Taking Final Advantage of the “Year of Goodwill”
“He has sent me . . . to proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah and the day of vengeance on the part of our God; to comfort all the mourning ones.”—Isa. 61:1, 2.
1. In what way is having someone else’s goodwill a desirable thing?
GOODWILL on the part of someone else is a thing that we all like to have, especially the goodwill of someone who can help us and do us good. The ancient proverb of wise King Solomon still rings true today: “In the light of the king’s face there is life, and his goodwill is like the cloud of spring rain.”—Prov. 10:1; 16:15.
2. How can it be shown that there is no goodwill on the part of the elemental forces of “nature”?
2 Goodwill cannot be expected from the elemental forces of “nature,” for they are blind, unintelligent, undiscriminating forces. They operate in accord with certain laws set for them by an invisible Intelligence. Thus certain conditions in the atmosphere give birth to the hurricane that laughs at human control and guidance and roars and rips through a stretch of land, heartlessly laying low man, beast, properties and growing things. Floodwaters, born of excessive rainfall or of the melting of the great accumulations of snowfall, sweep like sheets or in channels to swell the creeks and the rivers, pouring and swirling through low-lying regions, overwhelming everything animate and inanimate in their path. Natural earthquakes, tremendous in power, cause large structures built by man to move and sway, or open up great cracks in the ground, endangering living creatures in the neighborhood. Streams of radioactive particles from the fiery flares on the sun’s surface silently speed on their way to the earth, and men are obliged to feel their ill effects. Ah, no, there is no goodwill shown on the part of these elemental forces.
3. The having of whose goodwill counts in our behalf, and so what do thoughtful persons search out?
3 What, though, about the Creator of these natural forces? For our comfort, goodwill can be shown on his part. He is intelligent and has moral qualities, and we are all dependent upon him. Hence our having His goodwill is what counts in our behalf. On coming to appreciate this vital fact, thoughtful persons are led to search regarding how they may gain the goodwill of this all-powerful Creator of the universe, even our own Creator.
4. (a) Why do right-minded persons interest themselves in the “year of goodwill” on the part of the Creator? (b) Real wisdom lies in seeking what, and why so?
4 If we are right-minded persons, we will interest ourselves in an anciently announced “year of goodwill” on the part of this Creator. That expression “year” evidently stands for a limited time period, just as any calendar year is. This would indicate that the goodwill that marks this special year is also limited. After the “year” has ended, something opposite to goodwill is to be expected. What? The meting out of justice, without mercy, to those who have spurned the divine goodwill. Recorded history has actually proved this to be true. A universal “act of God” is now impending, not in the form of a mere local hurricane, inundation or earthquake. It is a personally willed and directed act on the part of God the Creator, and all the inhabitants of the whole earth stand in danger of it. Having God’s goodwill during the operating of his “act” could mean our life and survival. Do we want that? Real wisdom lies in now seeking His goodwill.
5. To what kind of time period does the “year of goodwill” refer, and how long-lasting is its goodwill?
5 No, the “year of goodwill” does not mean this year 1970, nor 1971. As far as this year 1970 has already run, the “year of goodwill” has included this first year of the 1970’s. But the critical “year of goodwill” has already been running for more than three hundred and sixty-five days, even for many years. It is a symbolic year and really represents a much longer time than a solar year or a lunar year. Such a literal year ends sometime, and so this symbolic “year of goodwill” may not be indifferently brushed aside with the idea that it will go on indefinitely—who knows for how long? Like a literal year, it is a marked, calculable period of time, with a beginning and an ending. All indications are to the effect that the “year of goodwill” is near its end! When that goodwill ends with the “year,” then look out!
THE TYPICAL “YEAR OF GOODWILL”
6, 7. (a) By whom was this “year of goodwill” called attention to in those specific terms? (b) What coming comfort was this one inspired to foretell, and why?
