21 days of prayer and fasting - Isa 61
Freedom! Favour! God is setting us free and is smiling on us.
The chapter begins with the Servant of the Lord declaring that the Spirit is on him for certain key purposes - good news, liberty, favour.
Who is the Servant? There are a number of “servant songs” from Isaiah 40 onwards. Some see them as speaking of Jesus, because they often seem to imply it is the Messiah, the King. And of course, he quotes from these words (verses 1 to 2a) in Luke 4:18-20. Some see the servant songs as referring to the people of God, and this is how many Jewish scholars before Jesus came would interpret them. There is ambiguity in them - is it the Messiah or the whole people?
Most scholars now read them as referring to both!
This is not a cop out or fudging the question. It is reading Isaiah in the light of the New Testament. In Ephesians 1 for example, Paul enthuses over the inheritance we - the people of God - have in Christ. It is not our inheritance because we deserve it or because God decided just to give us an inheritance. We have an inheritance because Jesus is entitled to it, and we are included in Christ when we are born again and baptised (Rom 6:3-5).
When Jesus reads Isaiah 61 in the synagogue, he stops after “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” They obviously expected Him to continue with the reference to vengeance (or judgment on the nations). But Jesus’ first coming was not the time for vengeance. Judgment must wait till His Second Coming.
This is a time of proclaiming favour so that the nations (people groups) who are not God’s people can be included in the blessings on the people. There are hints of this in verses 5, 6 and 11. God planted a garden in the beginning and is still looking for a garden that will be fruitful.
Freedom! Favour! God is setting the nations (people groups) free.
We have a part to play but He produces the righteousness and causes people and the whole earth to be fruitful (1 Cor 3:6). He has clothed us in His own clothes - salvation and righteousness (verse 10).
It is truly a season of freedom, a season of God’s favour.