POST OVERVIEW. The second part (see #646, 5/2/2023) of a study of Isaiah 61:1-2 as quoted by Jesus in Luke 4 when He was in Nazareth. This one on “The day of vengeance of our God” (61:2).
In our last post (#646, 5/2/2023), we had begun to discuss Isaiah 61:1-2 and to consider why Jesus had quoted part of these verses when He was in His hometown of Nazareth in Luke 4. In that scene in the gospel of Luke, Jesus announced that He was the promised Messiah and that His appearance was ushering in “the favorable year of the LORD” (Luke 4:19). Now for a long time God’s mercy will welcome believing sinners into His kingdom as sons and daughters. With the first advent of the Messiah, today is “the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).
But we see from Isaiah 61:2 that the favorable year of the LORD will not last forever. The favorable year will end and then there will come “the day of vengeance of our God.” It is understanding this day of vengeance that will be our focus in this post.
THE WORK OF JESUS’ FIRST ADVENT
But before we explore the day of vengeance which will occur at Jesus’ second advent, I want to consider the nature of His first advent. Why did Jesus’ earthly ministry during His first appearance have the character that it did?
The main point to be grasped is that, for there to be a “favorable year of the LORD,” Jesus had to perfectly accomplish the work He had been given to do in His Incarnation. Jesus was not merely born in Bethlehem, but much more than that, He was sent by the Father to fulfill His mission. The Son of God was sent from heaven to accomplish the work of atonement that He had been given to do (John 17:4). In His life, He was to fulfill the Law (Matt. 5:17) by perfectly obeying it so that He could be a sinless sacrifice for the sins of His people (Hebrews 10:10, 12, 14). When He had perfectly obeyed the Father in His suffering and had humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross (Phil. 2:8), He was able to shout the victory cry, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)
So, Jesus did not come in His Incarnation to judge the world (John 3:17) but came to be a ransom for many (Mark 10:45) so that many would be saved through Him.
THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is that Jesus has accomplished His work of atonement and has made it possible for sinners to be reconciled to a holy God. Now through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ anyone who believes will be saved from the wrath of God.
With His death on the cross, Jesus finished His work of atonement.
Now, during “the favorable year of the LORD,” the church has been given the work of making disciples and of proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth.
But on the last day, Jesus Christ will appear in His awesome Second Coming to execute His work of judgment. This will be the terrifying “day of vengeance of our God” (Isaiah 61:2), and it is to this subject we now turn.
THE DAY OF VENGEANCE OF OUR GOD
Jesus did not mention this day of vengeance in the synagogue in Nazareth, but all the Scriptures make clear that there will certainly be a day of judgment at the end of the age and the Scriptures will certainly be fulfilled. There will be an end to the favorable year of the LORD and a beginning to the day of vengeance. The time of mercy and grace and compassion will pass away and the day of wrath and fury and recompense for all wrongs will come upon the world like a flood and like thief in the night, and there will be no escape.
The Bible has much to say in Old Testament and New about this day of vengeance, this “day of the LORD.” These awesome scenes of powerful destruction are given to the unrighteous as warnings to drive them to repentance (Romans 2:4-9). The wicked should fear the judgment of the Lord and flee from the wrath to come (Luke 3:7).
And Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords is the One who will execute the judgments of that day. Jesus is the One who will tread the great wine press of the wrath of God (Rev. 14:19). Jesus is the One who will carry out the wrath of the Lamb on the great day (Rev. 6:16-17). Jesus is the Rider on the white horse who is called Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11). On that day He will strike down the nations with His sharp sword and will rule them with a rod of iron, and He will tread the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty (Rev. 19:15).
The day of vengeance of our God is the same thing as the day of the LORD in the Old Testament prophets. The prophet Joel tells of a day of darkness and gloom, of clouds and thick darkness. This is a day that comes as destruction from the Almighty. Blood and fire and columns of smoke. In Micah, the Lord declares, “in that day I will execute vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations which have not obeyed” (Micah 5:15). Nahum declares, “The LORD is avenging and wrathful. The LORD takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies” (1:2). “The hills dissolve. Indeed, the earth is upheaved by His presence (1:5). Who can endure the burning of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire” (1:6). Zephaniah cries out, “Near is the great day of the LORD, near and coming very quickly (1:14). A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom (1:15). Their blood will be poured out like dust and their flesh like dung” (1:17). And time would fail me if I listed all these passages in the prophets.
This “day of vengeance” is the same thing as “that day” in many passages in Isaiah. In Psalm 110, the Lord (“Adonai” in the Hebrew; this is Jesus) “shatters kings in the day of His wrath. He judges among the nations. He fills them (the nations) with corpses. He will shatter the chief men across a broad country” (110:5-6). In 2 Thess. 1:7 during the day of vengeance, “The Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God.” When describing Jesus on the day of judgment, the author of Hebrews says, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:31), and later he says, “Our God is a consuming fire” (12:29).
SUMMARY. The message is clear. Jesus has died and Jesus has risen and He has given sinners a season of mercy when they can repent and a reason for hope if they will believe in Him. Yes, Jesus has died and Jesus has risen, but Jesus is coming again. Now is the day of salvation, for when He comes again, He will come in terrifying vengeance.
Soli Deo gloria rmb 5/3/2023 #647