Isaiah 61:8-11; 62:2-4
SS Lesson for 04/26/2020
Devotional Scripture: Ps 11:4-7
Isaiah (ministered about 740-680 BC) lived in the days when Israel, the northern kingdom, was struggling against Assyria and was finally exiled from the land. For a time, the northern kingdom sent tribute to Assyria; however, Israel's King Hoshea sought an alliance with Egypt in order to end the nation's vassal relationship to the Assyrian oppressors. The consequence of Israel's rebellion against Assyria was that they were carried away into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 BC (2 Kings 17), never to be restored. The southern kingdom of Judah remained, but Isaiah predicted punishment for its disobedience as well (example: Isaiah 3). His predictions were fulfilled almost a century after his ministry. God used the Babylonians as His instrument to bring down the monarchy of Judah and destroy the temple in 586 BC (see 2 Chronicles 36:15-21; Habakkuk 1:6). The Lord, in faithfulness to His covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:1-17), brought back the Jews from exile in 538 BC and reestablished them as a nation. He used the Persians as His instrument to accomplish that restoration (2 Chronicles 36:22, 23; Ezra 1:1-8). The book of Isaiah is typically viewed in terms of two large sections: chapters 1-39 and chapters 40-66. Most of Isaiah 40-66 is conveyed in a poetic style. These chapters can be read as an ancient play. Imagine a large stage with all the characters present. On one side of the room, there is Heaven with the Lord and the heavenly host present; on the other side, the earth and its inhabitants. Different characters speak, are addressed, or are discussed. The characters are the nation of Israel and the Gentiles. Within Israel there are the righteous and the wicked, the leaders and the commoners, and the servant of the Lord. The Gentile nations are distant but interested observers. Usually they are talked about, whether for future judgment or for blessing. But sometimes they are addressed directly. On two occasions, Cyrus, the future king of Persia, is specifically named (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1-7. Isaiah is at times an actor onstage with the other characters; sometimes he is an offstage narrator to the readers, who are the theater audience. Isaiah 56-66 begins with the prediction of the salvation of the nations (56:1-8). The text then describes the punishment of the wicked of Israel, especially the leaders (56:9-57:21), for their ritual and ethical sins (chap. 58). But the Lord is able and willing to deliver the repentant (Isaiah 59). As a result, Israel will become a light to the nations (chap. 60) and embrace its priestly role (chap. 61).
For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, and will make with them an everlasting covenant.
61:1-3. In verse 1 all three Persons of the Trinity are mentioned: the Spirit... the Sovereign Lord, and the Messiah. Three factors indicate that Me refers to the Messiah: (1) The association of the Holy Spirit with the anointing points to Jesus Christ. After being anointed with oil, Israel’s first two kings, Saul and David, were blessed with the Spirit’s ministry (1 Sam. 10:1, 10; 16:13). Similarly Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:16-17) to be Israel’s King. The Hebrew word for Messiah (māšaḥ) means “the Anointed One,” and Christ (christos, from chriō, “to anoint”) is the Greek equivalent of māšaḥ. (2) Part of this passage (Isa. 61:1-2a) was read by Jesus (Luke 4:18-19) in reference to Himself. (3) The mission of this Anointed One was Jesus’ ministry: to preach good news, to heal and free (Isa. 61:1; cf. 42:7), to proclaim... favor and... vengeance (61:2), and to comfort (vv. 2-3). When Jesus read from this passage He stopped in the middle of the sentence, after the word “favor” (Luke 4:18-19). By doing this He was showing that His work would be divided into two advents. In His First Advent He did the things mentioned in Isaiah 61:1-2a; in His Second Advent He will do the things in verses 2b-3. When He returns He will bring judgment on unbelievers (Micah 5:15; Rev. 19:15-20); this will be the day of God’s “vengeance” (cf. Isa. 34:8; 35:4; 63:4). But the Messiah will also “comfort” Israel, for she will have undergone great persecution, the Great Tribulation, in the preceding years (cf. Dan. 7:21, 24-25; Rev. 12:13-17). When the Messiah comes He will change believing Israelites’ sadness to joy, a truth Isaiah mentioned frequently. In place of ashes, put on one’s head as a sign of mourning (cf. 2 Sam. 13:19; Es. 4:1; Dan 9:3), they will wear a crown. Light olive oil, when applied to one’s face and hair, would soothe him and brighten his spirits (cf. Pss. 23:5; 45:7; 104:15; Ecc. 9:8; Matt. 6:17; Heb. 1:9), thus dispelling mourning. Another sign of joy is a bright garment (cf. Ecc. 9:7-8). Israel will be righteous (cf. Isa. 54:14; 58:8; 60:21; 62:1-2) and like stalwart oak trees will display God’s splendor (cf. 35:2; 46:13; 49:3; 55:5; 60:9, 21; 62:3).
