“You must … proclaim liberty in the land to all its inhabitants.” – Leviticus 25:10
[From ws 12/19 p.8 Study Article 50: February 10 – February 16, 2020]
This week’s study article is acceptable until we reach paragraph 12 where we are introduced to the concept of a symbolic jubilee without any Biblical precedent.
According to the Watchtower article (w15 3/15 p. 17)[i] they promised not to look for types and anti-types which in principle surely also applies to symbols.
Can there be Liberty from sin and death?
Yes, the scriptures promise this.
Can there be Liberty from false teachings?
Yes, the scriptures promise this.
When was Liberty proclaimed?
In the Jubilee followed by the nation of Israel, every slave was set free at the beginning of the Jubilee year.
Therefore, how can it make sense that according to the Watchtower Study article some were set free as part of a symbolic Jubilee in 30CE, some in 33CE, others as they were anointed up till some indeterminate time around the end of the first century, and some from 1874 onwards and the rest spread over a 1,000 years starting after Armageddon. That was not how the ancient Jubilee worked.
If there was a symbolic Jubilee started in 30CE (and this is highly questionable) when Jesus read the prophecy from Isaiah, then it would have to have started then and been applied to people as soon as they took advantage of its provisions.
Paragraph 12 claims “He adopted them as his sons so that in time they would be resurrected to heaven to reign with Jesus. (Rom. 8:2, 15-17)”. This cited scripture does give any indication as to where they would rule with Christ. Further John 8:21, a few verses earlier, to John 8:36 which was quoted in paragraph 11, states, “Hence he said to them again: “I am going away, and YOU will look for me, and yet YOU will die in YOUR sin. Where I am going YOU cannot come”. He did not say ‘you cannot come at the present but you can if you repent’.
If indeed “the symbolic Jubilee that began with the anointing of Christ’s followers in 33 C.E. will end at the conclusion of Jesus’ Thousand Year Reign” on what Scriptural basis is this made? As no mention of any period or symbolic Jubilee period is made in Revelation 20 and 1 Corinthians 15:24 other than the Thousand year reign of Christ, it must surely be conjecture.
Further, reading the context (Luke 4:18,21) would indicate that if such a symbolic Jubilee started at all, it started then in 30CE. After all, Luke 4 says “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release”. The preaching of the release was then, as was the sending of crushed ones away with a release, in 30CE. According to Luke 4:21, Jesus said: “Today this scripture that YOU just heard is fulfilled”. That would therefore include “to send the crushed ones away with a release”.
Paragraph 14 then claims: “Think, too, of the blessings you enjoy because you have been liberated from long-held unscriptural beliefs. Jesus said: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)”.
Oh, the irony to make that claim here. To the contrary, does it not become clear that in reality, we were set free from one collection of false beliefs, only to be enslaved into another collection of false beliefs, this time, as taught by the Watchtower Organization. Such as the teaching that only a few (the anointed) numbering a maximum of 144,000 have been set free by a symbolic jubilee nearly 2,000 years in length. In addition to the teaching that at a minimum, millions will have to continue to wait up to another 1,000 years to benefit fully from this alleged symbolic Jubilee.
Paragraph 16 goes on to claim: “During the Thousand Year Reign, Jesus and his corulers will help to raise mankind to perfect physical and spiritual health”. As shown a number of times before in articles on this site, this claim of taking a long time to reach perfection (up to a thousand years for those surviving Armageddon) has no solid grounds in scripture and again is solely conjecture and speculation.
As the study article finishes with three unsatisfactory paragraphs of waffling, let us instead review what we know the Bible does say about our promised liberation from sin and death.
The whole of Romans 8 is worth some careful reading and meditation, but let us highlight Romans 8:11:
“If, now, the spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in YOU, he that raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also make YOUR mortal bodies alive through his spirit that resides in YOU.”
This is our first point: God intends to resurrect our “mortal bodies”.
Romans 8:14-15 goes on to say:
“For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons. 15 For YOU did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but YOU received a spirit of adoption as sons”.
If we endeavour to practice the fruits of the spirit, we are God’s children instead of children of the Devil. (John 8:44). It also says: “All who are led or brought by God’s Spirit are God’s sons”. This reminds us of Jesus words in John 6:44,65 that no one could come to Jesus unless his Father draws them. Furthermore, that these ones will be resurrected on the last day, not at any other time.
2 Corinthians 1:22-23 talks of the Holy Spirit being a token of what will happen in the future when it says:
“But he who guarantees that YOU and we belong to Christ and he who has anointed us is God. 22 He has also put his seal upon us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts”. (See also 2 Corinthians 5:5 , Ephesians 1:14).
This is our second point: According to Romans, the token was for the future adoption as God’s children.
Romans 8:23 therefore makes sense when it says:
“Not only that, but we ourselves also who have the firstfruits, namely, the spirit, yes, we ourselves groan within ourselves, while we are earnestly waiting for adoption as sons, the release from our bodies by ransom”.
Note that the scripture speaks of the action of adoption as future, at the time when the full benefits of the ransom are applied.
Third point: The true liberation is in the future when everlasting life is given.
In John 6:40 Jesus told all his listeners:
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone that beholds the Son and exercises faith in him should have everlasting life, and I will resurrect him at the last day”. (John 10:24-28).
Romans 6:23 reminds us :“
For the wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The same chapter also reminds us that by accepting Jesus we were set free from sin in the sense of no longer being restricted to getting the only reward of sin, death, but instead having the possibility of resurrection to everlasting life.
Perhaps we can conclude this section with Galatians 5:4-5 which reminds us:
“YOU are parted from Christ, whoever YOU are that try to be declared righteous by means of law; YOU have fallen away from his undeserved kindness. 5 For our part we by spirit are eagerly waiting for the hoped-for righteousness as a result of faith”.
Rather than overly concerning ourselves with finding any symbolic Jubilee in Scripture, could we not better employ our time by working in harmony with the spirit to manifest the fruits of the spirit? (Galatians 5:22-23)
Let us not be caught out by “the false brothers brought in quietly, who sneaked in to spy upon our freedom which we have in union with Christ Jesus, that they might completely enslave us” (Galatians 2:4).
In this way we will be in line for true freedom whenever Jesus brings Armageddon.
We leave the final word to James 1:25-27:
“But he who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and who persists in [it], this [man], because he has become, not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, will be happy in his doing [it]. 26 If any man seems to himself to be a formal worshiper and yet does not bridle his tongue, but goes on deceiving his own heart, this man’s form of worship is futile. 27 The form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world”.
[i] “If such interpretations seem far-fetched, you can understand the dilemma. Humans cannot know which Bible accounts are shadows of things to come and which are not. The clearest course is this: Where the Scriptures teach that an individual, an event, or an object is typical of something else, we accept it as such. Otherwise, we ought to be reluctant to assign an antitypical application to a certain person or account if there is no specific Scriptural basis for doing so.” (w15 3/15 p. 17)