Overland Monthly / OV099 - God's Chosen People (VIII. Their Sabbath and Jubilee)

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OV99 VIII. Their Sabbath and Jubilee

BY C. T. RUSSELL Pastor Brooklyn Tabernacle THE KEEPING of the seventh day in conjunction with the right of circumcision specially marked the Jew, and, in their own estimation, separated them from all other peoples; for to none other did God give either of these institutions. The assumption of Christians that the Sabbath Day was given to them or an obligation to keep it imposed upon them, is a mistake. Nothing in the Word of God warrants it. It is, however, evidently fitting that Christians should observe a weekly day of rest, and very properly custom so has it. And the first day of the week is observed appropriately instead of the seventh, the Jewish Sabbath. The first day of the week is The Lord’s Day in the special sense that—

(1) It marks the new order of things as beginning.

(2) As a memorial of the resurrection of the Redeemer it symbolizes all the Christian hopes founded upon the death and resurrection of the Savior. The Sabbath Day was commanded to the Jew, while no command respecting a day of rest has been given to the Christian. With the latter, the matter was left open and optional, so as to prove a test to their devotion and appreciation of their privileges. The observance of the Sabbath Day on the part of the Jews was not optional, but mandatory, because, like all other features of their Law, it was a type foreshadowing a great antitype. God designed that the type should persist, at least until the antitype arrived.

Jewish System of Sabbaths.

It has not been very generally observed either by Christians or Jews, that Israel’s seventh day Sabbath was only one feature of a system of Sabbaths. Seven such Sabbaths, representing forty-nine days, brought them to the fiftieth day or Pentecost, an occasion of special sacredness and blessing. Nor was this all. They had a similar Sabbath system in years. Every seventh year was commanded as a Sabbath year.

Following seven of these Sabbath years came the fiftieth year, otherwise known as the Jubilee Year. The basic thought connected with all of these Sabbaths was rest—abstention from labor, the implication being that God would provide an eternal rest.

And the thought connected with the Jubilee or Pentecost day and the fiftieth or Jubilee year was that the perfection of rest would be attained therein—not by anything that the Sabbath-keeper himself would accomplish, but by Divine arrangement for his blessing. God’s Chosen People have striven faithfully to observe their Sabbath Day and to ignore the financial losses resulting. But it has been a hard task for them, especially in view of the fact that the Christian Sabbath is generally observed, and that their faithfulness generally signifies the loss of two-sevenths of their time from money-making. Instead of twitting them about their Sabbath, Christians should admire that loyalty to God’s command which prompts the orthodox Jew to keep his Sabbath obligations at financial loss. It requires principle to do this, and principle implies character. And loyalty to God should be appreciated and commended wherever it is found. What a stretch of faith in God’s providence was implied in the attempt of God’s Chosen People for a time to keep not only the Sabbath Days, but also the Sabbath

OV100 Years—to allow the land to rest absolutely every seventh year; also on the fiftieth year. To have it lie idle two years in succession must have been a trial of patience, as well as of faith. Faithfulness to that command would surely have brought to God’s Chosen People a decrease of selfishness and an increase of faith. The lesson persisted in would undoubtedly have had a moulding and transforming influence upon the entire nation. But they did not continue it. In a half-hearted manner they pretended obedience to this Law for 969 years—nineteen Jubilees and nineteen years beyond the last one. Then God declared that their observance of the year Sabbaths and Jubilee was unsatisfactory to him, and He gave them all their Jubilee years at once. Since then they have made no pretense of observing the Jubilee Years and their cycles of 7 x 7 years. The seventy years desolation of the land of Israel, accomplished by Nebuchadnezzar, fulfilled the entire number of typical Jubilee Years divinely foreordained. As we read, "Therefore He (God) brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age; He gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord, and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof. And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; ...to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths; for as long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill three score and ten years."—#2Ch 36:17-21.

While Israel’s Jubilee Year was a wise arrangement which cancelled all debts and restored all the people to their original inheritance in the land, it would be a mistake to suppose such a restitution, such a release, to be the whole sum of God’s provision for the blessing of his people. Wise, generous, beneficial as it was, it was merely a type or foreshadowing of a greater blessing. Its release from debt foreshadowed the release of humanity from the great debt of sin and its penalty of death, respecting which we read that Adam and all of his race were "sold under Sin." (#Ro 7:14)—sold into slavery to Sin and death. The antitypical cancellation of death and release of debtors and slaves signifies the deliverance of all who will be God’s people from all the imperfections inherited from Father Adam—back to full fellowship with God, full liberty of the sons of God and the full enjoyment of life eternal. If the type was glorious and blessed, the antitype will be a thousand times more so, and will bring eternal release from all the weaknesses, imperfections, slaveries to sin and appetite which now hold mankind in bondage. Each time, therefore, that God’s Chosen People observed a Jubilee Year they pictured forth on a small scale the blessings to come to them, and through them to all people under the beneficent reign of righteousness of the great Messiah.

The Jubilee Type and Antitype.

