So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
Over the next couple of weeks, there is one word that will be heard all over our land; the word is ‘jubilee’. On the 6th Feb 2022, HM Queen Elizabeth, became the first British monarch to reach the milestone of 70 years on the throne. Platinum Jubilee celebrations are already underway.
The origins of the word ‘jubilee’ are actually traced back to the Old Testament.
Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan. The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. (Leviticus 25:10-11)
However, what most non Jews don’t appreciate is that fact that the Year of Jubilee could not begin until the ram’s horn sounded on Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement. Why is that important? Quite simply, there could be no freedom, no restoration, no jubilee until there had been atonement.
The blessing could only come after the atonement.’ (Jonathan Cahn)
Fast forward one thousand five hundred years and we look upon the final atonement when Jesus died on the cross for us. It was not until atonement was made, that we could be set free.
As Johnathan Cahn points out:
“The more you dwell in the atonement, the more you live in the power of the jubilee. The power to walk in freedom, the power of reconciliation, the power of liberty... and the power of entering into your inheritance in God.”
Jesus himself spoke about this time of jubilee on one magnificent occasion. He said:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. (Luke 4:18-19)
Now, doesn’t this deserve to be celebrated?!
And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
In recent decades, the variety of types of holiday that people can experience has widened considerably. You can holiday in cities, on beaches, visit vineyards or battlefields.You could go on cruises, safaris or visit national parks, botanical gardens and even rum factories!
And then there’s the accommodation. This could vary from, ‘overwater bungalows’ to castles, luxurious pool villas to log cabins, mansions to county homes, the list is endless. Noticeably absent from these popular destinations are vacations in wastelands and deserts! There are no prizes from guessing why this is the case. These places are usually uninviting, dry, barren, hot, austere, inhospitable, harsh, forbidding and uncomfortable places. Who wants to holiday in Wilderness World?
However, it’s interesting to note some major incidents that happened when God took people aside into a wilderness, a desert; it was there that he spoke to them.
Moses was one of these people. Moses, a shepherd, was tending the flocks in the wilderness when God spoke to him from a burning bush and commissioned him to set the children of Israel free. Later in Moses life, God would visit him again in a wilderness, this time the wilderness of Sinai, and give to him the Law that would help lead and guide the children of Israel.
One day, weary, depressed and wanting to die, Elijah found himself in a wilderness. It was in that place of pain and aloneness that Elijah heard the ‘still small voice’ of God which gave him the direction he needed for the next phase of his life.
Notice that in each case, the wilderness became a place of God speaking. Physically barren but spiritually overflowing with goodness.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. (Hosea 2:14)
There are times in life when we find ourselves, spiritually, in a wilderness. The wilderness can be the result of some kind of loss, crisis, tragedy, loneliness, conflict or hardship. We naturally shrink from the wilderness. “God, take us anywhere but the wilderness!” But God has higher, and deeper plans for our wilderness sojourn. It is there that He wants to speak to us, to reveal Himself to us in depths we did not find when we lived in our land of comfort and plenty. God wants to take us to a place where, as Isaiah puts it,
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. (Isaiah 35:1,2)
Are you willing to endure the dry, harsh, forbidding, painful journey through the wilderness? If you do, you won’t regret it.
Pauline Ann Anderson
This Thought for the Week has been written by Peter Hodson.
Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. (Matthew 7:24-25)
The tallest building in the UK is the Shard, standing at some 309.6m high. The geological makeup beneath it is a mixture of various soil types, including clay, silt, sand and gravel - not good for building anything on! The 100+ pile foundations, each around 1.5m in diameter, had to go some 53m down to reach bedrock and around 700 lorry loads of concrete had to be poured into the ground to stabilise the soil. Much of this work went on relatively unseen and was time-consuming. If the ground could speak, it would probably cry out with the enormous upheaval and agonising boring of the piles! However, the result was a firm base for what was once the tallest building in Europe and has won a number of awards for architectural excellence.
The Shard, beautiful as it is, is an earthly building and it will have a limited lifespan. God wants to make something far more beautiful - something that will last for all eternity - your life in the image of Jesus Christ! The preparation work, like the foundations for the Shard, is mostly unseen, often painful, and takes time. The writer to the Hebrews said:
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. (Hebrews 12:11)
We need to let God’s word of truth bore into the unstable and ugly parts within us of sin and self, and let his transforming love pour into the innermost part of our lives. The concrete of the unchanging word of God sinking deep within our hearts will bring His stability, peace, joy and true freedom. He is making a building that cannot be shaken by circumstances, moods or feelings and will last forever.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord
(Ephesians 2:19– 21)
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)
Very often, when we contemplate Biblical teaching about ‘the tongue’ we are drawn to the famous chapter in the Book of James that so eloquently deals with the subject. We read strongly worded verses verses such as…
“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5,6 )
Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3:10)
But,it was not just James who dealt with this topic. The use / abuse of the tongue is a topic that many of the authors of the Bible tackled.
Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies! (Psalms 34:12-13)
To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. (Titus 3:2 )
Even Jesus had something to say about the tongue.
How can you speak good when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. (Matthew 12:34,35)
And Billy Graham reminds us:
“A harsh word can’t be taken back; no apology can fully repair its damage.”
God tells us that words have power. That power can be used to bring comfort, solace, encouragement, healing. But it can also bring stress, discouragement, wounding or humiliation. We can use our tongue to bring blessing, or we can use our tongues to bring pain. The choice is ours.
However, we must also remember that it’s not only our words that wound. I, personally, have suffered more from the WAY things have been said to me rather than words themselves. Maybe some of you can identify with that. An unkind tone of voice can bring the fiery darts that wound so severely and can leave a mark, sometime for years.
Time and time again, the Bible reminds us of the importance of the use of our tongue.Thousands of Christian writers have reminded us. Pastors have reminded us. Friends have reminded us. Maybe, for someone today, this will serve as an important reminder. Let’s not ignore it.
Copyright © 2014 Struthers Memorial Church All rights reserved
Struthers Memorial Church is a registered Scottish Charity No. SC 006960 | Struthers Memorial Church is a company limited by guarantee incorporated in Scotland Company No SC335480 | Registered Office: 33 West Stewart Street, Greenock, PA15 1SH.