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ISAIAH - CHAPTER 61
The very heart of this final section of Isaiah’s prophecy is set forth in the following three chapters. Here (ch. 61) is a beautiful description of the Messianic ministry of. our Lord Jesus. Initially directed to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24; Luke 15:4-6), the ministry is ultimately effective in the deliverance and restoration of the covenant-nation, (ch. 62). The prophet then announces "the day of vengeance" in which the Lord’s wrath will be poured out upon the enemies of righteousness - while mentioning the prayers and praise of the holy remnant in Israel, (ch. 63).
Throughout this prophecy there has been a blending of the near and the far - something that perplexed the prophets themselves (1 Peter 1:11). It will be well to remember that the speaker is NOT the prophet Isaiah, but "the anointed Servant" - identified in the New Testament as our Lord Jesus, the Christ.
Vs. 1-3: THE MESSIANIC MISSION
1. The anointing (unction) of the spirit, in the Old Testament, was used in the consecration of prophets, priests, and kings to their holy offices, (Leviticus 8:12; 1 Kings 1:34; 1 Kings 19:16); it symbolized the spiritual power whereby its recipient was both designated and qualified for his particular office, (vs. 1a; 1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Samuel 10:6; 1 Samuel 16:13).
a. Jesus Christ read this passage in His home-synagogue at Nazareth and startled His audience by claiming: "this day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears", (Luke 4:16-21); it was not TOTALLY fulfilled that day, but continues, in perpetuity, in the ministry of the church "which is His body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all", (Ephesians 1:23).
b. He is the speaker in Isaiah 61.
c. It is the spirit of "Adonai Jehovah" that is upon Him, (Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 48:16), that Jesus’ anointing, for His Messianic ministry, was publicly manifested in connection with His baptism, at the hands of John the Baptist, is deeply significant, (Matthew 3:13-17; John 1:29-34).
2. It is Jehovah Himself who has anointed the Servant for His task - such a task as never fell upon another among the sons of men, (Psalms 45:6-7). He was anointed:
a. To preach good tidings to the meek - the poor, needy, weak, afflicted and lonely, (Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 29:19; Matthew 5:5).
b. To heal the broken-hearted, (Isaiah 57:15).
c. To proclaim Jubilee-liberty to those captivated in the darkness of spiritual bondage (Leviticus 25:10-13; Leviticus 27:24; Jeremiah 34:8-10; Ezekiel 46:17), and loosing from the grave those saints who have long awaited the vindication of their faith, (comp. Psalms 79:1-2; Psalms 79:8; Psalms 79:11; Psalms 102:13-22, etc.).
d. To proclaim the "acceptable year of the Lord" - an extended season wherein God’s grace and favor are to be extended to ALL MEN!
e. To proclaim "the day of God’s vengeance" - a relatively brief period wherein His wrath will be poured out, in righteous judgment, upon His enemies, (Isaiah 2:12; Isaiah 13:6; Isaiah 34:2; Isaiah 34:8).
f. To grant comfort and joy to those who mourn because of Zion’s wretchedness, (Jeremiah 31:13; Matthew 5:4; Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 65:19; comp. Ezekiel 9:4-6 b).
1) Giving them an ornament (garland, or crown) of beauty instead of ashes - exaltation to share the rule of Messiah as they are comformed to His image in the beauty of holiness, (Romans 8:17-18; Psalms 110:2-3; 1 John 3:1-3).
2) Exchanging the oil of joy for their mourning, (Psalms 23:5).
3) Clothing them with the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness (vs. 10).
3. Nothing short of the re-establishment of the NATION of Israel (the Theocracy of old), in a state of unprecedented blessedness, will satisfy the teachings of the prophets, (comp. Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 44:7-8; Ezekiel 34:11-13).
4. The people of Zion are, henceforth, to be called "trees of righteousness", which the Lord has planted for His own glory, (Isaiah 60:21; Jeremiah 17:7-8; comp. Psalms 1:3).
Vs. 4-9: RESTORATION AND PROSPERITY
1. It is clear that Isaiah expects the restoration and prosperity of Zion, (vs. 4-5).
a. There will be a renewal, and building again, of that which has been devastated from ancient times, (vs. 4; Isaiah 49:8; Isaiah 58:12; Ezekiel 36:33; Amos 9:14-15).
b. Strangers and foreigners will render willing service to the people of God, (vs. 5; Isaiah 14:1-2; Isaiah 60:10).
2. The people of the covenant will be Priests of the Lord and Ministers of God, (vs. 6; Exodus 19:5-8; comp. 1 Peter 2:5-10; Isaiah 56:6-7; Isaiah 60:5; Isaiah 60:11); they will share the bounty of the nations to whom they minister in spiritual things.
3. Their former shame and dishonor will be exchanged for honor and great joy; the Lord will liberally bless them with a double inheritance, (vs. 7; Isaiah 54:4-5; Isaiah 60:15; Psalms 16:11).
4. Furthermore, the Lord establishes an "everlasting covenant" with His restored people, (vs. 8-9).
a. In His dealings with Israel, the Lord will vindicate His own holy character.
b. While He loves justice, He hates the cruel treatment that has been maliciously heaped upon His people by their enemies.
c. Thus, His dealings with them will be IN TRUTH, and in such a way that all nations will recognize them as divinely-blessed - and sustaining a special relationship to Jehovah Himself.
Vs. 10-11: A SONG OF THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE
1. Here is an expression of Joy in the Lord as the personal covenant-God of a people who have been the special objects of His grace, (Isaiah 12:1-2; Isaiah 51:3; Habakkuk 3:18-19).
In this rejoicing they remember how He has CLOTHED them: a. With the garments of salvation, (Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 49:18; Isaiah 52:1). b. With a robe of righteousness, (Philippians 3:7-9). c. With garments appropriate for a holy union with Himself, (Revelation 19:6-9).
2. As, in the natural world, a seed is planted - that it may germinate, come forth, bud, blossom and bear fruit - so, the Lord will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all
nations, (Isaiah 60:18; Isaiah 60:21).
a. The Bearer of this seed is the Messianic Servant, (Psalms 72:1-3; Psalms 85:9-13).
b. God Himself causes the seed to come forth, (Isaiah 45:23-25).
c. His word is sure; His promise is faithful and true!
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Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Isaiah 61". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany