Isaiah 61:2
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) To proclaim the acceptable year . . .—The Year of Jubilee is still, perhaps, in the prophet’s thoughts; but the chief point of the promise is the contrast between the “year” of favour and the single “day” of vengeance, reminding us of the like contrast in Exodus 20:5-6.

Isaiah 61:2-3. And the day of vengeance of our God — Namely, on those who reject or neglect these gracious offers of mercy and salvation: they shall not only be left in their captivity, as they deserve to be, but shall be dealt with as enemies. We have the gospel summed up, Mark 16:16, where that part of it, he that believeth shall be saved, proclaims the acceptable year of the Lord to those that will accept it; but the other part, he that believeth not shall be damned, proclaims the day of vengeance of our God; that vengeance that he will take on those that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Thessalonians 1:8; see also Hebrews 10:27-30; Matthew 24:21; Revelation 18:1. The clause seems to have an especial reference to the time in which God punished the unbelieving and disobedient Jews by the destruction of Jerusalem, and the unparalleled calamities that came upon their nation. We find Christ, in several of his discourses, threatening them with the judgments of God for their rejecting him. And he calls the destruction of Jerusalem the days of vengeance, Luke 21:22, the very expression made use of here. To comfort all that mourn — Either on account of their sins, or their sufferings, or the desolations and miseries of the spiritual Zion, his church; and who, mourning, seek to him, and not to the world, for comfort. He not only provides comfort for them, and proclaims it, but he applies and bestows it by giving them the Comforter. There is enough in him to comfort all that mourn, whatever their afflictions or sorrows may be; but this comfort is sure to them that mourn in Zion, that is, that sorrow after a godly sort, and apply by faith and prayer to God in Christ for relief and consolation. To appoint unto them beauty — Or rather, ornament, (as the Hebrew פארmore properly signifies,) for ashes. Bishop Lowth renders the clause, To give them a beautiful crown instead of ashes; the oil of gladness instead of sorrow; observing, “In times of mourning the Jews put on sackcloth, or coarse and sordid raiment; and spread dust and ashes on their heads: on the contrary, splendid clothing, and ointment poured on the head, were the signs of joy.” The oil of joy — Which makes the face to shine, instead of that mourning which disfigures the countenance, and makes it unlovely. This oil of joy the saints have from that oil of gladness with which Christ himself was anointed above his fellows. The garments of praise — Such beautiful garments as were worn on thanksgiving days, instead of the spirit of heaviness. Hebrew, כהה, contraction, dimness, or obscurity; “open joys,” says Henry, “for secret mournings. Zion’s mourners keep the spirit of heaviness to themselves, and weep in secret; but the joy, with which they are recompensed, they are clothed with, as with a garment, in the eyes of others.” Observe, reader, where God gives the oil of joy, he gives the garment of praise. Those comforts which come from God dispose the heart to, and enlarge the heart in, thanksgivings to God. That they might be called trees of righteousness — That they might be righteous persons, deeply rooted by faith in the ground of gospel truth, solid and firm in sincerity, fortitude, and patience; ornaments to God’s vineyard, and bringing forth fruit suitable to the soil wherein they are planted. The planting of the Lord — Planted by that holy Lord who, being himself holy and righteous, would plant none but such: see on Isaiah 60:21. That he might be glorified — Namely, by the fruit they bear; for herein is our heavenly Father glorified, that we bring forth much fruit.

