“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;. . .” (Isaiah 61:1-2)
Although we look forward to the coming of God’s kingdom with joy and gladness, we must not forget that it will be preceded by a time of tribulation in which the Lord will judge and condemn the wicked. Until then we live in a time that Isaiah calls the year of the Lord’s favor. This period recalls the Year of Jubilee, a time set aside every 50 years by the Law of Moses. The jubilee year was the time when all debts were cancelled, property restored and slaves freed. In similar fashion, the year of the Lord’s favor is the time when He extends mercy to all and grants salvation to those who repent of their sins. This is the time when punishment and condemnation are set aside and the debt for all sin is cancelled.
We know that the debt for sin was paid by Jesus on the cross, once for all. Thus salvation is made possible only by the work of the Messiah who is here revealed as none other than the suffering servant. He sets free the oppressed and in the process punishes those who do the oppressing. The Lord Jesus revealed Himself as the suffering servant and Messiah when He spoke the words of verses 1 and 2 as He began His ministry (Luke 4:16-21). At that time He was proclaiming the beginning of the time of the Lord’s favor. His preaching and healing would set captives free from sin, give sight to those blinded by the darkness of the devil, and give joy and peace to the poor and oppressed. This year of the Lord’s favor is the good news. And for believers it is a period of opportunity. We have been liberated by the good news of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Now we are called to be agents of the Lord. We have been commissioned to extend His work to everyone in the world so that they might have the opportunity to repent and receive God’s salvation through Jesus Christ, while there is still time for them to do so.