The "Year Of Jubilee": The Birth And Death Of A 1998 Fireworks Show Remembered
by Rev Rafael D. Martinez, Spiritwatch Ministries
Although it was just a decade ago, 1998 seems like a bygone era, a lifetime past. In the United States, we were simultaneously thrilled by the great home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and jolted by the Monica Lewinsky affair's descriptive imagery involving shameless Presidential lust, cigars and cocktail dresses. The gritty Saving Private Ryan beat out the loopy Shakespeare In Love for Best Picture that year. The dot com and tech markets hadn't yet started to seem so irrationally exuberant and the stock market began it's buildup to another boomtown cycle. An unknown Arabic guy named Osama Bin Ladin was living in a cave in Afghanistan and plotted war on the United States following the inspiration of his bloodily apocalyptic dreams even as ex-wrestler and political maverick Jesse Ventura became the governor of Minnesota.
But 1998 was a season that should be especially remembered, of all people, by those in the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. Stunning events of ten years ago certainly must underlie their waking consciousness as surely as the remembrance of where they were when men walked on the moon, when their child was born or on that beautiful morning of September 11, 2001. For 1998 was to have been a year of destiny that forever altered the course of human history with epic events indelibly burnt into their collective memory. The very world order itself was to have been turned upside down in a cultural shaking beyond belief and forgetting and millions of the faithful were to have had an opportunity to have front row seats to watch it happen.
At least that's what was vowed in the preaching of certain prominent Charismatic and Pentecostal leaders in that selfsame year. 1998 was a year, they proclaimed, unlike any other since the time of Christ. Using their bully pulpits in megachurch TV ministries that were beamed all over the world by religious satellite networks, they went on to declare that absolutely unprecedented visitations of divine intervention were to going to occur that very year. These divine doings should have smitten the world with the fear and wonder of an almighty, intervening God moving to bless and protect his own. These were to be miraculous doings that were to be among the "greater works" Jesus had implied Christians would do in His Name after He ascended to heaven (John 14:12). This was to have been a watershed time in which masses of humanity were to have been confronted by the outstretched hand of God Himself with irresistible displays of his mighty power.
So could it be possible that you've never heard of these prophetic tidings or beheld their fulfillment? It scarcely seems imaginable, but perhaps you were somehow unaware of the new revelation knowledge these same preachers claimed to have received and dispensed for the benefit of mankind.
It would seem that you aren't alone. Millions of people today within and without the Charismatic and Pentecostal churches, if asked, didn't get the memo either. They would be completely clueless, if pressed, about what sort of mighty move involving earthshaking events were supposed to have occurred. It would appear that these same good Christian folk hadn't heard of the staggering opportunities those days had offered and therefore didn't get in on the ground floor launch of amazing new truths they were supposed to embrace. Churches around the world became heralds of this new vision, one that involved bold deeds and demanded total commitment to see its manifestation and fulfillment. Ten years ago, there would have been millions of others smarting with guilt and confronted with confusion if they failed to jump on the bandwagon upon hearing the glad tidings.
We remember these days of ten years past so that a cautionary tale may be told of how much wiser these bewildered Christians were for not doing so.
Back To The Future: What Was Going On In 1998?
The story begins in 1948. That was the year in which a United Nations mandate helped cap several decades of international political intrigue with the annexing of Palestinian lands to create the nation of Israel. In a courageous and bold claim of their birthright, and with help from the United Nations, the return of the Jewish people enmasse to reestablish a national entity out of the ashes of wandering, suffering, persecution in a Gentile world became a fact in May of that year. Fifty years later, in May 1998, Israel still stood firm despite terrorism, wars and never ending threats of aggression by neighboring Arab nations. National Israel celebrated it's fiftieth year of existence then as a sovereign country after almost two millenia as a scattered, dispersed people amidst the joyful dances, solemn ceremonies and the tightest security in memory to be asserted over the nation. For an excellent 1998 overview of the implications of the Jubilee for Israel from a Messianic perspective, click here.
At the same time, in a different continuum far removed from these ancient Bible lands and yet claiming intimate identification with Israel's fortunes, there was great excitement stirring among many those within ithe Charismatic and Pentecostal Christian cultures. It was a heady time for both tribes in 1998. The 1990's were a frantic period of spiritual activity: wave upon wave of "River" revivalism spread everywhere, mass movements involving men's and women's fellowships (like Promise Keepers and Women Of Virtue) met all around the world, and reconciliation summits and spiritual warfare conferences meant to pull down demonic "strongmen" that kept cities in spiritual bondage were all the rage. The genies of Islamic extremism and Old World paganism seemed well bottled up since millions of Christians had been sending up earnest prayer for supernatural enlightenment of the lost masses within the Third World lands of the "10/40 Window." The so-called five fold ministry were being "completed" by an arrival of reformation apostles who appeared everywhere to then supposedly take the church to the next level. Indeed, having church in full gospel realms was never less dull.
Above all of the zeal and energy, the mysterious year of 2000 was imminently at hand and the countdown to the date was fueling a feverish level of speculation about the end times that was quite unmatched in church history. Looking upon all manner of Bible prophecy teachings from across the spectrum of Christian persuasion, far too many church leaders used any one of a dozen spiritual equations to calculate crucial dates they would soberly advise Christians of which might herald fulfillment of the Last Days. A cottage industry of survivalist merchandising devoted to preparing Christians for the Apocalypse sprang up and was supercharged by a virtual host of self-proclaimed Bible teachers, culture watchers and former government insiders who spoke forebodingly of dark times ahead. Dogging the footsteps of full gospel fervor was a very real fear of The End, which the year 2000 seemed to be the doorway into. Dates and timetables and timeframes would be set that all but assured us when Jesus Christ would return or when the Tribulation years that would witness the rise of the Antichrist would begin. None of this was lost by the watchmen along the four walls of the churches given to following Bible prophecy who only fanned the flames of blazing malcontent further in Christian communities all around the globe.
Since evangelicalism is acutely sympathetic to the fortunes of national Israel, it was inevitable then that the nation's 50th anniversary would ultimately become viewed as having some cryptic and hidden significance. The pattern of Yahweh's dealings with His chosen people, Israel, as seen in Scripture have long been believed to have vital implications for how He relates to His chosen "spiritual Israel", the Christian Church. So therefore, the belief that the return of the Jewish people to Israel in the last days will result in a revival of an observation of the Law of Moses and a rebuilding of the Temple that had been destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD has long sparked endless speculation about what it ultimately will mean to the Christian Church, especially in light of end time teachings that view this development as something the Antichrist will exploit to commit ultimate blasphemy (Daniel 12:11, Mark 13:14). Just raising this point alone can take us to an investigation way beyond the scope of this article, so, in popular parlance we won't go there.
I raise the point because it will help us understand how an underlying desire to be eyewitnesses to Bible prophecy fulfillment came to intersect more mundane matters involving personal spirituality and achievement with more than a dash of worldly concerns mixed in. This dubious and pliable clay, when spun on the wheels of historical fantasy, would become molded into one of the cruelest scams ever seen in the Charismatic and Pentecostal worlds that preyed upon the innocent idealism of gullible Christians around the world in 1998. Seeking the fulness of God's glory in their destinies they were instead left to stumble about with the emptiness of the lies of God's "anointed" echoing in their ears.
