Becoming the Jubilee

Many think that in Jesus's first sermon he compares his life and ministry to the year of Jubilee.
Luke 4.16-19
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read,and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“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 favor.”
Again, some think that the reference here in Isaiah to the "acceptable year of the Lord"--where the oppressed are set free and freedom is proclaimed to the prisoners--is an allusion to the year of Jubilee described in Leviticus 25.

The Jubilee was to be the Sabbath year of Sabbath years. Every seven days the Israelites were to celebrate a Sabbath day of rest. And every seven years they were to observe a Sabbath year of rest. And after seven Sabbath years--7 x 7--there was to be a super-duper Sabbath year, the year of Jubilee.

During the year of Jubilee the following was to happen:
Leviticus 24.39-41
If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors.
During the years in between each Jubilee various people, for whatever reason, would fall into debt and, as a consequence, they and their family would be sold into debt bondage. During the year of Jubilee these debt slaves--often entire families--were to be set free. More, the family land was to be given back to them. All was to be forgiven and fortunes restored.

In light of this, Jesus's allusion to the Jubilee in Luke 4 hints at the forgiveness that will be found in his life, death and resurrection. In the person of Jesus we experience the Jubilee of God. We are let out of the debtor's prison and our fortunes are restored.

And it might be even bigger than that.

Some at the time of Jesus were suggesting that there might be something on the horizon even bigger than the Jubilee. That God might be working up to Mega-Jubilee, a Jubilee of Jubilees. If the Jubilee was to be celebrated after 7 x 7 the Jubilee of Jubilees would go further, coming after 70 x 7 years.

Seventy times seven.

That sound familiar?

In the bible we first encounter this number--seventy times seven--in Daniel 9. In this text Daniel is in prayer about a prophecy made by Jeremiah that the Babylonian exile would last for seventy years:
Jeremiah 25.11-12
This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years. “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever."
In Daniel 9 Daniel is in prayer wondering when the seventy years will be over. In answer to this prayer the angel Gabriel appears and tells Daniel that the exile will not be over in seventy years but in seventy times seven years:
Daniel 9.1-3, 20-24
In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom—in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes...

While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel and making my request to the Lord my God for his holy hill — while I was still in prayer, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the earlier vision, came to me in swift flight about the time of the evening sacrifice. He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision:

Seventy ‘sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
In one sense this is disappointing news. The end of the exile isn't going to be in 70 years. It's going to be in 70 x 7 (= 490) years.

But on the other hand the promise here is crackling with portent and theological significance. The end of the Great Exile is going to be the Jubilee to end all Jubilees.

So the Jews were expecting something really, really big. And a great deal of effort was expended in Jesus's day in trying to figure out just when the 490 years would be over. The main disagreements had to do with the starting point, when the 490-year clock started ticking.

But such calculations might have been a bit too literal. Seventy times seven may have been more theological than chronological. Seventy times seven may have been a way of saying that the end of exile would involve something apocalyptic in nature and scope. A Jubilee beyond imagining, the final and ultimate fulfillment of God's promises. The ending not just of exile but the inauguration of the New Heaven and New Earth.

With that background in place let's turn back to gospels. Does the seventy times seven prophecy in Daniel connect with Jesus in any way?

There are three connections.

First, the angel Gabriel appears only three times in the bible. The first appearance we've already noted. Gabriel is the one who tells Daniel about the seventy times seven years. The very next time we encounter Gabriel is in the gospel of Luke announcing the births of John the Baptist and Jesus. Gabriel's reappearance in the biblical story brings to mind our first encounter with the messenger in Daniel 9. Perhaps, with the birth of Jesus, the exile is over? Does the reappearance of Gabriel signal that the Jubilee of Jubilees is upon us?

Second, some scholars argue that Matthew's genealogy in Matthew 1 is another attempt to connect Jesus with the sevens in Daniel. From Abraham to David to Exile to Jesus Matthew describes three sets of fourteen generations, six sets of sevens. Jesus comes at the end of this line, capping it off as the seventh seven, an allusion to the Jubilee.

But the most explicit connection in the gospels with the prophecy of seventy times seven comes from the gospel of Matthew:
Matthew 18:21-23
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."
Peter's eyes must have gotten very, very big.

Because, as we've seen, this isn't just any random number. The number is large, yes, but it's much more than that. It's a number associated with the end of exile, the number of God's apocalyptic intervention. It's the number of the Jubilee of Jubilees.

