ONE COMMA BEFORE THE DAY OF THE LORD
The bible has a lot of difficult passages and is at times hard to understand. The prophecies Daniel was given were hard for him to fathom and he died without knowing the meaning of some of them. Other scripture is more simple in meaning but more difficult in its expression in reality. That the nature of the terrain is difficult goes with the territory but does have its own problems associated with it.
When Jesus was in his public ministry and the report of him spread on a sabbath he went to the synagogue in Nazareth where he grew up and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Jesus opened it and read: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." See Luke. 4:16-21. Jesus closed the book returning it to the attendant and sat down. Jesus then told them that today in their hearing this scripture has been fulfilled. Jesus had read the first verse and part of the second of Isaiah chapter sixty-one.
The rest of the second verse reads, "…and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn." Is.61:2.
The passage continues in the ensuing verses in the same vein.
In Chapter 63 verses 1-6 of Isaiah there is a conversation where the Lord is asked why is his apparel stained red. The reply is that he has trodden down his enemies (epitomized by Israel's historic enemies) in the winepress of God's wrath; the crimson stain of his clothes is the lifeblood of these enemies. The reason given for this was that the day of vengeance was in God's heart and the year of redemption had come. The day of the Lord is his vengeance upon his enemies and the deliverance of his people. Revelation 14:17-20 also speaks of this day of the Lord. After God's people are taken up from the earth the earth is reaped of the grapes for wrath and thrown into the great winepress of the wrath of God which is trodden down and the blood flows as high as a horses bridle for sixteen hundred stadia, (about five feet high for two hundred miles).
In the synagogue of Nazareth why didn't Jesus read all of verse two? Jesus did not quote all of the second verse of Isaiah sixty-one in the synagogue because not all of the verse was to be fulfilled then. Jesus says that at the end of the age are the days of vengeance to fulfil all that is written, Luke 21:22. The day of vengeance of God has not yet come to pass, the day when God treads down the people in his anger and tramples them in his wrath. This day is spoken of in Isaiah and Revelation, and elsewhere in the bible. Many of those who heard that day would be the ones who would have been trampled down since these people rejected Jesus, Lk.4: 28-30; John 3: 36 tells us that to reject Jesus incurs God's wrath. The comma up to where Jesus quoted to in this passage of Isaiah has been a pause of about two thousands years, and counting, between the first clause and the second clause of Is.61: 2.
Further to this there is still to be further fulfilment of Is.61: 1-2a. When Jesus read this passage from Isaiah and explained to those there that it spoke of himself, he was the good news and the one who brought release and restoration of sight, then that passage was fulfilled when those people heard that. However not everyone has heard the Good News, the gospel has not been preached to everyone. It is fulfilled when Christians anointed by the Spirit of Jesus tell of God's salvation and grace, of the good news of Jesus Christ. When Christians acting in the person of Jesus reveal Jesus to others then there is an on going fulfilment to this scripture from Isaiah that Jesus quoted. So there is a yet to be fulfilled, a fulfilling of, and a fulfilment of Is. 61:1-2a. A simple few lines but in time the expression is more complicated. Jesus told his disciples to preach the gospel to the entire world Mt. 28:19, Mk.16:15. The gospel is to be preached to all nations, Mk 13:10, so that the first part of Is 61:2 will be completed and the last part started.
In 2 Peter 3:8-9 there is reassurance and explanation to some in the church as to the apparent delay of the day of the Lord. "But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." God wants the full number to come in of those who obtain salvation.
Some people use verse eight of 2 Peter 3 to mean that where in the bible it says a period of so many days it means so many thousand years. This is not the meaning of this verse. Verse eight means that time is all the same to God whether it is an hour or a millennium, whether past or present or future. God will accomplish what God wants to whether in a day or a century. For God it is the fact that is important not the time taken. God is not subject to time; time is subject to God. Albert Einstein speaking in the context of physics said "…the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." 2 Peter 3:8 is referring to Psalm 90:4 which says "For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past or as a watch in the night". A watch in the night is only a matter of hours; the night was divided up into three watches. For those who miss apply 2 Peter 3:8 as the key to unravelling some of the times given in days in scripture Psalm 90:4 shows this is not how the verse should be applied. Using the same logic it could be said that the thousand year reign of the saints in Revelation is only as long as a watch in the night, it will last only a few hours!