61:1-3 The prophets had the Holy Spirit of God at times, teaching them what to say, and causing them to say it; but Christ had the Spirit always, without measure, to qualify him, as man, for the work to which he was appointed. The poor are commonly best disposed to receive the gospel, Jas 2:5; and it is only likely to profit us when received with meekness. To such as are poor in spirit, Christ preached good tidings when he said, Blessed are the meek. Christ's satisfaction is accepted. By the dominion of sin in us, we are bound under the power of Satan; but the Son is ready, by his Spirit, to make us free; and then we shall be free indeed. Sin and Satan were to be destroyed; and Christ triumphed over them on his cross. But the children of men, who stand out against these offers, shall be dealt with as enemies. Christ was to be a Comforter, and so he is; he is sent to comfort all who mourn, and who seek to him, and not to the world, for comfort. He will do all this for his people, that they may abound in the fruits of righteousness, as the branches of God's planting. Neither the mercy of God, the atonement of Christ, nor the gospel of grace, profit the self-sufficient and proud. They must be humbled, and led to know their own character and wants, by the Holy Spirit, that they may see and feel their need of the sinner's Friend and Saviour. His doctrine contains glad tidings indeed to those who are humbled before God.To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord - (see the notes at Isaiah 49:8). There is probably an allusion here to the year of Jubilee, when the trumpet was blown, and liberty was proclaimed throughout all the land (so Leviticus 25:9-10). In like manner the Messiah would come to proclaim universal liberty - liberty to all the world from the degrading servitude of sin. The time of his coming would be a time when Yahweh would be pleased to proclaim through him universal emancipation from this ignoble bondage, and to restore to all the privilege of being the freedmen of the Lord.

And the day of vengeance of our God - (See the notes at Isaiah 34:8). This is language adapted to the deliverance from Babylon. The rescue of his people would be attended with vengeance on their enemies. This was not quoted by the Saviour in his discourse at Nazareth, or if quoted, the fact is not recorded by Luke (see Luke 4:19). The text which the Saviour took then as the foundation of his discourse Luke 4:21, seems to have ended with the clause before this, It is not to be inferred, however, that he did not consider the subsequent expressions as referring to himself, but it was not necessary to his purpose to quote them. Regarded as applicable to the Redeemer and his preaching, this doubtless refers to the fact that his coming would be attended with vengeance on his foes. It is a great truth, manifest everywhere, that God's coming forth at any time to deliver his people is attended with vengeance on his enemies. So it was in the destruction of Idumea - regarded as the general representative of all the foes of God (see the notes at Isaiah 34; Isaiah 35:1-10); so it was in the deliverance from Egypt - involving the destruction of Pharaoh and his host; so in the destruction of Babylon and the deliverance of the captives there. So in like manner it was in the destruction of Jerusalem; and so it will be at the end of the world Matthew 25:31-46; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.

To comfort all that mourn - The expression, 'all that mourn,' may refer either to those who mourn over the loss of earthly friends and possessions, or to those who mourn over sin. In either case the gospel has afforded abundant sources of consolation (see the notes at Isaiah 25:8).

2. acceptable year—the year of jubilee on which "liberty was proclaimed to the captives" (Isa 61:1; 2Co 6:2).

day of vengeance—The "acceptable time of grace" is a "year"; the time of "vengeance" but "a day" (so Isa 34:8; 63:4; Mal 4:1). Jesus (Lu 4:20, 21) "closed the book" before this clause; for the interval from His first to His second coming is "the acceptable year"; the day of vengeance" will not be till He comes again (2Th 1:7-9).

our God—The saints call Him "our God"; for He cometh to "avenge" them (Re 6:10; 19:2).

all that mourn—The "all" seems to include the spiritual Israelite mourners, as well as the literal, who are in Isa 61:3 called "them that mourn in Zion," and to whom Isa 57:18 refers.

To proclaim; to declare, as it respects the Jews, that their liberty is at hand.

The acceptable year, viz. the happy age of God’s grace, either which will be grateful and welcome news to them, or acceptable to God, a time wherein it pleaseth him to favour them; but this must be understood of a further extent than to Babylon, and rather unto mankind in Jesus Christ, Galatians 4:4 Titus 3:4, called a time of God’s good-will in that angelical song, Luke 2:14, on the account of those good tidings which the angel brought, Isaiah 61:10,11; called so possibly from the arbitrariness and good pleasure of God, having no respect to any satisfaction from man.

Year; not precisely, as if Christ preached but one year, the mistake of some ancients, mentioned and refuted by Irenaeus, lib. 2. ch. 38; but for time indefinitely, and may include the whole time of preaching the gospel; see Romans 10:15; which I take to be the meaning of that now, 2 Corinthians 6:2, and probably hath a pertinent allusion to the year of jubilee, which was a general release proclaimed by sound of trumpet, which relates also here to the word proclaiming, Leviticus 25:10.

