Jubilee And Pentecost As Missionary Events - Rev. Mbiwan Enonchong Daniel
The mind of God in giving every revelation to His people is to lead them to know Him better, walk with Him, worship, serve Him and lead others to know Him also. Israel was God's covenant people, chosen by Him to become a sample of what God intended to do with His creation. The writer of the book of Hebrews states clearly that God's revelation came to mankind through diverse ways (Heb. 1:1), one of those ways being through the various feasts that Israel celebrated, among which were the ‘Year of Jubilee’ and ‘Pentecost’.
This write-up is supposed to demonstrate the fact that these two feasts are missionary-oriented. In order to come to the point of explaining this relationship, we will first of all define each of these feasts and then bring out the importance and impact of their missionary implications.
An understanding of the Year of Jubilee takes us back to God's declaration to Noah after the flood in Genesis 8:22, "As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." Africa as a continent is in a season of ‘jubilee of independence’, so also is the Full Gospel Mission; in fact the Church of Africa as a whole is in a season of great harvest!
The Biblical Year of Jubilee has its foundation not only in the
creation story but also in Israel's feasts. According to Leviticus 23:3;
25:1- 7; 25:8-13 we see clearly the relationship between the ‘Sabbath
Day’, the ‘Sabbath Year’ and the ‘Year of Jubilee’, all three
intended both to honour God and benefit man. The three were expected to lead man to a point of total dependence on God. Neither Moses who led Israel out of Egypt, nor Joshua who led them into Canaan, could give them rest. The Lord Jesus Christ became the ultimate fulfilment of God's Sabbath because Israel was not able to keep the Sabbath and enter into full rest. The implication therefore is that those who come to Him not only receive rest but are empowered to lead others to find rest in Him. (Heb. 4:1- 12).
Now the instruction of God to Moses at Horeb to declare the Year of Jubilee to Israel in Canaan was done as a ‘type and shadow’ and that is the reason, why it is re-echoed in the New Testament in Romans 8:19 portraying the need of all mankind for rest; or in other words, total liberation from the consequence of the fall. Already Moses had prophesied that another Prophet greater than him will come. This prophet was no other than ‘Shiloh’, the anointed one - Jesus Christ. When the time arrived (Gal. 4:4), the scripture, in the words of the Lord Himself, declared: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." (Luke 4:18- 19).
As mentioned earlier, Moses in the O.T. was the deliverer, but he did
not give Israel total freedom. In the N.T. Jesus fulfilled that role,
as Luke records Jesus quoting (Isa. 61:1-2). The year of favour which
Jesus mentioned is the Year of
Jubilee. And the ‘Year of Jubilee’, as was seen in Leviticus 25 and as Jesus declared, has three important benefits: (1) It is a year of RELEASEm from all bondages beginning with sin. (2) It is a year of RESTORATION, a restoration of all that
we lost to the devil; a recovery of all that he has stolen from God's people. (3) It is a year of REST. We are invited by the Lord to rest from our personal efforts and depend on the Holy Spirit. We are equally invited to rest from the works of the flesh, which is sin. Dear people of God, for us too it is time for the ‘Year of Jubilee!
The word Pentecost remains a key word in our church vocabulary. The simple explanation is that our spiritual lives as individuals and as a church cannot be explained meaningfully without Pentecost. To understand then Pentecost, we need to go back to the O.T. book of Leviticus which discusses the different feasts of Israel. The word Pentecost signifies ‘fifty’, from the Hebrew word ‘Pentateuch’. The feast of Pentecost was the feast of weeks. (Exo.34:22- 23) It is also called the feast of harvest (Exo.23:16). The feast of Pentecost was celebrated to mark the end of the barley harvest. (Lev.23:15- 16) The feast of Pentecost foreshadowed in the New Testament the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, 50 days after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. According to the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, after the resurrection of the Lord, He made appearances to the disciples for forty days; then just before He was taken to heaven, He instructed the disciples to wait for the promise of the Father. On the tenth day after His ascension, making the fiftieth day after His resurrection, there was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This was the fulfilment of the feast of Pentecost, celebrated over the years as a type but now fulfilled, and instead of marking the end of the harvest as in the O.T. it was rather the beginning of a mighty harvest.
As it was the custom for priests to wave two barley loaves before the Lord, these two loaves typologically represented the first fruits of the future harvest, representing the new community called the Church, made up of the Jews and the gentiles (Eph.2:13-14). The Lord Jesus had told His disciples: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes to you. Then you will be My witnesses to testify about Me in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth!" “And when Pentecost, the fiftieth day after Passover, came, all the believers were together in one place. Suddenly, a sound like a violent blowing wind came from the sky and filled the whole house where they were staying. Tongues that looked like fire appeared and they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them the ability. The tongues arranged themselves so that one came to rest on each believer. All the believers were speaking (the Word)." (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4).
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JUBILEE AND PENTECOST
Both of these feasts have fifty in common. While ‘Jubilee’ occurred in the fiftieth year, Pentecost occurred on the fiftieth day after the death of Christ. Both of them were intended to help man in his work. The Year of Jubilee led man to physical rest and benefits, while Pentecost led Christians to spiritual rest andother benefits. Man rested from doing spiritual work with his flesh and was empowered by the Holy Spirit.
What a great difference it makes when the Spirit energizes us to do the work of the Kingdom. More is accomplished and it is longlasting. Yes, abiding kingdom fruits are the outcome of the action of the Holy Spirit in men's hearts and lives. In our generation we need more of the move of the Holy Spirit, so that strongholds are broken and the Kingdom of God is established.
Mankind is clearly under the assault of the empire of the devil. Paul makes this clear as he writes in Romans 8:19, "The creation waits in earnest expectation for the sons of God to be revealed." Yes, fully- grown sons of God are those who are born again, washed in the blood of the Lamb, baptized in the Holy Spirit and who are walking in and are led by the Spirit of God.
