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Tuesday, May 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Isaiah 61

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-4

Isa 61:1-4

Isaiah 61:1-3

The interpretation of this chapter derives from no less an authority than the Head of our Holy Religion, Jesus Christ himself, of whom Luke wrote, as follows:

"And he (Christ) came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And he opened the book and found the place where it was written. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, Because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives, And recovering of sight to the blind, To set at liberty them that are bruised. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened upon him. And he began to say unto them, Today hath this scripture been fulfilled in your ears" (Luke 4:16-21).

The quotation which Jesus read to the people that day is that of the first verse of this chapter, read apparently from the LXX, because the line about "recovering of sight to the blind" is from that version of the Old Testament, not from the ASV.

Chapter and verse divisions of the Old Testament were not known when Jesus read this passage; but there can be little or no doubt that Christ here identified himself and his ministry with the entire passage which includes this chapter.

We feel very strong disapproval of those "scholars" whose writings refuse to recognize the Suffering Servant, the Messiah, the Christ, as the speaker here. This writer has just finished reading a half dozen of them, marveling at the pains they take to "Kiss the calf" (Hosea 13:2), that is, declare their allegiance to the critical enemies of the word of God, by accepting their impossible proposition that the opening word s of this chapter refer to the prophet Isaiah as the speaker.

"That the speaker here is not Isaiah, but the Great Messiah is an interpretation that derives from the highest possible authority, the words of Jesus of Nazareth ... No principle of accommodation, or of secondary application can at all satisfy any other view. The Christ unequivocally applied the passage to his own commission."

Isaiah 61:1-3

"The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me; because Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the year of Jehovah’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that he may be glorified."

"The Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me ..." (Isaiah 61:1). This is a reference to the baptism of Christ (Matthew 3:16 f), upon which occasion the Spirit of God in the form of a dove descended and alighted upon Jesus, remaining upon him. Nothing like this is written of Isaiah. Jesus Christ alone possessed the Spirit of God without limitation (John 3:34).

Furthermore, as Hailey noted, "The message and work of the Speaker here far transcend those of a prophet, even Isaiah; they are characteristic of deity." Also, as Rawlinson noted, "It is contrary to the entire spirit of Isaiah’s writings for him to have glorified himself in such language as that which appears here." Without any question whatever, we have here another passage like the others labeled "The Song of the Servant." This writer is happy to identify himself as among those mentioned by Kelley: "Some have interpreted these verses as a fifth Servant Song (Isaiah 42:1-4; Isaiah 49:1-6; Isaiah 50:4-9; Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12)." This interpretation is required by simple logic. The Suffering Servant is Christ; this passage refers to Christ; therefore, the passage refers to the Suffering Servant, regardless of the fact that the title does not appear in the passage!

"To preach the gospel to the poor (the meek in the ASV) ..." (Isaiah 61:1). Our Lord referred to this paragraph when he replied to John the Baptist’s inquiry, "Art thou he that should come, or look we for another"? (Matthew 11:3-4), again identifying himself as the speaker here.

To the generation of the exiles in Babylon who first received Isaiah’s prophecy, the dramatic import of these words is that God would release them from their Babylonian bondage; but when Christ applied these words to himself, that bondage had ended long ago; and it was evident that Christ referred to an even greater deliverance of men, their deliverance from the captivity and bondage of sin. Our Lord did not come to earth on a mission of getting people out of jail!

"The opening of the prison to them that are bound ..." (Isaiah 61:1). "This must be interpreted spiritually, as John the Baptist had to learn." There is no record of Jesus’ having procured the release of anyone from an actual prison.

"The year of Jehovah’s favor ..." (Isaiah 61:2). This is a reference to the year of Jubilee; and from this has come the recognition that the reign of Messiah is the earth’s "Jubilee" from the darkness of paganism.

"The planting of Jehovah ..." (Isaiah 61:3). This identifies the "trees of righteousness" in the passage as members of the body of Christ (See Isaiah 60:21).

Isaiah 61:4

"And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations."

