Last week I gave a message entitled ““Ａｒｉｓｅ， Ｓｈｉｎｅ”from Isaiah chapter 60. “For your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.” (1) Zion who had repented of her sin and had received the Lord’s redemption became brightly shinning as a light to the nations.
This chapter 61 is this continuation, but it is more than a continuation. It is about how the redeemed will receive enormous blessings. Their sadness that they have had up until now will be changed to joy and their mourning to praise. Therefore, no matter what situation we are in we can rejoice in the Lord.
- From sadness to joy (Vs. 1-3)
First let’s look at verses 1 to 3. “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.”
Here it says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me.” (1) This “me” (1) is “the Lord’s servant” who in Isaiah has been shown continually. He was chosen to execute God’s commission. However, here “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on” (1) him “because the LORD has anointed” (1) him “to proclaim good news to the poor,” (1) and “to bind up the brokenhearted.”(1) He will free the captives, and release the prisoners. He will “proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God.” (2) He will “comfort all who mourn.” (2) If you read this far, I think you realized this is talking about the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who will be sent by God in the course of time. The word, “anointed” (1) is in Hebrew Messiah, which is the Savior. In other words, this is a prophesizing about the Savior, Jesus, who will save mankind from sin.
Please open your Bibles to Luke 4:18, 19. Jesus quotes this passage here. This is a record of Jesus’ first sermon. On the Sabbath he went to Nazareth where he was brought up at and went into the Synagogue there, and read the Bible. He was handed the book of Isaiah so Jesus opened the book and read it. He read Isaiah 61:1, 2. “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
After reading the passage, Jesus handed the scroll to the attendant. The people who were there fastened their eyes on Jesus. Then Jesus turned to the people and said in verse 21, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Then the people praised Jesus and were amazed at the words of grace that came from his mouth. Jesus proclaimed that he was the Savior that Isaiah had prophesized about. “Christ” in Greek means “the anointed one” In other words, Jesus Christ means “the anointed Jesus”. Jesus is really the anointed Savior. God sent Jesus as Messiah to this world.
However, if you look at this passage Jesus quoted Isaiah 61 verse 1 to the middle of verse 2. He finished with “to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.” (Luke 4:19) The passage continues, but he finished with “to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.” (Luke 4:19) That is because until there is the purpose of the Savior, Jesus’, first coming. That latter part will be fulfilled at Christ’s second coming. At that time Christ will come as the Lord of judgment, but before that he will come as the Savior. It is that prophecy. As the prophecy says, Christ came about 2000 years from now as Savior to this world. He proclaimed good news, the Gospel, to the poor. He healed the brokenhearted. He came to proclaim freedom for those captive to sin and to release those who were prisoners to darkness.
Certainly good news was proclaimed to the poor. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for the kingdom of shall be theirs.” People with a thirsty spirit are really blessed. That is because such a person seeks God and believes God’s Word. All men build values and thinking based upon their experience. That becomes their rule for living. Whatever matches it, they accept, but what doesn’t match it they refuse. The older a person becomes the more this tendency increases. However, when such people’s values are shattered, then their heart is opened. It is easier for such people to accept God. That is because they have become poor in spirit. Things like bankruptcy, sickness, disasters, death in the family, etc. are all things that are turning points for values to change. To such people the good news will be proclaimed. Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteousness, but the sick.” (Mark 2:17) This is the meaning. It is like a sick person. If he isn’t humble enough to receive medical treatment, then he won’t be saved. A person that is fully immersed in his own thinking and values no matter how much he hears the wonderful news, he won’t be saved.
There is a joke. A person who was sightseeing in Canada saw an old man fishing at a lake. However, it was strange but the old man caught a huge fish, but he let it go and only put small fish the size of his hand in the bucket. The person who was sightseeing asked, “Why did you let the huge fish go?” The old man answered, “My frying pan is 25 cm. Therefore, a bigger fish won’t fit in it.” That’s why the old man was letting the big fish go.
We too do things like this old man. We throw out anything that doesn’t stay within our world view. We only accept what agrees with our own thinking. Without realizing it we set our heart on own thinking making it absolute. We won’t accept anything else and judge things that are different from our own thinking. That is what the scholars of the law and Pharisees of that time were like. They thought they were correct so they weren’t able to accept Jesus. They saw what Jesus was doing and they complained saying, “Oh no, he’s eating with sinners!” “He’s not following the religious traditions!” About such people Jesus said, “You brood of vipers!” (Matt. 23:33)
Here it says, “to bind up the brokenhearted”. (1) Are we binding up the brokenhearted? Jesus said, “Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest.” Like this Jesus invites the brokenhearted to come and he will heal them.