You can make a pretty strong case that the central core of Jesus's ministry, the orbit of his life, was forgiveness. The examples here go on and on. "Love your enemies." "Turn the other cheek." "Neither do I condemn you." "Your sins are forgiven." "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." "Forgive and you will be forgiven." "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." "My son who was lost has been found." "The Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth." "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

All this makes sense if Jesus is, in his very person, the Jubilee. Forgiveness--releasing those in debt--is what the Jubilee was all about. To experience the Jubilee is to have your debts forgiven. And that's what Jesus did wherever he went. He brought the Jubilee. Jesus was the Jubilee.

And not just any Jubilee--it was and is the last, greatest and final Jubilee. The seventy times seven Jubilee.

And what is extraordinary about all this is that Jesus invites Peter--and you and I--to become the Jubilee as well.

It makes perfect sense that the seventy times seven number shows up in the middle of a question about forgiveness. If Peter is asking a forgiveness question he's asking a Jubilee question. How many times do I have to forgive my brother? Peter is thinking small, on the scale of the Sabbath week. Jesus goes further. Past the Sabbath year. Past even the Jubilee itself. Jesus goes big. He invokes the Jubilee of Jubilees.

And as should be obvious, by invoking seventy times seven Jesus isn't simply giving Peter a big number. Jesus isn't setting the bar higher, raising standards. Rather, Jesus is inviting Peter to become a different sort of person, to adopt a new sort identity. Simply, Jesus is asking Peter to become the Jubilee. Just as Jesus was the Jubilee. And if you are the Jubilee--if forgiveness is what defines you--then how could you ask the question "How many times do I have to forgive"?

If you embody the Jubilee--if the Jubilee is who you are--then the answer is obvious. You always forgive. You are the Jubilee.

That's what I think Jesus is saying to Peter when Peter asks about the limits of forgiveness. Jesus is inviting Peter, and all of us, to forgive as we have been forgiven. To become people of mercy and grace. To proclaim, in our own lives, the year of the Lord's favor so that we might become the Jubilee.

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37 thoughts on “Becoming the Jubilee”

  1. Interesting.  For a slightly different perspective, there is an organization of people who have suffered abuse dedicated to the notion that forgiveness is not necessary if the abuser/sinner is unrepentant.  They base their ministry and website on the verse Luke 17:3.

  2. Great post Richard! The Year of Jubilee is also the foundation of the ultimate reconciliation of all. IMHO

  3. "You are the Jubilee...[is] to become people of mercy and grace..."  Beautiful.

  4. I used to think Daniel 9 related to related to the Christ Jesus. It was one of the biggest things that kept me grounded when I was young. Hard proof that Jesus was the Christ, along with the Resurrection sign.
    After a few years is dawned on me. Remember all those verses in the New Testement where they point to Jesus saying 'Com'on man, just do the math in Daniel. Heelllooo. What part confuses you!'

    None of those verses exist. The sign of Jonah was all I had left, and as it turned out, when I read my Bible, that was the only one given.

  5. In my 49th year - the year of Jubilee - I was led to recognize, understand, and believe in, the ultimate reconciliation of all things. Nothing left out. No one left behind. ALL reconciled to God.

    It is a beautiful thing.

  6. "The main disagreements had to do with the starting point, when the 490-year clock started ticking."

    "But such calculations might have been a bit too literal. Seventy times seven may have been more theological than chronological."

    If the 490 years is "more theological than chronological" (???) how does one explain that the prophesy also said:
    1) The city of Jerusalem was also supposed to be rebuilt in 49 years and it was.
    2) After 483 years the Messiah was to be cut off and He was.
    3) After the 483 years, the city of Jerusalem and the temple was to be destroyed and it was in 70AD.
    4) After the 490 years, all sin (not forgiveness of sin) would be removed from Israel.  And, that has clearly not happened yet.

  7. I still find this hard to swallow. I mean, formulating an entire framework of forgiveness based upon one verse is something that most of us here at ET would acknowledge as misguided. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to just write it off because I don't like it. I have been and will continue to sit in it and reflect on its implications and congruity with the rest of scripture, reason, etc. 

