Jesus taught his disciples to pray for the arrival of the day when the rule of God (his Kingdom) would be as present on earth as it is in heaven. What does the arrival of God’s rule (Kingdom) in all its fullness entail? It is a day of Jubilee in the vision of the prophets Isaiah and Jesus:
“. . . a bringing of good news to the oppressed;
a binding up of the brokenhearted;
a proclamation of liberty to the captives;
of release to the prisoners
a proclamation of the year of Yahweh’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit” (Isa 61:2-3b).
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Lk 4:18-19).
Throughout his earthly career, Jesus the prophet proclaimed, embodied, and inaugurated Jubilee. In faithfulness to her Lord, the church must take up this prophetic mantle in all its fullness. Thus, disciples of Jesus must live in, embody, and continue implementing Jubilee. As we do so, however, our imagination for divine possibilities is fueled by the knowledge that Jubilee and yom kippur share the same date on the calendar (cf. Lev. 23:26-33; 25:8-12).
In the present and coming Kingdom, heaven enlists human help to implement its gifts of grace, reconciliation, and forgiveness. Such a prophetic calling is filled with possibilities as well as accountability. Any “takers”?