It is now sixty years since our Queen began her reign. She acceded to the throne on 7th February 1952 when her father King George VI died. She was crowned Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey on June 2nd 1953 in a ceremony full of traditional pomp and splendour.
There was an important spiritual aspect to the coronation. The Queen promised to maintain “the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel” and “the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law.” She was presented with a Bible by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and was told: “Here is Wisdom, this is the royal Law; these are the lively oracles of God.”
Whatever views we hold on the monarchy as an institution we may all agree that this Diamond Jubilee is a milestone in our nation’s life. We should be thankful for the peace and prosperity we have enjoyed during the Queen’s long reign and it is perhaps fitting that there was a special holiday on June 5th to mark the occasion. But do we know of a much more significant jubilee – the one which is found in the Bible?
In Scripture the word ‘jubilee’ (or ‘jubile’) refers firstly to a trumpet, perhaps made of ram’s horn, which was blown noisily throughout Israel every fifty years. It announced the beginning of a special year, the year of jubilee. The jubilee was a time of celebration because of blessings which were enjoyed then but not at other times. There were three such blessings, showing us God’s goodness in His providence and grace.
In the jubilee the ground was to lie fallow and recover its strength. “Ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed” (Lev.25:11). The jubilee followed the ordinary seventh-year sabbath of rest for the land, so there were two barren years. But God gave enough in the sixth year to cover the period without harvest. He is always able to provide. The psalmist could say, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psa.23:1). Do we like David obey God’s precepts and trust in His promises?
In the jubilee debts were cancelled and landed property was returned to its owners. “In all the land of your possession ye shall grant a redemption for the land” (Lev.25:24). The poor had an opportunity to
begin again. It is a solemn fact that as sinners we owe an incalculable debt to God; we have forfeited our lives by our disobedience. Yet the gospel announces a full pardon and restoration to those who look to God for mercy. “All things are become new” (2Cor.5:17). What a blessing!
In the jubilee slaves of every sort were given their freedom if they wanted it. “He shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee: And then shall he depart from thee” (Lev.25:40,41). So Christ came “to preach deliverance to the captives” (Luke 4:18), saying to sinners, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). By the Saviour’s death believers are set at liberty.
The wonder of the gospel ‘trumpet’ is that under its sound there is a perpetual jubilee for sinners. Yet our own time in this world is brief and uncertain. So do not delay. Repent and believe the gospel!