Are 2015, 2016, or 2017 Jubilee Years?

Book-3-Black-&-White400x640The Biblical jubilee has gained a substantial amount of attention in Bible prophecy circles the last few years causing some to speculate that the years 2015, 2016, or 2017 might in fact be a Jubilee year. Books, like Jonathan Cahn’s: Mystery of the Shemitah or Gidon Ariel and Bob O’Dell’s: Israel First!, really got people thinking about the jubilee and Sabbath cycles as they relate to the Bible’s prophetic record. While this attention to the subject is welcome and needed, there still remains a deficiency which needs to be addressed. Few, if any, of today’s mainstream authors have made a serious attempt to connect the jubilee cycle’s with reasonable Biblical evidence.

It is fascinating to consider the possibility that the yearly Sabbath cycles (Shemitah) may have some sort of economic influence or that the jubilee cycle may be related to the restoration of the Jewish people to the land of Israel, but until these theories are built upon solid and reasonable Biblical facts, we must, as good stewards of YHWH’s word, take them with a certain degree of skepticism.

Today I’d like to share with you a bit of Biblical history upon which you can stand with some confidence when discussing the subject of the jubilee cycles in the Bible. You see, I believe there is reasonable Biblical evidence which connects the Jubilee to events in secular history, it just takes some effort to dig it out. So the purpose of today’s article is to see where history and the Bible meet regarding the jubilee cycles.

Setting the Captives Free
First of all, for those who don’t know, the jubilee is a Biblically ordained celebration which Israel was commanded to keep so that they would not abuse each other in socio-economic endeavors. It was a day when captives were set free and debts were forgiven. At the end of seven cycles of seven years in the fiftieth year a Jubilee was declared. Here is what the Biblical record has to say:

And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.  Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. 

And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family… 

 In the year of this jubile ye shall return every man unto his possession.  And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour’s hand, ye shall not oppress one another: (Leviticus 25:8-14)  

Notice in the passage above that verse 14 ends with the admonition that Israel should not “oppress one another”. That statement sums up the essence of the jubilee. The jubilee is a YHWH given reset, meant to protect mankind from themselves.

As you and I look at the world around us I think we all can see the value in such a jubilee. Nations and individuals have accumulated debts in a rigged system with no legitimate way of ever paying it back. Thus we as individuals and collectively as peoples have become slaves to an economic order which favors the few super wealthy at the expense of the many poor. Personally, I think that is why so many today are fascinated by the Biblical jubilee. We all secretly hope for that day when Yeshua rules and reigns in righteousness, thus fulfilling the spirit and letter of the Biblical Jubilee. Setting the captives free indeed!

The Jubilee Year begins on the 10th Day
For our purposes today it is important to note in the passage above that the jubilee cycle begins and ends on the 10th day of the 7th month. This in effect then creates a jubilee cycle year which is offset from the regular Biblical calendar by 6 months. This important fact has caused many to overlook a likely Biblical reference to the jubilee found in the book of Ezekiel.

In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of YHWH was upon me, and brought me thither. (Ezekiel 40:1)

Ezekiel 40:1 is one of those Biblical passage just jam packed with wonderful chronological information. Right off you know that this date has some great significance because Ezekiel makes a point to synchronize it with multiple events. He tells us this 10th day of the month was the 25th year of “our” captivity and the 14th year after Jerusalem was destroyed.

Now this 10th day of the month is not to be confused with the destruction of Jerusalem on the 10th day of the fifth month as described in Jeremiah 52:12-14. In the passage above Ezekiel makes a point to distinguish this day by stating that it was in the “beginning of the year” (ro’sh shaneh) and the tenth day of the month.

As we learned in Leviticus 25 there is only one Biblical “year” which heads (rosh) on the 10th day of the month, that year is the Biblical jubilee year. Granted, you could argue that  while this is a possible and reasonable reference to a Jubilee year it is not conclusive. But bear with me here because this is not the only possible reference to a jubilee cycle in the book of Ezekiel. As we will see, the next example further strengthens the case that Ezekiel 40:1 was in fact a jubilee year.

What was Ezekiel’s 30th Year?
Our next passage comes from the opening verse of Ezekiel chapter 1. Here at the very beginning of Ezekiel’s book is a reference to a 30th year which scholars have not been able to satisfactorily identify.

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.  In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,…  (Ezekiel 1:1-2)  

We know the 30th year mentioned above is not the length of any of the then concurrent secular kings mentioned in the Bible nor can it be the length of Ezekiel’s captivity up to that point because Ezekiel’s captivity began about the same time as the events mentioned in this passage. Some have even speculated that this 30th year was Ezekiel’s birthday but that too is unlikely because birthdays are seldom used as chronological reference points in the Biblical record.

What is fascinating about Ezekiel’s 30th year is that we have reasonable evidence showing that this date was the 30th year of the very jubilee cycle mentioned in Ezekiel 40:1. Let me show you how.