    But here's my take as of right now: It's kinda like the kid in the corner who, after being wronged, stubbornly waits in the corner until someone says "I'm sorry." It seems to me that it is a sort of power play (how postmodern of me!) to hinge forgiveness upon one party rather than both. I think that, to an extent of course, there is a mutuality involved with forgiveness. Sure you can disconnect it and perhaps "forgive" the offending party in your heart without telling them, just as easily as you can repent your sins exclusively to God and not to your neighbor whom you've offended. I think the point in verses like Luke 17:3 is to acknowledge the mutuality, the inclusion of other, into your repentance or forgiveness. But yea, if someone refuses to forgive or refuses to repent, there's not much inclusion or willingness towards reconciliation on the shoulders of that party. It takes two. To that, I think this luke173ministries attests, you can't have the kind of forgiveness and repentance that Christ/Scripture speaks of because there is no inclusion or will to embrace for either one party or both. 

    I still say that in those instances, we are called to do what is right regardless of another's response is (whether they repent or not). If we refuse to forgive until the other repents, how do we treat them in the meantime? There may be a connection between the state of our heart towards a person and how we treat them (duh, there is). 

    I think how we treat others is more important than an internal state of forgiveness/unforgiveness. So with that, I just find it hard to treat others with dignity, respect, and even love when I don't seek to forgive that other person (whether in my own heart or, preferably, directly with them). 

    So I guess if the other party refuses to repent to you or forgive you, I think, for our own well-being, we can still seek to forgive or repent within the intimate confines of our own self and relationship with God. Remember, though, the ideal is a mutuality of forgiveness and repentance, but at the end of the day, we cannot control any other persons, and if the situation limits or forgiveness/repentance, we can only "get right with God" (in the best sense of that phrase).

    There's what I have for now, what are your thoughts, Sam?

  8. David, out of curiosity, go to this link and look at the Scofield bible notes for Daniel Chapter 9 (note that at the bottom you'll need to click forward to get the rest of the notes for Chapter 9):

    After looking it over, how much of that do you agree or disagree with?

  9. I am fascinated by how the number seven is always reappearing in the Biblical narrative, wherever you go. It is a number of significance even outside the Judeo-Christian world.

  10. Richard,

    First, I asked some sincere questions and not that you owe me any answers; but, instead of answers you asked a question.  Does that seem right to you; a brother in Christ who loves me?

    As to your question, there is a lot there and I basically just skimmed it.  I don't for example agree with his view that Ephesians 3:1-10 is talking about the kingdom of heaven.  I see that passage talking about the church, the body of Christ.

    Nevetheless, yes, I do read Daniel like that.  And, although I know you do not, I find that reading to be in complete harmony with the rest of God's revelation to us.  (Being really dumb probably gives me an advantage in seeing this harmony!!)  In Daniel, God was revealing information to Daniel about his people, Israel.  The church is not Israel; and therein is the real problem.

    All of Scripture is not written 'to' us, the body.  (That does not mean it was not written 'for' us.)  For example, I assume you do not try to obey Leviticus 5:6 if you happen to violate Leviticus 5:2?  Of course, not.  That passage does not apply to you or me today.  But, it certainly did to Israelites a few thousand years ago.  To just read the Bible as one big 'message to us' is going to lead to error.  So, to read what was said about or to a nation, Israel, and just morph the message into one for the church, is wrong.  In the same manner, to focus on what Jesus was doing with Israel before His crucifixion and just blend that into what we later learn about the church, the body of Christ, ignoring the Israel part before the cross, leads to more error.

    Now, please, if you have the time, how do you see the 49 years and the 69 weeks leading to the crucifixion?

  11. For my part, what "leads to more error" is any Christian belief that sees the teachings of Jesus--for example, the Sermon on the Mount--as not for the church. In fact, I'd say that such beliefs shouldn't even be called "Christian" as they systematically argue that Jesus's teachings do not apply to his church.

  12. Well, again you avoid dealing with any specific Biblical issues I raise.  Then you raise a non-issue.  Of course, God's teachings are always profitable.  The question is application; not truth.  BUT, does God forgive me because of my forgiving another??? Or, does God forgive me when I don't deserve it and haven't earned it?  (Matthew 6:14)  How do you explain that one as it applies to the church?  Of course, you might actually believe that I have to forgive others before God will first forgive me!  And, thus my forgiveness only happens after I forgive others first.  Nonsense.  Faith alone leads to forgiveness.  My forgiving another has nothing to do with God forgiving me.  So, either Matthew 6:14 is wrong; or it, like Leviticus 5:6, doesn't apply to me and you.  Which is it?

    Jesus lived under the Mosaic law and all the Israelites he talked to did so also.  Are you under the Mosaic law?  Well, then how do you distinguish which of the things He said do or do not apply to you except through a completely arbitrary selection process.

