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The Year Of The Lord's Favor

The Lord's Favor  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  40:19
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The Year Of The Lord’s Favor

What is your favorite? We all have favorite things.
My favorite season is fall.
My favorite hobby is fly fishing.
My favorite food is lasagna.
What do all those have in common? They’re all AWESOME!
But also, none of them are near to me. I’m estranged from each of them.
Cool crisp mornings and the changing colors have turned to COLD and white.
I have found myself not giving priority to fishing and my rods have collected more dust that fish for too many years.
And lasagna - I can have it but the wisdom of abstaining outweighs the discomfort of indulging.
Our subject today is about receiving the favor of the Lord. But like many of my favorites, we are estranged in various degrees from God.
That is our status, but it is not our destiny. It was our past, but is, by God’s grace, day by day less our reality.
Luke 4:18–19 ESV
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
“To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” As we have seen over the past few weeks, this passage from Isaiah that Jesus read in the synagog in Nazareth was no chosen, nor written, at random. It was written by the inspiration of the Spirit by Isaiah to point to the one who would to be the fulfillment of all the promises of God.
Isaiah proclaimed the Messiah, even though he didn’t know the details of Jesus.
“To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Jesus was announcing the coming favor of the Lord. The passage that He quotes, and the words that are used will take us on a journey from the past to the future. We’ll be in Isaiah 61, Leviticus 25, and then in Ezekiel 47.
This journey will reveal the meaning, message, and love of God Jesus was expressing in these few words.

Rebuild and Reclaim

Our first stop:
Isaiah 61:1–11 ESV
1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. 5 Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers; 6 but you shall be called the priests of the Lord; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast. 7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy. 8 For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed. 10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult 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 like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

Rebuild and Reclaim

There are several themes at play here. I want to highlight two of them on our way back to the beginning. We’ll mention them on our way back through.
The first theme is rebuilding what is lost.

Rebuild what is lost.

The immediate context of the Lord’s favor is the vengeance of God and to comfort the mourners. Jesus stopped His reading before the mention of vengeance because that was not the purpose of His present proclamation.
One word about this. There is a year of favor, but only a day of judgement. These time here probably shouldn’t be taken 24-hours and 365 days. But the proportion is encouraging. God will declare His judgement and cast the sentence to those who have rejected Him in a brief time. But His pleasures will extend throughout the seasons for those who love Him.
Even when we love Him, we find ourselves in need of comforting. Even when we desire Him we find times of mourning. While the reasons might be many, what are the reasons in this passage?
Verse 3 tells us the activity of their mourning. Verse 4 gives us the reason.
Isaiah 61:4 ESV
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
What God had blessed them in, rebellion had destroyed. What God had given, sin had taken. So the favor of the the Lord is to restore those things that are lost and mourned over.
We live in a world full of ancient ruins. Archeologically, and spiritually. In our potential, our memories, our actions, and our thoughts. We mourn because of how terribly much we’ve lost. Most of the time we, as a society, don’t realize it’s mourning. Have you ever felt hopeless because of some broken situation and so decided to to something even more destructive? I’m not sure that’s not what is happening with the immoral slide our culture is taking. People find themselves lost and hopeless and in need of comfort and run to something they think will give it to them?
They are lost. Can we love them and share with them that they can be rebuilt with the favor of Jesus?

Plants from all nations.

This takes us directly to the second theme I want to highlight. In verses 5-9 Isaiah speaks of the nations/strangers/foreigners. But here they are not enemies, but co-inhabitants of the land. Working it, receiving it’s blessing. Joining to God along with the people of Israel and everlasting covenant.
This is talking about us! We are the offspring known among the nations as the people of God. We are those who were once on the outside, but now inside God’s family, inside God’s blessing, inside God’s favor.
Verses 10-11 combine the mourning people of God’s first covenant who had lost what was good with the foreigners from other nations who have been grafted in an planted alongside God’s people. Together we experience the fulfilment of God’s favor.
With some better perspective in this direct reference Jesus was proclaiming He fulfilled, lets move back to the reference Isaiah was making.

