Monday, February 16, 2015

The sign of the jubilee years in Isaiah 37


In Isaiah 36, kingdom of Judah was confronted with an invasion by the Assyrians, who did their best to demoralize them with statements about how there was no way their God could save them, since no other gods saved the other nations the Assyrians destroyed.

In Isaiah 37, when King Hezekiah of Judah heard it, he took the national troubles to the Lord and prayed that the Lord would save Judah so that the Assyrians would know Judah’s God really was God.

Then, Isaiah came to tell King Hezekiah that the Lord would answer his prayer and he was to send a message back to the Assyrians with the following sense:  1) You’ve blasphemed against God, and we scorn you, 2) Our God got you where you are today, so of course the other nations were not strong enough to stand up to you, 3) God knows where you live and everything about you. (Implication: You’re in for it now!)

Then without warning, Isaiah shifts into a message for King Hezekiah, and this caught my attention:

And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof. (Isaiah 37:30)

What is this?

It is nothing less than a promise from the Lord that He will feed the people of Judah for 2 years with whatever crops grow all by themselves with no cultivation.  It is essentially a proclamation of a Sabbath year and a Jubilee year, one right after the other. 

If you remember, the Sabbath year was every seventh year when the land was to rest, and the Jubilee year was the 50th year, or after 7 Sabbath years had happened, and it was meant to be a time of deliverance from debt.  So to have these two years was a message of rest and deliverance to the whole nation in a way that would could be appreciated for days and weeks and months…  It was a also a tender mercy; after all, one can’t be planting and cultivating when one’s land is under siege from invaders.   But it would also require their faith for them to experience the rest.  They had to believe that it would be all right.

What a great blessing!  The Lord through the prophet didn’t just speak assurance to the king, He also gave assurance to the common man who would be very worried about how their livelihood was being disrupted by the invasion of the Assyrians.  In an environment of tension and worries about captivity, death, and famine, God gave a promise of sustained rest and deliverance and providence.

I think the lesson from this is that if we turn to the Lord in our troubles, He will have mercy on us and help us in miraculous ways.  Sometimes through tender mercies, sometimes through great miracles, always in ways that we need.  No trouble is to great or too small.  No station is too high or too low to be blessed, whether king or commoner.