Joyful Sound: Jubilee: No. 2

Acts 8:39  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 6
We will now turn to the Acts. God was glorified, and the atonement was made. The disciples were commanded to sound the true jubilee—the glad tidings of God manifested, forgiveness proclaimed to every creature. They had waited at Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. The Holy Ghost had come to abide with them unto the end. And now the trumpet sounds in Jerusalem: the city of His very murderers hears the wondrous news, that He whom it had slain, " God hath made that same Jesus both Lord and Christ." They cry out in bitterness of soul, under conviction of sin. The trumpet sounds its joyful notes of an entire change of mind. Repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus, for forgiveness of sins, they hear the joyful sound: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added about three thousand souls." Gladness and singleness of heart and praising God was what marked the first day's sounding of the glad tidings of God.
Very little, however, did the first messengers of the gospel understand the largeness of the heart of God, and His wide purpose of blessing.
Grace lingered also over Jerusalem, until the marked rejection of the Jews, in the death of Stephen, and the great persecution scattered them abroad. And they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And what was the result of the glad tidings? There was great joy in that city. Why is it not so now? What is supposed to be the gospel is preached year after year, and what is the result? Years of doubt and utter uncertainty, or worldliness and indifference. Can it possibly be the same clear sound of complete liberty and deliverance proclaimed to every prisoner, captive, or slave, on earth—to every creature?
If we examine the proclamation to the eunuch it is just the same: Philip preached Jesus unto him. He heard, believed, was baptized, " and he went on his way rejoicing" How simple, sure, and immediate the effect of hearing the joyful sound. Is it so with the reader? Have you heard, believed, been baptized, and are you going on your way REJOICING? If not, you may be utterly deceived by that which is not the true, loud sound of God's jubilee.
We will now take a very distinct case. The apostle Paul, sent forth by the Holy Ghost, arrived at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13); he proclaims the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. That atoning death, as we have seen, is the only ground of the jubilee's loud sound of liberty. God having raised up Jesus from among the dead, the silver trumpet sounds the jubilee first in the synagogue of the Jews: "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached [or proclaimed] unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him, all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." What a proclamation, what a joyful sound! And is this the true gospel of God? As liberty to every slave was proclaimed on the day of atonement, ever pointing forward to the atoning death of Jesus, so now that this infinite sacrifice for sins has been offered, and God has shown His righteousness in raising up that blessed, atoning victim from the dead, forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to every creature on earth. And mark the joyful result, on the authority of the word of God, all that believe are justified from all things. This is what God proclaims, this is what God says to you. Do you believe Him? If you do, He says He justifies you, He accounts you righteous in His sight through the death of Jesus; yea, He assures you of this by raising your Substitute and Representative from the dead and receiving Him above all heavens. And more: God assures us we could not be thus justified, even by the law of Moses.
Mark how this answers to the proclamation on the day of atonement—the jubilee. The poor prisoner, or slave, had not one shekel to pay, not one thing to do. God proclaimed liberty by the sound of trumpet. The sinner has not one thing to do for salvation. Forgiveness is freely proclaimed to him, just as he is: if he believes the proclamation he is justified from all things, and God would have him know this. He says, " Be it known to you."
It may be said, Yes, this was the gospel to the religious Jews in the synagogue; but you would surely not say that this is the gospel to the sinner, sunk in sin and captivity to Satan. Yes, almost the whole city of the poor Gentile worshippers of demons came together to hear the very same joyful sound of forgiveness. " And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.... And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost." Surely the jubilee was a most striking type of all this.
in sin. Many believed this gospel at Thessalonica: did they walk in sin? Read 1 Thess. 1 for the answer. They so walked, and labored, and waited for the Son from heaven, that Paul could give thanks for them all. He says, " And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost." No, the true gospel is a jubilee, a joyful sound. And God would have us know that joyful sound. It is most sad to think that even England pays its priests who deny all this; they would tell you that you never can know the joyful sound of sins forgiven, and justification from all things; you must seek this blessing at their hands by law-keeping and sacraments. But never is it with them, " Be it known unto you."
Which will you believe, God or the pretended priest? We say ' pretended’ for God has no priests now, except as all true Christians are priests unto Him. God says, I proclaim unto you, unto every creature, through Jesus, forgiveness of sins. What love, what mercy! God says, All who believe are justified. The priest says, as it were, You must not believe God. God says, Be it known. The priest says, No man knows. God says to the believer, You are justified from all things. The priest says, No, you are not. You cannot be justified by works of law, says God. You must be justified by works, says man. Oh let God be true, and every man a liar.
Do you say, This is so different from all I have been taught from my youth; do show me from the word of God what would be the effect of believing this joyful sound of free forgiveness and deliverance, of liberty as in the year of jubilee? Very good, my friend, then let us now look a little more closely at Psalm 89:1515Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. (Psalm 89:15). We have seen how God says, "Be it known." Here we read, " Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound [the same word, troo-gah, jubilee]: they shall walk, Ο Lord, in the light of thy countenance."
Is there any uncertainty here? They know the joyful sound, they know their sins are all forgiven to be remembered no more. They know they are now in the liberty of Christ, justified from all things. They know they have passed from death unto life—Jesus says so. (John 5:2424Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24).) Is this to walk in darkness, to walk in doubt, to walk in sin? No: " They shall walk, Ο Lord, in the light of thy countenance." And surely this will give untold joy; yes, " in thy name shall they rejoice all the day." They joy in God.
And now in the light they see how guilty they have been. What was gain to them, they count loss; all of self is dung. They utterly renounce all pretensions to righteousness of their own; but they say, "And in thy righteousness shall they be exalted." They need not their old rags, for now they are clothed in the best robe. They know their own utter weakness. If they were tried again they would fail, for they have in themselves no strength. They lean on God and say, " For thou art the glory of their strength." Yes, there must be the hopper in the field before the reaper; seed sown before fruit gathered. We must know in our inmost souls the joyful sound of Gods glad tidings, before there can be the fruit of a walk in the light of His countenance.
As we have said, the jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria, has passed away, never to return. And oh how soon the present jubilee of abounding grace may pass away, never to return. Before you lay this down, yea, before it is in print what a change may have taken place.
It is quite true that all this, as to the present period of grace, is in anticipation of another final fulfillment of the type of the jubilee. What is true now of an individual will then be true of the whole nation of Israel; but these are very distinct in scripture. We may trace both how this period of grace will close, and also how, after the day of vengeance, the trumpet shall sound to God's ancient people the Jews, and also how the whole earth shall be filled with gladness.
Reader, beware of delaying to hear the joyful sound. The atonement has met the claims of the righteousness of God. Now, in His infinite love, He delights to proclaim liberty and forgiveness to every slave and prisoner of sin on earth, through Jesus who died and rose again. " He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
(To be continued, if the Lord will.)