61:4-9. After the Messiah’s Second Advent Israel will rebuild her ruined cities, even those that had been destroyed many years before. Israel will be so revered that Gentiles (aliens and foreigners) will join her (cf. 14:1; 60:10) in her farming and shepherding. As a nation of priests each one will know the Lord, and have access to Him, and mediate on behalf of others, as did the Levitical priests. This was to be one of Israel’s functions in the world (Ex. 19:6), but unfortunately she will not fully carry out that responsibility till in the Millennium. Nations will bring their wealth to Israel (see Isa. 60:5, 11). The double portion refers to the inheritance the eldest son in a family would receive from his father’s estate (Deut. 21:17). The eldest son was given special honor. Similarly Israel, like the Lord’s firstborn (Ex. 4:22), will be honored. Because of these blessings and God’s giving Israel an everlasting covenant (the New Covenant; cf. Jer. 32:40; Ezek. 16:60; 37:26; Heb. 13:20), people everywhere will acknowledge that she is indeed God’s special people.
61:10-11. In these verses the prophet seems to be speaking for the redeemed remnant who will rejoice (cf. 9:3) in response to God’s blessings mentioned in 61:1-9. Salvation and righteousness are pictured as clothes worn by the people (cf. God’s “clothes,” 59:17). In other words the Israelites are characterized by salvation (God’s redeemed people) and righteousness (those who are living by God’s standards; cf. 58:8; 60:21). To picture their joy and blessing a bridegroom wore a fancy headgear, like a priest’s turban, and the bride wore costly jewelry. God will cause Israel’s righteousness to spring up in (be known by) other nations (cf. 61:11; 62:1-2) much as the soil sustains the growth of plants.
62:1-5. Is the speaker in these verses the Messiah, the Lord (God the Father), or the prophet? Since “I” in verse 6 seems to be the Father, verses 1-5 may also be spoken by Him. The Lord announced that He will continue to work on Jerusalem’s behalf until her righteousness... salvation, and glory are observed by the rest of the world (cf. 61:10-11) and the city is called by a new name. That name is not stated here but several names are given later, in 62:4, 12 (cf. 60:14). In the ancient Near East names often signified one’s anticipated or present character. So Jerusalem’s having a new name means it will have a new righteous character. Like a crown or diadem (a large metal ring worn on the head) adorning one’s head so Jerusalem will be an adornment to the Lord. She will display His splendor (cf. 35:2; 46:13; 49:3; 55:5; 60:9, 21; 61:3), that is, her inhabitants will manifest His character in their conduct. The city’s new relationship with God is compared to the happiness of a marriage. Rather than being called Deserted (cf. 62:12) or Desolate, previous characteristics of the city, Jerusalem will be named Hephzibah (“My delight is in her”) and Beulah (“Married one”). The words so will your sons marry you (Jerusalem) imply that people again will live in Jerusalem and God will be happy about the wonderful state of affairs.
