In ancient Israel, God instituted the observance of the Year of Jubilee. This came at the end of seven sabbaths of years, or forty-nine years, after which the fiftieth year was to be hallowed or set apart. In this year, the children of Israel were to give the land rest, they were to restore land back to its original tribal owners, and slaves were to be freed. This last point coincides with the requirement that on the fiftieth year, liberty was to be “proclaimed throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Lev. 25:9,10).
Liberty, or freedom, is important. So important, in fact, that God saw fit to create mankind as free, moral agents. God wants us to worship and serve Him, but He allows us to chose whether or not we do so. Of course, there are consequences to disobedience. We might pay for bad choices, but we are free to chose, nevertheless.
In the New Covenant, freedom is equally precious. When Jesus came into the synagogue in Nazareth, the town were He had been brought up, Jesus took the scroll and read from the prophet Isaiah (61:1): “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus came to preach deliverance to the captives and set at liberty them that are bruised.
Just as in the year of Jubilee the captives were liberated, so in this “acceptable year of the Lord” the captives are set free, as well. Only, then, those that were liberated had been physically enslaved, whereas under the New Covenant it is those who are spiritually enslaved who are set free. While physical bondage is demeaning and detestable, spiritual bondage has far worse and lasting consequences. Indeed, they are eternal and damnable and irreversible consequences.
Sadly, many people who are captives to sin, do not know it. They may feel the burden and weight of sin in their lives, but they are either too blind or too deluded to see the spiritual shackles that bind their souls. They long for something, but do not know what it is they want. They want freedom, but do not understand the causes of their enslavement and consequent unhappiness. They do not understand that in their freedom to chose, they have chosen to be slaves to sin (John 8:34).
How do we obtain this spiritual freedom Jesus offers? Jesus said it comes through knowing the Truth. By continuing in the words of Christ, by being obedient to His teaching, we know the Truth and it is the Truth that makes us free (John 8:32). And if the Son make you free, you shall be free indeed (John 8:36).
May Liberty be proclaimed through all the land!
Eric L. Padgett