What is “the acceptable year of the Lord”? 

BibleAsk Team

The Acceptable Year of the Lord 

The phrase “the acceptable year of the Lord” is recorded in the book of Isaiah chapter 61 and verse 2. This is a Messianic prophecy, one that Jesus applied to Himself in His home town of Nazareth (Luke 4:16–21).  Verses 1–3 present a graphic image of what the Savior was to do for the people of Israel. But because of their rejection to Him, the nation lost His favor. Let’s read the passage: 

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me 

To preach good tidings to the poor; 

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, 

To proclaim liberty to the captives, 

And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, 

And the day of vengeance of our God

To comfort all who mourn, 

To console those who mourn in Zion

To give them beauty for ashes, 

The oil of joy for mourning, 

The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; 

That they may be called trees of righteousness, 

The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3).  

The phrase “the acceptable year of the Lord,” means “the year of the favor [shown by God to men].” This points to the revelation of God’s saving grace as seen in the life and work of our Redeemer (Luke 4:19). From the very beginning, Christianity declared the “good news” or “gospel” of God’s redeeming love. The angel of God when announcing the birth of Christ the Savior, said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people” (Luke 2:10).   

The Day of Vengeance  

At the same time of declaring the “acceptable year of the Lord,” God declared the day of His vengeance. The difference is between “favor” for those who believe in the Messiah and “vengeance” upon those who do evil.  In the synagogue at Nazareth, Christ presented these truths. He declared His mission when He read this passage in Isaiah (Luke 4:18). And He affirmed, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

But the people of Nazareth had pride and prejudice in their hearts and rejected Him and the truths He shared. Instead of humility, they were filled with “wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff” (Luke 4:28,29).  

Therefore, Jerusalem was about to see the “days of vengeance” (Luke 21:22). Jesus told the religious leaders, “the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it…” (Matthew 21:43, 44).  And He mournfully added, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:36–38).  This prophecy was fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD.

The destruction of Jerusalem was a type of the great and final destruction that will take place at the second coming of Christ (Matthew 24:3). Soon mercy will no longer plead, and the day of salvation will end. For this reason, the Lord invites all people to accept His love: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15; Hebrews 4:7–9). So, let us seek the Lord with all our hearts and obey His commands by the His enabling strength. So that we may be found ready at His appearing. 

In His service, 

BibleAsk Team 

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