Although fulfilled in a token manner by the return from Babylon, the true meaning here goes far beyond that. The apostles and prophets of the first century Church applied such passages spiritually, as follows:

As it is written, After these things I will return and build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen; and I will build again the ruins thereof (Acts 15:16).

Isaiah 61:1-2 MESSAGE: The “me” of verse one can be none other than the Servant of Jehovah, the Messiah. We have divine sanction for that verified by the Servant Himself in the synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:21). Jesus read these verses from the scroll of Isaiah and applied them directly to His own incarnate ministry by saying, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your ears.” The Greek peplerotai is perfect tense for has been fulfilled and would read more literally, has been and is continuing to be fulfilled. From the moment Jesus was born until the Christian dispensation shall close and the gospel cease to be preached, what Isaiah wrote in these verses is being fulfilled. And the Servant is the source of it all. The Hebrew reads, ruach adonay yehoih, or literally, spirit of Lord Jehovah. Adonay is the Hebrew word which suggests Judge or Master. It is like kurios in Greek. Yehoih is translated Jehovah and suggests Covenant-Revealer. This combination of divine character was the ruach (Spirit) which was upon Jesus. God gave His Spirit to Jesus without measure (John 3:34). The reason Jesus needed this full anointing of the Godhead was His mission to a world of rebel prisoners enslaved by a supernatural devil. God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38) so that in Jesus dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:9). To anoint (the Hebrew word mashah is anoint and is the word from which we get Messiah) meant to crown as king—to give authority. Jesus’ authority to proclaim “good tidings from heaven” was demonstrated by the miracles and signs confirming His deity. He demonstrated He had authority on earth to forgive sins by making the lame to walk and giving sight to the blind and raising the dead.

The Hebrew word for meek is ‘anah and means afflicted, oppressed, ravished, miserable, poor. This is an excellent word to describe those who know they are in need of help. It indicates the kind of person who would be glad to hear good news from God. Jesus pronounced a blessing upon those who were “poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3-12). Brokenhearted is from the Hebrew shavar meaning fractured, distressed, sorrowing. This is why the Servant is sent to those who are mourning—sin has fractured their lives—they are disintegrating. Jesus was sent to bring them wholeness and to “bind them up.”

The Servant came to announce liberty to the captives and release to those who were bound. The Hebrew word for liberty is deror and was used in connection with the Year of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:10; Ezekiel 46:17, etc.) when bond-slaves were set free and land taken in payment for debts was returned to its original owners. The Mosaic “Year of Jubilee” was evidently intended to typify the messianic time. Christ came to “bind” our jailor (the devil) and free us (Matthew 12:25-30; Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8-9; Revelation 20:1-6). We have allowed Satan, by choosing sin, to imprison us in falsehood, lawlessness, fear and selfishness. The Servant of God sets us free from that prison (see Special Study on “Liberty Is Not License”). The Hebrew word for Jubilee is yovil, from yaval, which means, protracted sound of the trumpet, signifying that a very important, “once-in-a-lifetime” announcement is about to be made.

Of course, most of the Jews expected Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30) to interpret this physically. That was the traditional interpretation of the rabbis (see comments on Isaiah 53). When Jesus talked of “food” they wanted bread and fish; when He talked of “wholeness” they wanted limbs restored; when He talked of “freedom” they wanted foreign rulers driven from their land. But circumstances are not what constitute the Kingdom of God—it is character, (Romans 14:17).