The day of vengeance, viz. on Babylon, it being necessary, that where God will deliver his people, he should take vengeance on their enemies; but mystically and principally on the enemies of his church, and the spiritual ones chiefly, viz. Satan, sin, and death.

That mourn; either by reason of their sufferings, or of their sins, Matthew 11:28; or the miseries of Zion. See Poole "Isaiah 57:18".

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,.... Not an exact year, but time in general; for such are wrong, who from hence conclude that Christ's public ministry lasted but a year, since it is certain, by the passovers he kept, that it must be at least three or four years; the whole time of Christ on earth was an acceptable and desirable time, what many great personages desired to see, and did not: this time may take in the whole Gospel dispensation, which was ushered in by Christ: the allusion, as before observed, is to the year of jubilee, when there was a proclamation of liberty; of release of debts; of restoration of inheritances, and of cessation from work; all which must make it an acceptable year: and this proclamation was made on the day of atonement; and Jarchi interprets the phrase here of a "year of reconciliation"; or "the year of atonement to the Lord", as it maybe rendered (s); this was made by the sacrifice of Christ, and is proclaimed in the Gospel, and makes a most considerable part of it. It may be rendered, "the year of the good will of the Lord" (t); and such was the time of Christ's coming on earth, to save men, and make peace and reconciliation for them, Luke 2:14 and was an "acceptable time" indeed; acceptable to the Lord himself; as were the incarnation of Christ, his obedience and righteousness, his sufferings and death, his sacrifice and satisfaction; since hereby the perfections of God were glorified, his purposes fulfilled, his covenant confirmed, and his people saved: acceptable to men; as were the birth of Christ; the things done by him; peace made, pardon procured, righteousness brought in, and salvation wrought out; all which must be acceptable to such who are lost, and know it, and are sensible that nothing of their own can save them; see 1 Timothy 1:15.

the day of vengeance of our God; when vengeance was taken on sin, in the person of Christ; when he destroyed the works of the devil, the devil himself, and spoiled principalities and powers; when he abolished death, and was the plague and destruction of that and the grave; when he brought wrath to the uttermost on the Jews for the rejection of him, who would not have him to reign over them; and who will take vengeance on antichrist at his spiritual coming, and upon all the wicked at the day of judgment. Kimchi understands this of the day when God shall take vengeance on Gog and Magog.

To comfort all that mourn: that are under afflictions, and mourn for them; and under a sense of sin, and mourn for that; who mourn for their own sins, indwelling sin, and their many actual transgressions; and for the sins of others, of profane persons, and especially professors of religion; these Christ comforts by his Spirit, by his word and ministers, by his promises, by his ordinances, and by the discoveries, of pardoning grace and mercy,

(s) "annum placabilem Jehovae", Vatablus; "annum placabilem Domino", V. L. (t) Heb. "annum benevolentiae, seu bneplaciti Jehovae", Piscator, Tigurine version; "annum complacentiae", Vitinga.

To proclaim the {d} acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of {e} vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

(d) The time when it pleased God to show his good favour to man, which Paul calls the fulness of time, Ga 4:4.

(e) For when God delivers his Church, he punishes his enemies.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. the acceptable year of the Lord] Rather, a year of Jehovah’s favour (ch. Isaiah 49:8); and so in the next line, a day of our God’s vengeance (cf. Isaiah 63:4, ch. Isaiah 34:8). vengeance] i.e. on the oppressors of Israel, perhaps also on the sinful members of the nation (Isaiah 59:16 ff.).

to comfort all that mourn] Cf. ch. Isaiah 57:18. The clause belongs properly to the next verse.

