“To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn…”
In the first verse of Isaiah 61 it boldly proclaims that we have been anointed by the Spirit of the Lord to love and serve those in every circumstance. With the power that can only be found in Jesus, the chapter goes on to list things that God has entrusted us to while we are here on Earth: “proclaim good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, and release the prisoners from darkness”, and looking at verse two above, the list continues.
So let’s break it down with a little background:
“To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…” The year of the Lord’s favor is also known as the “Year of Jubilee” described in Leviticus 25:7. Every seven years, the Jews were to observe a “sabbatical year” and allow the land to rest. After seven sabbaticals, or forty-nine years, they were to celebrate the fiftieth year as the “Year of Jubilee.” During that year, all debts were canceled, all land was returned to the original owners, the slaves were freed, and everybody was given a fresh new beginning. “Be Comforted” by W.W. Wiersbe goes on to say, when we are in Christ; we live in a constant Year of Jubilee. We are forgiven and free, our debts have been cancelled, and we have been given a fresh start.
“The day of vengeance of our God…” refers to the second return of Christ, as we all stand before Him and give an account of our lives. No one knows the day or the hour of his return, but it should give all of us a sense of urgency in proclaiming the good news to the poor as it says in the first first sentence of the chapter.
“To comfort those who mourn”... this one doesn’t need a whole lot explaining. We all mourn; we mourn the loss of loved ones, wayward children, the loss of friendships, the loss of a job, and when we are introduced to Jesus we mourn our sin and seek repentance. I have gone through mourning the death of my husband many years ago, but some days it is still raw and feels new. In this current season has been the mourning an empty nest; my daughter has gone away to college and some days felt like death in the beginning. Over time, everything has come into focus, and I can see all the good that has come from this transition, but in context we are called to come alongside those in these seasons and show them the love and comfort of Jesus. Since we all go through these periods of mourning, but are found in the Spirit it makes us perfect candidates!
So what does it all mean?
The second verse of Isaiah 61 is just a continuation of the first. God has sent His Spirit and living with the Spirit brings power, and with that God has entrusted us to live out these actions of serving and loving His children. Living and celebrating a joyful and free life on display for the glory of God, as we live in a constant Year of Jubilee, being bold in proclamation because the second return of Christ is coming, and comfort those that are mourning. And maybe you think, “this list is a little overwhelming”, but by golly if He can’t use us in these ways then He isn’t who He says He is. Trust that He has given us these words, HIS words because He loves us so much that even in our faults and mess He has given us Heaven-shaking purpose.