Hesitant to Declare Judgement

I was recently studying up on Jesus quoting the Old Testament and found a great page published several years ago by Jews for Jesus entitled Jesus’ References to Old Testament Scriptures. I was looking specifically at His proclamation in the synagogue where He read from Isaiah 61 and then declared, “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” This occurs in Luke 4:18-21. Here is the Isaiah passage.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty 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 the Lord, that He may be glorified.
Isaiah 61:1-3

And here is Jesus speaking in Luke.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.
Luke 4:18-19

What I found very interesting about Jesus’ speech recorded in Luke is where He stopped quoting Isaiah. I understand He had to stop somewhere but it appears He stopped in mid-thought. Isaiah is pretty clear about tying together “the acceptable year of the Lord” and “the day of vengeance of our God”. If I were reading this passage, especially with no chapter and verse marks which didn’t exist until more than 1000 years after the time of Christ, I would read through the vengeance of our God line. Jesus stopped before declaring vengeance. Isaiah prophesied both of Messiah’s arrivals on earth, His first advent to accomplish the acceptable year of the Lord, and His return to accomplish the vengeance of our God.

While on the earth for His first advent, Jesus did not continue reading Isaiah and was careful not to declare the judgement that will accompany His return.

A similar situation occurred in Matthew 26:31 where Jesus quotes the prophet Zechariah.

Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:
‘I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”

The original passage is found in Zechariah 13:7-8

Strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered;
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.
And it shall come to pass in all the land,”
Says the Lord,
“That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one–third shall be left in it…”

Similar to His quoting Isaiah, when Jesus quotes Zechariah He again stops short of finishing the thought of the Old Testament prophet, choosing not to lend His voice to prophecy of coming judgement.

If you’ve been declaring judgement over the nation, perhaps it would be wise to take a look at how Jesus approached judgement. Even when judgement seemed inevitable, He chose not to add His voice to it. Jesus’ voice, and our voices, carry much authority. Jesus was cautious what He said, even cautious about how He quoted scripture. We should do likewise. One of the defining characteristics of our Lord is His mercy. Perhaps God is not yet ready to judge this nation.

Published by Eric M. Johnson

I am a follower of Christ, husband to a beautiful worshiper, and father to two amazing sons. My day job is at a great company in which I am fortunate to be a partner. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Economics and a Master of Science Degree in Information Systems. I enjoy studying God's Word and have taken several graduate level Biblical Studies courses, never in pursuit of a degree. In my free time I enjoy traveling, outdoors, and sports. I am an Iowa Hawkeye fan which is a character building experience.