Implicit in Christian discussions on the end times is the belief that observance of the feasts and holy days of Israel will be restored, including an observation of the season popularly called "Jubilee" in Leviticus 25. In Old Testament times, it was a religious festivity that focused upon a recognition and celebration of the good graces of Yahweh as liberation, forgiveness and abundance was shared. It was held every fifty years in national Israel and came to be viewed as a joyous time in which debts would be cancelled, slaves set free, inheritances and lands lost restored to their original owners. Since 1998, there has been a great amount of church-related social activism inspired by the Jubilee concept that makes a truly praiseworthy effort to encourage industrialized nations and global bank systems to forgive the crushing debts that struggling Third World countries have incurred in trying to improve their lands. Other activist initiatives using the concept of the "great Jubilee" have been active since then, regularly appearing in grassroots efforts seeking to help better the bleak financial pictures of impoverished nations all around the world. This article isn't addressing this issue.
This uniquely Jewish tradition has long been pressed into use by the Christian church in more spiritualizing terms. Since Christ's ascension to heaven, Christian expositors have allegorically caught upon the Jubilee imagery of deliverance and would occasionally refer to the saving graces of God in Christ as the "jubilee" of all believers, rescued as it were from their sin, shame and pain that they'd been in bondage to before coming to know Him as their Lord and Savior. One can legitimately make that claim from a symbolic point of view since Jesus' death, burial and resurrection, upon which salvation of the entire created order depends, can be readily viewed as the price for a future and literal rest for both man and the universe. He is more than just the personal Savior of the believer who rests upon His provision for personal peace, healing and blessing. He transcends all concerns limited to these as well as all attention given to Israel - in Him we see new heavens and a new earth created by His mighty power in the age to come after the Tribulation years have ended (Isaiah 66:22 with Revelation 21:1) and after death and evil have finally been put down for eternity.
But we are getting way ahead of ourselves here. We're not speaking of any Jubilee allegory. Let's return back to 1998.
The Claims Of The Jubilee "Revelation" Of 1998
The fiftieth anniversary of Israel's creation engaged the popular imaginations of many prominent ministers in the Pentecostal and Charismatic cultures. Current events and cultural buzz is rarely missed by such who are shrewd observers who will seek to channel their perspective on it for illustration of a spiritual emphasis they'll make. This historical event was no exception. Some actually began to point to the Biblical mandate of Leviticus 25 on the "jubilee" and began to make the most extraordinary connections between them and the state of the church itself. Completely ignoring any of the dark connections to end time teachings on the Tribulation, they set forth a bright, shining vision of a Jubilee celebration to beat them all. Because the nation of Israel turned fifty in 1998, they claimed, spiritual Israel of the church now could enter into an unimaginable realm of glorious blessing never seen before.
Pulpiteering advancing these exalted perspectives produced teasing hints in 1997 that would become a floodtide of "Jubilee teachings" which stirred up a fever pitched delivery of books, videos, sermons, and even conferences about the coming days of blessing, urging all to come partake. 1998 therefore became a "Year of Jubilee" and from storefront churches to the faux-gilt soundstages of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (no surprise there) there came forth energetic proclamations of liberty for all who suffered from bondage and want. The references to a "year of Jubilee" were not simple metaphors but were meant to be deliberate indications that
extraordinary supernatural events would be soon forthcoming.
However, in this Pentecostal's perspective, these "Jubilee teachings" were based upon faulty premises, twisted Scripture like taffy, and set forth some of the most fantastically bogus spiritual truth claims I've ever seen. Worst of all, they set up millions of Christians up for some of the most devastating of disappointments that very likely left thousands of them with shipwrecked faith after October 1998. Let's review what the "now word" of 1998 was filling hearts and minds of the faithful with in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches all over the world in that fateful year.
Based on their irresponsible and extravagant interpretations of Scripture in reference and delivered in the clearest possible terms, these quotes, made by Charismatic and Pentecostal luminaries shed light upon the essentials of the Jubilee "revelation" and their claims.
This is part of the exhortational patter delivered by Faith pastor Steve Munsey, on a CTV broadcast in May 1998, in a representative summary of these teachings' central claims as he casts about for viewers to be faithful to their pledges of support given during a past CTV fundraiser:
1998 .. the year of Jubilee! April 30, 1998, Israel celebrated Jubilee. Every 50 years God visits his people. He does five things: freedom from debt, freedom from bondange, he heals and touches households, God manifests Himself in a special way, and the spirit of charity comes upon you! And what did you do? And what are you going to do? You're bringing the offerings month after month. You're saying to God "I'm hallowing 1998 because this is the year of Jubilee!" (1)
Word of Faith pastor Benny Hinn's teaching is to the point:
Now today Israel is celebrating another Jubilee. .. they are celebrating that Jubilee for the first time in thousands of years. And the Word said God sets the boundaries of the world and the Church according to what He does in Israel. .. Now the Jubilee is about to come your way. You say, ' it's not here yet.' No, it isn't because its not completed in Israel yet. Their Jubilee completes itself October of 98 which means that's when ours begins. We are not in the Jubilee yet. We move in it when they are through with it. .. This is not the time for celebration, this is the time for preparation. .. We're coming into the fulness of our liberty now! .. You see so much today in the Body of Christ people being bound with this, struggle with this, oppressed in our mind, this and this and that! .. And I believe in this Jubilee we .. may very well be the move of God that will bring in that healing sweep of a mass deliverance .. to the Body of Christ. (2)
Faith pastor Rod Parsley, breathing fire during a 1998 campmeeting:
Every seventh year (Israel) they couldn't sow. Had to depend upon God for a supernatural harvest. God said once every seven years 'I'm still in control of this thing'. .. It's my time to show you're My people. It's my time to show I'm your God. It's my time!' What happened in the year of Jubilee? There was a supernatural release of joy! Think of this: in that fiftieth year, they had just come through a Sabbath year on the forty ninth years. Now its two years since they've been able to sow or reap. God said, 'I'm gonna take care of you.' 'It shall be a Sabbath unto the Lord.' What does that mean? Everything goes back to God.
We've confused the year of Jubilee! We've said, 'well, the slaves got free and land if you bought land that had to go back to the original owners.' No, no, no! It went back beyond that. Because you find out later in this passage - don't have time to read it to you - the land shall not be sold forever because the land is the Lord's. What land? All land? Your mind, your children, your house, your car, your body, your legs, your eyes, your hands, your ears, your nose, your children, your dog, its fleas, everything goes back to the Lord! And you are no longer responsible .. 'hey devil, its not my problem anymore.' (3)
An advertisement for Faith pastor Brian Zahnd's tape series:
You may have heard by now that the nation of Israel is celebrating their first Jubilee since reemerging as a nation. But did you know that God tied the event to the Day of Atonement? That means that the blessings of the Jubilee are always connected with the Blood Covenant. .. From escaping out of the horrible pit and into the double portion to recovering the inheritance that God has for you, it's all revealed in this incredible three part series! (4)
And in that same year, the erudite Clarence McClendon preached that
You got to get used to being crazy! You're not going to come into this Jubilee blessing having church as usual. You're not going to come into this Jubilee blessing living like you've been living for the last twenty years. You're going to have to dare to look crazy to somebody. You're going to have to dare to look insane .. Let them call you crazy! .. Jesus comes in and rearticulates what Isaiah says in Isaiah 61 and says "this day!" .. Look at somebody and say "I'm talking about a right now blessing!" That's what I'm .. Tell them "I'm talking about about a right now visitation! I'm talking about a right now deliverance! I'm talking about a right now!" .. You can wait if you want to! I've been waiting long enough! Fasting and praying, tithing and giving, believing and jumping and shouting and broke and sick and bound!