  13. What is breathtaking about your position is that, like I said above, it's not even Christian. To say that the Sermon on the Mount is "profitable" is inherently atheistic. That's what an atheist says about Jesus, that his teachings are "profitable." A Christian--a true disciple of Jesus--would say that Jesus's teachings were authoritative. Yet that is what you deny.

    So why claim to be a follower of Jesus if, at root, you claim that you do NOT follow his teachings?

  14. Pardon me for butting in for I just stumbled onto this site. I have a question that I hope is not out of line, although it is out of the context with most of the conversation. I understand that one must be careful how narrow or wide an interpretation is put on biblical numbers, for once you start down the road of multiplication of what seven times X equals; well, things can get messy. So with all that as disclaimer, I was once told that the Jews, Hebrews, them-there-biblical-people never ever celebrated the Year of Jubilee. That there is no evidence that anyone on the forty-ninth-year was ever set free from bondage or anything else. I don't bring this up to undercut the thesis that seven times whatever isn't important. But what the people are supposed to do and what they end up doing is quite often very different.

    I am just plain leery of numbers extracted from scriptures as there is a lack of consistence. For example, during the period of the divided kingdoms; they counted the years a king had been on the throne differently. I forget which one was which, but in one the moment the king sat on the throne, he would have been counted as having been on the throne for a year. In the other kingdom, the king would have to wait a year before he was "credited" with having served a year. I would suggest that scriptural numbers may be theological instead of literal; and that within the literal numbers there is some question as to the original author understood their arithmetic.

  15. "To say that the Sermon on the Mount is "profitable" is inherently atheistic.  That's what an atheist says about Jesus, that his teachings are "profitable."

    OMG, you have gone off the deep end rather that deal with my actual comment!!!

    Surely, Matthew 5-7 is Scripture.  Nevertheless, I am happy to join Paul (that atheist, inspired by the Holy Spirit) when He says that all Scripture is "profitable."

    2 Timothy 3:16-17   All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  (NASB)

    What actually is "breathtaking about >b>your position" is that you really don't understand how to use context.  You think you are following Jesus; but, you can't unless you understand what He said in context.  But, have a good time forgiving everybody and maybe God will eventually forgive you.

  16. If I may jump in, I think that's a good question. Several people I've read do point out that the prophets condemned the rulers for not performing Jubilee, implying that the expectation was still clear, at least within the narrative world being depicted. Also, I wonder if failure to celebrate something is necessarily a mark against it (consider the Sermon on the Mount). But I agree with you: what people are supposed to do can end up pretty different than the intention. "There's good deeds/and there's good intentions/and there as far apart as heaven and hell."

    Great post by the way. I think Jesus' interpretation of the kingdom of God makes more sense in light of the economy of Jubilee and Sabbath: the rich young ruler in Mark and Zaccheus in Luke. Jubilee almost as a precondition for the kingdom of God.

  17. I have fallen off the deep end, but to the point I'm just patiently pointing out the irony of your situation: A follower of Jesus who believes that he doesn't have to do what Jesus says.

    BTW, I forgive you.

  18. You say, 'I was once told that the Jews, Hebrews, them-there-biblical-people never ever celebrated the Year of Jubilee.' 
    I say, who did Jesus have the problem with?  The religious. And 'they' still refuse to invite ALL to the party!

  19. "I'm just patiently pointing out the irony of your situation: A follower of Jesus who believes that he doesn't have to do what Jesus says."

    WHAT????  I never said that.  What I do say is that I 'want to' and 'attempt to' do everything that Jesus has told me to do.  I don't want to do what He told others to do when that authoritative command has nothing to do with me.  Why can't you see this simple distinction?

    "BTW, I forgive you. "For what???

  20. I have studied their site, and they do cite other verses as well, of course.  They tend to emphasize the whole "God gave them over to their own reprobate mind" POV.  Their ministry is aimed at people who have, for whatever reason, never learned how to confront or challenge an abuser.

    I think the issue is one of learning how to deal with people who will not change their behavior no matter how we respond.  This is critical in dealing with spouses, offspring, parents, co-workers, and bosses.  Part of becoming wise involves learning when to say yes, no, and when to ultimately walk away.

    I have felt guilty for many years due to my inability to forgive my step-mother as well as my late pastor.  Neither of them ever recognized or acknowledged their crimes, and only now do I feel a deep sense of relief.  I see them now as both standing in front of God, and my forgiveness seems a moot point.  However, I think you have a much deeper understanding and appreciation of this topic than I.  I am still only taking baby steps.