6 Who was it that first called our attention to this “year of goodwill,” in those specific terms? It was a married man, the father of two or three sons, and he lived in the eighth century before our Common Era. His name was Isaiah, a name that Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible says means “Jah Has Saved.” He is a historical character mentioned in historical books outside his own book of prophecy. (2 Ki. 19:2 to 20:19; 2 Chron. 26:22; 32:20, 32) He was the prophet who had a vision of Jehovah God in his temple at Jerusalem and who, in response to Jehovah’s question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” answered: “Here I am! Send me.” He was sent to deliver a message from Jehovah God concerning the coming desolation upon Jerusalem and the land of Judah (Judea). This desolation, when it came, would really cause mourning among true worshipers of Jehovah God, who loved the land of His people and the holy city where the temple of his worship was located. (Isa. 6:1-13) But Jehovah God used Isaiah to foretell a coming comfort for such mourners by inspiring him to proclaim:
7 “‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says the God of you men. ‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call out to her that her military service has been fulfilled, that her error has been paid off [that accepted is her punishment, Rotherham; that accepted hath been her punishment, Young]. For from the hand of Jehovah she has received a full amount for all her sins.’”—Isa. 40:1, 2.
8. According to Isaiah 61:1-4, the prophet was inspired to speak as if he were who, and what did he there say?
8 Later, under further inspiration, the prophet Isaiah spoke as if he were the Anointed One of the Most High God, saying: “The spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening of the eyes even to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah and the day of vengeance on the part of our God; to comfort all the mourning ones; to assign to those mourning over Zion, to give them a headdress instead of ashes, the oil of exultation instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of the downhearted spirit; and they must be called big trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, for him to be beautified. And they must rebuild the longstanding devastated places.”—Isa. 61:1-4.
9. (a) What themes did that “good news” include? (b) How did the Greek translation (LXX) render the part about the “year” and the “day”?
9 Was that not “good news” to tell to the meek and mourning ones? And such good news included the “year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah.” Even the coming of the “day of vengeance on the part of our God” against the desolators and devastators of Zion or Jerusalem would be good news to those mourning over what had been done by enemies to the center of Jehovah’s worship. Years before our Common Era, when Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria, Egypt, translated those words about the “year of goodwill,” they rendered the verse into the Greek to say: “to proclaim an acceptable year of [Jehovah] and a day of retribution. To comfort all who are mourning.”—Isa. 61:2, LXX, Thomson.
10. (a) How did those Jewish translators word it to show what kind of year it was? (b) Yet what other thought would this even include in harmony with the Hebrew text?
10 Thus those Jews understood Isaiah’s Hebrew words to speak about what kind of “year” it was, “an acceptable year,” rather than to speak about the attitude of Jehovah, “goodwill on the part of Jehovah.” To those Jewish translators it was a year “acceptable” to Jehovah, a year that found favor in his eyes. But even this would suggest that this was a year “acceptable” to Jehovah for doing something favorable, especially so since “an acceptable year” is set in contrast with “a day of retribution.” So “an acceptable year” would include the idea that it is a time for Jehovah to show goodwill or favor. It is his “year of acceptance,” when he will be disposed to accept or receive. (Rotherham) When we see how this symbolic “year” works out in actual history, we are enabled to appreciate the full, correct sense of it. So now to the history of the matter and its application to our time!
START OF THE PROCLAIMING OF THE “YEAR”
11. (a) Who that was sent from heaven could describe best Jehovah’s attitude toward that “year”? (b) How was he given an earthly name, and how does it correspond with the name of the giver of the prophecy?
11 When God’s due time came, “when the full limit of the time arrived,” Jehovah God sent from heaven to earth his own beloved Son “to proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah.” (Gal. 4:4) What person, aside from this Son from heaven, could better describe the attitude of his Father during this symbolic “year”? When on earth this Son was given a name that quite corresponds with the name of the prophet who gave the prophecy about the Anointed One. At God’s command to his earthly mother, he was given the name “Jesus.” This shortened form of the name Jehoshuah means “Jehovah Has Saved,” whereas the name Isaiah means “Saved Has Jah (or, Jehovah).” Harmoniously with this, the prophet Isaiah was in a number of cases a type or prophetic figure of Jesus the Messiah or Christ.—Luke 1:30-33; Matt. 1:20, 21.
