The Sabbath Year:
God created the earth in six days and rested on the seventh. Our seven-day week is modeled after God’s original creation week. God designed the Sabbath as a day of rest for man. The seventh lunar month of Tishri is God’s most holy month. Similarly, God gave Israel instructions for honoring His holy years. He designed the Sabbath year as a period of rest for the land. God forbade cultivating and harvesting the land during the Sabbath year. God instructed the Jews to store up provisions the preceding sixth year to last them through the following Sabbath year.
For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove (Exodus 23: 10-12).
When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest (Lev. 25: 2-5).
God also designated the Sabbath year as a time when individual debts were postponed (Deut.15: 1-4). He did not require people to pay their debts that year, because they did not earn income from their farming. Debt repayments was reinstituted the following year.
The Sabbath Year always began the first day of the seventh month of Tishri, coinciding with the Feast of Trumpets.
Israel refused to keep the Law of the Sabbath Year during their initial generations in the promised-land. God had warned them the land would lay fallow for the Sabbath years they failed to enforce, while they would be captives in a foreign land (Lev. 26: 34). God kept that promise when He allowed the Babylonians to decimate the Temple, kill thousands of Jews, and transport the rest as slaves to Babylon for seventy years (2 Chron. 36: 21). Israel carefully observed God’s Sabbath Year commandments after returning from Babylonian captivity. However, God’s instructions have not been observed in the modern state of Israel since it became a nation in 1948.
Year of Jubilee:
God commanded a Year of Jubilee every fifty years.
Count off seven Sabbaths of years—seven times seven years—so that the seven Sabbaths of years amount to a period of forty-nine 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. 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. 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 (Lev. 25: 8-11).
Israel was to determine 7×7 Sabbath years and then add one more—that year being the Year of Jubilee. There is a similar calculation of days from the Feast of First Fruits to the Feast of Pentecost (7×7 days + one day to begin Pentecost). Blowing the ram’s horn on Yom Kippur signaled the beginning of the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25: 9). Why Yom Kippur? The Sabbath Year began ten days earlier on the Feast of Trumpets. The answer will follow soon enough.
God commanded the land remain uncultivated during that year—similar to the Sabbath year. He instructed Israel to free the hired laborers unconditionally beginning that year (Lev. 25: 39-54). God also ordained all land revert to its original owner (Lev. 25: 13; 23-28). This preserved the original inheritance of the 12 tribes of Israel, as given by God.
There is no historical record that Israel ever honored the Year of Jubilee.
God has ordained a future fulfillment of this special year, however. Jews have been under Gentile domination since the Assyrian Empire (722 BC). God has scattered them over the nations of the world since that time. Only in recent years has He regathered them into Israel. They became a nation among the nations of the world in 1948. God has since been preparing His people for a terrible time of suffering. Biblical prophets call this time ‘the Day of the Lord.’ God will utilize this time to remove the blindness and soften the hearts of unbelieving Jews.
Alas! For that day is great, there is none like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s distress, but he will be saved from it. It shall come about on that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘that I will break his yoke from off their neck and will tear off their bonds; and strangers will no longer make them their slaves. But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king (Jesus Christ), whom I will raise up for them’ (Jer. 30:7-9).
Two thirds of the Jews will perish in that day, but one third will survive the cauldron of God’s fiery judgment.
“In the whole land,” declares the Lord, “two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God’” (Zech. 13: 8-9).
The shofar will sound on Yom Kippur and all remaining Jews will realize their Savior and Redeemer is Jesus Christ. They will bitterly repent of their sins on that day and God will redeem them and their land. The prophetic Year of Jubilee will commence and continue for a thousand years thereafter.
I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn (Zech 12: 10).
The Jewish nation has been in bondage to the nations of the world for over 2,700 years. Sin has also enslaved them. Jews—like people everywhere—are bound by sin. God spoke to Israel many generations ago: “Which of My creditors is it to whom I have sold you? For your iniquities you have sold yourselves” (Isaiah 50: 1). God will destroy that bond as they and their promised land enter a final Sabbath rest—a Year of Jubilee—the Millennial Kingdom. God the Son will dwell with His people forever thereafter.