8 “‘Count off seven groups of seven years, or forty-nine years. During that time there will be seven years of rest for the land. 9 On the Day of Cleansing, you must blow the horn of a male sheep; this will be on the tenth day of the seventh month. You must blow the horn through the whole country. 10 Make the fiftieth year a special year, and announce freedom for all the people living in your country. This time will be called Jubilee (Hebrew word for a horn of a male sheep.) (Lev. 25:8-10) NCV
54 “‘Even if no one buys him back, at the year of Jubilee, he and his children will become free. 55 This is because the people of Israel are servants to me. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Lev. 25:54-55) NCV
The readings for today had me thinking of the word “freedom” and how important it is to God. It was He who declared the fiftieth year as a year of celebration for the Israelites. On the Day of Atonement, after seven years of seven, the rams horn would be blown, and it would be the beginning of a year of freedom—freedom from slavery, freedom from debts, freedom from bondages, and atonement for sin. Of course, as you read the verses there were still transactions that needed to be followed through. But in the end was redemption!
It is such a picture of Jesus! Through no work of our own, He paid our debt! He forgave our sins! He released us from bondage—all because we are the children of God. There are no transactions, nothing more needs to be done. He paid the price once, for all who choose to believe.
And then there’s Peter:
5 So Peter was kept in jail, but the church prayed earnestly to God for him. (Acts 12:5)
6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains. Other soldiers were guarding the door of the jail. 7 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood there, and a light shined in the cell. The angel struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Hurry! Get up!” the angel said. And the chains fell off Peter’s hands. (Acts 12:6-7) NCV
Freedom! Peter was physically set free from prison. I am not sure this was the outcome he expected. I thought of all the emotional chains God has broken from me. Chains of shame, chains of guilt, chains of sin, and chains of rejection . . . I could go on. They were chains that held me in prison as well. Prison. It was never a place God intended to keep Peter. It was never a place God intended to keep me.
Acts 12:5 confirms the importance of corporate prayer. God heard their cries and in answer to their prayers He supernaturally released Peter—to their utter amazement. I loved Rhoda’s response—at first she didn’t believe it was him but then she was so excited she forgot to open the door and let him in. I think I would have been overwhelmed at how God answered that prayer myself! There have been times when the realization hit me that God had answered my prayers—big prayers. It’s happened to me twice. My reaction both times was to start laughing in delight with tears streaming down my face at the same time, a mixture of joy and gratitude. I don’t know if I can even adequately describe the emotion I felt, but I think Rhoda running to tell the others out of excitement is a pretty good picture of it.
15 My eyes are always looking to the Lord for help.
He will keep me from any traps.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me,
because I am lonely and hurting.
17 My troubles have grown larger;
free me from my problems.
18 Look at my suffering and troubles,
and take away all my sins. (Ps 25:15-18) NCV
Heavenly Father, I surrender myself to you alone for in you is great freedom. Jesus paid much too high a price for me to have that freedom. Help me to always keep looking to you when anything that might ensnare me comes my way. I am so thankful I can come to you immediately to be forgiven of my sins; it isn’t only once a year, or every 50 years. I can be set free because Jesus already paid my debt. Thank you for the chains that you have supernaturally removed from my soul. I am eternally grateful for all you have done in my life. In Jesus name, Amen