The Favorable Year of the Lord

“To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:19)

We find this verse in what I call the mission statement of Jesus at the beginning of His ministry here on earth. He quoted from the Prophet Isaiah the following words. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn.” (Isaiah 61:1) I was intrigued by the statement “To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” What did He mean? What is the favorable year of the Lord? We find this term in no other place in the Scriptures.

When the full plan and purpose of the Lord is accomplished, which it will, that will be the favorable year of the Lord. This is not a year in terms of 356 days but when the complete redemptive plan of God is finished. Throughout the three year ministry of Jesus He taught the favorable year of the Lord and He came to accomplish it. We have been studying the prophecies of the Old Testament concerning Jesus the Messiah and have realized that much of what He did was prophesized by the prophets of old. He told His listeners during the Sermon on the Mount this very truth that He came to fulfil the Law of the Prophets. “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” (Mathew 5:17)

The favorable year of the Lord is pictured for us in the festivals and the harvest seasons that God established for the people of Israel. There are 3 feast seasons that God gave to His people and there are 3 harvest seasons. The seasons of feast are Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. The harvest seasons are barley, wheat and fruit. They each relate to each other. Each one of these speak to the redemptive plan and purpose of God. They each link to the 3 resurrections of God’s plan.

As we pass through the feast and harvest season each year we come to the complete redemptive plan of God. It is then conclusive that when God’s plan of redemption is complete that will be “the favorable year of the Lord.” It will be His year and will be acceptable to Him.

The first feast is found in Exodus chapter 12 and is called the Passover. This is when the death angel passed over the homes that had the sacrificial lamb’s blood on the doorpost. In Leviticus we read, “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.” Leviticus 23:5) The lamb that the Israel people had to sacrifice was to be without spot or blemish. It was not to be any lamb but a lamb that was known to the household. They were to take the lamb within the home until the fourteenth day of the month. The lamb was not a meaning less stranger to the household and I am sure it became as a pet. Then on the fourteenth day they were to kill the lamb. I am sure the familiarity of the lamb brought sadness of its loss to the family. This was important in that it was not a meaningless death but one that involved the emotions. The blood of the lamb was to be placed on the doorpost as a sign to the Death Angel to Passover that home.

The Passover Lamb pointed to Jesus as the true Messiah and the perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind. “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.” (1 Corinthians 5:7) The day that Jesus was crucified was the day of preparation for the Passover Feast and at that same time the lambs were being slaughtered for the feast of Passover. “Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” (John 19:14)

As Jesus laid in the grave the Feast of Unleavened Bread was observed. This feast has its origin in Exodus 12 and for seven days the Israelite people were to eat only unleavened bread. “Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.” (Leviticus 23:6) In the Scriptures leaven is the picture of sin. Jesus was in the grave as a kernel of wheat that would rise up to become the bread of life to those who accepted His sacrifice for their sin. “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14)

The Feast of First Fruits points to the resurrection of Jesus. “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.” (Leviticus 23:10) At the harvest of the first fruits, the best is to be given to the Lord. The Lord gave us His best in that He offered up His only begotten Son to atone for our sins. The Apostle Paul describes Jesus’ resurrection as the first fruit of the dead. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20)

Fifty days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread came the Day of Pentecost. This is the day that the promised Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples and all those who believed and founded the Church of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament is was a grain offering to the Lord. “You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:16) For the Christian faith and the Church it was a day of great harvest as 3000 souls were added to the Church. Both Jew and Gentile were brought into the fold of the Kingdom of God and the Church Age had begun. This is the day that the Apostle Peter preached his first gospel message in the power of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2)

The Festival of Trumpets is a fall feast that is a time of rest. “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation.” (Leviticus 23:24) Trumpets are to be blown as a reminder of the time that the people are to rest from their labors and point their attention to their God and their families. For the Christian it is associated when the Messiah, the Bridegroom, shall come for His bride the Church. This event in history will be signaled by the sound of a trumpet. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52)

The Day of Atonement is described in the book of Leviticus. It was a day set aside for the sacrificial offering made unto the Lord for the sins of the people. “On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:27) This event in the Jewish calendar points prophetically to the Second Coming of Jesus. It is the day when He will return and establish His Kingdom on earth. It is the day when the Jewish remnant will realize the full truth of their Messiah. “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” (Zechariah 12:10) It will be a time of complete repentance and a turning to their Messiah and King the Lord Jesus. “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” (Romans 11:5-6)

The feast of the Tabernacles is a time when the Israelites remember the time that they lived in tents while traveling through the wilderness to the Promised Land. It was a time when the Temple of the Lord was a tabernacle that they carried with them on their journey. That way the Lord tabernacle with them. “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the LORD.” (Leviticus 23:34) This feast also points to the time when the Lord will once again tabernacle with His people here on earth. The Christian believes this will happen when the Lord returns to reign over the nations of the earth. “And it will come about in the last days That the mountain of the house of the LORD Will be established as the chief of the mountains. It will be raised above the hills, And the peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion will go forth the law, Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He will judge between many peoples And render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they train for war. Each of them will sit under his vine And under his fig tree, With no one to make them afraid, For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. Though all the peoples walk Each in the name of his god, As for us, we will walk In the name of the LORD our God forever and ever. “In that day,” declares the LORD, “I will assemble the lame And gather the outcasts, Even those whom I have afflicted. “I will make the lame a remnant And the outcasts a strong nation, And the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion From now on and forever.” (Micah 4:1-7)

The seven feast of the Lord, the Passover, Unleavened Bread, the First Fruits, Pentecost, the Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles give us a picture of the full Redemptive plan of God and will lead us to the Favorable Year of the Lord.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

Durant Bible College, December 2, 2015

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