At the ICEJ/ACLI Conference this week, we were reminded of the significance of “jubilee years” throughout Israel’s modern history. To place it in Biblical context, read Leviticus 25 (particularly verses 8-10)to discover the Lord’s plan to designate years of jubilee every 50 years. Those years were established as years of redemption for those who gave up land they could no longer afford, or who went into slavery because they had no other way to live.
Over the course of recent history, we have seen the Lord remain faithful to implement jubilee years for the Jewish people. For example, in the 1860’s, Charles Warren, an officer in the British Royal Engineers, was prohibited from excavating areas beneath Temple Mount. Thus, he moved his operation south, where he discovered the ancient City of David in 1867. This was historic because it put King David’s kingdom on the map, verifying a critical part of Jewish history. More importantly, it became the first season of aliyah (returning to the homeland) for the Jewish people. Jubilee!
Fifty years later (1917), British General Edmund Allenby liberated the city of Jerusalem from Arab oppression. British forces not only captured Jerusalem, but established a strong fortified line to ward off Israel’s enemies. On December 11 of that year, Allenby refused to ride into the city on horseback (as victorious leaders were prone to do), but instead dismounted and walked through the Jaffa Gate because he believed that no conquering king other than Jesus should ride into the city! Again, property was returned to its rightful owner (Israel) in a jubilee year…50 years after Warren’s discover brought aliyah.
Fast forward another 50 years to 1967 and Israel prevailed in one of the most critical battles of all time. Egypt’s President Gamal Abdul Nasser, having been fully embarrassed by failed attempts to conquer Israel in 1948 (War of Independence) and 1956 (Suez War), concocted a plan to cut off shipping to Israel, thus choking off their livelihood. Not only that, he enlisted the backing and military support of Syria and Jordan. But, knowing of the plan, Israel launched a preemptive strike that caught Egypt and her allies totally off-guard. Not only did Israel soundly defeat the Arab aggressors, but in so doing, they regained control of the Old City of Jerusalem (held by the Jordanians)! It was a miraculous victory, only possible through the hand of God who was faithful to His promises! Jubilee!
Fifty years later (2017) another jubilee year occurred. Donald Trump surprisingly won the US presidential election and one of his campaign promises was to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, per the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995. The law mandated the move be made no later than May 31, 1999, but it had one caveat: the President could sign a 6-month waiver if it was a security risk. Every US president since that time promised to move the embassy, yet signed waivers every 6 months, delaying the move. Yet, in December 2017, President Trump made a surprising announcement containing two very key points: he recognized Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel and he officially decreed that the US Embassy would move to Jerusalem! Jubilee!
Well, on May 14, 2018, Israel’s 70th birthday (on the Gregorian calendar), the US officially opened that embassy in Jerusalem…and the celebration continues. Israelis are rejoicing in the streets as they celebrate yet another jubilee!
So, you may have known all that, so what’s the point? Great question! It is now a new season in Israel. Things will be different there, as they are each time a jubilee year occurs. Once possessions are returned to a poor man, life changes! Moreover, Israel has now been a reborn nation for the same number of years she was once in Babylonian exile. Not that the two events are linked in many ways, but it seems somewhat interesting that, just as Cyrus helped restore the land to the Jews after 70 years, so the US has helped to restore the land to the Jews.
My point is this: the US remains a critical vessel in God’s plan for Israel. Our nation has been abundantly blessed, because we have chosen to bless Israel. Biblically speaking, we know that, one day, the US will cease to be the strong ally that partners with Israel today. Israel will stand alone. But until that time, dear friends, it is vitally important that we continue to bless Israel individually, corporately through our churches and nationally through diplomacy, military coordination and assistance.
Rejoice, for the jubilee year has brought a new season to Israel! (And stay tuned…I’ve got lots more good stuff to share from the conference!)