Posted by: stpowen | June 9, 2012

Dumb Dogs and the Jubilee

Isaiah 56:10-11.  ‘His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant;  they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark;  sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.  Yes, they are greedy dogs which never have enough.  And they are shepherds who cannot understand:  they all look to their own way, every one for his own gain, from his own territory.’

My attention was drawn a few days ago to this newspaper article.

The reference is to a pamphlet written by Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London for the Bible Society on the subject of Jubilee.  You can read the whole thing here:-

As an article on the Biblical term jubilee, the pamphet is not to bad.  I was previously unaware that Henry III and Edward III had celebrated jubilees and was mildly interested to learn the fact.  Mr Chartres’ exposure of the ills of British society was also quite accurate; we are indeed richer and healthier than we used to be but no happier.  It was his remedy for all our troubles that had me banging my head against the wall.

What we need, the Bishop thinks, to solve all the nation’s woes is a good dose of Jubilee Spirit.  He writes:-

“But Jubilee has never been about immobilising gloom but instead focuses on hope and on what we can do to reset the situation.  The Jubilee is a moment to reflect and to evaluate. Doing so we realise that, according to the criteria the Jubilee offers – How fair is our society? How much poverty and inequality is there? How much consideration are we giving to the well-being of future generations? What care are we taking of our shared environment? – these are questions we should not shirk.”

Wonderful!  So we are to meditate on the recent celebrations, see how we are falling short of the standards set by the concept of jubilee, and then pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and make a better society.  How pathetic!  How useless as a prescription for the country’s ills.  I might as well sell my Bible and head off down the nearest W. H. Smith to buy myself  a self-help book.  If these things worked- if we really could make a better society just by wishing for it, and trying harder- it would have happened years ago.   We have tried all the self-help nostrums.  In my life-time we have had the “I’m backing Britain” campaign, the Festival of Light, “Back to Basics” and doubtless several others which I can’t remember.  None of them have worked because they did not touch the basic problem of the nation:  we have turned away from God and have forfeited His blessing.

What is needed is the preaching of the Gospel, but the problem is that Mr Chartres, like his boss, Rowan Williams, does not appear to know what the Gospel is.  The Jubilee was a wonderful opportunity to preach it to the people and it has been lost.  Men and women owe a debt of righeousness to God which they cannot pay.  Like Adam, we have forfeited by our sins our heavenly inheritance.  ‘Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?’ (1 Cor 6:9).  Yet there is a jubilee, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of it.  Today is ‘The acceptable year of the Lord’ (Luke 4:19).  There is forgiveness of sins for all who come to Christ in repentance and faith.  He has earned this for His people by His life of perfect obedience and His atoning death upon the cross.  The vast debt of sin will be forgiven; we can reclaim our former righteous estate, never to lose it again.  God promises, ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you……..and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgements and do them’ (Ezek 36:26-27).

That is the message of jubilee, and many faithful Pastors were doubtless preaching it last week.  But why is it that the senior bishops in our land, who can attract the attention of the media in a way that ordinary preachers cannot, write page after page on jubilee and yet cannot preach the Gospel from it?  Theywill answer to God for their wicked dereliction of duty.  May God have mercy on us and raise up for us preachers in our land to day who will preach the Gospel up and down the land as Whitefield and Wesley preached it and turn the nation from its sins.  



  1. I should perhaps add something about the Bible Society who published the Bishop’s pamphlet. It is hard to be critical of an organization that promotes the Bible, but since the Society has been advertizing heavily in various evangelical magazines and newspapers recently, readers should note that it is not evangelical in any way.

    My recommendation is that anyone wishing to support an organization distributing Bibles throughout the world would do better to consider Gideons International

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