Hebrew qara means proclaim, call out, shout, cry, summon. The Servant became The Prophet, The Apostle. He was sent not only to live a godly life and to do miraculous things; He was sent to preach and teach the will of God for every other individual in the world. That was really His fundamental mission—accomplishing atonement and preaching the gospel. His miracles were simply means to that end. The Hebrew word ratzah is translated favor (or acceptable) and means delightful, pleasurable, gracious. The Servant came to announce the precise time God chose in His divine schedule of redemption to accomplish His grace toward man. In the fulness of time God sent forth His Son . . . (Galatians 4:4). The Servant of the Lord was anointed to “summon” all men to the “year” (or appointed time) of the Lord’s pleasure or conciliation. And the day of vengeance was part of the Servant’s announcement. All through the O.T. prophets, in highly figurative language, God promises (in the “last days” of the O.T. dispensation) He is going to defeat His foes in one great battle (Joel 2:30 to Joel 3:21; Ezekiel 38:1 to Ezekiel 39:29; Zechariah 9:9 to Zechariah 10:12; Zechariah 12:1-14; Zechariah 14:1-21; etc.), and give His people victory. That great battle was at Calvary and the great victory over Satan was there and at the empty tomb. The principalities and powers were “triumphed over publicly and shamed” at the cross (Colossians 2:15).; when He ascended on high He led captivity captive (Ephesians 4:8). Of course, the final and consummate vengeance of God will come at the end of this “year” of grace (end of the Christian dispensation, which are the last days, or end of all ages, 1 Corinthians 10:11). But this “year” is the only “year” God has sent His Servant to announce. Now is the acceptable time . . . Today is the day of salvation! (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2). The defeat of God’s enemies and His victory is the source of comfort for Zion. The Hebrew word nakham (translated comfort) is very appropriate here for it means consoled, eased, freed.

Isaiah 61:3-4 MISSION: The Hebrew word phe’er, translated garland. means more precisely, an ornamental headdress, or adorning tiara. The Servant-Messiah accomplishes more than conquest—He brings coronation to His people (cf. Romans 8:31-39). He makes it possible for believers to “sit with Him in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 2:6). His followers are crowned and reign with Him over death and all other circumstances. (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Corinthians 3:21-22; Revelation 5:10). The Servant anoints His followers with “the oil of gladness” by the anointing of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:21; 1 John 2:26-27) which is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit and the “down payment” on the believer’s future inheritance (cf. Ephesians 1:14), The ma’eteh is from the root ‘ataph meaning to cover for protection, or, cloak, veil. A man may, so to speak, wrap himself in his human moods as a defense mechanism. Human moods and emotions are no protection; they are capricious, vulnerable to circumstances and temporal. Instead of human moods which are so manipulative and conducive to despair, the Servant will wrap His followers in a protective cloak of praise. If our lives are wrapped in praise to Jehovah we are protected from the manipulative capriciousness of human emotions which are so subject to circumstances. The object of our heart’s desires and hopes is The Almighty, Never Varying, Always Faithful God and so we do not ever need to despair (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11). The Servant will dress His people up richly like the father dressed the prodigal son when he returned home (cf. Luke 15:22-24). All the despair and heaviness will be forgotten when the Messiah brings God’s sons home! The Messiah will give His followers beauty (righteousness) and stability (trees, planting of Jehovah) (cf. Psalms 1:1-3). The messianic people are going to be established as God’s people and nothing can “snatch them out of the Shepherd’s hand” (cf. John 10:27-28). No human, no spiritual power, no circumstance can take away their beauty. All this, of course, brings glory to the one so clothed, but ultimately to the One doing the dressing. The real glory went to the father of the prodigal because he exhibited such mercy, love and forgiveness.

The Servant’s followers will build up the ancient ruins. The house (tabernacle, dynasty, family) of David was in ruins. David’s house was the house of messianic destiny. David’s throne was the throne reserved for the Messiah. But those who were sitting on David’s throne in the days of the prophets scorned and usurped its messianic destiny. They violently rebelled against God’s purposes for this throne of David and had brought it to shame and ruin. Amos predicted that the house of David (tabernacle of David) would be rebuilt (Amos 9:11-12). Amos’ prophecy was fulfilled when the Gentiles were brought into the messianic kingdom (the church) (cf. Acts 15:12-21). We have already commented on this “rebuilding” (cf. Isaiah 59:10, etc.). The church is built as a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:22); Christians are living stones built into a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:4-8).

Verses 5-9

Isa 61:5-9

Isaiah 61:5

"And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers."

