Goodbye, Year of the Virus
People the world over are probably relieved to say, “Happy New Year!” There is sheer jubilee in knowing the books on 2020 are finally closed. Goodbye, year of the virus. Hello, 2021.
Last year taught us how quickly we can adjust to unforeseen circumstances. We learned how to transition from working in an office to working from home while managing the online education of our children. It seemed like we all wanted to pull the plug on 2020 and get a do-over. It wasn’t pretty, but we got through it.
Everything looked so bright last January. For Americans, unemployment was the lowest on record. People across all demographics had more take-home pay, and businesses were gearing up for record-breaking profits. American optimism was high. Then everything came crashing down when COVID-19 hit. Within weeks, the world went into lockdown, and masks and social distancing became the norm. A 14-day lockdown stretched to 60 days, which eventually led to mass confusion and uncertainty. Israel locked down twice.
Now we’re entering 2021, and we would like to believe we’re hitting the reset button. Hopefully, we’ll move farther away from the restrictions that distance us from our Christian brothers and sisters in church and prevent us from visiting friends and family in hospitals and nursing homes and from sending our children to school. We pray this year will be a year of freedom.
In Scripture, Israel had a reset year. It was called the Year of Jubilee, and it was designed to remind the Israelites that God gave freedom to His people when He delivered them from the yoke of Egyptian bondage. In Leviticus 25, God commanded the Israelites to let the land rest every 50 years and reset the system, so to speak, by returning land to its original owners, clearing all debts, and freeing every Israelite who may have sold himself into servitude because he fell on hard times.
The Year of Jubilee eased the restrictions placed on the life of the common Israelite and gave people a reset, a chance to start over. The prophet Ezekiel called this time the “year of liberty” (Ezek. 46:17). Even the Liberty Bell, an icon of American freedom housed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is inscribed with an excerpt from Leviticus 25:10: “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (KJV).
The full verse reads, “And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family” (NKJV).
The Jubilee year gave the Israelites a reason to hope. The restrictions and burdens heaped on certain Israelites over the previous 49 years disappeared, giving them a fresh start. It was a chance to carve a new path for their lives.
We pray this year will be like the Year of Jubilee—a year of liberty and freedom. Our world no doubt will look different after the pandemic, but with God’s mercy and grace, perhaps 2021 will be a better year for all of us.
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace (Num. 6:24–26).