From Isaiah 59-63
God is sending his servant to his people in exile. He has anointed him to deliver good news of comfort and salvation. The Jubilee year has come. God’s people will become oaks of righteousness. They will rebuild and restore their cities and minister before the nations as priests of the LORD.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Isaiah is giving hope to the people. Predicting future events where the LORD will restore Israel. In today’s passage he speaks about his own anointing and ministry.
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. (Isa 61.1-4)
Isaiah has been sent to bring good news to his people. The LORD has anointed him (set him apart, made him holy) for this purpose.
He is anointed with the Spirit of God. He proclaims the LORD’s good news to those who need it.
He proclaims the ‘year of the LORD’s favour’. For those unfamiliar with Leviticus, he is referring to the Jubilee (Lev 25). The year when slaves were freed and property returned. Israel certainly needs a comforter. Poor, broken hearted, captive, mourning, weak and devastated. They have been punished for their sin. Now their slavery will end.
The LORD seeks to bind their wounds and restore them to himself and rebuild their land. He will restore them to righteousness. They will obey the LORD again and through their obedience the LORD will be glorified.
5 Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers;
6 but you shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast.
7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy. (Isa 61.5-7)
‘Strangers shall tend your flocks.’ Israel will rule over the nations and become wealthy. The nations will serve them as shepherds, plowmen and vinedressers.
‘They shall speak to you as ministers of our God.’ Israel will function as the LORD’s priests. Representing the LORD before all nations.
The nations (Gentiles) will worship the LORD and Israel will be their priests.
‘Instead’. Isaiah predicts a complete turn around from the current state of affairs. Now Israel is shamed, in the future they will receive a double portion. The nations would normally be dishonoured under Israel’s rule, instead they will rejoice in having Israel over them. Isaiah predicts abundance and joy for all the nations.
8 For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed. (Isa 61.8-9)
‘Give them their recompense’. The LORD will punish the nations for what they have done and I suspect in particular for what they have done to Israel. But the LORD will make a covenant with them. He will become their king and rule over them. He will make promises and care for them.
‘They are an offspring the LORD has blessed’. Isaiah echoes God’s promises to Abraham. Abraham was promised offspring as numerous as the stars (Gen 15.5). Through Abraham all nations would be blessed (Gen 12.3).
Isaiah anticipates the incorporation of the nations into the people of God by covenant. A new and everlasting covenant (Jer 31).
10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations. (Isa 61.10-11)
Isaiah rejoices in his role as anointed proclaimer of the good news.
He realises his gospel ministry will bring salvation to Israel and the nations.
In serving the LORD in this ministry he is clothed with righteousness (2 Cor 5.21) and previous jewels.
All creation will benefit from his service and proclamation. As a garden produces plants, trees and flowers. So the LORD will sprout up through Isaiah’s ministry, people of all nations who will praise the LORD. The LORD will cause them to obey him in righteousness.
As Isaiah preached this message of hope I’m sure there were some who took comfort in his words and put their trust in the LORD.
The LORD did allow Israel to return to the promised land and bound up their wounds. But many other aspects of this prophecy were not fulfilled at that time. They were still under foreign rule. The nations had not come to worship the LORD under the same covenant.
Isaiah’s prophecy was repeated again by Jesus some hundreds of years later.
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them,
“Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. (Lk 4.16-22)
Jesus said ‘today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’. He is referring to his own saving ministry.
All the attention in that room after making that statement would have been directed to him. Everyone would have asked themselves the question. Who is this man and what is he going to do?
Are you poor? Are you held captive? Are you blind? Are you oppressed? Jesus is the one you should look to for freedom. The year of the LORD’s favour is still here.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.