12, 13. (a) For Jesus to become Messiah and officially proclaim the “year,” what was necessary? (b) From what after his baptism did Jesus know he had Jehovah’s goodwill, in harmony with what prophecy?
12 Since Isaiah’s prophecy said, “The spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me,” Jesus had to be anointed with Jehovah’s spirit before he would really be the Messiah, Christ, or Anointed One, and before he could officially “proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah.” He was thus anointed with Jehovah’s spirit after John baptized him in water and he came up out of the baptismal waters of the Jordan River. The descent of Jehovah’s spirit upon the baptized Jesus was symbolized visually to John the Baptist by the miraculous appearing of a dove that came to a resting position over Jesus. Added to this, John heard God’s voice from heaven saying: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved [Or, This is my Son, my Beloved, on whom my favour rests, New English Bible].” (Matt. 3:11-17; John 1:32-34) Jesus now positively knew that he had the goodwill or favor of Jehovah, just as it was foretold in Isaiah 42:1:
13 “Look! My servant, on whom I keep fast hold! My chosen one, whom my soul has approved [my soul hath accepted, Young]! I have put my spirit in him. Justice to the nations is what he will bring forth.”
14, 15. (a) On what, then, did Jesus’ continuing to have Jehovah’s goodwill depend? (b) How did Jesus explain to the people of Nazareth his being no longer a carpenter among them?
14 Jesus knew that to continue to have Jehovah’s goodwill or favor he must carry out the commission to which he was anointed, as stated in Isaiah 61:1-3. He recognized his anointing as the Christ and also the divine commission that went with his anointing. He publicly acknowledged this at Nazareth where he had grown to thirty years of age, and thus he explained to the people of Nazareth why he had not been any longer a carpenter among them for more than the past six months. As regards this we read:
15 “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been reared; and, according to his custom on the sabbath day, he entered into the synagogue, and he stood up to read. So the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed him, and he opened the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release, to preach Jehovah’s acceptable year.’ With that he rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were intently fixed upon him. Then he started to say to them: ‘Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.’”—Luke 4:16-21; Matt. 2:21-23; 4:12, 13.
16, 17. (a) Evidently in what language did Jesus read Isaiah 61:1, 2, but in what language did Luke put the reading? (b) So in what time period were those Nazarenes living, but did they take advantage of it?
16 Doubtless Jesus read the words of Isaiah 61:1, 2 in their original Hebrew and so read about the “year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah” or “the year of the Lord’s favor.” (An American Translation; Moffatt; American Standard Version; Revised Standard Version; also New English Bible at Luke 4:19) But the historian Luke, writing in Greek, quotes the words as read by Jesus as they have been translated in the Greek Septuagint Version (LXX), so that Jesus is presented as reading about “Jehovah’s acceptable year.”
17 Whatever is the case, Jesus there at Nazareth made known his divine commission from Jehovah to preach or proclaim that special “year,” both as being an “acceptable” year and as being a year “of goodwill” or of favor on the part of Jehovah. Since he said to those Nazarenes, “Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled,” this meant that this marked “year” had already begun, that those Nazarenes were then living in it. Would they take advantage of it? Evidently not, if their soon taking him out of their synagogue and trying to kill him means anything. (Luke 4:22-30) They were not a good example for us today.
18. In what way did a remnant of faithful Jews experience the “year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah” back in 537 B.C.E.?
18 In what way, then, had the “acceptable year” or “year of goodwill” begun and when would it end? Had not Jerusalem and its temple built by Solomon been destroyed in the year 607 B.C.E., or more than a hundred years after Isaiah’s prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-3? Yes, that is true, and the city and the land of Judah had lain desolate and devastated for seventy years, until the year 537 B.C.E., when the faithful Jews who were held captive in Babylon were released and returned to the land of Judah and began to rebuild Jerusalem and its temple. And now, when Jesus was baptized and anointed, sixty-nine “weeks” of years, or 483 years, had passed since the Jewish governor, Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah, had begun to repair the walls of rebuilt Jerusalem. (Dan. 9:24-27) And so did not the restored Jews experience the “year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah” away back there at the reconstruction of Jerusalem and were not the mourners comforted at the rebuilding of the temple at the holy city? Yes, but only in a typical way.