"Look at somebody and say "I don't think so! I'm not going another year like this. You bet your bottom dollar! I'm coming out of this thing because I understand what time it is!" ...
It doesn't matter what anybody else says about it now. God said it's Jubilee and I believe God! God said it's time for me to come out and I believe God! .. And if you will believe God's Word in these moments, the miracle of Jubilee will manifest in your life. .. You've got to understand that there are times and seasons when that anointing is intensified for a specific reason. It's always Jubilee to the child of God in Christ but even so there is a special hour .. where God turns up the power and he flips the thing into overdrive and He says "Now you don't even have to work it. All you have to do is just believe it! All you got to do is just say it!" .. You gotta make it up in your mind and fix it in your heart "it's Jubilee and it doesn't matter what anybody else says about it. It's Jubilee and I'm about to get mine!" .. You got to settle it in your heart. I'm talking to people in here and God is just waiting for you to make it up in your mind "I will not discuss it. I will not talk it over. I don't need your advice! I heard the trumpet sound and I know what it means! .. I heard it and I know what's supposed to happen!" (5)
Such is a sampling of what you might have heard from some of the most influential pulpits in the Charismatic and Pentecostal church worlds in 1998. It electrified hundreds of thousands of Christians world wide for month after month in that fateful year of divine appointment. In no uncertain terms, we were assured that the Jubilee season should have changed the course of human history itself.
It obviously did nothing of the sort on the grandiose scale claimed for it. There will be many of you that will be completely unfamiliar to all of this, utterly oblivious to any kind of cataclysmic doings that should have rewritten our history books. You're probably scratching your head in perplexity after listening to the apocalyptic thunder of these fire brands and still are trying to figure out what all of this breathtaking preaching was supposed to mean and why you are now apparently among the last to know. This where the story takes some decidedly twisted tangents off the beaten path and things get very strange indeed - and demand that they be remembered so we may learn from the past so as not to repeat it.
The Teachings Of The Jubilee "Revelation" Of 1998
Generally the Jubilee "revelation" taught that Christians are the spiritual heirs to the promises of God made to natural Israel. Israel's Levitical Jubilee was a prophetic pattern that guaranteed to the Christian Church remarkable kinds of healing, deliverance and prosperity. A Jubilee season would begin to occur by no later than October 1998 due to Israel's celebration of its fiftieth year of existence. These were promised in the Bible because Christians have received the same kind of anointing that Christ had of the Spirit of God that would enable them to decree actual divine interventions. These unprecedented materializations of blessing were to be a final testimony to the world before the imminent return of Jesus Christ Himself, which was all but assured was around 2000.
As we will see, the "Bible proofs" ran through the Old and New Testaments in places like Leviticus 25, Isaiah 61:1, Job 22:28, Joel 2:28-29, and Psalms 37:4 as well as Luke 4:18-21, Acts 2:17-18 with 3:18-21 as well as Romans 10:9-10. But it's also vitally important to keep in mind that this "Biblical revelation" came from various Pentecostal and Charismatic sources of Word of Faith persuasions which gave it a firm qualification: one had to accept their perspective for this to make sense. And of course, these concepts of blessedness were extracted straight from the pages of a "prosperity gospel" playbook which are top heavy with assurances of divine health, divine wealth, revelation knowledge, creative confessions for prosperity, etc.
So what was meant is exactly what was said. There is no way one can misunderstand what was said here by these learned Pentecostal and Charismatic divines. Based upon the church's relationship to national Israel, a literal "Jubilee" was to have come upon the Body of Christ in 1998. These weren't just any kind of general season of blessing but they were to be astonishing and fearful visitations of renown that would have entered the collective memory of mankind and the church. These unimaginably concrete claims of specific blessing were all cited as Scriptural promises you could bank upon. The bestowal of these blessings was based upon a strict timetable that began in May 1948 with the birth of Israel as a modern nation and was to be completely fulfilled in October, 1998 - fifty years later - when the hour of deliverance was to finally arrive and this wave of glory to pour upon the nations. Essentially these were very real and very literal prophecies that assured a collective breakthrough for Christians of absolutely unprecedented proportion.
The Christian mind and heart simply boggles at what was supposed to happen that year, the year 1998 - and how much we missed!
There was to be mass deliverances of Christians from their problems. Debts were to be supernaturally cancelled for all. Unity in the church will once again be fully and totally restored, from leaders down to nursery workers. Freedom from all oppressions of the adversary (be what they may, from migraines to backslidden children) were to be forcefully and gloriously loosed. All of the yokes of personal bondage that weighed down the lives of believers were to be eternally and decisively broken. Broken spirits, struggling faith and wavering conviction were to be supernaturally invaded by an overshadowing hand of God which would strike an unbelieving world dumb with the fear of God. And multitudes of lost loved ones were to be converted and restored, thrust back into the Kingdom of God by a supernaturally wrought work of evangelistic harvest. Perhaps the most affective and gripping claim was that personal family relationships long torn asunder for a variety of reasons were to be miraculously resolved, healed and restored. Homes long divided were to be once again united by the power of God.
One completely unfamiliar with the Pentecostal and Christian worlds in 1998 might easily assume I am making this stuff up. You'd be sorely mistaken. It is impossible to read, listen or watch any of the media that these preachers and others like them produced and miss the plain intent of their claims. The documentation I'll have cited in this article is proof positive that they confidently advanced these breathtaking declarations as an established and prophetically foretold future that the Christian Church was to step into. For over two years of church history in these segments of the Body of Christ, fervent belief in an earthshaking visitation of divine power that would transform the lives of millions of people throbbed within many a "Spirit-filled" church. The amazing thing about it is that ten years later so many people seem completely clueless about it. Asking someone who is a member of a Pentecostal or Charismatic church or ministry about the Jubilee teachings and they shrug their shoulders in polite disbelief and maybe even a laugh or two: "say what?"
If seeing is believing, click here to view actual video clips promoting Jubilee teaching from 1998 and believe.
In addition to the transcripts of videotapes we made in 1998 concerning the teaching above, there were several books produced that stated in no uncertain terms the same thing in even bolder detail, if it was possible for that to happen. Listen to Rod Parsley once more in his 1998 book The Jubilee Anointing. In doing so, Parsley explains how the Biblical concept of Jubilee became the medium through which it became expressed:
For nearly 2,000 years, Israel has not commemorated a spiritual Jubilee since its birth as a nation or since the destruction of its temple by Rome in 70 AD. What exactly then is Jubilee? (quotes Leviticus 25:1-20) This fiftieth year sabbatical was a significant and momentous occasion for every Jewish person. Jubilee was a time of liberation, freedom and celebration. ..The anointing .. is the life force of Almighty God! .. it will destroy the oppression of the adversary beyond restoration! The yoke is any bondage which tries to oppress or take lordship, or authority, in any area of your life. If there is anything other than Jesus that has authority in your life, then there is a yoke upon you. But the good news is, you can be delivered by the anointing that destroys every yoke! .. The anointing is a supernatural phenomenon! It has substance and power. It can be harnessed. It can be released and it will destroy every yoke! (emphasis mine and author's) .. After successfully navigating through the temptation of the enemy for forty days in the wilderness, the Son of God proceeded to the synagogue. There the Bible records that he broke the seals on the Torah and read from the prophet Isaiah: (61:1 - RM)
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears (Luke 4:18-21).
