Christ's Two Appearances
Isaiah 61

The return of Christ seems very near. Biblical prophecies point to it as do present world conditions. God is going to deal severely with Israel and the Gentile Nations in the Great Tribulation at that time and as a result, the Gentile Nations that once antagonized and persecuted Israel will live in harmony with Israel. What a day that will be for Israel after centuries of suffering and abuse! God is going to restore Israel to greatness and Israel will be the main participant in God's plan of restoration and blessing for the whole earth. The Gentile Nations will bow down to Israel and those that once persecuted her will acknowledge that God is with Israel and will want to enter into fellowship and communion with them. This is a literal fact.

Timewise, this will start with the Great Tribulation period, be followed by the glorious Millennial Reign of Christ, and continue on into the eternal state. God will never give up His people. Theyíll always have a special place in His heart and the Church will have theirs also. Everyone, from every dispensation, who has been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ will have a place in the counsels of God.

Chapter sixty-one of Isaiah is the portion of scripture the Lord Jesus called attention to in the synagogue at Nazareth. After His baptism in the Jordan River and His temptation in the wilderness, He travelled up through Galilee and entered into Nazareth, the city where He spent His early years.

We donít have much information as to the early days of the Lord Jesus Christ. Men can only try to imagine with little success what might have taken place between His childhood and His thirtieth year when He was baptized by John. We do know that He began His spiritual work on earth shortly after His baptism in the Jordan River. Scripture does say that when some who knew Him came to hear Him, they said "Is not this the carpenterís son?" And Luke writes that it was His custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath. The Lord obeyed the law of Moses as well as the regulations instituted by the rabbis and He regularly attended the synagogue service and apparently took part in it. He was recognized as one who had the authority to read from the Scriptures publicly.

In the synagogue at Nazareth, they handed Him the scroll of Isaiah and He began reading at what is designated in todayís scriptures as chapter 61, verse 1. "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has 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..."

Luke chapter 4 records that when Jesus read this passage in the synagogue, He stopped in the middle of the sentence at "To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord," He didnít read the last phrase "And the Day of vengeance of our God." Why? Because this was the Day of Salvation, "the acceptable year of the Lord." {Luke 4:18-19}. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19. To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Then He closed the scroll. Why didnít He read on in Isaiah's words? Because the verses He just read told what He came to earth to do at His first coming.

The opportunity for complete spiritual healing was now available for the Nation of Israel as well as for anyone who would place their faith in Him. The Jewís long awaited Messiah had appeared at last. The day of Godís vengeance for all who would reject Jesus as their Messiah would come at a later date. That date is still pending.

Jesus sat down and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him and He began to say to them "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." Their Messiah was present that day! Jesus was informing His family and friends in His hometown that He was the long awaited Messiah of Israel. At that moment, He became the fulfillment of the passage first proclaimed some 700 years earlier by Isaiah. He was the long hoped for Immanuel, the God Anointed, Spirit Filled Messiah. It was the "Day of Salvation" not the "Day of Vengeance."

The amazing result of this meeting was that the crowd in the Nazareth synagogue rejected His claim that "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears," and tried to push Him over a cliff. He avoided that threat on His life but God the Father would later allow Him to be crucified on the cross for the sins of humanity and would raise Him from the dead.

His first and His second comings are intimately linked together in this chapter in Isaiah. He came to preach deliverance to captives, to give sight to the blind, to open the prisons of those that were bound, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. When He stopped reading, He put this whole dispensation in which you and I live into those verses. Itís still the acceptable year of the Lord. We havenít moved past the point where He closed the book. He closed it there because the rest of the sentence would carry us into the day of the Lord that is to come after this present age has ended. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.

These statements in verse 1 and 2 of Isaiah 61 are true of Jesus in His first advent. He was the "Anointed Servant of the Lord." He was a preacher of the good news of the gospel to the poor, those who were physically, emotionally, and spiritually bankrupt. He also preached to the financially rich warning them that their riches could destroy them. Luke 6: 24-25. "But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry."

"He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives:" The Messiah has the power to set free the captives of Satan in the battle for the hearts and souls of men and women in every generation since the fall of man in Adam. Jesus has the only power that can release the prisoners of Satan and set them free from their sin and guilt.

Our Lord's ministry of release for the captives would later be seen when He met a demon possessed man who walked around nude, lived in the cemetery, and was so strong no man nor chain could hold him. Jesus cast the demons out of him and into a herd of pigs who in turn ran down a steep place into the lake and drowned. Meanwhile the town folks came out to see what was happening and discovered the man "sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they became frightened. And those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon possessed had been made well." (Luke 8:35 and 36)

Remember the story of Jesus and the blind man as recorded by John? The disciples wanted to know if he was blind because of his own sin or the sin of the parents. Jesus said neither was true. He had been blind since his birth " order that the works of God might be displayed in him." Jesus said "I must work the works of Him who sent Me."

The blind man later became a believer but the Pharisees accused Jesus of being a sinner because He healed on the Sabbath. Jesus healed the physically blind man and it was a symbol of what He came to do for the spiritually blind of the world.