Verse 2. - To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. An "acceptable year," or "year of acceptance," is a space of time during which God would be pleased to accept such as repented and turned to him. It is, of course, not intended to limit the space to a "year." The space is rather the term of our sojourn here below. The day of vengeance. The "day" of vengeance is contrasted with the "year" of acceptance, to indicate God's long-suffering and patience towards sinners (comp. Isaiah 34:8; and see also Exodus 20:5, 6). To comfort all that mourn; i.e. all who "sorrow after a godly sort" (2 Corinthians 7:11) - all who mourn their transgressions and shortcomings, their "sins, negligences, and ignorances," with a hearty desire to be rid of them, and to serve God truly in the future. Isaiah 61:2The words of Jehovah Himself pass over here into the words of another, whom He has appointed as the Mediator of His gracious counsel. "The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is over me, because Jehovah hath anointed me, to bring glad tidings to sufferers, hath sent me to bind up broken-hearted ones, to proclaim liberty to those led captive, and emancipation to the fettered; to proclaim a year of grace from Jehovah, and a day of vengeance from our God; to comfort all that mourn; to put upon the mourners of Zion, to give them a head-dress for ashes, oil of joy for mourning, a wrapper of renown for an expiring spirit, that they may be called terebinths of righteousness, a planting of Jehovah for glorification." Who is the person speaking here? The Targum introduces the passage with נביּא אמר. Nearly all the modern commentators support this view. Even the closing remarks to Drechsler (iii. 381) express the opinion, that the prophet who exhibited to the church the summit of its glory in chapter 60, an evangelist of the rising from on high, an apocalyptist who sketches the painting which the New Testament apocalyptist is to carry out in detail, is here looking up to Jehovah with a grateful eye, and praising Him with joyful heart for his exalted commission. But this view, when looked at more closely, cannot possibly be sustained. It is open to the following objections: (1.) The prophet never speaks of himself as a prophet at any such length as this; on the contrary, with the exception of the closing words of Isaiah 57:21, "saith my God," he has always most studiously let his own person fall back into the shade. (2.) Wherever any other than Jehovah is represented as speaking, and as referring to his own calling, or his experience in connection with that calling, as in Isaiah 49:1., Isaiah 50:4., it is the very same "servant of Jehovah" of whom and to whom Jehovah speaks in Isaiah 42:1., Isaiah 52:13-53:12, and therefore not the prophet himself, but He who had been appointed to be the Mediator of a new covenant, the light of the Gentiles, the salvation of Jehovah for the whole world, and who would reach this glorious height, to which He had been called, through self-abasement even to death. (3.) All that the person speaking here says of himself is to be found in the picture of the unequalled "Servant of Jehovah," who is highly exalted above the prophet. He is endowed with the Spirit of Jehovah (Isaiah 42:1); Jehovah has sent Him, and with Him His Spirit (Isaiah 48:16); He has a tongue taught of God, to help the exhausted with words (Isaiah 50:4); He spares and rescues those who are almost despairing and destroyed, the bruised reed and expiring wick (Isaiah 42:7). "To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house:" this is what He has chiefly to do for His people, both in word and deed (Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 49:9). (4.) We can hardly expect that, after the prophet has described the Servant of Jehovah, of whom He prophesied, as coming forward to speak with such dramatic directness as in Isaiah 49:1., Isaiah 50:4. (and even Isaiah 48:16), he will now proceed to put himself in the foreground, and ascribe to himself those very same official attributes which he has already set forth as characteristic features in his portrait of the predicted One. For these reasons we have no doubt that we have here the words of the Servant of Jehovah. The glory of Jerusalem is depicted in chapter 60 in the direct words of Jehovah Himself, which are well sustained throughout. And now, just as in Isaiah 48:16, though still more elaborately, we have by their side the words of His servant, who is the mediator of this glory, and who above all others is the pioneer thereof in his evangelical predictions. Just as Jehovah says of him in Isaiah 42:1, "I have put my Spirit upon him;" so here he says of himself, "The Spirit of Jehovah is upon me." And when he continues to explain this still further by saying, "because" (יען from ענה, intention, purpose; here equivalent to אשׁר יען) "Jehovah hath anointed me" (mâs 'ōthı̄, more emphatic than meshâchanı̄), notwithstanding the fact that mâshach is used here in the sense of prophetic and not regal anointing (1 Kings 19:16), we may find in the choice of this particular word a hint at the fact, that the Servant of Jehovah and the Messiah are one and the same person. So also the account given in Luke 4:16-22 viz. that when Jesus was in the synagogue at Nazareth, after reading the opening words of this address, He closed the book with these words, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears" - cannot be interpreted more simply in any other way, than on the supposition that Jesus here declares Himself to be the predicted and divinely anointed Servant of Jehovah, who brings the gospel of redemption to His people. Moreover, though it is not decisive in favour of our explanation, yet this explanation is favoured by the fact that the speaker not only appears as the herald of the new and great gifts of God, but also as the dispenser of them ("non praeco tantum, sed et dispensator," Vitringa).