.. The announcement of the fulfillment of this Scripture both aroused and angered the religious rulers. They questioned among themselves, "Does He not realize this is not the time to celebrate Jubilee? Who does He think He is?" Jesus knew exactly who He Was .. the Son of the Living God who had come to proclaim deliverance to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind and healing to all who would receive it. What generations of people once waited to experience every fifty years was now being made available to them by Jesus. (emphasis mine) He was anointed first and foremost to preach the good Gospel news to them! The Hebrew word for anointing here translates "to smear or to rub." The Amplified Bible in Luke 4:19 renders the acceptable year of the Lord as the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound. (emphasis author's).. you are anointed, painted, or marked with the fragrance which attracts the blessings and free favors of God!
.. Today - not tommorrow, next week, next month or next year - but today is your day of favor in every area of your life! (emphasis mine) You are marked for a miracle! .. The Jubilee Anointing which rested upon Jesus is available to you now - to intercept every fiery dart of the wicked one. All that you must do is proclaim it in your life. (emphasis mine) He stands positioned to pour forth the tangible oil of His presence into your life! .. In this final hour of human history, the Lord has come in a mighty display of His majesty! ..The significance of the Year of Jubilee cannot be adequately explained; it can only be experienced! (6)
An evangelist based out of a Tullahoma, Tennessee church named John R. Mann offered up in his booklet This Is Your Year Of Jubilee - which was advertised in Charisma Magazine that year - further clarification on this Jubilee teaching perspective, explicitly spelling out the Word of Faith root that the teaching incorporated into itself:
Finally the year of Jubilee has come! For the first time in history of the world, the children of Israel and believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are joined for one purpose, and that is to celebrate the year of Jubilee together. In 1998, the children of Israel began to celebrate the year of Jubilee for the first time in almost 2000 years. In Leviticus Chapter 25, beginning at verse 8, God commanded the children of Israel to observe a Jubilee every fiftieth year.
.. Since believers are the children of Abraham and are grafted into the Olive Tree which is Israel, believers can partake of the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. There is no doubt that they were abundantly blessed by God. .. Since the Children of Israel are celebrating the year of Jubilee right now, those who are grafted into Israel should also be celebrating the year of Jubilee. .. Because we have experienced the favor of God ever since we were saved, I really want to call this year a time of special (emphasis author's) favor for believers. .. Because Jesus came in the Spirit of Jubilee, He became the Jubilee for all who call upon his name.
.. It is sad that many who will hear of the blessings of the Year of Jubilee will not receive them because they will not proclaim them. They will not proclaim them because they will not believe that they belong to them. .. We can talk about the blessings of the year of Jubilee until we are blue in the face. We can shout and shout about these blessings and never receive them, until we do what God has commanded us to do. ..
If you believe that the blessings of the year of Jubilee belong to you as well as to the children of Israel; you must repent and begin to proclaim them. .. God's plan for the Jubilee blessings is in his word. He said in the fiftieth year proclaim liberty .... The Hebrew word translated proclaim means to cry - preach - pronounce - publish. When I see the world proclaim I take it to mean SPEAK IT OUT LOUD, not in a whisper, but loudly. Proclaim freedom from sin - sickness - poverty and curses in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Romans Chapter 10, verse 8, says "the Word of Faith (the Word of God) is nigh you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach." .. You will never have the blessings of the year of Jubilee or any of the blessings of God until you believe them and you proclaim them. (7)
And well known Church of God (Cleveland) evangelist Perry Stone echoed these same concepts in his own book Decreeing Your Jubilee. Stone's lengthy and elaborate speculations, published that same year, assert that the Jubilee year of 1998 is one of several prophetically imminent signs of the return of Christ:
While meditating on the importance of this fifty year prophetic cycle, I heard the Holy Spirit say, "Tell my people to begin declaring their own Jubilee!" This book will reveal the principle that what affects Israel in the natural realm will be repeated in the realm of the Spirit. When you understand this, you will see how the Jubilee in the natural is a reflection of the Jubilee that God desires to send to the Church and the individual believer.
The prophet Joel predicts something very strange. The Holy Spirit showed Joel that the early and the latter rains would come together in the first month. Our month of March or April coincides with the first month on the Jewish religious calandar. The first month on the Jewish civil calandar falls during our month of September or October. Joel predicted the early and the latter rain would fall on the same month .. We must understand that what begins to happen in the natural has a parallel in the spiritual. (emphasis mine) Since the outpouring of the rain is considered a pattern of the refreshing of the Holy Spirit and the "outpouring of the Holy Spirit", then how does the year of 1993 fit into the prophetic pattern of what God is doing? .. (After quoting Joel 2:28-29 and Acts 2:17-18) .. Joel said this outpouring would occur "afterward". In the context of Joel 2, the prophet was predicting the restoration of Israel as a nation. He stated that after this restoration, God would pour our His Spirit. Joel continues to say this manifestation would conclude "before the great and terrible day of the Lord" (Joel 2:31).
In other words, there is a promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit after the restoration of Israel and before the great tribulation! This happens to be the time in which we are living. The collision of the two rains began in 1993. Israel is now experiencing rain in areas where water has been rare. From 1993 to the present there has been an "awakening" in areas of Canada, England and America. Revivals in selective areas are continuing for many weeks and months. .. So when we refer to 1998 as a Jubilee year, we are likening it as such in the sense that it has been fifty years since the rebirth of Israel and, Biblically, fifty has always alluded to the Jubilee.
Sadly and yet predictably, like Parsley, Hinn and so many others, Stone ultimately affirms that common Word of Faith beliefs about "revelation knowledge" and positive confession have to be accepted in order for the Jubilee to be fulfilled in the personal destinies of believers:
There is an interesting Scripture recorded in the book of Job that says "Thou shalt decree a thing and it shall be established unto thee, and the light shall shine upon thy ways" (Job 22:28). .. The word "decree" means to make a proclamation. In Hebrew, the root word is amar, which means, "to speak." So by extension, this verse could say, "Thou shalt decree a word." (emphasis mine) The Greek language has two words that are most commonly used for "word." One word is logos and the other is rhema. .. We would call a rhema word one that God burns into your heart. .. In this verse, the word "a thing" is also interesting. The Hebrew word "thing" is yesh and means "substance." When God give(s) us a rhema word, it is a word of substance. This alludes to that thing God gives which burns in your heart. .. This is called the "revelation of the Word" (emphasis mine). The word "revelation" means the "unveiling of something that was hidden." .. spiritual truth must by discerned and understood by the Holy Spirit, requiring a "revelation" or an unveiling of the Word. ..
Several years ago, during the "Word of Faith" movement, there was a message being preached across North America that placed a strong emphasis upon the power of confession. Ministers associated with the faith movement taught that you must "confess before you possess." .. I have always been one not to take sides, but to search out the Scriptures for myself. I began to understand there was a confession principle in the Scriptures. (emphasis mine) .. I am reminded of the Scripture, "God shall give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4). .. The "desires of your heart" that the Psalm refers to are desires that God places within you. When God places within you an idea, a dream or a thought, then God will give you, if you walk in obedience, the desires that HE has planted within you. When you "decree a thing," you must be in agreement with the revealed Word of God. ..
