel of light.

Satan is a limited, yet dangerous, creature. And as such, he is a creature of opportunity. Jesus went into the wilderness to face temptation head on and Satan made the most of his opportunity.

It is wise to attempt to avoid temptation when possible. But being led by the Spirit does not always lead to comfort. The Spirit will often lead us, as he did Christ, into deserts, alone, through times of testing.

The disciples, physically present with Jesus, were surrounded by, and succumbed to, temptations of greed, lust for power, anger, vengeance, selfishness, and self-righteousness. That’s leaving out Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s foul mouth.

Temptations are a time for us to come to terms with our limitations and recognize our sinfulness. In times of tempting, when we feel our limitations, there is comfort knowing that our tempter is also limited. His opportunity to torment us will come to an end. By Christ’s mercy we can resist Satan and he will flee. But just as when Satan left Jesus in the wilderness, he is only waiting for an opportune time to return.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
O Lord, watch over us and save us from this generation for ever. — Psalm 12.7

Today’s Readings
Exodus 1(Listen – 2:32) 
Luke 4 (Listen – 5:27)

Thank You!
Thank you for reading and a huge thank you to those who donate to our ministry, keeping The Park Forum ad-free and enabling us to continue to produce fresh content. Every year our donors help us produce over 100,000 words of free devotionals. Follow this link to support our readers.

Read more about Saved by Mercy
Frodo ‘failed.’…one must face the fact: the power of Evil in the world is not finally resistible by incarnate creatures, however ‘good.’

Read more about Pride and Shortsightedness :: Throwback Thursday
O know your own weakness, the treacherous enemy which you still carry with you, who is ready to open the back-door to the devil!

Spur a spiritual rhythm of refreshment right in your inbox
By joining this email list you are giving us permission to send you devotional emails each weekday and to communicate occasionally regarding other aspects of the ministry.
100% Privacy. We don't spam.