“To proclaim the year of Yahweh’s Favor…”
There are two promises in view with the words of this phrase. The first is the concept of the Year of Jubilee that we discussed above. This was the season when debts were forgiven and family lands were restored-the oppression of division from the community by debit was brought to an end. Indeed, this is what we find in Christ Jesus, where all believers are brought into the covenant and are given an inheritance in the land-a land that is being reserved for us free from corruption, by Christ in Heaven (1 Peter 1:4-5. Indeed, the celebration that Christ ushers in is an ongoing Year of Jubilee before the Lord.
Yet there is more at work than this, for the Year of the Lord’s Favor, ushered in by Christ, is a promise to be enjoyed by Gentiles as well as by Jews. It is to be enjoyed by all who will trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. The language of this verse also picks up on the language of Isaiah 49:8, where God promises that in the “time of the favor” of the Lord, God will work salvation for his people, bringing the nations into the covenant. Indeed, the verses that follow echo much of the language of chapter 61. Thus, in Christ, we see the principle of the Year of Jubilee applied to the gentiles as well as to the Jewish people. In Christ we find that the fortunes of all the tribes of the earth-all of the descendants of the sons of Noah, find blessing as the gospel is brought to them.
We need to raise one more issue regarding this passage. Given that we know the context of the Year of the Lord’s favor with respect to the Year of Jubilee and its extension to the gentiles, we still ought to ask the question of what favor means. I raise this question, because oftentimes when we think of favor, we think of earning someone’s favor, and this is obviously not the case with God. The word “favor” is the Hebrew word, !Acr” (ratson), and while we find the term used in a variety of contexts, normally it is used to refer to favor that is graciously given and not favor that has been earned. In many of the cases, this term could also be translated as “grace.” Do understand, loved ones, that the language of the Year of God’s Favor is the language of a gracious gift that has been given, not something that has been earned in any which way. Seek Christ, and enjoy the year of his grace-enjoy his mercies and rest in the assurance of his promise. That which you could not do for yourself (being brought into the favor of the Lord) has been done by Christ for us! Hallelujah! Amen!