The combination of the names of God ('Adonai Yehovâh) is the same as in Isaiah 50:4-9. On bissēr, εὐαγγελίζειν (-εσθαι). He comes to put a bandage on the hearts' wounds of those who are broken-hearted: ל חבשׁ (חבּשׁ) as in Ezekiel 34:4; Psalm 147:3; cf., ל רפא (רפּא); ל הצדיק. דרור קרא is the phrase used in the law for the proclamation of the freedom brought by the year of jubilee, which occurred every fiftieth year after seven sabbatical periods, and was called shenath hadderōr (Ezekiel 46:17); deror from dârar, a verbal stem, denoting the straight, swift flight of a swallow (see at Psalm 84:4), and free motion in general, such as that of a flash of lightning, a liberal self-diffusion, like that of a superabundant fulness. Peqach-qōăch is written like two words (see at Isaiah 2:20). The Targum translates it as if peqach were an imperative: "Come to the light," probably meaning undo the bands. But qōăch is not a Hebrew word; for the qı̄chōth of the Mishna (the loops through which the strings of a purse are drawn, for the purpose of lacing it up) cannot be adduced as a comparison. Parchon, AE, and A, take peqachqōăch as one word (of the form פּתלתּל, שׁחרחר), in the sense of throwing open, viz., the prison. But as pâqach is never used like pâthach (Isaiah 14:17; Isaiah 51:14), to signify the opening of a room, but is always applied to the opening of the eyes (Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 42:7, etc.), except in Isaiah 42:20, where it is used for the opening of the ears, we adhere to the strict usage of the language, if we understand by peqachqōăch the opening up of the eyes (as contrasted with the dense darkness of the prison); and this is how it has been taken even by the lxx, who have rendered it καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν, as if the reading had been ולעורים (Psalm 146:8). Again, he is sent to promise with a loud proclamation a year of good pleasure (râtsōn: syn. yeshū‛âh) and a day of vengeance, which Jehovah has appointed; a promise which assigns the length of a year for the thorough accomplishment of the work of grace, and only the length of a day for the work of vengeance. The vengeance applies to those who hold the people of God in fetters, and oppress them; the grace to all those whom the infliction of punishment has inwardly humbled, though they have been strongly agitated by its long continuance (Isaiah 57:15). The 'ăbhēlı̄m, whom the Servant of Jehovah has to comfort, are the "mourners of Zion," those who take to heart the fall of Zion. In Isaiah 61:3, לשׂוּם ... לתת, he corrects himself, because what he brings is not merely a diadem, to which the word sūm (to set) would apply, but an abundant supply of manifold gifts, to which only a general word like nâthan (to give) is appropriate. Instead of אפר, the ashes of mourning or repentance laid upon the head, he brings פּאר, a diadem to adorn the head (a transposition even so far as the letters are concerned, and therefore the counterpart of אפר; the"oil of joy" (from Psalm 45:8; compare also משׁחך there with אתי משׁח here) instead of mourning; "a wrapper (cloak) of renown" instead of a faint and almost extinguished spirit. The oil with which they henceforth anoint themselves is to be joy or gladness, and renown the cloak in which they wrap themselves (a genitive connection, as in Isaiah 59:17). And whence is all this? The gifts of God, though represented in outward figures, are really spiritual, and take effect within, rejuvenating and sanctifying the inward man; they are the sap and strength, the marrow and impulse of a new life. The church thereby becomes "terebinths of righteousness" (אילי: Targ., Symm., Jer., render this, strong ones, mighty ones; Syr. dechre, rams; but though both of these are possible, so far as the letters are concerned, they are unsuitable here), i.e., possessors of righteousness, produced by God and acceptable with God, having all the firmness and fulness of terebinths, with their strong trunks, their luxuriant verdure, and their perennial foliage - a planting of Jehovah, to the end that He may get glory out of it (a repetition of Isaiah 60:21).

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