Do you really know that this is how God has worked in the past, and how he continues to work, move, inspire and strengthen today?
Isaiah 61 and Luke chapter 4 – “The Spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, for the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.”
After all the rather harsh and harsh truths that Isaiah had to proclaim during his long prophetic ministry, God puts these words on his heart.
We are reading here of how God would intervene spectacularly.
As we approach this season that many call ‘Advent’ – in a year that has been like no other – we so need the comforting grace of our merciful God and the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit – and where best to open our hearts than to truth and the truths of Scripture.
Isaiah feels that the Spirit of the Lord God was upon him.
Isaiah knew that he was anointed by God, that can make a man speak boldly and courageously, that can also make a man tremble. When you speak, you tremble, and when you don’t speak, you tremble.
Without the Spirit of God we would have no living message to preach, and without the Spirit of God we cannot receive and embrace the word that is preached and proclaimed.
The good news of God needs the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
There came a time in Isaiah’s ministry when he had to do something new and say something new, and for these tasks God gave Isaiah the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
It all seems so remarkably simple and straightforward on first reading.
The good news was for the poor, for those people who had been taken into captivity and who had been driven out of their homes, because of their sin and the sins of their fathers.
Their hearts were broken, and God sent Isaiah with a word of healing, calm, uplifting, encouragement, and it was also a word of freedom, and a word of hope and strength.
God had not forgotten his people, he never will.
Verses 1 to 5 – Those who had been prisoners by the rivers of Babylon were to be released and set free and released from this prison – and wounded. Isaiah is standing here.
This is our God, always wanting to hurt His people, but also dealing with those who oppose him. Those who were sad and afflicted were to be comforted and strengthened.
Isaiah describes the ways that God will bless his people:
Beauty for Ashes: We give these ashes to God and in return God gives us beauty in our hearts, minds and lives.
The ashes remind us of dust, death. The sackcloth and ashes refer to penance. The ashes of our hopes and dreams, exchanged for a crown of beauty.
Oil of joy for mourning: instead of mourning, God gives us the oil of joy: healing, wholeness and strength, when we need it most.
Praise for Despair: A garment of praise replaces a spirit of despair.
Many are experiencing despair these days. For many it is a time of disappointment and confusion, and even defeat. Isaiah speaks of God removing this mantle and replacing it with a mantle of praise.
God comforts us through His Word, through the Holy Spirit, and through His people.
People will be planted by the Lord to display His glory. This is one of the main purposes of the people of God: to show His splendor, his glory.
There are times when God takes you and plants you with a purpose: to reflect his splendor, glory, majesty and power.
Isaiah looks forward to the day the Messiah appears, when Jesus Christ comes.
The blessings of the Gospel that the Messiah brings are not primarily physical, but spiritual. God wants to have a people that shows his glory.
God is going to plant people, oak trees of justice, which implies strength, solidity and stability, as well as beauty, with a degree of permanence.
Zion was devastated by the invader, but God will restore as He replants. We have had an invader who invades the nations.
Luke 4 verses 13 to 21 – Jesus has overcome the temptations of the devil – and returns to Nazareth.
On the Sabbath, Jesus went to the ‘church service’, as was his custom, his habit, his model, his example, to that dry and dead old synagogue in Nazareth. The failings of the church at the time did not prevent Jesus from being such a sincere worshiper. If there was a void, Jesus would fill that void with meaning, meaning and relevance.
Jesus was invited to read the scriptures and turned to Isaiah 61.
We can read these verses in light of Calvary and the Resurrection and Pentecost
Jesus had come to do all these things that Isaiah prophesied, but now he was not going to limit himself to Israel, Jesus was widening and widening the scope of his ministry.
These words in Isaiah speak of the Messiah. Great concepts are proclaimed.
Isaiah sees a day when strangers and foreigners will come to Israel and do much of the work among the flocks and in the fields – verses 5 and 6 – so that those who are called by God to minister spiritually will be free to do so – and have time to do it. It is simply a division of functions.
Where sin has created devastation and ruin – God builds and restores – to His glory. The Gospel is not a small Gospel – it is for Jews and Gentiles – it excludes no one.
Israel was to go to all nations – we are called to go to all the world.
God intervened, through Isaiah and various other prophets, but supremely through Jesus, at the right time, without a moment’s delay.
Advent – this season when many remember that Jesus Christ is coming again – when he finally steps in as Judge – the first time Jesus comes as Savior – the second time he comes as Judge – and it won’t be a moment. Let that lift you up, encourage you and sustain you this day.
And – if you need our Almighty and Gracious God to intervene in some special and specific way in your life – or situation – or circumstances – ask Him – because our God stepped in and intervened.
“Our merciful God, we have seen how you have intervened over the years, and even in these last years, Lord Jesus, you have poured out your Holy Spirit again and again, and many of us have drunk that living water that has been become a repository within. We give thanks and praise to you for all you have done in our lives over the years. We bow down and worship.” Amen