A Season of Jubilee
by David Dahl
“And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Leviticus 25:lOa)
Our “Summer of Joy” takes us squarely through the season of parades, sidewalk sales and brat fries. This is a season of celebrations.
Celebrations are a wonderful way to openly thank God for freedom, safety and prosperity. . . For those who don’t like parades, it’s at least a break from the normal grind, if not healthy for the soul. In times past, if the celebration was grand enough, it would be called a jubilee.
For those who love the Bible and history, the meaning of jubilee has a deep significance. One big brass bell rings in the joy as the Bible meets our history as a nation.
The year was 1751 when the Pennsylvania Assembly passed legislation to purchase a bell to hang in the State House steeple. The bell was to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the enactment of William Penn’s Charter of Privileges, the constitution of the then province of Pennsylvania.
It’s hard for us to imagine, but European culture was just awakening to the idea that all people had rights – not just a privileged few. The common system of their day was that a privileged class parented a peasant class. Those who owned the land, the aristocracy carried all the political power. The peasants (or common people) were the vast majority and were for the most part unable to read or write. They lived out their lives doing manual labor in the fields for subsistence wages.
The Charter of Privileges was a game-changer in how the culture of the day had previously done business. This new way of governance levelled the playing field by removing the exclusive exercise of power from the aristocrat landowner – also known as the proprietor or lord (William Penn was the proprietor of Pennsylvania), and placed the chief power for enacting laws into the hands of a representative assembly.
William Penn’s Christian faith and his study of the Bible guided his revolutionary thinking, causing him to break with convention and do a new thing –- surrender his place of authority as understood by the current culture, and allow the average person the right to have influence in the governing of his neighbor. Penn fully saw the enactment of his Charter of Privileges as a Holy experiment–a God-inspired move toward a form of liberty few people before him knew.
A half-century later, a bell was purchased to commemorate that experiment. Emblazoned on the bell was a piece of Leviticus 25:10: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” They would not realize the significance of this bell until 25 years later.
On July 4th, 1776 a significant document was signed. July 8th, the bell rang out from the State House of Pennsylvania (now Independence Hall) to bring together the people for the document’s first public reading. The document was called, the Declaration of Independence. Since that time, the concepts of liberty, freedom, return and restoration have never meant more to us as a people, neither has the sound of a bell been so precious – the sound of the Liberty Bell.
What an inspiring part of our Summer of Joy.
Celebrate Independence Day. Ring out the deep sense of our freedom: Being free to follow God’s call no matter where it may lead you, knowing that you are part of God’s plan to save the human race.
Keep and Live the Faith.
Pastor David G. Dahl
January 10, 2024
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