Surrounded with God’s Favor

Surrounded with God’s Favor

Surrounded with God’s Favor.

FAVOR (Greek, “ratsown,” raw-tsone) = extending divine good will; showing delight in; taking pleasure in; showing loving acceptance; pay special attention to because of kind regard.

“It is you, O Lord, who blesses the righteous and delights in the upright. It is you who blesses those who are in right standing with you. You surround the godly with good will. Your divine favor (ratsown) wraps around each one like a shield of love and protection.” (Psalm 5:12).

A good parent doesn’t have a favorite child, but delights in each one in different ways. An effective parent demonstrates favor to each child, surrounding each child with good will and blessing. Somehow, a parent is able to show each child favor without showing favoritism. Our Father in heaven is the ultimate example of the wise parent, loving each of us in such a way that we might even be tempted to think we are His favorite. A friend once told me, if God had a wallet, your picture would be in it.

The favor, the intentional good will of the Lord for each of us provides a shield of protection against ridicule, scoffing, or rejection. We will still experience those things, unfortunately, but we don’t have to take to heart those kinds of personal assaults. God’s followers have the shield of divine favor, and that is what we need to take to heart. We are protected by God’s shield of favor. God is keeping an eye out for each of us. He keeps turning His face toward us, because He delights in us and loves us just as we are. God looks upon those who are in right standing with Him and extends a hand of blessing that goes all the way around each of us. God’s favor wraps around us. So rather than allowing ridicule to wound us deeply, we can instead allow His loving favor to heal us and protect us.

God’s favor is a centerpiece of a very important messianic prophecy in Isaiah 61:1-2. The messiah is predicted to bring in, among many other wonderful things, “the year of the Lord’s favor.” The Hebrew word for favor “ratsown” is once again used, just as in Psalm 5:12. The Messiah anticipated by observant believers will express good will to all people, divine favor to all of humanity on earth. The fact is, God delights in His creation, particularly those made in His image, and so God sent His Son to inaugurate the special season of God’s favor. So Jesus sure enough quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2 when He gave His mission statement early in His ministry to His hometown (Luke 4:16-19). Jesus said in no uncertain terms that he was the fulfillment of that messianic prophecy. His “year of favor” as quoted from Isaiah can be described this way:

  1.  “Preach the Good News to the poor.” In Isaiah 61:1, “poor” means humble or meek. So I am giving words of hope to the poor in spirit, those who are spiritually bankrupt, hopelessly poverty-stricken in their spirits. In fact, I hereby promise that the poor in spirit, the empty and helpless, will receive the Kingdom of heaven and become spiritually rich. I am here to tell the lowly that they will be held in honor, and will receive all the blessings of God’s new world. I will seek out the humble to tell them that they will be raised up to a new life of fullness and new-found strength.
  2. “To proclaim liberty to the captives.” In Isaiah, “captives” referred to prisoners of war, or by extension anyone in bondage to sin because of our ongoing spiritual war. I will minister unto those who are casualties of our war with Satan and with sin. I will release all those who are battling their demons and those who realize they are in bondage to their sinful nature. I will grant a full pardon to all these victims of hidden warfare, to these prisoners held captive by the enemy. During this time of favor and blessing, all prisoners will be liberated from sin and Satan. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.” (John 8:32-36). If you are in bondage to sin, you indeed are a slave to sin, you are imprisoned by sin. And in this spiritual Jubilee, I will release the slaves and set the prisoners free.
  3. “To heal the brokenhearted.” Some historical manuscripts omit this phrase from the Luke passage. But the original Isaiah 61:1 reference includes this phrase, so in keeping with some NT translations and the Isaiah reference, this phrase will be included here. As Messiah, I will heal those who have had their hearts broken by rejection, by loss of loved one, by shame or guilt or failure. I will bind up those who are broken by the state of the world and its presence of sin and wickedness and pain. I will mourn with those who mourn, and my heart will be broken by whatever is breaking your heart as I come alongside you. I will personally bring the Good News of salvation and healing, and so we will mourn as those with hope. My tears will absorb your tears as I offer my comforting and healing presence to your misery.
  4. “To proclaim recovery of sight to the blind.” This phrase was added to the passage in Luke, and is in the spirit of the spiritual Jubilee. To all you who are spiritually blind, I will open your eyes to see the truth and goodness of the Lord and His Kingdom. Since you are helpless to take off your blinders by yourselves, I will remove your blinders personally. You simply can’t make yourselves see without my help. I will open your eyes to see the reality of God and His love. And to make sure this important truth is understood, I will heal every physically blind person who comes to me in my ministry. All of these physical healings of the blind will be a sign of what I will do spiritually to those who allow me to do so. I will cure your blindness to the depravity of sin, to the depth of your sinful nature, to the hope of God’s salvation. And then finally, you will truly see and believe. “Everyone who believes in me will not remain in darkness.” (John 12:45).
  5. “To set free those who are oppressed.” The “oppressed” in Isaiah is intended to include anyone who is downtrodden, burdened by life’s difficulties, bruised by the system, broken down by some calamity. I will deliver you from these spiritual bruises, from whatever may be weighing down your spirit. I will come to encourage you and help you rise above life’s travails. If you feel oppressed in any way, I will deliver you and set your spirit free. “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29). So come to me during this acceptable time of blessing and favor, all you who are oppressed in some way, and I will be your liberator.

“Then He rolled up the scroll, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, ‘Is this not Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:20-22).

The language of Isaiah 6:1-2 (and thus Luke 4:16-19) brings to mind the Jubilee as explained in Leviticus 25. It was established by Yahweh God to be a special year in the life of the Israelite nation, when all debts were cancelled, indentured servants went free, prisoners of war were released, everyone was free of any oppressive burdens or property owned in the family. The Chosen People were set free to start over with everyone and with God. Jesus echoes that idea in His mission statement in Luke 4, only He takes a big step further and promises a spiritual jubilee. Jesus intends to set the spiritual captive free, to heal those who are wounded by life, so that each person could start over with God in a spirit of redemption, forgiveness, and salvation. In this the year of God’s favor, Jesus offers all of us a spiritual jubilee out of sheer grace.

If the reader looks closely at the Isaiah passage and then the Luke passage, its easy to see that Jesus completely ignored the last line of Isaiah 61:2, “the day of vengeance from my God.” This is a powerful omission on Jesus’ part. Jesus is saying here that He is on this earth to bring the season of God’s favor and forgiveness, not judgment. As the Amplified Bible put it, Jesus brought with Him “the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound.” (Luke 4:19). The Greek word for favorable in that verse is “dektos,” which means the acceptable time of favor and graciousness. Jesus declared that with Him present on earth, humanity is living in a season of grace. The Greek word for favor is often “charis” (such as in Luke 1:28, 30), which means good will, favor that causes joy, showing favor that is a gift of grace and an underserved blessing. So Jesus ushered in an age of God’s grace and favor, not rejection and judgement. He fleshed out His mission perfectly, and isn’t it wonderful that God’s favorable year of grace continues to this day, and will only end at Christ’s Second Coming, Judgment Day for all of us.