  21. Yes. I think when we "historicize" the year of Jubilees--when we say, "This is the custom of the ancient Israelites"--we miss the point. It wasn't their custom, it was their ideal. And Richard has done an AWESOME job of talking about how that ideal continues to feed the prophecies and hopes of Israel--of Jesus--of the church.

    It's possible that selfish humans can't observe this year. An Israeli friend told me that at one time the state of Israel tried to institute the Sabbatical year of loan-forgiveness--the poor suffered from the inability to get loans in the year leading up to the Jubilees. Eventually, a complicated loop-hole was found. Selfish humans never quite live up to the ideal. But that vision has sure driven a lot of people, Christian and Jews, to forgive an awful lot of debts!

    Completely off-topic, one can compare the prohibition of divorce among Catholics, which causes so much suffering among couples who aren't able to make their marriage work, and then the loophole of "annulment" is found. Again, selfish humans never quite live up to the ideal. But the ideal has driven a lot of people, Catholic and Protestant, to remain faithful in their marriages.

  22. I do think that our assumption that forgiveness should happen without repentance is not particularly Scriptural. It ends up watering down the word "forgiveness"--forgiveness is something that happens in me, in order that I should "feel" one way toward the person who wronged me rather than another way. I've ever heard Christians tout forgiveness as a psychological way for me to get rid of all those negative feelings.

    Scripturally, forgiveness is about restoring someone who wrongs. That's why Jesus' passage about forgiveness starts with rebuking--even taking people along to help rebuke. This doesn't mean we remain "unforgiving" toward unrepentant people--but it does mean that the full process of forgiveness has not yet occurred.

    I have every sympathy for those of you who have real, unrepentant enemies. You must love them. You must pray for them. You have my deepest prayers in attempting both. And in the process you may have to do something internal to your own psyche that you may call "forgiveness." But it is not the full picture of what the Scripture eventually promises for FORGIVENESS--a full restoration in which those people will confront their wrongs, and be healed, and return to embrace both God and the people they have wronged.

    (I'm relying on Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace.)


  23. Richard, I'm in entire sympathy with your rejection of dispensationalism that does not receive Jesus' words as not for the church. I do want to interject caution--some of us use the word "profitable" or "useful," a la 2 Tim 3:16-17, to describe our conviction that Jesus' words are indeed for the church.

    It doesn't seem that this is what David is doing. But don't knock the word "profitable."

  24. Hi Stephen,
    I think what's often at issue with forgiveness, and this is almost never addressed, is the fact that it's often a 3rd party pressure and spiritual/emotional blackmail on a victim exerted on behalf of an offender by one of their "silent partners" (often also called "flying monkeys") in an abusive family constellation. That pressure to forgive is never addressed, and the wrongdoer is never equally pressured to apologize or acknowledge their wrong. This is a Baptist counseling website that addresses just this problem.

  25. I hope I didn't make it overly simplistic or gloss over it like it's a math problem. Any kind of forgiveness sucks and is very hard. And I agree, the main issue is working out how to respond to those people who will not change or recognize a wrong. For the sake of vulnerability, I find it incredibly hard to forgive my parents, and most days I don't even know what they did wrong! I am the most spiteful and contemptful person towards them. Every day is hard, but I have hope - sometimes.  Grace and peace to you as we take our baby steps.

  26. Thanks Patricia! I'll check it out this weekend! (Flying monkeys is intriguing so I'll look into that too!)

  27. "Part of becoming wise involves learning when to say yes, no, and when to ultimately walk away."  Sam, I understand.  Your friend, Susan

  28. Patricia always blows me away with her insights, not to mention great websites.  Both my wife and I were forced to apologize to abusive, wandering, and drunken parents as very young children.  Over and over again -- being forced to say that you are sorry when you have done nothing wrong, and, in fact, the parent is to blame for the problem to begin with.  Forced to apologize in order to protect or spare the feelings of a bad parent.

    We had no choice when it came to our genetics, our biology, our geography at birth, our parents, our gender, birth order, or our initial environment.  So then as an adult, in my case, this goes to the very heart of religious belief and faith.  I need to say I am sorry before I can be forgiven, to be "saved", but just hold on a minute!  What exactly is wrong with this picture?  And where does my paranoia come from?  Both Patrica and Susan tell me they understand, and that I am not crazy.  But I admit to still being conflicted and often confused.

    I fully understand that I am a sinner.  I am just very leery about who, exactly, is responsible for that.

