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61. Year of the Lord's Favor

1The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me; because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2to proclaim the year of Jehovah's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 3to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that he may be glorified. 4And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. 5And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners shall be your plowmen and your vine-dressers. 6But ye shall be named the priests of Jehovah; men shall call you the ministers of our God: ye shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves. 7Instead of your shame ye shall have double; and instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be unto them. 8For I, Jehovah, love justice, I hate robbery with iniquity; and I will give them their recompense in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9And their seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which Jehovah hath blessed. 10I will greatly rejoice in Jehovah, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with a garland, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. 11For as the earth bringeth forth its bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord Jehovah will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

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9. And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles. Here the Prophet treats more clearly of the extension of the Church, which at that time might be said to be confined within a narrow corner of the earth, and afterwards, as we have already seen, was exceedingly diminished and impaired. (Isaiah 1:9; 10:22.) Isaiah therefore discourses concerning the Church, which, after having suffered so great a diminution, would be spread throughout the whole world, so as to be visible to all the nations. And yet this did not happen even in the reign of Solomon, when the Jews flourished most in wealth and splendor. (1 Kings 10:21, 27.) Now this appeared to be altogether incredible; and that is the reason why the prophets take such pains to convince men of it, and repeat it very frequently, that the Jews may not measure this restoration by their own understanding or by the present appearance of things.

A question now arises, When did these things happen? I reply (as I have often done before) that they began when the people returned to their native country; for at that time, and in uninterrupted succession, they experienced the manifold kindness of God towards them. But as nothing more than feeble sparks appeared, the full brightness shone forth in Christ, in whose reign those things are entirely accomplished; for where there was the utmost barrenness of godliness, the offspring of Abraham sprouted, because foreigners were ingrafted by faith into the elect people. Thus foreign and barbarous nations acknowledged that the Jews were the blessed seed of God, (Genesis 22:18,) when they united with them in the same confession of faith; nor was this fulfilled but once only, but is in course of being fulfilled every day.

As to the Jews going before, and holding the first rank in God’s covenant, this ought to be ascribed to the mercy of God, and not to their own excellence, as Paul (Romans 3:2) teaches; for, after having shown that by nature they differ nothing at all from the Gentiles, and after having subjected them to the same condemnation, he likewise teaches that they hold this privilege of pre-eminence, because they were the very first that received the word of God and the promises. But this proceeded from God’s undeserved kindness, and not from their merits or excellence.