I know chronology and chronological charts can be challenging or even boring to some, especially when you don’t have a contextual starting point. Kind of like driving through a big city trying to find where you are going by looking at street signs you are not familiar with. But bear with me here and I’ll show you it’s not quite as challenging as it first appears and you might even find it intriguing. Remember, our goal here is to determine if we can reasonably date a Biblical jubilee. So stick with me as we look at the following chart, I will take you step by step through some of the greatest events in the 2nd temple era so that you will understand the context and ultimately the chronology of these events.

YHWH Returns to Jerusalem
Let’s start by looking at what is indisputably the most important event of the 2nd temple era. You may not have heard of this event because frankly it is not talked about that much, but as youwill see, not only is it of pivotal importance but it is also an event which can be established in the secular record beyond a reasonable doubt.

What I’m talking about is YHWH’s return to Jerusalem after 70 years of divine anger. Towards the bottom of the chart below look for #1.  This will be the starting point in our efforts to establish a secular date for Ezekiel’s jubilee cycles. Zechariah 1 tells us about this most auspicious date:

 

In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of YHWH unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, …..

 Then the angel of YHWH answered and said, O YHWH of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years

… Therefore thus saith YHWH; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith YHWH of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem. (Zechariah 1:1-16)

(Please note that you can click on the chart and it will open in a new tab for better viewing. Or use Ctrl + or – to increase or decrease for better viewing.)

Ezekiel's 30th year

For those of you, who have read my book Daniel’s 70 Weeks: The Keystone of Bible Prophecy,  you already know this 2nd year of Darius marked not only end of YHWH’s divine anger against Judah and His return to Jerusalem, but it also marked the restart of construction on the 2nd temple as well as the 70 “weeks” countdown to the Messiah mentioned in Daniel 9. A further witness to this momentous event is found in Haggai 1.

In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, in the first day of the month, came the word of YHWH by Haggai the prophet unto Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, saying,

Thus speaketh YHWH of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that YHWH’S house should be built.  Then came the word of YHWH by Haggai the prophet, saying,  Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste?…

Thus saith YHWH of hosts; Consider your ways.  Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith YHWH. 

 Then spake Haggai YHWH’s messenger in YHWH’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith YHWH.  And YHWH stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of YHWH of hosts, their God,  In the four and twentieth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king. (Haggai 1:1-15)  

And finally Ezra 6 sums it up this way:

And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and {even} Artaxerxes king of Persia. (Ezra 6:14)   

Okay, so we’ve taken the time to establish our chronological waypoint in the 2nd year of Darius, ‘the great’ Artaxerxes. This date marked the end of 70 years of YHWH’s divine anger and His return to Jerusalem.  Historically speaking Darius’ reign began in 521 BC and his 2nd year was 520 BC. This date can be established by secular sources and the eclipse record. Four years later in the 6th year of Darius, Ezra 6:15 tells us that the temple was completed, truly pivotal times for the children of Israel.

70 Years Back in Time
Now since 520 BC marked the end of YHWH’s 70 years of divine anger as noted by Zechariah. Let’s go back in time to see what triggered these 70 years of divine anger and YHWH’s departure from Jerusalem. On the chart above look for the chronological waypoint #2. This date in 589 BC marked the start of the 70 years of divine anger. Once again we turn to Ezekiel to fill in the details. I’ve abridged the following passage, but I’d encourage you to read it in its entirety, because it clearly describes the reason for YHWH’s divine anger as well as the date YHWH departed from Jerusalem and the temple.

And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month [589 BC], as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord YHWH fell there upon me . . .

And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house . . . And it came to pass, while they were slaying them [those committing the abominations in the temple], and I was left, that I fell upon my face, and cried, and said, Ah Lord YHWH! wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury upon Jerusalem? . . .

Then the glory of YHWH went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the YHWH’s glory . . .

Then the glory of YHWH departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubims. And the cherubims lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of YHWH’s house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. (Ezekiel 8:1, 9:3–8, 10:4, 10:18–19)

So there you have it. The above passage describes YHWH’s fury and His departure from Jerusalem because of the abominations being committed by the priests in the temple and the people in general. From the context of this passage and the preceding chapters of Ezekiel this 6th year can reasonably be established as the 6th year of Ezekiel’s and Jehoiachin’s captivity. According to 2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chron. 36, and Jer. 52 they both became captives about the same time.

Ezekiel’s 30th Year
Now that we have laid this chronological foundation, we are in a much better position to understand the relative position of Ezekiel’s mysterious “30th year” mentioned earlier in this article. Once again using the chart above look for the #3. This date was the 5th year of Jehoiachin’s and Ezekiel’s captivity to which Ezekiel purposely synchronized the afore mentioned 30th year.

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.  In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity,…  (Ezekiel 1:1-2)

We are almost there, so stay with me. Let’s look at two more chronological synchronisms which tie the captivity of Jehoiachin, Ezekiel, and Judah to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Notice in the following passages three important pieces of information. The first was that Jehoiachin ruled for less than a year and that he was taken to Babylon when that year (Nebuchadnezzar’s 8th year) had expired and that Jerusalem was destroyed in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar.