We know where the counting of the Sabbath cycles began, namely, when God’s Chosen People entered the land of Canaan. The record is that their first year was a Sabbath Year, during which they neither sowed nor reaped, but "ate the old corn of the land." In the above quotation the Lord distinctly tells us that the entire number of Jubilee Years they would have had is seventy. So we can easily count when and where the antitypical Jubilee would be due to begin. Each cycle was forty-nine years, and its Jubilee, the fiftieth year. Seventy times this number would be 3,500 years. And this period measured from the time Israel entered Canaan marks the year 1925 as the time when the antitypical Jubilee will be due to begin. However, there is still another method of reckoning the matter, which, we believe, is the proper one, namely, to count nineteen cycles with their Jubilees partially observed totaling 950 years, and then to count the remaining fifty-one cycles as forty-nine years each, because the Jubilees were omitted. This would total 2499

OV101 years plus 950 years with Jubilees totaling 3449 years. This period of 3449 years reckoned from the entering of Canaan ends October, 1874. Thus: Period from entering Canaan to the division of the land, six years. Period of Judges to King Saul, 450 years. Period of the kings, 513 years. Period of desolation while the land kept Sabbath, 70 years. Period from the restoration at the end of the 70 years, by Cyrus, to our date known as Anno Domini, 536 years. Total years of A.D., to complete the above period of 3449 years, 1874 full years, which would end, Jewish time, October, 1874. It was about that time, 1875, that favor began to return to God’s Chosen People—of course then, as yet, only in a limited manner and so differently from what many of them had expected it that few of God’s Chosen People yet recognize that Divine favor toward them is returning. It is our understanding that the period of time from 1875 to 1915, forty years, will witness the full return of Divine favor to that people. Foregoing we have outlined the Jubilee reckoning from the standpoint of prophecy, telling how the matter really will work out: a portion of the time with the Jubilees added and a portion of the time without them. Now let us take another view—from the standpoint of the Law. The Law requires that where the typical system ended, the antitypical counting should begin. As the typical Jubilee was reached by multiplying 7 x 7, so we should count 50 x 50 to secure the date of the antitypical Jubilee, the dawn of the glorious epoch. As only nineteen Jubilees were observed even partially, it follows that the cycle for the great Jubilee should begin counting there. 50 x 50 years is 2500 years. This number measured from the last typical Jubilee should bring us to the antitype. The last of the nineteen Jubilees observed was the year 950 from the date of Israel’s entering Canaan. The antitypical Jubilee cycle, 2500 years, added to 950 years gives us a total of 3450 years and indicates the year 1875 as its culmination—the place where the antitypical Jubilee should begin—exact harmony, it will be observed, with the preceding testimony on the subject from the standpoint of prophecy. In other words, the Law and the Prophets agree that 1875 A.D. marks an important epoch in the history of God’s Chosen People—a time when some great restoration blessing towards them was due to begin.

The Great Antitypical Jubilee.

Some one will say, perhaps, What evidences have we that Israel’s Antitypical Jubilee has begun to be fulfilled? We answer that the signs are all about us and rapidly multiplying. The Jubilee is not Israel’s only, but the Jubilee of the whole world of mankind—God’s Chosen People will merely be the first fruits of the nations to be blessed in that Jubilee period of a thousand years, the spiritual reign of Messiah. Whatever signs we see of general restitution amongst mankind are signs of the Jubilee. We are not to expect anything to happen suddenly. Rather by gradual processes will come to mankind the "times of restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began." Such restitution blessings are to be noted in the wonderful inventions which are bringing easement of the burdens of mankind—a measure of deliverance from the grind of necessity. These blessings will continue to bring to God’s Chosen People and to the world in conjunction with them blessings of earthly perfection such as the prophets describe, but such as few of humanity dared to believe. Looking back at the type we remember that the Jubilee year was announced by the priests blowing the Silver Trumpets, proclaiming liberty throughout all the land. We remember that, following the example of the priests, all the people blew on ram’s horns and with every other conceivable kind of clarionet.

The antitype of this blowing upon the trumpets we have. Ever since 1875 there has been special promulgation of this very message of the Jubilee—blowing on the silver trumpets of Truth, proclaiming the Truth, making known the fact that the time of God’s blessing for Israel and for the world is at hand—that the great Antitypical Jubilee period of a thousand years has begun. The spirit of liberty is blowing everywhere and being proclaimed by every kind of couth and uncouth argument and trumpet, newspaper and magazine, world-wide.

OV102 The people, the masses, are about to come into possession of their own. Human rights long ignored are rapidly coming back to the masses. There is no more remarkable manifestation of this than in the recent revolutions in Russia and in Turkey, and the gradual socialization of Great Britain and Germany. Well would it be for the world if thus gradually the great antitypical Jubilee would usher in a reign of righteousness and become generally recognized. But other Scriptures show us that this will not be the case—that beyond a certain point the favored classes will refuse to yield, and beyond a certain point the masses will be unreasonable and hasty in their demands, and that the result will be "a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation."—#Da 12:1. But even that period of trouble will prove to be merely a part of the tribulation incidental to the full inauguration of the Jubilee. At that time, the Prophet declares, Messiah will stand forth in power and great glory for the deliverance of Israel first, and subsequently of all the families of the earth from every vestige of bondage, including eventually the bondage of death.


THE wrath of God is love’s severity In curing sin—the zeal of righteousness In overcoming wrong—the remedy Of justice for the world’s redress.

The wrath of God is punishment for sin, In measure unto all transgression due, Discriminating well and just between Presumptuous sins and sins of lighter hue.

The wrath of God inflicts no needless pain, Merely vindictive, or Himself to please; But aims the ends of mercy to attain, Uproot the evil, and the good increase.

The wrath of God is a consuming fire, That burns while there is evil to destroy Or good to purify; nor can expire Till all things are relieved from sin’s alloy.

The wrath of God is love’s parental rod, The disobedient to chastise, subdue, And bend submissive to the will of God, That love may reign when all things are made new.

The wrath of God shall never strike in vain, Nor cease to strike till sin shall be no more; Till God His gracious purpose shall attain, And earth to righteousness and peace restore.