The Mystery of the Lost Jubilee: Part IX – One, Two, Fifty

Before we continue in this series from the previous article, it is clear from the comments that something we were attempting to explain about the divine dilemma is still a bit confusing. So let us now apologize for that confusion, and clarify it.

We have said that one of the Mysteries of the Lost Jubilee is whether Jubilees repeat every 49 years or every 50 years. The very idea that Jubilees might repeat every 49 years seems to some people as making no logical sense, because of what Leviticus 25 clearly says:

“You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family.” Leviticus 25:10, NAS.BIN-OpEd-Experts-300x250(1)

So let us explain how Jubilees could potentially repeat every 49 years. The issue revolves around what year you start your counting to that fiftieth year. We will explain it like this:

Let’s imagine a new community that is formed in complete isolation from the rest of the world, with only the book of Leviticus in their possession. They decide to follow the teachings of Leviticus 25 and start to count the years. They start this counting in the very first year that their community formed. They call that founding year “Year One.” Every time a new year begins, they count it as a new year. They get to the seventh year, and they call that their first Sabbatical year which is the year that they let the land rest. They count the next year to be year eight, and they count year 14 as their second Sabbatical year. They keep counting and they get to year 49, the seventh Sabbatical year, and celebrate it as a year of rest. Then the next year, the fiftieth year, is the year of the Jubilee, which (according to Leviticus) is another Sabbatical year, but also has other special celebrations associated with it. This Jubilee year is brand new, not only because of its uniqueness, but also because nobody has ever celebrated two back-to-back years of rest in the community’s history.

As the story continues, and since fifty years is a long time, all but the youngest of the original leaders of the community have died. New leaders are in place. And within the new leaders, they look at Leviticus and two opinions arise about how to continue this pattern. The question boils down to: What year should become the next “Year One” to start counting to the next Jubilee?

Two camps emerge. One camp, we’ll call them the 49ers, say that the Jubilee year is not only a year of celebration, but it is “Year One” of the counting to the next Jubilee. The 49ers say that this interpretation is the best because it keeps the Sabbatical years happening every seven years without any interruptions. They point to the words of Leviticus 25:

“You are also to count off seven Sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven Sabbaths, namely forty-nine years.”

They see a strong emphasis on the repeating seven year cycles over and over, the emphasis on 49 years in the cycle.

But another camp arises, let’s call them the 50ers. They believe that the counting to the next Jubilee year should only start AFTER the Jubilee ends. They want to see the Jubilees occur every 50 years, because two Jubilees makes a clean century. The community can celebrate its 100th anniversary during Jubilee. The 50ers also say that the Jubilee is so important that it should not be shared with any other year or be counted for any other purpose. “The Jubilee year should stand on its own,” they say.

49ers and 50ers

In the meeting between the two camps, the 49ers say, “It is critical that the seven year cycles continue in regular intervals. Your method is too complex because it restarts the calendar every 50 years. Would you tell us that the days of the week should be interrupted every seven weeks, and would you create a brand new day to be inserted between Saturday and Sunday! That is extremely confusing.” Then the 50ers respond and say, “Our method keeps track of the centuries automatically. And besides, your idea also has problems, because by calling the Jubilee a ‘Year One’ it means that every 49 years, the farmers have a “short stretch” where they only work the land for five years, not six. Your method makes it harder on them to prepare for the Sabbath year.”

Traditionally the church is solidly in the “50ers” camp. The Catholic church has even gone further and started their first Jubilee in the year 1300 to make it fit nicely on century boundaries. Then, in the past one hundred years, they began to allow ‘extra-ordinary’ years of Jubilee (they just happen to have called one for 2016)!

One of the strongest voices on this topic, at least by number of books sold, is Jonathan Cahn’s. Cahn is solidly in the 49ers camp, because he sees the Balfour declaration and Six Day War as occurring 49 years apart, both on the year AFTER a Sabbatical (Shemitah) year ended. By the way, he calls the Jubilee a “Super-Shemitah” since it is a Sabbath rest year that occurs after seven seven-year cycles.

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The Orthodox Jewish world has been counting the Sabbatical years for over two thousand years, and have never inserted Jubilee years. This repeating cycle has been correlated to significant world events, as has been popularized by the books by Jonathan Cahn. If Jubilee years were inserted, and the 50ers suggest, the correlation no longer works! This leads some to consider that the 49ers camp is correct.

But the situation is more complex, because while Orthodox Jews have been counting Sabbatical years during the exile, they were knowingly not counting Jubilee years, because there was no way to fulfill the commandments of the Jubilee outside of the Land of Israel. In fact, there is a difference of opinion between Orthodox rabbis about whether the 49ers or 50ers camp is more correct. Until the first Jubilee is declared, however, this can remain unresolved for them. We have interesting new information to reveal on this topic planned for future articles in this series!

But, the main purpose of this article was to highlight that both the 49ers camp and the 50ers camps has merit. Reasonable people who love the Scriptures can come to different conclusions about whether Jubilees ought to be repeating every 49 years or every 50 years. We, Gidon and Bob, reveal our opinion in our book, Israel FIRST!, and give our reasons! But we are willing to hold our conclusions loosely and to be wrong. In fact, the most exciting prospect in front of us, is to see whether God might be interested to show us His thoughts on the matter through world events.

We have grounded this series of article on the amazing events of November/December 1917 and June 1967, which were 49 ½ years apart. On our standard Gregorian calendar, those events seem to be 50 years apart which satisfies the 50ers, yet on the Hebrew calendar they fall 49 years apart which satisfies the 49ers! Based on that pattern:

● If something amazing happens to Israel between now and October 2, 2016, the end of the current Jewish year, then the 49ers could claim a sequence of three important events with Jubilees repeating every 49 years.
● If something amazing happens between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017, then the 50ers could claim a sequence of three important events with Jubilees repeating every 50 years.
● There are a few other combinations possible, as have been mentioned by readers, such as what if something happens between October 3, 2016 and December 31, 2016, or what if amazing events happen in both 2016 and 2017! We may deal with those too in the future.

But, there is a very different way to examine this pattern: rather than speculate about what God might do this year, we could look backward!

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God honors our willingness to respect an alternate view, and to hold our own opinions loosely enough to be willing to be wrong. Would you like to share a story of “respect” or “holding loosely” and what happened over time when your view was either confirmed or changed by later facts?

Next Time

In the next article we will explore an idea to solve this mystery even before waiting to see if God does something amazing. What if we were to continue looking at the pattern in reverse? If we went back and looked 49 years and also 50 years before November/December 1917, what would we discover?