That there should be a new society in which the Jews would be the favored upper crust, and that the Gentiles would do all of their menial work is a perverted interpretation of these words. As Barnes explained it: "The idea is that it would be a time of signal spiritual prosperity, and that it would be so great and glorious as if foreigners were to come in among the people and take over the whole labor of attending their flocks and cultivating their fields.”

Isaiah 61:6

"And ye shall be named the priests of Jehovah; men shall call you the ministers of our God: ye shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves."

If there had been any doubt of this chapter’s application to the reign of Messiah, the question would have been settled here. Only the members of the Church of the firstborn were ever designated collectively as "priests of God" (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 5:10). "Neither will there be a clergy distinct from the laity, for all will be called the ministers of our God.”

Isaiah 61:7-9

"Instead of your shame ye shall have double; and instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be unto them. For I, Jehovah, love justice, I hate robbery with iniquity; and I will give them their recompense in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. And your seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which Jehovah hath blessed."

Here we have a recapitulation of the marvelous blessings to be attained through Messiah, presented here in literal, materialistic terms, but undoubtedly having a spiritual meaning.

Note Isaiah 61:8, where robbers are promised God’s vengeance in the same breath with the promise of God’s everlasting covenant. A covenant with the robbers? Certainly not. This is characteristic of Isaiah and of all the prophets, that the blind, deluded, deaf, and hardened Israel is frequently mentioned in the same sentence with the Ideal Israel of the "righteous remnant." The "covenant" is definitely a reference to Christ. Many able scholars seem to be totally unaware of this.

Speaking of the middle verses of this chapter, McGuiggan stated, "We need to bear in mind that this is all a description of the glory of the Jew." In fairness, we do not know exactly what was meant by this; but it should be remembered that in the Dispensation of the Love of Christ, "there is no distinction" between Jew and Gentile, none whatever. If, by the Jew, one means racial Jews, nothing could be further from the truth. Race has no bearing whatever upon salvation, neither guaranteeing it to anyone whomsoever, or denying it to anyone whomsoever!

Isaiah 61:5-6 JOINING: The Hebrew word zarim is translated strangers and means, loathed-ones, barbarians, enemies, excluded-ones. Ben-nekar is Hebrew for sons of the alien or sons of the foreigner. When the Messiah-Servant came crying aloud the time of the messianic Jubilee (the time of the Lord’s pleasure), those who had been excluded, alienated from covenant relationship to Jehovah were to be given an invitation to join the chosen people in serving and ministering to Him. Jesus in the synagogue at Nazareth apparently closed the scroll of Isaiah before He read beyond verses one and two of this chapter. He did not read the verses now under consideration, but He implied them in His reference to the mercy shown by Jehovah to two Gentiles (Luke 4:23-27) in the remainder of His sermon!

Paul’s statement to the Gentiles in Ephesians 2:11-22 is certainly the fulfillment of this. Isaiah is replete with predictions that the nations (goiym) will be included in the messianic age as God’s people (Isaiah 2:1-4; Isaiah 19:23-25; Isaiah 25:6-12; Isaiah 56:6-8; Isaiah 60:10-14, etc.).

The Jewish Apocrypha (non-canonical writings) however, reflect the humanistic, materialistic interpretations of such prophecies as those of Isaiah here concerning God’s purposes for the Gentiles in the messianic age. These apocryphal writings show a liberal attitude of the Jewish mind toward the Gentiles during a time of relative freedom and peace for the Jews in the days of the Maccabeans, but an intensifying bitterness and hatred for the Gentiles as the oppression of Rome increased until the days of Jesus and the hotheaded Zealots and Sicarii eventually stirred up the rebellion and insurrection that brought about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation in 70 A.D.

According to I Enoch Isaiah 10:21, (written about 164 B.C.), all the Gentiles will become righteous and offer to God their adoration and worship. In the Sibylline Oracles III (written about 150 B.C.), the Gentiles will make their way in procession to God’s Temple there to ponder his law and supplicate the Eternal King (716ff; 725ff); from every land the Gentiles will bring frankincense and gifts to the house of the great God and in the coming messianic kingdom they will have a share in the blessings that it brings. However, in II Baruch (written after 90 A.D.), it is written: “My Messiah . . . will both summon all the nations, and some of them he will spare and some of them he will slay. These things therefore will come upon the nations which are to be spared by him. Every nation which knows not Israel, and has not trodden down the seed of Jacob, shall indeed be spared. And this because some out of every nation will be subject to thy people. But all those who have ruled over you, or have known you, shall be given up to the sword (II Baruch 72:2–6).”

