THE ACCEPTABLE YEAR OF THE LORD
EVER since Jesus Christ came to earth, and particularly from the time of His baptism by John the Baptizer, God had ushered in a new era for mankind. The advent of Christ, culminating in His death has afforded human beings, once alienated from God through sin, the opportunity to once again have a fully restored relationship with our Maker.
This notion is fully consistent with the Scripture pertaining to God's Jubilee Year of favor to Israel, as recorded in Leviticus chapter 25. The Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt, by the powerful hand of God. This freedom would have been impossible; but for God's intervention. He had heard their cry for deliverance and had delivered them.
Hebrews 11:6 tells us: "Without faith it is impossible to please Him." This was not a New Testament idea only. God has always demanded that we trust Him, even from the very beginning of the Old Testament. As a reminder to the Israelites of what He had done for them, and of their need to rely on Him for their sustenance and security, God had instructed them through Moses, to observe every seventh year as a Sabbath rest of the land, and every fiftieth year as a year of jubilee or restoration. At this time whoever had enslaved himself to pay off debts would be freed, and lands sold should be restored to the family, at this time.
His Acceptable Time
It was this "acceptable" year of the Lord to which Isaiah was referencing (Isaiah 61), except that his application was spiritual, and not material!
When the Holy Spirit moved that prophet to speak thus: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord..." (Isaiah 61:1-2). He spoke in prophetic terms, pointing to the One whom God would send to be our Deliverer. When Jesus used those words in Luke chapter 4:18-19, He spoke in fulfillment of that prophecy which God had proclaimed through Isaiah. He said, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4: 21). Jesus was thus claiming to be that Deliverer.
As it was impossible for the Israelites to deliver themselves physically from their slave-masters in Egypt, even so it is impossible for us today to deliver ourselves from our enslavement to Satan. Just as they needed the intervention of the almighty God in order to be liberated, so do we need His intervention, if we are going to be liberated from the grasp of Satan. Jesus speaking to His hearers in John 8:34 said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin."
The need of every person, is to be free from bondage of any kind. God has made it possible for us to be free from sin by sending His Son Jesus Christ into the world to save us from sin. "Therefore," He says in John 8:36, "If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."
When God sets up His timetable, we have to work within that timetable, if we are to receive His help. During the time when the Israelites were under slavery, God had scheduled a certain night when the angel of death would pass over the land. He also said, “And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two door posts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when I see the blood I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:22).
I pass over you meant that the destroyer would not enter into their houses to destroy anyone, but to spare everyone in the house. What if someone had decided not to make preparations for that particular night, but instead, to wait until some other time that he felt it would be more convenient? That person would have been the victim of the angel of death. God has a timetable, that we must follow if we desire His intervention for our deliverance.
Well, regarding God's timetable, "Today is the acceptable Year of the Lord-the year of God's favor." His reference to a year does not mean a calendar year of 365 days. Instead, He was referring to a period of time in which mankind can be redeemed by Jesus Christ. His acceptable year began with the death of His Son on the cross. And God's offer is very acceptable. The time to take Christ as our Saviour and Lord is today; it is Now; it is today while there is time; for tomorrow is not promised. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, "Behold now is the day of salvation."
Some of our modern Bible translations use the word `favorable' instead of `acceptable' (year of the Lord). This brings out another dimension to God's favor toward us. One of the meanings Webster's dictionary gives for the word favor is: Gracious kindness. And God has shown gracious kindness to mankind; which we experience daily.
But, there is another observation from the quote of Jesus in Luke 4:19: When Jesus ended with, "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord," this was not the complete quotation of Isaiah 61:2. The continuation of Isaiah 61:2 reads: "And the day of vengeance of our God."
Why did Jesus not complete that quote? The answer is: He was focusing on the purpose of His first coming to earth., which was to herald the period of God's "acceptable year:" He came then to save mankind, not to judge. "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17). However, let us not ignore the fact that Isaiah also spoke of a time when Christ will return to earth. We refer to this as His second coming. He will not then come with the title of Saviour, but as Judge.
Acts 10:42 reads, "And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead." In 2 Corinthians 6:2 we read: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation."Jesus offers salvation today to all who recognize their need and call out to Him for salvation.
Are you that one willing to accept His offer in His acceptable time?