19. (a) What was the vital thing missing back there in 537 B.C.E.? (b) Whose very presence on earth was a great evidence of Jehovah’s goodwill, and over what were the captive worshipers mourning?
19 That was indeed a period of Jehovah’s goodwill or favor and of immense comfort for mourning worshipers. But the vital thing missing was the presence of the foretold Anointed Proclaimer, the One who was authorized to point to Isaiah 61:1-3 and speak of it as being fulfilled in Him! The baptized Jesus, anointed with no mere vegetable oil but with Jehovah’s spirit, was the first one to meet the requirements of the prophecy fully and therefore the first one able to “proclaim the year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah.” What greater evidence of Jehovah’s goodwill or favor could there be at that time than the very presence on earth of the anointed Son of God, for those Jews who would receive him as the divinely promised Messiah? There was then need also of having good news preached to the meek ones, and Jesus Christ had such good news and he preached the good news of God’s kingdom. There was need to comfort the mourning worshipers, mourning, not over a desolated Jerusalem and temple, but over the broken-down state of pure worship of Jehovah. There were captives to be freed, not from ancient Babylon, but from a corrupt religious system.
20. (a) Rather than their material well-being, what was to be cared for in the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-3 to Jehovah’s people? (b) What was the objective of this as regards them and God?
20 The material well-being of Jesus’ own people was not the essential thing to call for the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-3. The things that were set out there in the commission to Jehovah’s anointed one were to be fulfilled in a spiritual way. Jehovah’s goodwill needed to be expressed in providing things more essential than material things. Not liberation from ancient Babylon as in the year 537 B.C.E., but releasing the captives from oppressive religious bondage was what Jehovah offered to his chosen people through his anointed Son Jesus. Not deliverance from subjection to the pagan Roman Empire, but deliverance from subjection to sin and its penalty death was what Jehovah in his favor held forth through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ. These were the real things over which to cease mourning, to be joyful and to praise Jehovah as God. Then they could bear the fruitage of righteousness, like big trees planted by Jehovah, in order for him to be beautified in the fruitful lives of these liberated, godly persons.
21. (a) Who got the benefit of that “goodwill on the part of Jehovah” through the Messiah? (b) In what work were they commissioned to share from Pentecost of 33 C.E. onward?
21 Who got the benefit of that “goodwill on the part of Jehovah”? Not the Jewish nation, although the opportunity was wide open for them to take advantage of it; but the really “meek” ones, the religiously mourning ones, the ones who felt their captivity to a false religious system, these ones who became the baptized followers of Jehovah’s Anointed One, Jesus. They were the ones that also received the anointing with God’s spirit, just as their spiritual Head and Leader Jesus had received it. They were thereby commissioned like him to share in the telling of the good news to other meek ones, and in bringing release to the blinded captives of false religion and in comforting those mourning because of a lack of God’s blessing. The day of Pentecost of the year 33 C.E., with its outpouring of holy spirit upon Jesus’ reunited followers at Jerusalem, gave miraculous evidence that Jehovah’s goodwill or favor was toward them, not to the self-righteous, unbelieving nation.—Acts 1:12 to 2:47.
“THE DAY OF VENGEANCE ON THE PART OF OUR GOD”
22. (a) Why were Jesus’ anointed followers eager to proclaim the “year of goodwill”? (b) To what time length could that goodwill be limited, and so what was there reason for the imperiled people to do?
