Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations are nearly upon us. On Saturday, June 2 she will attend the Epsom Derby, on Sunday June 3, there will be the Big Jubilee Lunch and the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant.
A concert is being held at Buckingham Palace on Monday June 4 – afterwards, a network of beacons will be lit across the UK and the Commonwealth, just as they were in 1977 and 2002. Then finally on Tuesday June 5, Her Majesty will head to St Paul’s Cathedral to once again thank God for her reign over us before taking part in a carriage procession through the streets of London.
Although many in the UK and throughout the world will now think of the Jubilee as an exclusively Royal celebration, it has a biblical heritage. The Jubilee year came at the end of seven cycles of sabbatical (seven) years in Israel. The instructions can be found in Leviticus 25:10:
“Consecrate the 50th year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family and to your own clan”
It primarily deals with property and land and it was with this in mind that the Jubilee 2000 coalition movement launched its campaign back in the late 1990s.
The campaign was intended to see poor countries’ debts wiped out in the year 2000 and is perhaps the easiest way for us to understand the concept of a Jubilee.
The Jubilee 2000 project was something that Christians should have been involved in. It was about the lifting of debts to give countries a chance to break the cycle. Like the year of jubilee of old it was not a guarantee of success, but merely the offer of a second chance. It is a Christian principle to give second chances. Maybe this year is a good year to think about who we can give jubilee second chances to in our lives. Who has let us down, is indebted to us or has wronged us? Who can you offer a second chance to make things right in the spirit of jubilee? To be Christians is to seek opportunities to offer the jubilee second chance. Philip Yancey, says
“The people of God are not merely to mark time, waiting for God to step in and set right all that is wrong. Rather, they are to model the new heaven and new earth, and by so doing awaken longings for what God will someday bring to pass.”
So the year of jubilee should be for us all a time to lift our voices in thanksgiving and praise, in thanks that God is a God of forgiveness, that Jesus came to bring forgiveness. Both forgiveness for the wrong we have done, and also a time to bring forgiveness and healing to the things done to us. Forgiving others will set us free and restore us.