Then is “to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.” (1) “The year of the LORD’s favor” (1) is the “Year of Jubilee” that is in Lev. 25. The “Year of Jubilee” came every 50th year and was a year of being set free. At that time various debts were cleared. Also the slaves who had been sold were set free and they were able to return to their homes. In short, this was massive liberation by grace. This means that in the course of time the
Savior will come to this world and by this Savior he will bring freedom from sin. God’s people who have committed uncountable amounts of sin will be set free by their Lord. It is a pattern of the age of salvation when sin will not be accused.
Jesus came to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.” (1) There will be massive liberation from spiritual problems, psychological problems, financial problems, and from all problems. Therefore, when Jesus comes, many people will be encouraged by the words of grace that come from his mouth. The blind will see, the lame will be healed and the dead will rise. Those who are demonized will be set free, and people captivated by various problems will be liberated. That’s not all. A time will come when those people who have sinned and as a result are captive to death will be forgiven.
Our mankind’s last enemy is death. Death came as a result of sin. There is no one that can overcome death. It is even said that mankind is the slave of death. The famous Martin Hemmingway said, “All of mankind is a being shut in by death.” We became slaves for such a thing and in the end man gave up and yields to death. However, for us Jesus came, and took upon himself all of our sin and died in our place on the cross. That is not all. Three days later he rose again. By the power of the resurrection like blasting death overcame it. He came to make the “Year of Jubilee”, a perfect liberation, a reality and to proclaim it. What amazing grace! Like this he will “comfort all who mourn.” (2)
“and provide for those who grieve in Zion-
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.” (3)
“Those who grieve in Zion” (3) will be given “a crown of beauty.” (3) “Ashes” are a symbol of mourning and lamenting. When Israel was suffering in sorrow they covered themselves with ashes. For example, when David’s sister Tamar was raped by Amnon, her brother, (David was the father of both Tamar and Amnon, but they had different mothers.) “Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornamented robe she wearing” (II Samuel 13:19) that only “virgin daughters of the king wore.” (II Samuel 13:18) Then “she put her hand on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.” (II Samuel 13:19) That was the height of sorrow, an expression of the extremity of sorrow. However, by Christ when we are liberated from our sin, “instead of ashes (3) we will receive a crown on our heads. A crown on the head is a symbol of celebration. Christ will change sorrows into blessing.
Also it says, “the oil of joy instead of mourning.” (3) This is a symbol of blessing. Oil is poured out when the king is ordained. Anointing of oil was also common on joyous occasions. It was also customary to anoint the heads of the guests at banquets. The oil of mourning will be changed into the oil of joy and blessings. The Savior, Jesus, will change your sorrows to joy.
As it says, “a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” (3) “A spirit of despair” (3) is also changed into praise.
The result is “they will be called oaks of righteousness.” (3) Oaks are strong, hard, magnificent trees. They have very green leaves that are full of vital energy. They will become like such oak trees. An oak tree is an oak tree, but in 1:30 there is also “an oak with fading leaves.” Those who are separated from God and are living their own life are like “an oak with fading leaves.” (1:30) However, those who by the Savior, Christ, have been redeemed of their sin, and have been set free from their sin can live a life like a righteous oak tree.
II. You will be called priests of the Lord (Vs. 4-9)
Next please look at verses 4 to 9. First I will read verses 4 to 6. “They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. Aliens will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast.” (4-6)
“They” (4) are the people that by God’s Christ have been redeemed of their sin. “They will rebuild the ancient ruins” (4) of Jerusalem and the temple and “renew the ruined cities.” (4) Aliens will shepherd their flocks; foreigners will work their fields and vineyards. Until then it will not be like this. Until then the aliens will torment Israel. Such aliens will shepherd their flocks; foreigners will work their fields and vineyards.
However, you will have a different responsibility. What you will do is the work of the priests, you will minister and “you will feed on the wealth of the nations, and in their riches you will boast.” (6) “You” (6) are God’s redeemed, Zion. Zion will become the Lord’s priest, and “will be named ministers of our God.” (6) They will receive the wealth and glory of the nations.
