From moments of anguish in the founding days to a year of jubilation as a first world nation! Singapore celebrates with a spectacular Year of Jubilee National Day Parade. What a celebration of pomp and pageantry! And rightly so, for the achievement to cultivate that sense of national identity and the recognition in her global standing within fifty years as a nation is no small feat.
I want to congratulate the graduating class of the School of Ministry, Term 2 and the School of Leadership for selecting a theme which corresponds with the celebration of Singapore’s Jubilee. How apt the theme of this issue of the Polished Shaft is: Jubilee, a New Season Proclaimed.
In Leviticus 25:8-17, the celebration of Jubilee is an unusual observance of the ceremonial laws that God had given to Israel through Moses. It is anchored in the concept of the Sabbath. The keeping of the Sabbath is of such importance that it is enshrined in the Ten Commandments.
There are multiple observances and aspects of the Sabbath. The Sabbath Day is the commandment for man to rest on the seventh day of the week. The Sabbath Year is the seventh year where the land is given a sabbatical rest. The Sabbath of Sabbaths or the Jubilee is the 50th year after the period of seven times of seven Sabbath years. In the year of Jubilee, all Israelites who had sold themselves into slavery were set free. And all land that had been sold were to revert to its original owners. This means that no Israelites could ever be in permanent slavery nor could they lose their inheritance.
Jubilee was a time of release, return and restoration, an opportunity to redeem the wiry past that went wrong and the restoration of things lost. It is a reset to a new order. A new season proclaimed.
Regardless of who you are, personally or corporately, we all need an opportunity for new seasons and new beginnings. Recently at the School’s chapel, I shared about the experience of a new season for TLBS. Let me reiterate the 3 P’s of proclamation for a new season at TLBS and how it aligns with our personal observance of the Sabbath.
1. Presence of God in Sabbath Rest
The command for the Israelites to observe the Sabbath was a command to enter into God’s rest both physically and spiritually. It is a cessation of physical or emotional striving so as to experience the presence of God. Only in the presence of God is there true rest.
TLBS has just moved into her new premises this term. Sixty days before the new term started in July 2015, the School did not have a place to move to. We had been looking for new premises for the past three years without any success. We could only rely on God. And praise God! What we could not do in three years was done within three days! We were led to the new premises by His divine providence and within three days, the in-principle agreement to rent was signed. The lesson is that when we enter into God’s rest and trust Him, God works.
To take this to a personal level, are we learning how to enter His rest? Are we trusting God in all the affairs of our life? Are we cultivating the presence of God in our Sabbath rest?
After a tiring day in which they had no time to eat, Jesus said to His disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. – Mark 6:31-32. Let us remember that rest is important for when we do rest in God’s presence, the outcome is a sense of being refreshed, replenished and renewed in mind, soul and spirit. Will you commit to a season of Sabbath rest in His presence?
2. Provision in the Sabbath Year
Under the Mosaic law, the Sabbath Day is a time of rest for every male and female, servants and even the animals they own. The Sabbath Year is a time of rest for the land as recorded in Leviticus 25:1-4.
On the Sabbath Year, the Israelites were prohibited from planting anything for an entire year. The Sabbath Year was a lesson on trusting God for His continued provision even when the land was not cultivated. The people were to feed on whatever remained on the land, like the days when God provided manna for the Israelites in the wilderness.
In the wilderness, enough manna was to be collected daily for each person as instructed by the Lord. Those who disobeyed by collecting more, found their manna full of maggots. On the sixth day, however, the Israelites had to gather twice as much because the next day, the Sabbath, was to be a day of rest. This manna, saved until the next morning, did not stink or have maggots in it. (Exodus 16:20 -24).
One of the major considerations regarding the move of the Tung Ling Bible School was the cost factor. How do we finance the five-time increase in rental? Where do we get the finances for the renovation cost? On the day before we signed the lease agreement, the Lord provided the finances for our renovation cost through a beloved brother. We also had the largest increase in student intake. For me, it was an assurance of God’s provision.
The Sabbath Year will never lack God’s provision when you dare to trust Him. The challenge is to trust God and not to worry or be anxious. Are you blindsided by the demands of financial obligations and payments? Is the work and ministry that you are doing being hindered by the lack of resources? Or are you lacking in faith to trust God for His provision?
It was James Hudson Taylor, the British missionary to China, who said: “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” Let us learn to trust God for a double-portion of His provision in the Sabbath year. “You will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:3-4)
3. Proclamation of God’s favour on the Sabbath of Sabbaths
When Jesus was at the synagogue in Nazareth, He began reading from the book of Isaiah to proclaim the acceptable year of God’s favour (Luke 4:18-19). It was a message of Jubilee. His own coming was a fulfilment of the Jubilee – the acceptable year of God’s favour.
I would say that this year has been an exceptional year of God’s favour for Tung Ling Bible School. Certainly, the move to our new and larger premises took place in time for the record number of student intake that the Lord had blessed us with.
We had a total of 132 students for this term alone, with 102 students, the highest number ever, in the School of Ministry, Term 2. The School of Leadership also had the highest intake of 30 quality participants with 9 pastors, 4 full-time missionaries and the rest of more than 50% of the cohort who are executives in the marketplace.
More importantly, the school is a place where people matter more than the programme. Tung Ling is a place where people may experience a fresh encounter with God. Amongst the present cohort, many are having a sabbatical – a season to reflect on basic issues, return to God and be restored in their life and ministry.
On a personal level, we all need a time of refreshing and restoration. A season of new beginnings and an opportunity for a restart. Let this be a season of release and realignment in the year of Jubilee – the Sabbath of Sabbaths.
Let this indeed be a proclamation of a season of new beginnings for you.
Mrs Ong Guek Ju
Principal, Tung Ling Bible School