22 Those faithful anointed followers of Jesus the Messiah were very eager about the proclaiming of the “year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah.” They knew that there was also coming a “day of vengeance on the part of our God,” and that this meant that the “year of goodwill” was therefore limited and due to end, yes, within their generation! There was real discernment of the limited period of time when Jesus described the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. and added: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matt. 24:34) Similar appreciation of the limited time available was voiced when Peter the apostle said to more than three thousand Jewish observers of the outpouring of the holy spirit on the day of Pentecost: “Get saved from this crooked generation.” (Acts 2:37-40) The duration of the “year of goodwill” could accordingly be limited to the length of a human generation, and that fact would make the “year” not too long. This fact furnished all the more reason for the imperiled people to take advantage of the “year of goodwill” without procrastination. Delay could be fatal!
23. (a) The ceasing of Jehovah’s goodwill meant the beginning of what, according to Jesus’ prophecy in Luke 21:22, 23? (b) In agreement with that, what did Paul say about the Jewish persecution?
23 The ceasing of God’s goodwill could mean only the beginning of his wrath. When Jesus spoke prophetically about the siege of Jerusalem and her destruction by the Roman legions in 70 C.E., he said: “These are days for meting out justice, that all the things written may be fulfilled. . . . For there will be great necessity upon the land and wrath on this people.” (Luke 21:22, 23) Thus Jesus was fulfilling his commission as Jehovah’s Anointed One to “proclaim . . . the day of vengeance on the part of our God.” It was God’s vengeance against those who refused to take advantage of his “year of goodwill.” Not choosing to gain God’s goodwill and favor in his loving way, they did things to increase his enmity toward them all the more. Said the apostle Paul concerning the Jewish persecutors: “They try to hinder us from speaking to people of the nations that these might be saved, with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But his wrath has at length come upon them.” (1 Thess. 2:16) Thus those who hypocritically pretended to be his chosen people were the ones to perish on the “day of vengeance” on God’s part.
24. During the “year of goodwill,” how was God’s attitude reflected by what Paul wrote in Romans 10:1-4?
24 During his “year of goodwill” God’s attitude toward the nation of Israel was reflected by that of the Jewish-Christian apostle Paul, when he wrote: “Brothers, the goodwill of my heart and my supplication to God for them are, indeed, for their salvation. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge; for, because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness.”—Rom. 10:1-4.
25. What was the reaction of Jews in Antioch of Pisidia to Paul’s display of goodwill of heart?
25 But although the apostle Paul showed his goodwill of heart toward his own nation, he found them not disposed to accept the message of salvation, just as in his experience in Antioch of Pisidia, concerning which we read: “When the Jews got sight of the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began blasphemously contradicting the things being spoken by Paul. And so, talking with boldness, Paul and Barnabas said: ‘It was necessary for the word of God to be spoken first to you. Since you are thrusting it away from you and do not judge yourselves worthy of everlasting life, look! we turn to the nations.’” (Acts 13:45, 46) Possibly some of those opposing Jews went to the Passover celebration in Jerusalem of 70 C.E., but only to perish there.
26. Like a calendar day compared with a year, how did the “day of vengeance” compare with the “year of goodwill” lengthwise?
26 Like a day in comparison with a year, the “day of vengeance” in the spring and summer of the year 70 C.E. was short in comparison with the forty years of the period of goodwill from Messiah’s appearing in the year 29 C.E. down till the siege of Jerusalem began in 70 C.E. And yet that longer period of divine goodwill ended, not accidentally, but at God’s marked time. His “year of goodwill” was longer than the time of the executing of his vengeance, which fact makes clear how patient and forbearing he is.
27. Because of our nearing the end of what period of time can we not afford to act how toward God’s patience and forbearance?
27 Inasmuch as God holds to his appointed time for expressing his vengeance, we cannot trifle with his patience and forbearance. We should take advantage of it in harmony with the purpose for which it is shown, namely, our salvation. We owe it to ourselves to consider the question put by the apostle Paul to professed Roman Christians: “Do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and long-suffering, because you do not know that the kindly quality of God is trying to lead you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4) Our deciding and acting now on this question is urgent, for we today are nearing the end of Jehovah’s “year of goodwill.”
[Picture on page 656]
At Nazareth Jesus read from Isaiah 61:1, 2, making known his commission to proclaim the “year of goodwill on the part of Jehovah”