Hoping for a Jubilee, part 2

And now we come to the Jubilee year.  To understand it, we first have to understand that the people of Israel did not own the Promised Land–it belonged to the Lord.  The cattle on a thousand hills were His as we are told.  He allowed the people of Israel to live there and provided each of the tribes with their homes.  But as they lived their lives, people would sell land or even sell themselves as slaves if they were in debt.  They would borrow money and sometimes be unable to repay it, becoming paupers as a results.  Land might pass from the control of one tribe to another.  The original equitable division would, over time become unequitable.  And so there was to be a Jubilee after every 49 year period. When 7 times 7 years had past, the trumpets would be blown throughout Israel on the Day of Atonement.  The land which had been traded from on tribe or clan to another would be returned.  All debts would be forgiven.  All slaves would be freed.  The land would once again be allowed to rest and recover its fertility.  In the year of Jubilee all people would be free of the things that oppressed them.

Unfortunately, we have no evidence that the people of Israel ever observed a Jubilee year.  Most of the evidence indicates that they ignored this divine command because it would have been too disruptive to the lives of those who had prospered during the previous 49 years.  Thus, all of Israel sinned against the Lord and they never enjoyed the freedom that had been offered by a gracious God.

To be continued …..

For part 1 of this series see:

Hoping for a Jubilee


Hoping for a Jubilee

My husband preached on this topic recently, and I found it interesting and worth sharing, with his permission. I’m just using excerpts, and I have edited when necessary.

The word jubilee is our English translation of a Hebrew word that refers to the blowing of a trumpet or ram’s horn called a shofar.  The shofar was blow throughout Israel when there were important things happening.  It was a call for the people to gather for announcements or for the major festival celebrations.  One of the times the shofar was to be blown was at the beginning of a year of Jubilee.

While mankind was to earn its bread by the sweat of its brow after the expulsion from Eden, the Lord also understands the limitations our bodies face and so He required the observance of the Sabbath every 7 days.  This was meant to be a time of rest and also a time of remembering God’s grace in the lives of his people.  Rest was important, but even more so was the religious aspect of the day.  One of the sins we find in the hearts of almost everyone is the sin of thinking that we are in charge of our own lives and responsible for the good things we have.  Part of the reason the Lord calls us together on the Sabbath is so we can remember that every good thing that happens in life comes from Him.  So the Sabbath has always had a meaning far more important than football games, roast beef dinners or afternoon naps.  The Sabbath is our place of resting in the Lord.

God’s care for His Old Testament people included the welfare of the land which He had given to them as their home.  So every 7 years there was to be a different Sabbath, a Sabbath for the land itself.  The people were not allowed to sow seeds or reap the growth that come up naturally, that was to be left for the poor who could not amass a 2 year food supply over the preceding years.  Someone who sought to follow the Law knew that they had to save and store grain for those times of Sabbath.  Letting the land lie fallow allowed it to regain the ability to produce good crops.  It also reminded the people that everything they needed for live was provided by God Himself.

To be continued ……

Uniquely Human by Barry M. Prizant, PHD — Book Review

I really didn’t expect to be reviewing this book on the blog because it’s not religious.  It’s a book about autism and I read it because our twenty-two month old granddaughter (not diagnosed officially yet) is probably autistic.  The author offers plenty of sound advice for parents including some of these thoughts:

  • Every person develops throughout their life.  There is no “cut-off” age to give up on the possibility that a child with autism will improve or learn new skills
  • Every child is affected by autism differently;  they are unique individuals, and there is no one way to go about helping them
  • Parents are the best experts on their own child and should trust their gut feelings about what will work best for their family
  • Take one day at a time and celebrate every improvement

The caregivers who are most successful in connecting with autistic children have the following qualities:

  • Empathy–they try to understand how the child experiences the world
  • Sensitivity–they are attuned to the child’s emotional state
  • Willingness to share control with the child instead of simply pushing a certain agenda or treatment
  • Humor
  • Trustworthiness
  • Flexibility

All of this is helpful information, and included are further resources that include websites, books written by parents and by people with autism and national organizations that can provide information and support.

