Summary: A look at the fulfillment of the year of the Lord’s favor through the person of Jesus Christ and how we can take hold of it.
Take Hold of the Year of the Lord’s Favor
Chinese food is one of my favorites. Since this is so, I have been to quite a number of Chinese restaurants through the years. But, no matter how many restaurants you go to in any number of cities and states, you begin to notice some similarities among them. First of all, it seems like every one of them has the same light up pictures on the walls. You also may see that the waitresses and waiters in every one of them dress alike. They also tend to have the same menu board and pictures of food on it. And, there is one other similarity. They all seem to have the same placemats.
How many of you have seen the placemats proclaiming what each year is? This year, it is the year of the pig. I don’t know if that is an improvement over last year since it was the year of the dog or not. However, there are 12 different animal names that represent different aspects of each year. I was born in 1977 which means I was born in the year of the snake. When doing some research, I found that those born in a year of the snake are “wise, philosophical, calm, and understanding”, but they can also be “treacherous creatures who delight in intrigue and who wouldn’t think twice about double-crossing someone in order to save their own skins.” Apparently, I get along well with the monkey, dragon, and rabbit, but you better watch out if you are a horse or a dog because we do not get along.
Now, do I believe all of this? In a word - no. We do things differently in the United States. We wait until the year is over and determine the name of the year by the events that happened in it. Let’s give a little bit of a history quiz this morning and see how you do.
• 1492 – Columbus discovers America
• 1620 – Pilgrims land in Plymouth Rock
• 1776 – Year of Independence from Great Britain
• 1861 – Beginning of the Civil War
• 1929 – Crash of the Stock Market and beginning of the Great Depression
• 1941 – Attack of Pearl Harbor and entrance into WWII
• 2000 – Y2K and millennium
• 2001 – 9-11 Attacks
Now, even though I don’t agree with the Chinese philosophy that goes along with each of their years, I want to take a page out of their book for this year. Instead of reacting to the events of this year and remembering 2007 for what happened in it, I want to name it beforehand. I want to proclaim it as the year of the Lord’s favor. What do I mean by that? Let’s take a look at Luke 4:14-21 to find out.
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and the news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in the synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
This morning, Jesus has made it possible for us to experience the year of the Lord for 2007. Let’s take a look at this Scripture and others to see first of all, what it means to experience the year of the Lord, and secondly, how we can bring it about. Before we go any farther, let’s go to the Lord in prayer.
What is the Year of the Lord’s favor?
Let me start off by saying that Jesus was not offering up a new teaching by proclaiming the year of the Lord. It was first set up by Moses in the exciting book of Leviticus. In Leviticus, the Lord tells Moses that the Israelites are to observe a Sabbath year every seventh year. This would be a year of rest similar to the rest God took on the seventh day of creation. There would be no working of the fields – you could just skip work and take what the land produced as food.