How would you react to the news that your dream and wish of thirty years has been granted?
This is not just the theme of some Hollywood movie, but finally the redemptive reality for one heroic man and his family; for hundreds of thousands of people who prayed and worked for his freedom; and possibly for the entire world.
Please forgive me for the hyperbole, but as one of those workers and prayers, allow me to add to that dream come true a new topic that is beginning to grab the imagination of Bible believers worldwide, and you might agree with me before the end of this article.
Jonathan was a civilian employee of the US Navy in the 1980’s, who clandestinely provided Israel with intelligence that the US was under agreement to provide but wasn’t providing. The details of the case are debated in court of law and the court of public opinion (see www.jonathanpollard.org for Pollard’s advocates’ perspective; none of his detractors have anywhere near as rich and detailed a web presence). But in Israel, and especially among the religious Zionists whose ranks he joined while still in prison in the early 90’s, he is the symbol of someone who has done his time at the very least; a wrongly punished man in the eyes of many; and to some a veritable modern day Joseph in Egypt—a saint whose incarceration is an atonement for all of us.
Countless grateful wellwishers have been praying for Jonathan’s health and release for decades. Nonprofit organizations have been set up to support efforts to cut his sentence short and spread knowledge of his predicament (full disclosure: I was an early director of one of the first such organizations). But year after year, these efforts and prayers went unanswered: for decades no American president agreed to set Jonathan free.
In a surprise move, the Parole Commission finally announced that Jonathan Pollard would walk out of Butner Prison in North Carolina on November 20, 2015. The terms of his parole forbid him from leaving U.S. soil for his beloved adopted home Israel for the next five years, but his supporters are not giving up hope that this decision too will be speedily reversed.
NOW THIS is a happy ending for Pollard and company, but I hinted at something more cosmic in the introduction to this article. What salvation of biblical proportions could be related to this?
I present you with Jubilee.
As described in Leviticus 25 and mentioned in other places in the Bible, the Jubilee year, occurring once every 49-50 years, is a universal year of freedom. Apart from the laws of liberation of farmland and real estate that are identical to those of the Shemitah sabbatical year, the Jubilee’s main element is the required emancipation of all slaves and captives. (An expanded description of the Jubilee is provided in my recent book Israel FIRST! The Key to Understanding the Blood Moons, Shemitah, Promises to Israel, and the Coming Jubilee.)
Interestingly, according to the Bible and post-biblical records, there is no indication that this national commandment has ever been observed. And because of the Jewish People’s exile from their Land, its very calculation has been lost and is a subject of rabbinic academic debate.
But as numerous bestselling authors have pointed out, candidates for recent Jubilee years were 1966-67 and 1917-18 [Jewish/Biblical years span from September to September], years of significance in Jewish/Israeli history. Five decades since then bring us to today. And more and more people are fascinated by the convergence of tumultuous events this year, further firing imaginations that we might be on the verge of the Jubilee.
How fitting it is that the Jewish People’s most famous prisoner is being released at the beginning of this potential Jubilee year? By none other than the United States, whose very symbol accentuates the focus of the commandment in Leviticus: “proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof”!
This year has not officially been pronounced by Jewish authorities as the year of the Jubilee; many other more pressing issues are still awaiting renewal and decision since our Return to sovereignty in our Land. But it seems as if God Himself is “lining up the cards” that will bring this sign of the [end] times to the attention of Israel and the whole world.
May this gift of life to Jonathan Pollard be just the beginning of wondrous redemption for him and for all those who trust in the Lord.