However, what stood out most for me (and the reason I’m posting this review) was a short section on faith.  Families who cope best often express the importance faith plays in their lives.

“Many parents see themselves in partnership with a higher power in raising a child.  This brings comfort, a sense of shared responsibility and trust, and decreases anxiety.”

The reason for this?  It’s simple:  hope.

VERDICT:  5 STARS.  This book is an excellent resource for learning about autism, and full of practical suggestions for helping children with autism overcome challenges and lead happy, fulfilling lives.

For more about autism see these posts:

Autism and your church by Barbara J. Newman — Book Review

Remembering the Important Things

Switched On


What is Hope?

I probably should have written this post earlier in the month, but better late than never!  According to the Bible, hope is an important component of faith.  My Bible dictionary defines it as:

“reliance on God’s blessing ad provision;  the expectation of future good.

The author of Hebrews puts it this way:

 “”Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Hebrews 11:1      


In other words,  our Christian hope is not just a wish, it is a confident belief that God’s in charge and he is working all things for our good.       

This hope is based upon the Scripture:

“For whatever was written in former days , was written for our instruction, that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we may have hope.”  Romans 15:4

and on the promises of God:

” … in hope of eternal life, which God who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted …. ” Titus 1:2-3

It is described as living (1 Peter 1:3), good (2 Thess.2:16), sure and steadfast (Hebrews 6:19) and is listed as one of the great virtues in 1 Cor. 13:13.  It produces purity (1 John 3:3), patience (Romans 8:25), courage (Romans 5:4-4), and joy (Romans 12:12).  It imparts salvation (Romans 8:23), assurance (Hebrews 6:18-19) and stability (Col. 1:23).

What a wealth of blessing are wrapped into this one word!  No wonder it is mentioned so frequently in the Psalms, as the Lord is praised.

“Let your steadfast love, O Lord be upon us, even as we hope in you.”  Psalm 33:22

Readers, may you always have the hope of the Lord in your life!

The Hope of Christmas

The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity–hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory–because at the Father’s will Jesus became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.”

– J.I. Packer

Hoping for Something New?

I finished my lectio divina study of Philippians and started Ecclesiastes.  Quite a contrast, since Philippians has been called a book about joy and Ecclesiastes — well, it’s more doom and gloom.  However, an author I read recently said Ecclesiastes isn’t depressing, it’s simply realistic.  Maybe you would like to study along with me and see what you think.

Here’s what stood out for me in chapter 1:

“Is there a thing of which it is said,  ‘See, this is new’?

It has been already in the ages before us.”  Ecclesiastes 1:10

I read a lot of historical fiction, and this has occurred to me recently.  We live as if our time is unique, and we like to think that people and life in general are getting better and better, but that’s not true.  It’s not realistic.

Take slavery.  We fought a Civil War to rid ourselves of this evil.  However, slavery existed in Bible times, and it’s still going on today.  In fact, most of us profit from it, through the goods we use and the clothing we wear.  Or genocide — this makes us think of the Holocaust, but it’s far from an isolated occurrence.  Stalin killed millions of his own people;  native Americans were slaughtered by Europeans;  Armenians were massacred during WWI.  Even the pandemic, which seems new to us, has happened before.  What about the plague?  Or the Spanish Flu epidemic in the 1900’s?

The fact of the matter is, we and the world around us are infected by sin.  It’s not going away.  It won’t get better.  That’s why we needed a savior.  That is the one new thing that has happened in the whole history of the human race.  God became a man.  He did that to save us from the same old things we keep repeating over and over.  He is our only hope

As Paul said in the book of Ephesians:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. ”  Ephesians 1:18-19

For more on the book of Ecclesiastes see these posts:

God Moments in Ecclesiastes

Ecclesiastes 3:3

Another Blast from the Past


How Do You Hope to Die?

Maybe this seems like a morbid topic, but for all of us, death may not be imminent but it is certain.  I lost a close family member recently — he died unexpectedly, in his sleep.  I said to my husband, “isn’t this the best way to die?  No drawn out painful last illness, no time to dwell on what we’ve lost or won’t get to accomplish.”   His answer was, “not really.  I think I would prefer to have a chance to say good bye and tell people all the things I hadn’t gotten around to saying.”