This is an awesome blessing. Priests intercede to God for the people. Also they give God’s grace and blessings to the people. “You will be called priests of the LORD.” (6)
For example, Abraham prayed to God for Abimelech king of Gerar and his family. Also Jacob blessed the Egyptian Pharaoh . This means that their positions have been reversed. Usually the person of higher standing blesses the person of lower standing. However, the lower person is blessing the higher person. This means that God gave Abraham and Jacob a position and authority surpassing the other kings of the earth. Therefore, to be a priest of God is a very glorious. “You will be called priests of the LORD.” (6) Us Christians are promised that we have been given this position. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” (I Peter 2:9)
“You” (I Peter 2:9) are Christians We “are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.” (I Peter 2:9) so that we “may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (I Peter 2:9)
That’s not all. Please look at verse 7. “Instead of their shame
my people will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
they will rejoice in their inheritance;
and so they will inherit a double
portion in their land,
and everlasting joy will be theirs.”
“My people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace…they will inherit a double portion.” (7) This “double portion” (7) more than being exactly as the words say a double portion, it is better to think of it as a symbolical figure. It means that they will be abundantly blessed. In the Old Testament law too, a thief “must pay back double” (Exodus 22:4) for what he has stolen. It is to pay back double. Israel was always being plundered, but a time will come when they will be properly paid back. Let’s look forward to the things that we have lost being paid back in double portion. What has been taken away from you? You may have had various things like your time, your effort, your money, your possessions stolen or you may have had bad times, but God will pay you back double.
Then verse 8 says, “For I, the LORD, love justice:
I hate robbery and iniquity.
In my faithfulness I will reward them
And make an everlasting covenant with them.”
“I, the LORD” (8) loves justice. “Justice” (8) is to act properly in accordance with the law. It is to obey and behave properly according to the Bible. It is to love God. Therefore, we too must obey the Bible. We must do what pleases God. There may be few, just a handful of people that do so. It may be in the minority to live for God. Most people may think that the Bible is not important and they live by their own thinking, “but as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) We just walk on the road that the Lord shows. That is because the Lord loves justice. People may criticize you. People may give you a bad time. However, even so we walk the road that the Lord shows. That’s because the Lord loves justice. Such a person is blessed. Such a person is like verse 9 says blessed eternally into the following generations.
III. Rejoice in the Lord (Vs. 10,11)
Therefore, the conclusion is to rejoice in the Lord. Please look at verses 10 and 11. “I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels,
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.”
”I” of verse 10 if you look at the context from verse 1 you will see that this is the Messiah. It is said to refer to the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Therefore, Jesus delights “greatly in the LORD.” (10) Jesus’ soul too rejoices in the Father, God. The Lord clothed Jesus “with garments of salvation and arrayed” (10) him “in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (10) This doesn’t mean that Jesus needed salvation. This means that Jesus comes with salvation clothes. He comes arrayed “in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (10)
This is not just Jesus. We who believe in Jesus and are a part of Jesus too can take part in the same blessings as Jesus. “We are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17) When Jesus is blessed, we are blessed too. We share Jesus’ glory.
We are “co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17) That is because we are “co-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:17) so we can receive God’s blessings together with Christ. Such blessings are promised to us. In the Millennium we will rule this earth with Jesus. What a wonderful promise! We are really weak, lacking much, but even so just like Jesus who by the Lord delights “greatly in the LORD.” (10) and rejoices, we too can “delight greatly in the Lord” (10) and rejoice in the Lord.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
We are promised such glory. Our present life has difficulties all the time. Every one has various concerns and struggles. There are deep societal problems too, financial problems, the education of children, taking care of parents, they are all difficult things However, we have been given a certain hope. Good news will be preached to the poor and the brokenhearted will be healed. The captives will be set free and the prisoners released from darkness. The year of the Lord’s favor will be proclaimed. All who mourn will be saved. Instead of sadness there will be joy and instead of mourning there will be praise. Even in the midst of this present life we can rejoice in Christ. We can be thankful. In the midst of the realities of difficulties, don’t forget the Lord’s grace and let’s praise and thank the Lord.
This is from the book, “A life of Thankfulness, 365 days”. A 15 year old girl made this kind of contribution to an American newspaper.
“I am unfortunate. I don’t have my own room. My parents won’t believe me and they strongly watch my every move. I don’t have a boyfriend. I don’t have good looking clothes. My future is all black.”
A 13 year old girl who read this contribution wrote this article and sent it to the newspaper. “I can’t walk. How great a blessing it is to be able to walk! I can’t walk, but I can see, hear and talk so instead of complaining about my misfortunate feet, I am thankful!”
This content makes us think. We quickly look at what is not in the world and wail, and complain, but we aren’t looking at how great the grace is that we have been given. God has given us salvation. He gave use a future hope and blessing too. What we must look at is the Lord who gave us salvation. We can “delight greatly in the LORD” (12) and rejoice in our God and praise him. This week too let’s look at the salvation that we have been given, and give praise and thankfulness to the Lord.