At this point, it is important to relate what the Prophet Isaiah announced almost seven hundred years before the Lord literally walked on earth. (Isa. 61:1-2) "The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, and to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." Without any doubt this great evangelist of the Old Testament gives a clear link between ‘Jubilee’ and Pentecost!
From these verses we see clearly that ‘Jubilee’ is possible only through Pentecost. In Luke 4:18- 19, the gospel writer also vividly affirms this truth as he quotes the Lord Himself declaring emphatically that He is anointed to enforce the ‘Jubilee’ of enslaved mankind. These two scriptures therefore powerfully confirm the fact of such a close relationship between these two events. What an important lesson for us to note in this decade of Pentecost.
FULL GOSPEL MISSION,JUBILEE AND PENTECOST
Being members of Full Gospel Mission, we cannot celebrate our Jubilee without accepting this great truth. We cannot celebrate the feast empty-handed. It was even a direct command of the Lord that His people could not come before Him during any of those feast-days empty handed. While this has been mainly considered in terms of money and gifts in kind, the important lesson was that the people were to show full proof of what they were celebrating. In this season of celebration may we not only think of the past, but let us be challenged to experience total spiritual freedom to continue in the Spirit rather than be entangled in bondages from which we were once delivered. As Apostle Paul asked the Galatians, “Shall we start in the Spirit and end up in the flesh?”
We therefore celebrate our total heritage of the power of the gospel
to save us, but also the power of the Holy Spirit, by which we will
continue to proclaim the gospel to bring ‘Jubilee’ to many who are still
in spiritual slavery and oppression of the devil. May we in this time
be reminded of our Mission emblem and vision? Summarizing the two, we
could say: "We are called to preach the Full Gospel Message by the power
of the Holy Spirit to the nations, planting
New Testament churches, leading Christians to spiritual maturity and preparing them for the return of the Lord." This we will do until He comes!
JUBILEE AND PENTECOST AS MISSIONARY EVENTS
As I bring this write-up to a close, permit me to bring out clearly the fact that ‘Jubilee’ and Pentecost were and still remain missionary events. By missionary events we mean, that when these two feasts were ordained by God,they conveyed a message which was expected to be taken to other lands. Here are some key scriptures which confirm this fact: (Lev. 25:10; Isa. 61:1-2; Acts 1:8, Luke 4:18-19.) A close study shows that all these scriptures point towards a proclamation of a message to the nations.
Moses, as leader of God's people, was instructed by God to declare the message of ‘Jubilee’ to His people. At last Moses died, not entering the Promised Land, although he saw it from afar. He did, however, prophesy that another greater prophet was to come after him. This prophet was certainly Jesus. However, until Jesus came, creation remained in bondage and in deep groaning waiting for Shiloh to come. Paul makes reference to this as we have mentioned earlier.
It is however, noteworthy that the message of the Year of Jubilee
contained all that Jesus eventually came to do: Release from spiritual
bondage; restoration of all that the enemy had robbed mankind of since
the fall of Adam, and eventually giving rest to all who labour under a
yoke of sin and the devil. Not just Israel alone was to enjoy freedom
from slavery, but they were expected to be channels to lead others to
spiritual freedom by sharing the revelation of
God with other nations. The Lord Jesus Christ, our great deliverer, master and missionary par excellence, showed clearly that He came to set the captives free. The message He proclaimed was truth and in knowing it we become free.
It is worth noting that the creation, that groans waiting for the sons of God to be revealed, will only experience it through Jesus, as He Himself made clear: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners…”
Later, at the end of His earthly mission, Jesus again reminded His
disciples in Acts 1:8, "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit
is come on you and you will be my witnesses inJerusalem, Judea, Samaria
and to the ends of
the earth.” Again, in John 20:21-22 Jesus said: “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you. And with that He breathed on them and said, receive the Holy Spirit.”
Without doubt, a look at the gospels confirms the fact that from the
time Jesus declared in Luke 4:18,19 that the Spirit was on Him, He went
everywhere under that power proclaiming freedom, healing the sick,
delivering the captives,
and raising the dead spiritually and physically. The kingdom of God continued to extend to other regions and other lands. The Acts of the Apostles is also a living testimony of what Pentecost does: It brings about ‘jubilee’ and sends men to other lands proclaiming freedom to all. I believe that the two events were intended to be taken to other lands. They are missionary events!
Politically, we celebrate a jubilee of nations throughout Africa! I nevertheless wish to reaffirm that there is no real jubilee without the proclamation of the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. For it is only through the acceptance of the gospel message that man can be truly free. This, however, can only be effective in this great season of harvest through the anointing of the Holy Spirit! As we celebrate, may we yearn to be baptized or filled afresh to move out and proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth. Yes, the Year of Jubilee and Pentecost are missionary events. Let us celebrate, having experienced them ourselves and being ready to go out to be witnesses. Hallelujah!
“Whom shall I send, who will go for us?” This ancient divine question
has continued to ring throughout the ages. To this, the great
prophetevangelist responded: "Here am I, send me." However, in our
generation we have also heard
that cry but being a modern church, we have a modern answer: "Here am I, send him!" In this season of Jubilee when the times have become delicate, dangerous and determinant, we can rise and publish the good news to all mankind.
Yes, it is a time of Jubilee, let us all go out and declare to the nations, “You can enjoy freedom in this season!” We cannot be Full Gospel Mission Christians without Pentecost. And we cannot be men of Pentecost without experiencing
the Feast of Jubilee. To be a people of Pentecost and enjoying the Feast of Jubilee places us under a divine imperative of a missionary mandate, because Pentecost and Jubilee are missionary events.