When Jesus walked the earth he did not know at what day or hour the Parousia, his return, was to be. Nor did Jesus know the day or hour of the ultimate tribulation and of the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be. Jesus told his disciples "No one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son (which is Jesus), but only the Father (in heaven)" Mk. 13:32, brackets mine. Jesus knew certain things would herald its happening and upon seeing these to have occurred showed the time was near but as to the length of time Jesus did not know. So often people try and have tried to fix the date when the second coming would be, among other things interpreting various scripture to mean such and such and calculating a particular date. Looking to the scriptures Jesus says "No one knows" and in Acts 1:7 Jesus says to his apostles that it was not for them to know times and seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority. It is strange how people pour over the scriptures, coming up with a date and ignore these passages. Scripture is plain about this matter; there is no allegorical or obscure meaning in these passages Mk. 13:32 "No one knows" and Acts 1:7 "It is not for you to know..."
Jesus also said that many would come in his name saying, "I am he" leading many astray Mk. 13:5-6, Mt. 24:4-5 and saying, "The time is at hand!"- Luke. 21:8. We have seen this a few times a decade, doomsday cults here and there. It is also plain from scripture that when Jesus returns there will be no mistaking it. When Jesus comes again the sky will be blazed from one end to the other, clouds and clouds of his holy ones will be seen surrounding him. Those who wait his coming will leap for joy and be transformed to his glorious state while all else will cringe and wail in terror. It is not known exactly when this will be by anyone. This day will come like a thief- when it is not expected.
It goes onto say in 2 Peter3: 15-16 "And count the forbearance of the Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures".
As well as the writings of Paul other scripture contains hard to understand things although this does not mean all things in scripture are hard to understand. The human mind use to a lineal existence and experience of time often projects this understanding on to scripture to the detriment of understanding scripture, or at least a fuller understanding of scripture. This mistake then compounds for a poorer understanding of science when a false understanding of scripture is defended and, or, operated from.
A comma is a small pause in written or spoken language but in practice the comma between Is.61:2a and Is.61:2b has been a pause of two thousand years. Jesus told those in the synagogue that today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing having finished off at the second clause of the verse leaving the remainder of the verse as well as the following verses of the passage unsaid. That day on which Jesus said "today" is also today, whenever the gospel is preached. That, that day has spanned more than seven hundred thousand days shows a complexity to either the meaning, or the expression, or both, of some of the scriptures.
If Isaiah sixty-one and Luke chapter four are revisited it can be seen that it is the execution, the actual expression in reality of this scripture that is complex. The meaning in this case is simple -Jesus is the anointed one to bring good news to the afflicted. It is Jesus who is sent to heal the broken hearted and announces liberty to captives, release to those bound and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord; and the day of vengeance of God.
This chapter has been about the day of the Lord which is the day of vengeance of God, yet this day, the Day of the Lord, will be more than one day; Jesus said as much in Luke31:22, "for these are days of vengeance, to fulfil all that is written." The Day of the Lord will be spread over many days. It was shown in a previous chapter that to take a literal interpretation of the creation accounts would have these same accounts disagreeing with each other. The argument does not hold true that the entire universe was made in one week, as in seven lots of twenty four hours, as days are reckoned humanly speaking, because this is what the bible says. The same bible and the same creation accounts do not endorse this way of interpreting the matter.
Yes some things in scripture are hard to understand, also the consummation of some of the prophecies are in ways not expected or supposed; one comma is a pause of two thousand years and quite possibly a lot longer! A great amount of the expectations of the Jewish people for the coming Messiah, (Christ), were not in accord with who and what the actual Messiah was when he came, not that he did not fulfil the scriptures written of him.
2 Peter 1:20-2 "First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God."
The fulfilments of scripture may not take the forms imagined. Scriptures may also appear false at times but whatever the outward appearance God is still God. This is only right and the fact that the reality of scripture is often different to one's expectation of the scripture only serves to authenticate scriptures divine authorship. This is where trust and faith as well as endurance comes in. "Are your days as the days of man, or your years as man's years...?" Job 10:5