Today’s reading: Isaiah 61
On May 4, NBC News reported that COVID 19 deaths in the United States passed one million. On May 14, an 18 year old gunman motived by hate killed ten people at a local grocery store in Buffalo, New York. As of May 15, approximately 3,700 Ukrainian civilians had been killed, and an additional 3.4 million refugees driven from their homeland, by Russian forces that began invading Ukraine on February 24. Unfortunately these are just examples of the destruction happening around our world as we speak. It is heart breaking. Do you ever find yourself asking why? Not why bad things happen, because we know that is a result of sin, but why doesn’t God do something to stop the destruction and heartache?
I think our text for today, Isaiah 61, gives us some insight.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn…(Isaiah 61:1-2).
Why isn’t God doing anything now? The answer is that God already did something to address the broken world when he sent his son Jesus. Isaiah 61 pointed to the coming Messiah, the savior of the world. Jesus himself referenced this same text in Luke 4 when he revealed himself as the Messiah to religious leaders in the synagogue.
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…today, this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing (Luke 4:18-21).
Look closely. Do you notice the difference between the passage in Isaiah 61 and the passage in Luke 4? Luke 4 stops after the year of the Lord’s favor and leaves out the reference to God’s vengeance. Why? Because Jesus’ arrival as the Messiah ushered in the year of the Lord’s favor, when everyone was given the opportunity to come to faith in Jesus. God desires for every person to confess Jesus as Lord so they can be saved. Because, when Judgement Day comes, God will judge every person. No exceptions. Those who have already accepted his invitation will spend eternity with God. Those who have not will be separated from God and endure eternal punishment. Until that day, we have the freedom to choose.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it (Matthew 7:13-14).