62:6-9. In the ancient world watchmen were stationed on city walls (often in towers) to watch for any approaching enemy. While on guard they were never to sleep. Righteous Israelites, like watchmen, were to be alert on Jerusalem’s behalf. They were to give themselves and God (Him) no rest till He establishes Jerusalem, that is, they were constantly to ask God that the city become the praise of the earth, so blessed by God that people everywhere would extol her (cf. 60:15; 61:11). The “watchmen” were to hold God to His promises, knowing that is what He desires. God’s people should pray for things even when they know God has promised them. Jesus made this clear when He taught His disciples to pray that the kingdom will come (Matt. 6:10). When Jerusalem is restored, it will never again fall to its enemies (Isa. 62:8-9). God has assured it by oath (sworn by His right hand) and by His power (arm; see 40:10).
62:10-12. Verses 10-12 were written as if the Lord were on His way, so His people should be ready. The repeated commands, Pass through, pass through and build up, build up, convey a sense of urgency; quickly the people are to prepare themselves spiritually for His coming (see 40:3-5, 9). To raise a banner was a way of announcing something. The nations are to be informed that the Lord is coming to Jerusalem. When He arrives word is to be given throughout the world (on the ends of the earth see 5:26) that He, Israel’s Savior (see 43:11), has come to reward Jerusalemites with His blessings. Giving the people of the city new names (The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord, and Sought After) speaks of the new character Israel will have. Because of God’s redemption the people will be holy (Ex. 19:6; Deut. 7:6), and Gentiles will visit the city. No longer will it be deserted (Isa. 62:12; cf. v. 4; 60:15; Zech. 14:11).
8 "For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, and will make with them an everlasting covenant.
9 Their descendants shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people. All who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the posterity whom the Lord has blessed."
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful 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 with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
8 He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice.
33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.
4 The King is mighty, he loves justice — you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.
24 but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord.
5 The Lord within her is righteous; he does no wrong. Morning by morning he dispenses his justice, and every new day he does not fail, yet the unrighteous know no shame.
27 May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, "The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant."
12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; 13 planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,
1 Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
4 Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
128 Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. 2 You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.
16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope.
9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
2 The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord will name.
3 You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, And a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married.
2 The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
12 They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted.
26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
10 Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
6 So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"
28 For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever, but the offspring of the wicked will be cut off;
17 "The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
Verse 1 bases the oracle on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For the Spirit to be upon the speaker clearly meant in the Old Testament that the speaker was controlled (= filled) by the Spirit—his message was the message of God breathed out by the Holy Spirit through the person. Here it is the “Spirit of the Lord Yahweh” who is upon him. In the historical context the meaning is that the prophet, for the discharge of his function, is empowered and enabled by the presence of the Holy Spirit.
The two verbs that express the significance of this are “He has anointed me” and “He has sent me.” The image of anointing (hypocatastasis or, implied metaphor) signifies that he was set apart for this mission and endorsed by God.
The several purposes for declaring the Good News now are enumerated. First it will be Good News to the poor. This is a theme that has been introduced before in the book, the Good News being the message of deliverance from bondage. In the New Testament it is the Gospel. The “poor” are those who are destitute, in a distressed condition, poor in every way. One can think of other, current examples of refugees driven from their homes, hungry, destitute, and confused.
The theme of “bind up the broken hearted” picks up the theme of the earlier chapter on bringing revival to the contrite and the lowly. Those “crushed in spirit” (hypocatastasis) by the exile will be strengthened and encouraged.
“To proclaim liberty for the captives” is an idea drawn from the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25), as well as from the concern of the captivity. Of course that would also bring in the teaching on the High Priest, so in the New Testament there would be more correlations. “Freedom” or “liberty” is the word right out of Leviticus 25:10,40.
The last expression in the verse is “release for the prisoners.” The difficulty here is that the expression translated “release” is used most often for opening eyes and ears, hence the Greek has it “open eyes to the blind.” The idea of “recovery of sight” could have been used metonymically for people as if in a dark dungeon, and when released would see the light of day. Jesus made the blind to see—but that by His own explanation was also a symptom of release from the bondage of sin, for there were many who saw but were blind spiritually and still imprisoned by sin (John 9).
