2/24/19 – The Year of God’s Favor

Posted on : Feb 21st, 2019 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

What in the world does it mean when Jesus says, “God has anointed me to proclaim the year of God’s Favor?”  What is “The Year of God’s Favor?”  Here’s a hint.  Think: Student Debt Forgiveness, the prohibition of “Pay Day Loans” and car “Title Loans.”  Return of the land taken from Native Americans, African Americans, and Japanese-Americans when they were placed in encampments during World War II.  The return of farm land to family farmers instead of Agri-businesses.  Those are contemporary renderings of what this phrase “The Year of God’s Favor” means.  The Year of God’s favor is based on a once in every 50 years celebration called “the Jubilee” year.

The words “Favor,” “Pardon” and “Mercy” in the writings of our sacred text really come out of a hierarchical framework of power. Only Kings and Rulers could grant pardons. And most often it was only the powerful who could be merciful or grant favors.  In the last weeks we have discovered in looking at Jesus’ proclamation of his purpose and mission based on a scripture from Isaiah, that most of the things Jesus is “anointed to do” relate directly back to Israel’s experience of being enslaved.  This celebration of “The Year of God’s Favor” is based on that very experience.  The beginning verses of Leviticus 25 state this: “God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for God. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for God: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land.”

This is a very interesting concept.  After living through slavery and 40 years in the wilderness, God says, not only are you – my people – going to be free, but the land itself that I am about to give you, is to be set free also.  Six years, you can plant and harvest, but every seventh year is to be a year of rest for the land itself. The Jubilee text continues that every seventh year, not only is the land to have a sabbath, but everyone who lost their land due to loans that could not be repaid was to have the land given back to the person who lost it or the family of the person who lost it.  Imagine THAT in our economy!  “The Year of God’s Favor” that Jesus proclaims, was the Jubilee year on steroids. 

In our world of “Extremes” (such as Extreme Games,) the Jubilee is about God’s Extreme Grace.  No one has ever come close to living out these words.  But let me tell you, the meaning of this concept became real to me last week when I read that the US National Debt has for the first time in our nation’s history surpassed 22 Trillion Dollars.  I can’t even imagine how much money that is.  I believe this is what 22 Trillion dollars looks like:  $22,000,000,000,000.  That is a lot of debt. 

If we were to apply Jesus’ teaching about “The Year of God’s Favor” to our debt today, what might we learn?  My bet is we’d learn a lot! 



Leviticus 25:8-13

You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month—on the day of atonement—you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.

In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property.




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