Peter relates, in his prophecy (Acts 3:18-21 - RM), a phrase of great significance. He says "The heavens will receive Christ until the times of restitution of all things which God hath spoken of by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began." The Scripture here infers that Christ will return and He will be "released" from heaven after there is a time of "restitution of all things". .. The word restitution is the Greek word apokatastasis and has several meanings. The primary meaning is to "restore something back to its original state. It can also mean to return an estate (or land) back to its rightful and original owner." In other words, "restitution" alludes to Jubilee. (emphasis mine) We have seen:
- the land of Israel restored in 1948
- Jerusalem restored as the capitol of Israel in 1967
- Jews from other nations returning to Israel
- the return (restoration) of the latter rains
This present generation is in the heart of the restitution of all things! We feel it is safe to conclude that we are the generation that will experience the return of Christ.
.. Did you know you can have it all back? What has the enemy tried to take from you? Has your home been destroyed and your marriage ruined? Has the enemy assaulted your integrity and attempted to destroy your name? Have you lost your job and don't know how you will make ends meet? The good news is that when God moves on your behalf, He can accomplish the work "suddenly" and do more in a short period of time than you could accomplish in a lifetime. .. I believe this is a season of revival, restoration and recovery. Since January, 1998, I have received many letters and phones calls testifying that God has restored marrages, families and brought back lost sheep into the fold.
You may ask me, "Perry, how do I apply this Jubilee cycle to my own personal situation?" .. Writing down your decree and desire helps to keep the desire before both you and God. You may say "But God already knows my heart". That is true but it is an act of faith to write it down and God is pleased when He sees faith in action. .. The Bible has much to say about the words of your mouth. It reveals the power of the tongue in both a positive and negative manner. .. The words of your mouth contain the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21) (emphasis mine) .. Our tongue will build up or tear down, bless or curse. Why not agree with a revelation from the Word of God? Why not utter the promises of God? Quit speaking about the mountain and speak to the mountain (Mark 11:23) We can do the following in relation to using our voice to decree our Jubilee:
- when your pray, pray in an audible voice
- when you speak about your Jubilee decree speak in faith and do not doubt ...
- write down your decree
- speak your decree
- pray until you have a release
- thank God for the answer (8)
Whew. You can thank God that this preacher isn't going to decree any further quotations at this point.
As you can see, these leading figures of the Charismatic and Pentecostal worlds spared none of their cultural buzzwords to make their point clear and to convince millions of people of an astonishing time just around the corner. The anointing was to destroy every yoke. Lost sheep were to return to the fold. Revelation was to be agreed with. The Word had to be unveiled. The spiritual children of Abraham are grafted into the Olive Tree. The work would be sudden. Etc. Etc. Etc. Between watching their TV ministry video clips, studying the transcripts above and reading their books written and released in 1998, it is abundantly, irrefutably clear that to a man or woman, they freely engaged in a wholesale promotion of the Jubilee concept as a doorway to nothing less than miraculous deliverance readily available at the beck and call of the Christian who embraced it as part of God's end times plan for the Church and Israel.
It became also became abundantly clear by watching any of the Trinity Broadcast Network's biannual fundraising "Praise-A-Thon" spectacles that year (none of which I recorded) and the Cornerstone TV video clip above (courtesy of Steve Munsey's verbosity and my brother in law's K Band satellite) that the Jubilee teaching was pressed into use as one of the greatest marketing tools to come along in a long time for persuading the faithful to fork over their dollars and thus sow "the seed" for their "supernatural harvest." Why, wouldn't you want to know you've sown 1000 dollar "seeds" to ensure that you receive the greatest harvest of all, the recovery of a backslidden homosexual son? Or a dying and hardened father? Or an unborn yet deformed child? Saving a struggling business, landing a higher paying job or ending the nightmares stemming from a childhood molestation would certainly be a welcome increase to come along.
You would have heard a never ending singsong of exhortation in the church circle enchanted by this seductive tradition. The needs are endless but God's supply is never ending, so therefore, to get in on the ground floor of a Jubilee revelation for your life, there's was no time like 1998 to buy that video series! Or go to the Jubilee themed campmeeting! Or order a book full of that unveiled knowledge! Since Jubilee only comes along once in a lifetime, Christians were briskly told to not wait or they might miss out getting under that glory cloud and catch themselves a blessing. For Jesus is coming! The clock is rolling, the book is closed and the door is open. The sound of the abundance of latter rains are coming down from Mount Zion! It might have been in any month of the winter, spring or summer but surely October's on the way! Christians needed to get with the program if they were to "get some" of what God was doing.
Not With A Bang: Why The Teaching On Jubilee Became A Travesty Of Jargon
So with this kind of introduction, heralded by God's "anointed" elect preaching with tongues of fire, we should expect to find vast amounts of testimonial evidence from among the church of wholesale debt cancellation, wealth transfer, salvation of long lost loved ones, deliverance from heartbreak and distress, etc. Unfortunately, you're going to find it exceedingly hard to find anyone who can remember the doings of the church in 1998, let alone a very specific and fleeting fanaticism involving special offerings and decretals involving a "Year of Jubilee."
And the fact remains that none of these extravagant claims that should have shook society to its core ever took place. The silence on this bizarre 1998 cultural aberrance is deafening and we'll discuss shortly how such a remarkable phenomenon was so completely expunged from the Pentecostal and Charismatic worlds.
For now, however, we'll focus on the truth about the Jubilee teachings that was hidden in plain sight for all to see and which no one involved dared to mention: their claims were hatched by preachers who exploited their mastery of their culture's forms of communication to establish unbiblical fables among their flocks that perverted Biblical truth to an unbelievable degree. I am speaking of the steadfast insistence by ministers whose fiery pulpiteering or measured teaching presences convincingly reinforced their belief that the Jubilee celebration of Leviticus 25 by ancient Israel was a direct spiritual inheritance of the Christian Church. Simply because it was first aired out on a well known TV ministry was enough proof for most, I am afraid.
We've already had more than a taste of the firestorm of rhetoric they created which advocated the concept earlier in this article. So it was a banal exercise in the power of mass media worthy for analysis by any journalism class. Because it was proclaimed in mass meetings filled with ecstatic believers, recorded by state of the art broadcast technology and shrewdly prepared for distribution through scrupulous post production editing, the message and their messengers became larger then life - and therefore, all the more completely believable. Books, tapes and DVD's were just more tools within reach used to further magnify their reach. Using all of the challenging, convicting impact of exhortational Pentecostal and Charismatic vocabulary at their disposal to address their brethren, these preachers and teachers made an impact in places only eternity will ever fully reveal.
For all of their fire breathing style and steely conviction, the proponents of the Jubilee revelation of 1998 never bothered to address one crucial yet fatal flaw to their prophetic designs: the plain fact that there is not a single shred of Biblical mandate that extended a Jubilee concept into New Testament Christian living whatsoever. In short, the Bible doesn't teach that there is a Jubilee "anointing" or a "season" that would sovereignly fall upon the Church. You will look in vain for a clear chain of Scriptural support for such an outlandish claim. Although the Bible verse quotations will come fast and heavy, their application is completely twisted out of their contexts to support a popular doctrine that has absolutely no Biblical foundation at all. It is a fantasy foisted upon gullible Christians who chose to believe what their preachers say instead of taking up their Bibles to examine their claims.
