Life-Study of Isaiah, by Witness Lee

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Isaiah 61:1-3 is a prophecy concerning Christ as the Anointed of Jehovah.

A. This Prophecy Having a Foretaste Fulfillment
at Christ’s First Coming

This prophecy concerning Christ as the Anointed of Jehovah had a foretaste fulfillment at Christ’s first coming. In the Old Testament, we cannot see the two comings of Christ. It shows us only that Christ will have one coming. The two comings of Christ can be likened to two peaks of a mountain range. They may only look like one peak from a distance, but when you come near them, you can see that there are two peaks with a big valley, a big plain, between them. The prophecy concerning the coming of Christ in Isaiah 61 is actually in two aspects.

In the New Testament, the peak of the Lord’s first coming is mentioned in Luke 4. Luke 4 speaks of the Lord entering into a synagogue on the Sabbath day. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him, and He read the first few verses of Isaiah 61. Then the Lord rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, sat down, and said, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (v. 21). All of them marveled at the words of grace proceeding out of His mouth (v. 22).

Luke 4 gives us a record of the first "peak" of the prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-3. But in Isaiah 61 itself we can see only one peak, not two peaks. The final twenty-seven chapters of Isaiah, from Isaiah 40 through 66, speak about Christ’s coming. Isaiah told us that the Lord’s coming will bring in the time of restoration, the restoration of Israel. But when we come to Isaiah 40—66 today, in the view of the New Testament light, we can see two comings here.

For instance, Isaiah 40 speaks of the glory of Jehovah being revealed (v. 5) and of the Lord Jehovah coming with might (v. 10). This refers to Jesus’ appearing. That appearing surely is not His second coming. It was His first coming ushered in by John the Baptist (vv. 3-5; Luke 3:4-6). The chapters following Isaiah 40 contain many verses telling us about Christ’s coming. Isaiah 53 tells us that the Lord comes as a tender plant, as a root out of dry ground (v. 2), and as a man of sorrows (v. 3). This surely refers to His first coming. Today we know this, but in the ancient times they did not have this thought. I doubt even whether Isaiah knew this. They only knew that Messiah would come. To them there was only one coming. But actually Messiah, the Anointed One of Jehovah, will come two times. The first time is for the age of grace, and the second time will be for the age of restoration.

The age of grace is a foretaste of the age of restoration. Hebrews 6 tells us that the age of grace is a foretaste of the power of the coming age (v. 5). Today we are enjoying the power of the coming age, the age of restoration. This coming age is the age of the kingdom, the age of the millennium. When we get into the age of grace, we are walking toward the next age, the age of restoration, the age of the kingdom. What we are enjoying today is the foretaste, but this foretaste will have a full taste in the time of restoration. The first fulfillment of the prophecy concerning Christ’s coming is a foretaste, whereas the second fulfillment is the full taste.

The prophecy concerning Christ as the Anointed of Jehovah had a foretaste fulfillment, at Christ’s first coming, for the age of grace, in producing the church, as the acceptable year of Jehovah (Luke 4:16-22a). In the Old Testament, the church was hidden. The church was hidden between the two peaks of Christ’s coming. After the Lord read Isaiah 61:1-2, He sat down and said, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:21). That meant that since the Lord was there, that was the acceptable year of Jehovah. But this was just a foretaste. The acceptable year of Jehovah will come in full when Christ comes the second time.

(Life-Study of Isaiah, Chapter 54, by Witness Lee)