But the bitterness of the Jews toward the Gentiles finds its fullest expression in Similitudes of Enoch and II Esdras (both written in the first century A.D.). They teach that all Gentiles who dwell upon the earth, at the time of the messianic age, will bring to the Elect One gifts and presents and tokens of homage; but these will be of no avail; they will be destroyed and banished from the face of the earth and will perish forever and ever. D. S. Russell says in The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, pub. Westminster, pg. 303, “The bitterness . . . expressed by the writer of II Esdras against the Gentiles is to be understood against the background of persecution which the Jewish nation as a whole had to suffer, first in the time of the Seleucids and then in the time of the Romans. It reflects the troubled years following the capture of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and is in keeping with the trend in Judaism generally. From this time forward, and especially from the close of the first century A.D., the harsher view prevailed and the universalism of the earlier years was gradually replaced by that spirit which could be satisfied only with the annihilation of all the other nations of the earth.”

In the light of these apocryphal views, which were undoubtedly the views of the majority of the Jews in Jesus’ day, we may well understand the extreme animosity generated toward Jesus when He interpreted chapter 61 of Isaiah to mean the Gentiles were to be accepted and blessed in the messianic kingdom! The traditional interpretation the people of the synagogue in Nazareth expected to hear was that the Gentiles would at least become literally the conquered slaves of the Jews. That Saturday crowd expected to hear Isaiah 61 interpreted to mean God’s people would someday kill most of the Gentiles and those not killed would become slave laborers (like the ancestors of the Jews had been in Egypt) and put to work building a rich, prosperous Jerusalem and Palestine which would become the capital city of the world.

What God meant in Isaiah 61 was, of course, just the opposite of the common Jewish concept. Many of the Jews learned this with great difficulty but rejoiced once it became apparent that it was the will of Jehovah (cf. Acts 9:1-16; Acts 10:34-43; Acts 11:18; Acts 13:44-52; Acts 15:12-21; Galatians 2:11 ff, etc.).

The Hebrew word for priests, is kohenyim from the root word kahan, meaning, to stand, to prepare, make ready, adjust—thus to officiate as one who readies or adjusts something. The word translated ministers, is sharethey and means, to wait upon, to serve, to attend; it is applied only to the Levites in the O.T. Law. The concept that all Jews, (let alone a kingdom of Jews and Gentiles) would become priests and ministers to Jehovah was revolutionary! It is essentially a prediction that the Law of Moses will be abrogated in the messianic age! Only those of Levi could be priests and ministers according to the Mosaic covenant. It took the major portion of the book of Hebrews in the N.T. to convince Jewish Christians of the first century that Jesus (from the tribe of Judah) could be a priest (after the order of Melchezidek). All of Messiah’s people are priests—even Gentiles (cf. 1 Peter 2:4-5; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; Revelation 20:6). Access, intercession, offering will be the vocation of all members of the New Zion (Hebrews 10:19-25; Hebrews 13:15-16; Romans 12:1-2).

The Hebrew heyl goiym could be translated host or army of the Gentiles. The wealth or riches of any nation is not its gold or diamonds, but its people. It is the character of the people that make any kindgom what it is. God predicts through His prophets that the future “ Israel ” (N.T. church, Galatians 6:16) will “feed on” the best of all nations (cf. Obadiah 1:17; Obadiah 1:21; Micah 7:11-17; Zechariah 14:16-21; Isaiah 19:16-25; Isaiah 60:10-18; Isaiah 66:12-21). Many of those who came into the N.T. church were not what most nations would consider their best (1 Corinthians 1:26-31), but they were people who could repent and be made into the image of Christ and were really the jewels of creation (cf. Philippians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).