And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. (2 Kings 24:12)  

Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of YHWH.  And when the year was expired, king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and brought him to Babylon, with the goodly vessels of the house of YHWH, and made Zedekiah his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 36:9-10)

Now in the fifth month, in the tenth day of the month, which was the nineteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, which served the king of Babylon, into Jerusalem, And burned the house of YHWH, and the king’s house; and all the houses of Jerusalem, and all the houses of the great men, burned he with fire: (Jeremiah 52:12-13)  

Ezekiel’s Jubilee
Take a look at #3 on the chart. You can see the 5th year of Jehoiachin’s captivity. The next year, the 6th year of the captivity (see #2 on the chart) YHWH departed Jerusalem and the temple and thus began a period of 70 years of divine anger. The numbers in the yellow column are the years of Ezekiel’s and Jehoiachin’s captivity. Now follow those yellow numbers down to the 25th year of their captivity.

This brings us back to the vision of Ezekiel 40 and the wonderful synchronisms which the prophet Ezekiel fixed to the start of what appears to be a Jubilee cycle. Take a look at the red #4 on the chart and then read Ezekiel 40:1 once more:

In the five and twentieth year of our captivity, in the beginning of the year, in the tenth day of the month, in the fourteenth year after that the city was smitten, in the selfsame day the hand of YHWH was upon me, and brought me thither. (Ezekiel 40:1)

You see what YHWH did here through the prophet Ezekiel? He showed that the 25th year of the captivity was the 14th year after the destruction of Jerusalem (see #4) as well as the 10th day of the head (“beginning of the year”), what we know now as a jubilee year. Further then this provides us with reasonable evidence that the 30th year of Ezekiel 1 was the 30th year of the very jubilee mentioned in Ezekiel 40. Keep in mind a very strong case can be made that this jubilee date also synchronizes with the known Sabbath years found in the books of Jeremiah and Nehemiah. But that evidence is beyond the scope of this present article and will have to wait for another time.

In any case, YHWH through the prophet Ezekiel, here in the 40th chapter of the book of Ezekiel gave us one of the greatest chronological waypoints in the Bible. With these synchronisms we can have a reasonable understanding of how the Biblical Jubilee and Sabbath cycle run relative to secular history. This in turn allows us to see the hand of YHWH at work in the past history of the Bible in a most impressive way showing evidence of His redemptive plan as I’ve demonstrated in a past article The Jubilee Code and I will explain in much more detail in my forthcoming book The Jubilee Code: Prophetic Milestones in the Biblical Record.

YHWH Returns To Jerusalem
I want to make clear that the evidence above is just a small glimpse of a much bigger effort in which YHWH is actively pursuing His redemptive plan for mankind through Yeshua the Messiah. Look at the chart once more. Let’s go back to #1 and our starting point. With Ezekiel’s jubilee and the resulting chronological synchronisms we can now see that YHWH’s divine command to restore and build Jerusalem also fell during a Jubilee year. This pivotal date marked the start of Daniel 9 and the 70 Weeks countdown to the Messiah Yeshua. Indeed few points in Biblical history hold more significance in YHWH’s redemptive plan for mankind. If you’d like to further pursue the Biblical evidence of the 2nd temple era and the prophecy of Daniel 9 then I encourage you to download a free copy of my book Daniel’s 70 Weeks: The Keystone of Bible Prophecy. You’ll find information about a free digital download at the end of this article.

The Jubilee Today
So the above chronology allows us to answer the question raised in the title of this article: Are 2015, 2016, or 2017  jubilee years based upon the Biblical evidence we’ve explored? To put it bluntly, no they are not. Based upon the jubilee cycle we identified in Ezekiel 1 & 40, and assuming they can be projected into the future, a jubilee fell in 68-69 AD, the year preceding the destruction of Jerusalem. Our closest past jubilee was 1979-1980. Towards the latter part of the next decade in the years 2028-2029 there will be another. This jubilee will fall about the time of the 2000 year anniversary of Yeshua’s ministry.

I need to make an important point here. I don’t believe the jubilee cycles and patterns described here should be used as a means to and predict any specific future event. I know enough about the chronology I described above to understand that the historical dates and chronology we’ve explored can be reasonably argued a year or two either direction.

The real beauty of the jubilee cycles in the Bible is not their ability to predict any specific future event but rather their ability to show the hand of YHWH working out His redemptive plan for mankind in the events of the past.

So in closing I understand the implications of the evidence I’ve shared with you today and I ask you not to abuse it by trying to predict the future. I believe we are living in the season of the Messiah Yeshua’s return, but it is only in retrospect that we will ever know the day or the hour.

Maranatha!

Authors Note: For those interested in a more detail explanation of the chronology described in this article you might find the following chronological chart to be of use: 7000 years of Bible Chronology (The chart is a PDF file.)

Free Book Download:
Subscribers can download my book Daniel’s 70 Weeks: The Keystone of Bible Prophecy free of charge. After subscribing you’ll be directed to a download page with PDF and DOC files as well as links to major digital retailers where my book can be downloaded for free. Also note that subscribers will also be given a free digital copy of my upcoming book release: The Jubilee Code: Prophetic Milestones in the Bible when it becomes available.