What's important to remember is that there's no criticism implied in celebrating a Jubilee with Israel or in adopting the evocative metaphor that views Jesus Christ as the "Jubilee" of the believer. That is not what we are speaking of. Such viewpoints are within the bounds of Christian conscience to act upon as desired and are completely irrelevant to our assessments here. What we are addressing is how this avowed promise of liberty instead became yet another shackle to human tradition that weighed down the Body of Christ in a shocking manner largely concealed by time and anonymity. It was so completely out of bounds that it never touched earth and never will.
So what was wrong with these teachings? It's hard to know where to begin explaining it, but I'll give it a shot:
Unbiblical Assumptions About The Biblical Jubilee - The most casual study of Leviticus 25 makes clear three very important things that expose the unbiblical assumptions that Hinn, Stone, Munsey and their tribe make about it:
The Jubilee's benefits had a narrow and explicit focus on specific human needs. It dealt with the abolition of slavery, the forgiveness of debt, the redemption of lands sold by the poor and the control of crop plantings to teach faith in God as well the continuance of sound land management. These were practices which Yahweh Himself initiated to govern an ancient tribal society of Israel that viewed prosperity in terms of agriculture, lands and livestock. His purposes were to demonstrate grace and mercy to a culture zealously bent towards the consideration that their own law keeping was the basis of their righteousness and increase. Forbidding a nation of farmers to neither reap nor sow for an entire year and adjuring them to trust their God to bring increase out of their lack was certainly a powerful lesson in faith and obedience - as much as it was to command them to forgive the debts they were exacting of one another using a currency and standard of living so much more demanding then our Western 21st century culture requires of us. This was what the year of Jubilee as Yahweh commanded it to be observed actually set out to accomplish: it focused on human need stemming from social problems that He knew would arise when the children of Israel finally occupied the Promised Land.
The Jubilee was observable only in Israel as it followed the Law of Moses and all it involved. Yahweh's commands were explicit: "Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety." (Leviticus 25:18) The statutes and judgments here that God mentioned pointed to the Law he was delivering to Moses at Mount Sinai. This would therefore include perpetuation of a Levitical priesthood, ritual purification by animal sacrifice, the rejection of various foods as unclean and defiling, the keeping of solemn feast days with all that was required to properly observe them, etc. He commanded these of the Jews who were to keep the Law of Moses and never intended them to become binding to the Gentiles, unless they voluntarily chose to do so. The only other Gentile involvement occurred where they were the slaves whom the Jews had purchased from the nations around them and were freed from their bonds to their Hebrew masters. And as always under the Law, the promises by Yahweh were conditional: only when His laws were kept would He respond with blessing. If they failed to keep the Law, He would return their disobedience with cursing upon their property, foodstuff and the withholding of rains needed to keep the earth watered. A Leviticus-type Jubilee was only promised to the nation of Israel as it followed the Law to the fullest extent as Yahweh commanded upon it.
The Jubilee was not an Old Testament "prophetic pattern" to be replicated by the New Testament Church. There is nowhere in Scripture any hint that keeping a Jubilee was a prophetic destiny that was to be applied under the New Covenant of New Testament times. Nowhere. There is everywhere in the Jubilee teaching a wholesale amount of illegitimate association of the concept with other popular doctrines of the day as hatched up by these Word of Faith preachers and teachers. The prophecies of Joel and Isaiah which were cited in the New Testament regarding the powerful anointing of Jesus, as Son of man, as well as the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon His disciples in the last days are objective Biblical concepts with no relationship to Leviticus 25 at all. You can search in vain throughout the Old and New Testaments and not find any suggestion that the Levitical Jubilee was a season of divine blessing that would be extended into the New Testament age of the Church. None of the epistles of the apostles hinted at it. None of the extravagant proof-texting using New Testament references have any connection to it, no matter how much Faith teachers and preachers today claim the connection exists. Those who insist otherwise display a fanatical devotion to their own tradition at the expense of Biblical truth.
Unwarranted Wresting Of Scripture Out Of Context - Even with the plain truth showing that the Jubilee was never intended to become a New Testament era reality, it didn't prevent the preachers fond of this fanciful notion to string together several proof texts that they claimed supported it. Such verses were previously listed as Isaiah 61:1, Job 22:28, Joel 2:28-29, and Psalms 37:4 as well as Luke 4:18-21, Acts 2:17-18 with 3:18-21 as well as Romans 10:9-10. But any serious student of the Bible will readily see that, when understood in context, the citing of these verses only demonstrates how easily the Scriptures have been twisted by these Jubilee-preaching ministers:
Isaiah 61:1 as quoted by Jesus Christ in Luke 4:18-21 was His own testimony as to His sovereignty and authority as the Anointed One, the Messiah. It had nothing to do with a "Jubilee anointing." He read this verse in Isaiah in his hometown synagogue in Nazareth as an intentional announcement that His ministry was set apart by God and that the "gracious words" he spoke made reference to what He previously had been doing in Galilee, where He was already renowned for his teaching and miracles. While revealing that the source of His divine power was from the Spirit of God's "anointing" that came upon Him at His baptism, Jesus also pointedly observed that His powerful ministry - for which the congregation He spoke to would have heard tidings of from around the region - would not be extended to Nazareth for it had apparently come to reject His authority as verified by the miracles and continued to view him as just "Joseph's son". This context becomes apparent when reading verses 14-30 of Luke 4: the words of Christ here are concerned exclusively with setting the tone for His mission itself - not the preparation to unlimited "showers of blessing" to fall upon Christians who were also "anointed" with the Spirit of God. Such divine power is nothing anyone could presume to "harness" for their benefit.
Joel 2:28-29 was an Old Testament verse that Peter cited in Acts 2:17-18 (as well as verses 19 through 21) as he explained what had just happened to both he and the other 119 disciples in the upper room on the day of Pentecost as they engaged in jubilant worship in other tongues as God's Spirit gave them the utterance. It had attracted a great crowd of pilgrims and worshippers from across the Ancient Near East and Peter flatly stated that this extraordinary manifestation "is that spoken by the prophet Joel" as a marvel that would shine forth "in the last days." He was simply explaining that the speaking in tongues also included the receiving and delivery of prophesies, visions, dreams along with the stunning revelation that the Spirit of God Himself would be "poured out .. upon all flesh" for this to occur. Along with these passages, verse 23 of Joel 2 has been universally accepted by Pentecostals as likening this outpouring of the Spirit as a rainfall that has both a "former" and "latter rain." The verses simply detail Peter's defense of the prophetically foretold descent of the fulness of the Spirit upon them all as a fulfillment of God's promises for His people in the last days.
The same thought is on Peter's mind when in Acts 3:18-21 he prophesies to another crowd, this one in Herod's Temple, that Jesus Christ would not return again from heaven until "the times of restitution of all things" would come. It is wonderfully providential in itself that years later, the same apostle would elaborate further in 2 Peter 3:1-18 that these times of "restitution" were entirely apocalyptic events involving the final judgments of the Antichrist, Satan and sinful, irreverent mankind itself. These verses describe an epoch of unthinkable devastation being withheld only by Christ's gracious mercy that to this day still invites those estranged from Him to come to repentance and faith in Him and Him alone and be spared. The times of apokatastaseos or "restitution" involve an all encompassing restoration of the heavens and the earth itself far more concerned with ending the career of sin itself universally. While this New Testament Greek noun does refer to healing in some instances (Matthew 12:13, Luke 6:10), it is primarily used to herald the mighty restorative power of God in the last days as He judges and renovates creation itself. When taken in this proper context drawn from the Bible's use of the word itself, as well as Joel's cryptic references in 2:30-31 to "wonders in the heavens and the earth," it seems obvious that Acts 3:18 is a window into Christ's Second Coming which will involve the gathering of the nations for judgment and the dissolution of the created order itself by the divine fires of purifying destruction. This is a Bible truth the here-and-now pragmatism of Word of Faith perspectives seem to conveniently overlook.
