Isaiah 61 opens with a familiar passage. As I read this I think of Jesus reading it from a scroll to the synagogue in Nazareth.
Father, give us understanding and discernment as we read and unpack your word, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
In the New International Version (NIV), Jesus skips over the part about binding up the brokenhearted (Luke 4:18), which does not make sense considering the NIV includes the phrase in Isaiah 61:1. Binding up the brokenhearted is a very important aspect of Jesus’ ministry so I am confident He did not choose to skip over it. This is one the many reasons I choose to stick with the old paths, where is the good way that God has given us in the Authorized King James Version.
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
The first few verses in Isaiah 61 give a thumbnail sketch of world history from the first coming of Jesus Christ:
Part 1. Gospel Period — Church Age (v 1 – v 2a)
Part 2. Great Tribulation Period (v 2b)
Part 3. Millennium (v 2c – v 3)
When Jesus read from Isaiah in Nazareth, He stopped after the part that said He came to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:19; Isa 61:2a). That is good news because it means we should be looking for the imminent return of Christ. Isaiah 62:1b, and the day of vengeance of our God, is not for Christians who live in the church age. All the speculation about who the antichrist may be is vain and futile because the antichrist cannot be revealed until after the rapture of the church. (2 Thess 2:7f) The day of the Lord begins with the tribulation period and continues through the millennium, but the church is removed before the tribulation period. Consider these verses from 1 Thessalonians:
1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye [the Christians in Thessalonica] have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we [Christians] are not of the night, nor of darkness.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-5
Notice the different pronouns in this passage: ye, we, they, and them. The ‘ye’ and ‘we’ are the Christians. ‘They’ and ‘them’ are the unsaved. The reason the Christians had no need for Paul to write of the times and seasons is because Jesus said not to worry about that. He said It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. (Acts 1:7) At least that is what He told the Christians who were alive at that time. Jesus’ disciples were often bewildered by his clear and unambiguous statements and this one is no exception. As children of the light and of the day, ‘we’ do not need to worry about the night and the darkness. That time is going to come upon ‘them’ and ‘they’ shall not escape. The Christians who are walking with Jesus are caught up (1 Thess 4:17) and saved from the coming night. The second coming is not a terror to the Christian, but a comfort. (John 14:1-6, 1 Thess 4:18; Tit 2:13; et al) What kind of a groom would tell his bride, I’m going to beat you senseless for a few years, but when I’m done I will comfort you and marry you? As I have pointed out in previous studies, Matthew 24:31 says after the tribulation He gathers his elect from heaven, which is where the church will be. Mark 13:27 includes earth, which is where the tribulation saints will be. When Jesus came the first time they were confused because there were two parts to his coming. The same holds true for his second coming. People are confused because they expect there to only be one part to it, when there are two.
After part 1 and part 2 of world history in the New Testament era (see above), the world transitions into the time of Israel’s glory, part 3. Just as a woman remembers no more her anguish in delivery for the joy of her newborn baby (Jn 16:21), Israel will rejoice in their King and forget their days of sorrow and persecution.
Father, thank You for your Son. He is a solid Rock we can lean on, trust in, cling to, and rejoice with. Thank You that He will never leave us or forsake us. Thank You that He is coming back again to receive us that where He is, we may be also. Thank You in Jesus’ name. Amen.