The Year of Jubilee

Leviticus is one of the most underrated books in the OT.
“It’s just a bunch of rules that don’t even make sense.”
There is so much more to it than that!
Leviticus reminds us of a reverence and respect for God. It calls us to align our actions with the character of God. But it also points us to God’s plan to fulfill His ultimate good.
The Sabbath day was and is important to the Jewish people.
Leviticus 23:3 ESV
3 “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.
It should also be important to us. To take a day of rest from ordinary work that we might refresh our bodies, remind ourselves of God’s blessings, and renew our dependance on Him.
I must do better!
There was also a Sabbath year:
Leviticus 25:1–7 ESV
1 The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you, the land shall keep a Sabbath to the Lord. 3 For six years you shall sow your field, and for six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its fruits, 4 but in the seventh year there shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath to the Lord. You shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. 5 You shall not reap what grows of itself in your harvest, or gather the grapes of your undressed vine. It shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. 6 The Sabbath of the land shall provide food for you, for yourself and for your male and female slaves and for your hired worker and the sojourner who lives with you, 7 and for your cattle and for the wild animals that are in your land: all its yield shall be for food.
The Sabbaths were an opportunity to trust God and His provision. God was not asking His people to starve for a year, but for them to trust that if they would acknowledge - by their work - that it was always God who provided, they would be blessed.
And beyond the Sabbath day and the sabbath year, there was a Year of Jubilee.
Leviticus 25:8–12 ESV
8 “You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years. 9 Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. 10 And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan. 11 That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of itself nor gather the grapes from the undressed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy to you. You may eat the produce of the field.
The 50th year, starting on the Day of Atonement, liberty is proclaimed, the captives go free, God’s favor will supply all their needs.
God called His people to trust Him with all they had. With feasts and worship. In work and rest. Through business and relationships. Would they be willing to submit all these things to God?
God is a good father, calling us to trust Him. Like the parent teaching a baby to walk - will we let go of those things we think are holding us up? Will we let go of the idea that our prosperity, our health, our happiness depends on the things we accomplish?
If we will, God promises a time of Jubilee - of joy that dances in the streets and blesses God for His undeserved favor on us. Maybe we struggle sometimes with sharing God’s goodness because we haven’t let go of our control enough to experience it.
What is it that the Sabbath day asks us to experience? What does the Sabbath year ask us to see? How does the Year of Jubilee point to God’s favor?

Life Without the Curse

They ask us to walk in the peace and presence of God. They are days and seasons God promises to pull back the weight of the curse of sin. That we can walk with Him in the Garden.
The favor of the Lord IS His presence.
His favor was on Adam and Eve as they enjoyed God’s presence unstained with sin.
His favor was on the people of Israel when their hearts were set on Him. When they observed the Law in action with their whole heart.
His favor was prophesied by Isaiah telling of the one who would come to bring that promise of God’s presence real.
The proclamation of His favor was fulfilled by Jesus as He came to somehow live a perfect life without sin and at the same time take all our sins upon Himself.
We are living in that promise of His favor. With Jesus as our covering and salvation and the Spirit of the Lord dwelling in us and with us, we have the down payment of His favor.
But the curse is still with us. The rebelion is still active. Our labors still real. We must constantly die to ourselves to appreciate the favor of the Lord.
But there will come a time when sin is no more, death will loose it’s sting. When ALL those who loved the Lord’s appearing will have the ultimate Year of Jubilee.

The River Of Life

There might not be another book in the Bible that paints a more vivid picture of the highs of God’s favor and the lows of rebelion than the book of Ezekiel.
After 46 chapters of visions of God’s thrown room contrasted with the rebelion and judgement of Israel and their neighbors and promises of restoration, the book ends with a picture of the new city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is often used as the conceptual representation of God’s dwelling with man.
But here Ezekiel is show the details and dimensions of a new city of Jerusalem, with the temple in the middle with is staggeringly larger than any that came before it. Is this to be a physical building or rather the promise that God’s presence - His favor - will at this point be far more real than man has ever known, even in the Garden of Eden. For then God dwelt with man in our realm, but then we with Him in His realm.
Let me read from Ezekiel 47.
Ezekiel 47:1–12 ESV
1 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. 2 Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side. 3 Going on eastward with a measuring line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water, and it was ankle-deep. 4 Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water, and it was waist-deep. 5 Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen. It was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. 6 And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?” Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. 9 And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

The River Of Life

When Jesus said I am the living water, He spoke about the favor of His unfading presence.
When He said I am the tree of life, He spoke about the blessing His presence brings.
When Hs said i am the bread of life, He spoke about the unending blessing we receive when we depend on Him.
When He said I am the resurrection and the life, He told us about how He could bring life to even the deadest places.
The year of the Lord’s favor does not end. Just like the seasons in Ezekiel the fruit will grow year-round. His favor is the expression of His love and goodness on us in the wonder of His presence.
We are still in the promise of that favor. The closer we follow Jesus, the more we enjoy it. There is no other greater gift we can give than to share the love and redemption of Jesus.
May we greatly desire, may we be desperate for, the favor of the Lord.
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