That made me remember Jesus.  He knew he was going to die.  He told his disciples clearly, over and over, although they never seemed to quite believe Him.  On his final day he took some specific actions:

  • He spent time in fellowship with his loved ones, the disciples.  He clearly planned this ahead of time, securing a place for the Passover Supper. (Luke 22:8-13)
  • He washed their feet, as a way to emphasize once more the important values of humility, sacrifice and service he had been trying to each them. (John 13:13-17)
  • He established an important tradition that would continue to evoke His presence with them and love for them. (Mark 14:22-25)
  • He prayed for them, and for the believers who would come after them. (John 17:1-26)

We’re not Jesus and we don’t know exactly when our last day will arrive:

“No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death.”  Ecclesiastes 8:8

However, in all things, we should strive to imitate Him.  John tells us:

“By this we may be sure that we are in him:  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way as he walked.”  1 John 2:5-6

Death is a sure thing.  Let’s focus on Jesus and make our death a good one, whenever it comes. Say and do the things that are important, now.  Don’t wait.

For more about death see these posts:

The Darkness of Death

“Even unto death”

Your Dash




More Hope for the Future

When you read the Bible you will find that God’s people can always hope in the future.  At one point the Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt.  God sent Moses and rescued them.  They wandered for forty years in the wilderness, but God brought them to the Promised Land.  They rebelled and were exiled to Babylon, but God brought them back.  They were unable to keep God’s commandments through their own strength, so God sent them a Savior, Jesus.  We celebrate His birth later this month.

Many people are feeling hopeless these days.  The pandemic and the various restrictions it has brought are wearing us down.  Suicide, divorce and spousal abuse are all increasing.  Politicians seem more interested in being celebrities than public servants.  It feels like society is collapsing all around us.

We’ve been studying the book or Jeremiah in our weekday Bible study class.  He was called “the weeping prophet” because he had to bring a message of doom and gloom to people who refused to listen.  He was mistreated and ignored.  Yet through him God says:

“… I know the plans I have for you …. plans to prosper you and not to harm you,  plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

God has not abandoned us; He’s still at work; He has a plan.  We may not understand, but we can put our hope and trust in Him.

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”  Romans 15:4

P.S. As I was writing this, my husband told about a survey he came across.  The only group studied whose mental health DID NOT decline this year were those who regularly attend religious services.  Possibly because we have hope?

For more about Jeremiah see these posts:

The Weeping Prophet

God does his best work with empty by Nancy Guthrie–Book Review

Do You Think God Can’t Use You?




My Hope for the Future

It will soon be January, and at the beginning of a new year, we often think of making some “new year resolutions.”  What do I want to accomplish this year?  How do I want to change?  What could I do better?

Recently my reunion group friend and I have been discussing the examination of conscience (for more information see Examination of Conscience).  We both agree that our biggest problem is not doing sinful things, but doing good things with a poor attitude.  We can do our Christian duty while grumbling, becoming impatient or feeling aggrieved.  I’ve been praying to improve, and this quote from my daily devotional describes well the way I hope to behave with the help of the Holy Spirit.

“That is what our sacrifice of ourselves should be –‘full of life.’  Not desponding, morbid, morose;  not gloomy, chilly, forbidding;  not languid, indolent, inactive;  but full of life, and warmth, and energy;  cheerful and making others cheerful;  gay, and making others gay;  happy and making others happy;  contented and making others contented;  doing good and making others do good, by our lively vivid vitality,–filling every corner of the circle in which we move, with the fresh life-blood of a warm, genial, kindly Christian heart.  Doubtless this requires a sacrifice;  it requires us to give up our own comfort, our own ease, our own firesides, our dear solitude, or own favorite absorbing pursuits, our shyness, our reserve, our pride, our selfishness.”

Arthur P. Stanley 

Billy Graham on Hope

“I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It’s all going to turn out all right.”

Billy Graham

For more quotes about hope see:

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Hope

Martin Luther on Hope