What is the “acceptable day of the LORD” as quoted in Isaiah 61:2?
Isaiah 61 is all about the Day of the Lord. The New Testament partially fulfills this day when Jesus comes in his incarnation. It will be completely fulfilled after the end times as the final act of God before he creates the new heavens and the new earth.
He is talking about a time when the Messiah, God’s Anointed One, will come to earth and perform all of the signs Isaiah mentions. He will bring good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, open prisons of those who are bound, and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
These are only a few as Isaiah 61 goes on to mention even more prophecies about this Messiah. In the context of Isaiah 61, the acceptable year of the Lord, or the year of the Lord’s favor, will be partially fulfilled the moment the Messiah comes to earth. But it will be completely fulfilled when he comes to earth in the second coming.
Prophecy has multiple fulfillments, each telescoping to the complete fulfillment of prophecy. The day of the Lord is partially fulfilled when Jesus begins his ministry. But that doesn’t complete the entire prophecy. The Day of the Lord in Old Testament prophecy ultimately points to God’s final judgment of the people of the earth.
When Jesus came, he proclaimed this Scripture when he inaugurated his kingdom on earth. But he did not judge the earth during his life and ministry in the first century AD. This step of the prophecy must still be fulfilled in the end times.
He begins his ministry when he returns from fasting in the wilderness for 40 days. He goes to the synagogue and reads from the scroll of Isaiah for the daily reading (Luke 4:18-19). You will notice the wording is slightly different in the New Testament from the Old Testament.
The reason for this is that as we read the Old Testament, we are reading from the Masoretic Text, the Hebrew Bible. But Luke recorded the Scripture from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. So you will see that one phrase is added concerning giving sight to the blind.
Jesus stopped short of completing the whole reading of Isaiah 61:2. The reason for this is that he did not come to bring the vengeance of the Lord as Isaiah 61:2 prophesies. Instead, he will not fulfill that part of the prophecy until she returns in his second coming.
This is why he stopped short of finishing the verse. Later on in his ministry, John’s disciples come to him and ask if he is the one they are looking for, or if they should look for someone else (Luke 7:20). Jesus responds by alluding to Isaiah 61:1-2 after they have seen him do miracles.
It seems that Scripture says he did this before their very eyes so that they saw Jesus fulfilling the Isaiah 61 passage (Luke 7:21). And then Jesus answers them by saying that he has done many miracles, including giving sight to the blind and preaching the gospel to the poor (Luke 7:22-24).
As Jesus began his ministry, he quoted from the scroll of Isaiah to show that he is the Messiah that Isaiah prophesied. But beyond that, he actually did with the scroll of Isaiah said he would do.
He fulfilled the prophecy partially in the first century and will complete the prophecy at the end of time. The acceptable day of the Lord is the day of the Lord’s favor when he will judge the wicked and place the righteous in his presence forever.