  29. Forgiveness can be so difficult....but when we occasionally really manage to embrace is wonderful.  It is at least a great goal.  I thought this post was about a beautiful goal for life...."The more I know , the less I understand....People in your life - they come and go.  they let you down. you know they hurt your pride. You've got to put it all behind you, baby, because life goes on.  You keep carrying that anger - it will eat you up inside. ...Been trying to get down to the heart of the matter, but my will gets weak, and my thoughts seem to scatter....but I think it's about forgiveness....even if you don't love me anymore"..Don Henley...So this is a romantic song...but the words are really good.  Sorry if I butchered them...those where what I remember....Thanks Richard. 

  30. Wow. That website was very enlightening for me. It helped me to think through some of my own life events in a different way. 

    I think most of the jargon against this unforgiveness view is within the context of minor, every day sins (though those are still harmful). I think it is really easy to forget the people and situations in this world that are as serious and neurotic as this website (and many of our own experiences) attest. What's more, we may end up conflating forgiveness with total reconciliation (I do this). We think that forgiveness means that both parties work to reconcile the situation, to bring it to rights - something that is quite the blessing when it does happen, but is not entirely guaranteed in this life.

    I mean, as only half of the relationship, we can only ever do half the work, I think. As long as we attempt to do our part (offer a context for forgiveness and repentance) we can't do any more than that if the other person won't recognize their sin at all, barriers, walls, distance need to be established for our own sake. To do more than our part is a disservice to them but taking away their freedom to act and choose and to ourselves by taking on burdens that are not supposed to be ours. But when is it appropriate to start building walls instead of bridges is really the fundamental question that I think really must be discerned ourselves (ie others should guilt, shame, or pressure us into one decision or another). 

    I had a male friend in college that got overtly intentional with me and preceded to enact physical acts that I was uncomfortable with and upon confrontation would attempt to manipulate me be telling me that as a Christian, I was to love him (when he said this he always meant that I love him in the way he wanted me to).  It was a long hard road of trying to discern the right relational balance. I tried for awhile to be Jesus to him and to save him from his "condition," but how foolish of me, and quite frankly it failed. I eventually learned that I couldn't deal with it and there had to be explicitly clear boundary lines (often enforced by authority figures). I'm still reeling from the psychological reverberations of that time (it was about 4 years ago now).

    So in some small way, I understand. There are times where the most loving thing we can do is walk away, for ourselves and for them. For me personally, ever since I've tried to keep on living within the raw tension of forgiving and "distancing" as best I can. (Side Note: Some of this may be semantics, but I'd rather verbalize it as establishing thicker walls and boundaries than say "not forgiving," but that's probably because I still conflate the notions of forgiveness with reconciliation and restoration.)

    Again, thank you both (Sam and Patricia) for caring enough to share and discuss this with me.

  31. Hi Sam, 
    One thing that is remarkably consistent with abusers is their demand to share blame when they are proven in the wrong, and feel that they are being backed into an inescapable apology. They can never merely own the fact of their own wrong. Somehow it MUST be the fault of the person they have wronged or attacked that MADE them do it. Children are easy marks for this, because children trust their parents even when it hurts, and can't argue back until they grow up and learn how very twisted that behavior was. 

  32. I'm glad you found it helpful, Stephen. You might be interested in this collection of articles as well.  

  33. I wanted to comment here two months ago, but life gets in the way.

    Soon after I read this post, my son (9 years old) and I stumbled into conversation on why 13 was considered an unlucky number.  He went on to say "Isn't there another number that the Bible says is really bad?"  Turns out he was thinking of 666, the "number of the beast" from Revelation.

    My son is never one to pull punches when it comes to Bible questions, and Revelations is a tender spot to punch me, as I come from a youth in which it was obvious what the book meant into a time in which I often have know idea what to do with it.

    However, I had this post in the back of my head, and mused out loud (my son is used to this).  If 7, 70, 7x7, 77, and 70x7 are various numerical ways to talk about completion and forgiveness, the Day of the Lord, and the Day of Jubilee, what are we to make of 666?  Might it not be the sign of the day before the Jubilee?  The day in which nothing is yet forgiven, in which the field I sold at an oppressively low price to pay off my oppressively high debts is still in the hands of the buyer, in which the only thing that matters is what is bought and sold, never what is given, or forgiven?

    Thanks for helping me to begin to figure out how to begin to apply at least some of Revelations.

  34. I like that, the day before Jubilee.

    I think you are right about 6 signaling imperfection. 666 is sort of an unholy trinity.

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