It is an interesting thing, but when Jesus was in the synagogue, as recorded in Luke 4, and he read from Isaiah 61:1-2, he stopped half way through a sentence.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
But he stopped there and did not continue with the rest of verse 2 which says:
and the day of vengeance of our God.
It seems that all these verses were considered Messianic in nature i.e. referring to the future Jewish Messiah who would ultimately come. “The year of the Lord’s favour” meaning “the day of salvation”.
When we return to Luke we read that Jesus, after reading these verses from Isaiah:
… rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
As we read on we see that the people there understood what Jesus was saying concerning himself and responded angrily asking, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”
They rejected him and sadly with him, “the day of salvation”.
All that is then left is “the day of vengeance” for those who reject God’s salvation through His Son.
The Apostle John sums it up clearly:
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-18)
Wilcock’s fifth suggestion concerning Psalm 35 is that “the principle of retribution is an integral part of the rule of God. Those who fight against God will find God fighting against them.”
And so the psalmist prays:
7 Since they hid their net for me without cause
and without cause dug a pit for me,
8 may ruin overtake them by surprise—
may the net they hid entangle them,
may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.
As Paul says in Galatians 6:7-8
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
My father, who made his peace with God in the last months of his life, having, sadly, gone his own way for most of his life, told me a very disturbing story before he died. He said, “Rod, when I was in hospital, I had a vision of hell.” At that stage he stopped, and I just sat waiting for further explanation. When he didn’t continue, I asked, “And dad, what was it like?” It took a while before he answered, and then he said, “It was horrific!” By the grace of God, my father, when he died soon after, was ready for the “day of salvation” and not the “day of vengeance”. No matter how long we have lived without believing in Jesus and obeying his Word, it is never too late to turn to him seeking his forgiveness and grace. Paul says:
As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,
“In the time of my favour I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favour, now is the day of salvation. (1 Corinthians 1-2 quoting from Isaiah 49:8)
Of course, these things are far from being a popular subject with most people, but as Wilcock says, concerning the judgement of God, “we do well to realize this”.
Father, thank you for the extravagance of your love that sent your Son, Jesus, to earth to be the sacrifice for our sins, in order to make available the day of salvation. May no one who reads this today choose to instead face the day of vengeance. Amen.