Isaiah 61:7 JOY: The Hebrew word bashettekem is from the root bash which means, disappointment, confusion, ingnominy, disgrace. When the Jews were sinning the prophets called on the pagan nations to look at them and see if there had ever been a nation on earth so disgraceful (cf. Jeremiah 2:10-12; Jeremiah 18:13; Jeremiah 23:14, etc.). The nations of the Gentiles could not “hold a candle” to the Jews of the days of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel! The Gentiles mocked, derided and held in contempt everything Jewish. When they were taken into captivity the Assyrians and Babylonians hissed at them for they had claimed to be invincible because Jehovah was with them. The Jews suffered much indignity and reproach living in “unclean” heathen lands as prisoners. But Isaiah predicts a time (when the Messiah comes) when all these indignities shall be turned into exaltation and joy. The Messiah will take away all “uncleanness” and “disgracefulness.” Of course, it would not be relief from national, cultural shame, but spiritual disgrace and spiritual uncleanness would be taken away. One is reminded of the glorious predictions of the messianic relief made by the father of John the Baptist (by the direction of the Holy Spirit) when he (Zechariah) spoke of the mission of his own son, the waypreparer (Luke 1:67-79). Everlasting joy is a promise to be fulfilled only in the Messiah’s kingdom (cf. Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 51:11; John 15:11; John 16:22; John 16:24; John 17:13; Romans 14:17; Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22; 1 John 1:4, etc.).

Isaiah 61:8-9 RENOWN: Zion will one day rejoice because she shall be made famous. The reason she shall be made famous, however, will not be due to her own merit but because God is who He is He is by nature absolutely just and faithful. God will deliver Zion from her enemies because He loves justice and hates iniquity and therefore must vindicate His absolute sovereignty by destroying iniquity and rewarding loyalty. The loyalty Jehovah will reward will be that of the sinless Servant; but the Servant will impute His perfect meritorious obedience (Hebrews 10:5-10) to all who by faith and covenant-keeping become citizens of the New Zion. The Lord’s primary goal is the vindication of His Name (cf. Ezek. 29:9, 14, 22, 44; Ezekiel 36:21-23; Ezekiel 36:32; Ezekiel 38:16; Ezekiel 38:23; Ezekiel 39:7-8, Ezekiel 39:25-29). It is imperative that Jehovah’s absolute sovereignty and absolute faithfulness be proven and vindicated. Man’s salvation depends on God’s faithfulness, not his own (see comments, Isaiah 48:9-11).

The word ‘emeth is translated truth and is from the Hebrew root ‘aman (same as Greek and English amen). The word means firmness, faithfulness, stability, fidelity, verity. The idea in verse eight is that God is going to prove His fidelity by keeping His promise to destroy Zion’s enemies because they are wicked. This demonstration of Jehovah’s absolute faithfulness will, in turn, move men of all nations to happily come into covenant relationship with Jehovah. All this will be accomplished when Jehovah makes an everlasting covenant with man. Thus once again we conclude these scriptures are prophetic of the New Zion, the church. It was at the cross and the empty tomb that God destroyed the power of all the enemies of man (cf. Luke 1:67-79; Luke 2:29-35; John 12:27-33; John 16:11; Romans 8:31-39; Colossians 2:14-15; Hebrews 2:14-15, etc.).

The Hebrew word berith is the word for covenant. It is from the Hebrew root word barah which means literally to cut, or to choose, to select. Its fundamental idea is “chosen” “separated” or that which distinguishes a “selected” people. God’s salvation and blessings are available always within a covenant. A covenant, by its very nature, demands choice, or selection, and that requires conditions and terms. The everlasting covenant (or “new” covenant Jeremiah 31:31 ff) has conditions and terms men must choose if they wish its blessings. Christ is the new covenant (cf. Matthew 26:26-29; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 12:24; Hebrews 13:20). He is the resurrection and the life, whoever lives and believes in Him shall never die (John 11:26). Paul, the apostle, spoke of the new covenant relationship as “being in Christ” (cf. Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Corinthians 1:21; 2 Corinthians 3:14; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:27; Ephesians 3:6; etc.). The everlasting covenant is predicted in many places in the O.T. (cf. Isaiah 55:3; Jeremiah 32:40; Ezekiel 16:60-63; Ezekiel 37:26, etc.).