Job 22:28, Psalms 37:4, and Romans 10:9-10, when simply reviewed in their given Biblical context as written shed light upon how they are to be understood. Job 22:28 contains the boastful rebuke of Eliphaz to Job that if he really was a righteous man, that he could confidently "decree a thing" so as to actually materialize it. His statement is an insulting railing cloaked in pious language that insulted Job's faith in God as he endured horrific suffering and He hardly viewed Eliphaz as a declarer of divine truth meant to live by: "My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath" (42:7) In the exhortation of Psalms 37:4, the Psalmist exhorts his audience to preoccupy themselves in joyous contemplation of God's Being and and commands as a condition of receiving His choicest blessings. But what Psalms 37:1-9 speaks of goes beyond just delighting in God's presence to get a blessing from Him. The psalmist speaks directly of other conditions that must be met that involve far more sweat for the soul then verse 4's gentle promise seems at first glance to require. There are requisites such as absolute trust in God's care, patience under personal fire, release from anger and worry as well as the forsaking of personal grudges and vengeance. These all directly contribute to a firm commitment to holiness of life, sobriety of perspective and joy in the midst of an unfair, cruel world. And when Romans 10:9-10 is squarely considered in the context of Romans 10, we find that the chapter details his passionate concern for the salvation of his Hebrew people. In taking time to contrast their attempts to achieve works-based righteousness by observing the law of Moses, Paul highlights the crucial difference that faith in Christ alone now brings - instead of adherence to a "doing to live" involving Jewish law keeping (v. 5), the believer's confident access to God's grace is based upon "the righteousness which is of faith" (v. 6) that is received by faith in Christ alone. It is then that verses 9-10 make wonderfully clear that faith-based righteousness rests entirely upon faith in the Son of God exhibited by a personal confession involving an open expression of that saving faith in Jesus as a personal Savior.
These verses of Scripture are all used together as the proof texts of choice cited by Word of Faith preachers to advance their twisted Faith theology which underlies the Jubilee "revelation." They are supposed to prove that one can literally speak blessings into existence by decree as part of the great plan of God that was to have been executed in 1998 for the world to behold and wonder at. Instead, then and now, they are probably among the worst twisting of Scripture yet, taken from the skewed interpretation that Word of Faith perspectives place upon it. The verses mean what they say about their subjects - and provide no connection nor basis for this doctrine. Yet masses of church going people dutifully and excitedly lapped it up as manna from heaven for a final last days manifestation of God's power that the Church should have climbed on board with.
Unwarranted Expectations Concerning The Last Days And A "Jubilee Season" - Going into a detailed look at Bible prophecy at this point would easily take over this article, so we cannot tarry here. The reality of the Second Coming of Christ is nothing I will dispute. Scripture is too clear on this point. A third point of contention with Jubilee proponents is the radically unjustifiable association of this Biblically foretold event to a "Jubilee season" that was to have also occurred even as the end of the ages wound down. They rode a Bible prophecy train into the public squares where Christian imagination, opinion and dreams all met blowing their whistles and ringing their bells with brightly colored - and empty - freight cars.
You see, the excitement and attention given by millions of Christians to the Jubilee teaching in 1998 was terribly misplaced because the mass deliverances, healings, etc. were to have occurred within a narrow timeframe that was to culminate around the year 2000. It seems to be largely forgotten that in the final two years of the twentieth century there was a vital, almost electric anticipation among the entire Body of Christ that Jesus Christ would indeed come again as the "Millennium" approached . Therefore, an acutely heightened sense of prophetic destiny deeply colored the preaching of the Jubilee revelation in 1998. This level of fervent end time expectancy was directly imparted into their preaching since that dread year of 2000 was also at hand, providing even more compulsion and urgency to their arguments then perhaps any other Bible prophecy-focused preachers and teachers had enjoyed in several generations.
As a result, many Christians listened and acted upon what they heard far more readily then ever before and were enjoined to seek a personal revelation of how the "Jubilee season" could potentially benefit them. Since the days were being shortened and the final latter rain outpouring of the Spirit was in full swing, there were many unwilling to take the chance of being left out of God's good graces. While they took pains to avoid making any predictions, Jubilee preachers found that the vast and unknown quantity of the Millennial transition looming behind their pulpits made it much easier to convince their listeners that "given the prophetic hour, we are expecting God to answer prayers with major revivals, healings and deliverances as never before .. Step out in faith and 'Decree Your Jubilee!'" (9) Some stepped out and all but virtually predicted Christ's return within months. With all of these cross currents and riptides of compelling excitement, the "Jubilee season" seemed to be just another bit of Biblical prophecy coming to pass.
Newsflash: Jesus Christ didn't return in 1998. Or 1999. Or 2000. The sky-high expectancy of Christians awaiting their Lord's return died down quickly and by mid-2001, after the din of a global Y2K scare and a strident U.S. presidential election had been put behind it, the end times seemed to have a lot more "end" in them. The events of September 11, 2001 briefly re-energized end times teaching popularity once more - with Islamic fundamentalism now batting for Red Communism as the Evil Empire under control of dark forces in high places - only to once again lose urgency over the years. In the midst of such global uncertainty, flagging church attention spans and the ebbing tides of human history itself, Christ's return once again now is shrouded in cultural mystery, despite what Scripture says about it.
With the bully pulpit of time itself no longer under the speculative mastery of a Jubilee preacher to exploit, there are now far more pressing issues at hand - explaining why the "revelation knowledge" of the "year of Jubilee" is largely defunct (except during televangelist fund raising appeals, of course).
With such great uncertainty it is now understandable why current versions of the Jubilee "revelation" represent it as just a natural extension of God's dealings with both Israel and the church in the last days before His Son's return with no specific date setting beyond a generic reference to a "year." While the underlying belief about this "season" is still tied directly with belief that it was a clear herald of the end of the age and the final return of Christ, it has been shorn of any sharply pointed specifics. Contemporary "Jubilee season" teachings are actually more in perfect keeping with another alluring Word of Faith tradition, that being the belief that a wave of "wealth transfer" from the ungodly and wicked to the Church is a glittering possession only a confession away from the Christian's grasp.
So the free association of a "year of Jubilee" by these preachers and teachers with the almost palpable speculation concerning the return of Jesus, the 50th anniversary of Israel's statehood at the close of the twentieth century was an exercise of opportunism that had no Biblical base whatsoever. It was never a part of unfolding Bible prophecy and was instead a doctrinal parasite that fed and prospered on the enthusiasm of its host, the faith of millions of people in the Body of Christ.
The Cost Of Following A Fable
The Jubilee "revelation" was a fireworks show that dazzled and gleamed and filled the dark times of 1998 with blazing glory that, after the last cluster exploded, left nothing but smoke dissipating in empty air. I am certain of that even if there is no way to determine easily how many Christian people were adversely impacted by the excesses which an irrational and blind faith in this twisted doctrine drove them to. Such excesses included skewed lifestyle choices involving employment, business and education among many other things. People no doubt changed how they lived their lives and how they treated others around them in anticipation of a prophetic "outpouring" that never came. That is always the most disturbing aspect of how bad doctrine compels bad practices. Already troubled relationships with unconverted, sick or lapsed friends and family became further strained due to expectations of their "seeing the light" or receiving a miracle healing that never came. Their impatient Christian friends confidently awaited years of interpersonal brokenness and physical suffering to be lifted instantaneously only to find that their new emphasis of Christian zeal was met only with shattering disappointment and disillusionment.
It remains to be seen in the Judgment how much of the inner spiritual lives of believers around the world became preoccupied in decretals and confessions meant to change their grim realities that they were certain would indeed change that Jubilee year, only to find their bright dreams snuffed out by the dark winds of stubborn realities that either remained unchanged or, sadly, got even worse. Only a research project involving dozens of researchers and interviewees out among the church worlds around us could uncover even a sliver of the adverse impact that I am certain has occurred. That Day of Judgment alone will reveal how much pain, sorrow and trial was borne by these same trusting yet undiscerning believers as a result of accepting the Jubilee fantasy as the freshest present truth, the most "now Word" that God meant people to live by. And He alone knows how many millions - even billions - of dollars of offerings became diverted from truly effective Christian ministries in local churches across the world in an honest, yet literal attempt to buy into a grace that He never promised.
Of only two things we are certain, one being that the ultimate end of following the Jubilee teachings as presented by these Pentecostal and Charismatic luminaries resulted in an unimaginable and wholesale misdirection and shattering of Christian faith. Millions of Christians who sacrificially gave up Jubilee offerings, confessed "the Word", decreed their Jubilee were faced with a jarring reality check when the answers never came. Their confidently expected rescue from a home foreclosure ended in an eviction by blunt, unsympathetic sheriff's deputies. An eagerly awaited healing never came and an affliction continued to be painfully suffered in a wobbly limp up those long flights of steps. A joyously anticipated return of a prodigal child didn't fill a empty place at a Thanksgiving dinner in a somber inner city kitchen. Perhaps worse of all, a desperate call for delivering a loved one from a death bed concluded instead with a graveside service, medical and funeral bill payment demands, and a grief made especially painful because, bless God, in spite of what they saw, what everyone said, what they even felt, they believed.
It also remains to be seen how many Christians raised in that kind of unwarranted expectation endured this kind of spiritual offense and still serve and love God today.
That's the dark side of the 1998 Jubilee "season" that Faith preachers don't want to remember or be reminded of.
The only other tangible effect of those times that can be measurable would be the degree to which the coffers of Faith preachers became abnormally bloated that year, an increase I think was likely far above the usual amount of faith-based financial scamming they might have normally taken in. Requests for financial records for the years 1997 to 1998 from each of these ministries mentioned above would be an interesting study. One thing seems certain: once 1998 ended and turned into 1999, the focus of the church completely changed as the shadows of the Y2K scare and the half-expectation that Christ would return in 2000 virtually wiped out any further attention to the irresponsible claims made for the Jubilee scam. Overnight, the explicit Jubilee fascination was drowned under a vague Millennial fright felt intuitively across the Church. The ad-print changed. The survivalist entrepreneurs called on churches with their emergency rations packages for ready purchase. The camp meetings found new focus. The fivefold "reformation" prophesied a new era. The Bible teachers had other things to talk about.
And thus, the Year Of Jubilee swiftly passed into history, it's shattered promises swept under the rug. As the Church Lady might say, how conveeeeeenient.
I remember visiting a Faith church in 1999 and being struck dumb with astonishment as I heard the pastor, in a candor that was both disturbing and revealing, bemoaning for several minutes in his sermon how he and so many others had waited for their Jubilee decree in vain the year before and how disappointed they'd been. But, he concluded, Jesus was coming and the church had to get ready, get ready, get ready. And as the moment passed, it was clear he was putting the affair into perspective and recommending both he and his church to commit it to their own seas of forgetfulness .. and to adjust the yoke of spiritual expectancy once more to bear the new challenges of the Millenium. The grotesque contradiction and infuriating implications the Jubilee affair offered were to be put aside for more pressing issues.
I shook my head in wonderment even as the preacher went on about Jesus' return. I'm always both amazed and horrified at the seamless way in which the Word of Faith mindset readily rebuffs solid challenges to its terminally warped claims by easily coopting the cultural buzz around it to preoccupy itself with other subjects and thus avoid any critical thought. The small congregation was completely redirected and the service went on as usual. Barely three minutes had passed, a detour swiftly bulldozed to avoid any exit into the valley of the shadow of death, and the high road to Deeper Depths and Higher Heights was once more safely reentered. The preacher and his flock were smiling again. I found it impossible to grin and bear it while silently musing that lives would continue to be subject to every wind of false doctrine here and I'm supposed to shout? I declined the congregation's half-hearted behavioral invitation to shout a bit with them and left the service not long afterwards. The preacher left town not long afterwards and the fledgling church closed down, ceding its land to another Charismatic group that took the building over.
Such is the present state of the Pentecostal and Charismatic church that ran with the Jubilee message and then tossed the baton out the window when 1999 kicked in and took up another one. That little church's brief encounter with a confusing, frightful reality was tidily ended and the present moment redefined to enable a flight from any real examination. It's an all too familiar strategy of choice used by a spiritual movement finding itself under scrutiny: it proceeds to purge itself of any of the sharp edges of doubt by dismissing the plain facts at hand so as to refasten a deeper faith-building grip upon its membership that uses any other infatuation, distraction or current event at hand to captivate any wandering hearts or minds.
It speaks volumes about just how empty the shouts for truth have become in the Full Gospel galaxy of today, ten years later. For in a rather predictable twist, you can still hear the same Jubilee shell game still going on today through the slick, self-assured delivery of preachers across the land. While any emphasis on Bible prophecy is largely missing, the basic shtick still is being used to good effect in places far and wide throughout the church today - primarily in Pentecostal and Charismatic settings. Some things just never change, they say and truth still really is often stranger than fiction.
Take a piece of advice from this Pentecostal preacher - the next time you see any one else breathing fire about how you can cop a Jubilee blessing, do yourself a big favor. Change the channel or get up and leave the church in search of one where the Bible is rightly divided and preached. Invite others to do likewise and avoid being the next victims of one of the sleazier scams being foisted upon Christians in modern times.
Your faith and your pocketbook will be richer for it.
(1-5) Videotapes of all of these services, recorded in 1998, are all on file in our ministry video archives. Exact dates, unfortunately were not kept of them all, but the videos are an irrefutable source that verifies to what extent this new and twisted view of a "year of Jubilee" had permeated the Charismatic and Pentecostal worlds.
(6) Parsley, Rod. The Jubilee Anointing (Results, 1998), p. 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16
(7) Mann, John R. This Is Your Year Of Jubilee (House Of Prayer, 1998). No page numbers were assigned to it.
(8) Stone, Perry. Decreeing Your Jubilee (VOE, 1998) , p. 2, 26, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32, 34, 35, 42-43, 44, 68, 69
(9) ibid, p. 72, 73
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