March 17, 2017
The World's Most Important Comma
By Skip Heitzig
Punctuation can be a costly thing.Awealthy woman was once traveling overseas when she saw a necklace she wanted to buy worth $75,000. She could afford it, but she thought it right to ask her husband first. So she took a picture of it and texted him: "I found the perfect necklace, $75,000. May I buy it?"He immediately texted back. The answer was supposed to read, "No, price too high," but instead, he left out the comma, and she read, "No price too high." How sweet of him! she thought. That missing comma cost that man $75,000.
Today I want to look at a different kind of comma—the world's most important comma. Let'sstart by reading Isaiah 61:1-2: "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."
This passage is referring to Jesus Christ: He was tenderhearted; He loved the poor, healed the sick, and brought spiritual life. In fact, in Luke 4, Jesus Himself said that these verses were fulfilled in Him. But when He quoted them in that same chapter, He stopped right after the phrase "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" and closed the book. Notice in Isaiah 61 what's in between that phrase and "the day of vengeance of our God": a comma—the world's most important comma. In Luke 4, Jesus turned that comma into a period, closed the scroll He was reading from, and sat down.
Now, why did He do this? Because the Messiah didn't just come once for all; He's coming again. That first phrase describes the purpose of Jesus' first coming: "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." But it's at His second coming that He'll proclaim "the day of vengeance of our God."
The Jews of Jesus' day thought that the Messiah would come and avenge their enemies right away, bringing "the day of vengeance of our God." This is because all the things Isaiah predicted about the Messiah were lumped into one paragraph. What they didn't know was that one of the commas within that paragraph was a 2,000-year-plus comma. The entire church age, the entire dispensation of grace is stuck in that comma. The rest of the verse remains unfulfilled; for the time being, we live in the comma.
And aren't you glad of that? It's in this comma that you were saved, that worldwide evangelism has taken place. It's the age of grace. But you know what? We're also just one comma away from the rapture of the church, the great tribulation period, and the day of vengeance of our God on this earth. So do something with the comma—with your time—while it lasts, because one day it'll be turned into a period: Jesus will return—period. Jesus will be the judge of the earth—period. God will sentence all unbelievers—period. There won't be another choice to make after that—period. But today we have a comma.
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