Isaiah also wrote that He would open the prison of them that were bound. This refers to the deliverance of all those who the leaders of the Jewish religious community had bound with their own political and religious laws and customs as well as those who were bound by Satanís influence. Jesus came to provide a remedy for sin with His own blood that would satisfy God and defeat Satan at the same time.

Then it says He came "To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord..." For over 700 years the faithful remnant had been looking forward to the Messiah's coming and to hear Him "proclaim the favorable year of the Lord." When Jesus read those verses in the synagogue, He was saying to the Jews, "all that the year of Jubilee stands for, the symbol of the beginning of the Messianic Age, the freedom from the fear of sin, death, Satan, all this has at this moment appeared in your presence." God was offering salvation to all His people as well as those of the Gentile Nations. It was the "day of salvation" for all those who would place their faith in Jesus Christ, the long-awaited Messiah.

The apostle Paul would later describe this 'favorable year of the Lord' in Colossians 1:13-14, as "(He) has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins..."

All the spiritual and physical blessings mentioned in Isaiah 61 are still being offered. Itís still the "favorable year of the Lord." When Jesus returns to earth He will symbolically open that book to the rest of this passage and He will fulfill it to the letter.

Isaiah 61:2b-3. "And the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 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."

These first three verses of Isaiah 61 link the first and second comings of Jesus. He came to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord the first time and He is coming again to declare and enact the day of vengeance of our God. God will destroy those who are in opposition to Him and are enemies of His people Israel in the Lord's day of vengeance.

In that day, our Lord will fulfill the prophecy of bringing comfort and blessing to those believers in Him who will have suffered so much. He will "comfort all that mourn."

This prophecy will be fulfilled literally for all believing Israel when the judgments of the day of the Lord will have been poured out on the wicked. Every individual soul who will trust in Christ for salvation may enjoy the blessings defined here: "Beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." These are symbolic and they suggest a funeral and a wedding. A Jewish funeral service included putting ashes on the head of the mourners, and a Jewish wedding was a time of happiness and included wearing beautiful bridal wreaths and garments.

In the Old Testament, Israel is described as the wife of God. Israel's long centuries of mourning will be over and she will enter into the joy of her marriage to Jehovah with itís covenant blessings.

God also wants us to know He is present with all believers in the present dispensation. He knows and cares when we face the trials and griefs in these changing scenes of time.

His presence alone can keep our heart in peace and our spirit free from fear. Nothing happens to those who know the Lord but what His love allows and He will use it for our blessing if we submit to His will.

We are presently in the time period BETWEEN the sixty-ninth and seventieth weeks of Danielís prophecy of seventy weeks. This time period began with the coming of the acceptable year of the Lord and will culminate in the day of vengeance of our God. Many other scripture passages contain the latter thought, for instance, Psalm 34:16. "The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth."

Godís day of vengeance has not yet come. God's face is against the wicked and corrupt, but the day has not come when He will cut off the remembrance of all evil-doers from the earth. We can still preach the gospel of' the grace of God and proclaim His offer of salvation to those who are outside of Christ.

We are living in the time period between the first coming of Christ to earth and His second coming to earth. Jesus came the first time to give us salvation, and in His second coming, He will judge Israel and the world. The advents of Christ both have a bearing on the restoration of Israel as well as judgment and blessings for the Gentile world.

Verse 4-6: "And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. 5: And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers. But you shall be named the priests of the Lord: men shall call you the ministers of our God: you shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall you boast yourselves."

These verses describe the wonderful things to come for the Nation of Israel after the Great Tribulation is over and the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth begins.

The nation of Israel will be a nation of priests, they will represent God's presence on behalf of all the other peoples of the earth, and they will be God's messengers to the Gentiles.

Verses 7 through 11 contain many promises of blessings for the believing Jews.

Verses 7-11: "For your shame you shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them. 8: For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9: And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed. 10: I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her Jewels. 11: For as the earth brings forth her bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations."

In this present dispensation, our promised blessings as Gentiles are heavenly. In that day, the blessings for the Jews, to a great extent, will be earthly, and yet their salvation is just the same as our salvation and they can say "He has clothed me with the garments of salvation..."

At one time, we all were guilty of trying to make a covering for ourselves with the filthy rags of our own unrighteousness, but the believer in Jesus Christ can honestly say, "He has covered me with the robe of righteousness."

Israel is relying on a righteousness of their own making. They maintain that being Godís chosen nation is proof enough of their righteousness. God has provided His righteousness for those who have none of their own. And in that coming day, Israel will learn this precious truth and will give up their pretense of human righteousness and rejoice in the righteousness of God.

The apostle Paul wrote, in Romans 10:3, "They, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." In the coming "day of vengeance of our God," that will all be changed. Their eyes will be opened and they will see Christ as their Messiah and their Redeemer. In that day, they will truthfully say with gladness, "He has clothed me with the garments of salvation. He has covered me with the robe of righteousness."