The “seed” and “offspring” of New Zion will be renowned among the Gentiles. The people of the Messiah (Christians) were known throughout the Roman world of the first century (and ever after) for their faith, obedience and love (cf. Acts 2:47; Acts 4:13; Acts 4:33; Romans 16:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10; Philemon 1:4-7; 1 Peter 4:4). Pliny the younger wrote “the believers met regularly early in the morning to worship Christ as a divinity. They insisted on a strict code of ethics; to abstain from fraud, theft, and adultery, never to lie, nor to default on an obligation. At the end of the assembly they ate a common meal and then adjourned.” John Noble (prisoner of the Russians for 12 years) received the admiration and respect of the Russian prison guards for his Christian life. Isaiah means to stress how different the people of the Messiah will be from the heathenish behavior of the Israel of his day or the paganism of the world in general (cf. John 13:35). The goodness and blessedness and joy of the lives of the citizens of Zion will be acknowledged (perhaps even grudgingly respected) by the whole world. The Messiah’s people are “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3).

Verses 10-11

Isa 61:10-11

Isaiah 61:10-11

"I will greatly rejoice in Jehovah, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with a garland, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth its bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth: so the Lord Jehovah will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all nations."

These verses also must be identified with the New Covenant in Christ. Only "in him" is there salvation. The only true righteousness this world ever knew is "in Christ"; and those who wish to share in it must do so in the way God has directed. For any who hope to be clothed with the garments of righteousness mentioned here, there is one way for it to happen, "As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ, and "putting on Christ" is equivalent to putting on the righteousness of Christ. The righteous life pledged in the ceremony is also required.

Before leaving this chapter, we note that Douglas has cited at least twenty close resemblances and correspondences between this chapter and the chapters of Isaiah prior to Isaiah 40.

Isaiah 61:10-11, NEW ZION: is rejoicing in the Lord because the Lord has clothed her in salvation and righteousness. The church is all dressed up like someone waiting for a wedding! (cf. Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:6-10). The people of the Messiah partake of the glory of the Messiah by being made partakers of His nature (2 Peter 1:3-4) which is done by abiding in His Will (John 15:1-11). New Zion partakes of her King’s nature gradually, progressively, “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). New Zion must never forget that her beauty is relative to and dependent upon partaking of her Lord’s righteousness and salvation. New Zion has no beauty of her own. She is clothed by Someone else! So all her boasting or rejoicing is directed to the Source of her glory (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:29-31; Galatians 6:14-16).

As surely as the earth produces when seeds are sown in it, so the Lord will produce righteousness and praise to spring forth all over the world. Isaiah affirms the faithfulness of Jehovah to keep His word. God’s word always produces—it always comes to pass! (Isaiah 55:10-11). The existence of God and His faithfulness has been demonstrated in thousands of supernatural, historically-eyewitnessed events. Many of these events were predicted hundreds of years before they occurred. But most finally and ultimately God has proved His absolute veracity and trustworthiness in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Death, the ultimate enigma, the ultimate obstacle, has been defeated. It has been swallowed up forever (Isaiah 25:8). He kept His word! In spite of dungeon, fire and sword, God saved a remnant of Judah and brought the Messiah into the world. Babylon could not stop His word from being fulfilled; Persia, Greece, Rome—they could not stop it! Not even the death of the Messiah upon a Roman cross could stop His word.

Now the Lord works slowly, estimated by our finite, limited experience. But He works certainly! Some, in fact a majority of men, may scoff (2 Peter 3:1-10), but one day this victorious, living Messiah is coming back for His dressed-up bride. What righteousness and praise that will call forth from New Zion (the bride) whose citizens are from every tribe and tongue and people on the face of the earth. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Isaiah 61". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/isaiah-61.html.
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