Verse 2 begins with “to proclaim the acceptable year (“year of favor”) of the LORD.” It was up through this line that Jesus quoted, and said was fulfilled. The rest of the passage looks to the Second Coming. Here the “Year of Favor” would be in general referring to divine intervention; but it is also a Jubilee. The idea of “favor” or “grace” captures all the themes in the previous oracles that affirmed that God by grace was delivering people from bondage.
The “day of vengeance” is certainly divine judgment. To Israel it would have come with the deliverance, for Babylon was to be destroyed in the process; but in the New Testament it is eschatological, referring to when Jesus comes with the baptism of fire to judge the world and fulfill His promises to the believing remnant and believing Gentiles.
The theme of comfort (Isa. 40:1) is reintroduced here with “those who mourn.” The language foreshadows the beatitudes of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who mourn and grieve do so under the bondage of exile; today it is both spiritual and physical, but there is a coming day when all manner of things will be well.
Verse 3 uses a good deal of imagery. “Ashes” is metonymy of adjunct, people having put ashes on their foreheads while mourning. The “turban of beauty” could be drawing upon some festive clothing that replaced the ashes (see Zech. 3) and so another metonymy; or it could be an implied comparison with such action, signifying the change of estates. The “oil of gladness” would refer to oil used to welcome guests to festive occasions, and “festal clothing” would be the natural clothing worn to such affairs—not funeral clothing. Drawing on the image of such a banquet, God is saying that they will rejoice, praise, be comforted, and be glorious, in the place of mourning and despairing (giving up hope).
The verse closes with a metaphor of the branch joined with righteousness to be a symbol of endurance: “trees of righteousness” means that the people will be solidly and enduringly righteous. The image of the “trees” is paralleled with that of “planting.”
Jesus did not read the entire section. The aspect of vengeance or judgment was not part of the first advent, as we now know; neither was the complete renovation of all things, as this passage predicts. The part that Jesus read tells of making proclamation; the part that He did not read speaks to actually doing it, changing the estate of the afflicted. Jesus came and proclaimed the Good News; He did enough miracles to show He was the Messiah, and that when He returned He could indeed change all things.
The background of this section is the original call of Israel as a kingdom of priests (Exod. 19:6; and add 1 Peter 2:9 for us who have been grafted in). Verse 4 predicts that they will rebuild the ruined and devastated places; verse 5 tells how foreigners will serve them in the ordinary work; but verse 6 focuses on their spiritual service.
They will be called “priests of God” and named “ministers of God.” Zechariah 3 portrays the restoration of the nation to its priestly function. God does not deliver and forgive for no purpose; God saves in order that the redeemed might serve. What Israel had, she lost by sin; but it would be restored after the exile to a generation that was bearing fruit. God will have a kingdom of priests on this earth; today it is the Church; at the end of the age it looks like the prophets anticipate and Paul confirms that God will yet save Israel (those who are alive prior to the second coming, of course) and use them again for this purpose.
Verse 7 declares that everlasting joy will replace the shame; and this theme is elaborated upon in the following verses. On God’s part, He who loves justice and hates evil, promises to make an everlasting covenant, and to make the people of God famous in the world as the people the LORD has blessed.
Verse 10 interrupts the flow of the argument with an outbreak of praise. The prophet, speaking for Israel or Jerusalem, expresses gratitude for the promised felicity. The central point here captures the message of the whole chapter. He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, and arrayed me with the robe of righteousness. God has given believers righteousness and salvation. That is the reason for the restoration to service, the joy, and all the festivities. The image of the clothing is used here again by comparison: clothing signifies the nature of the person.
Verse 11 then continues the message of verses 8 and 9, not 10. God will make righteousness and praise spring up from the land. “Spring up” is literally flourish; it draws on the image of planting oak trees, but looks to the product that righteousness will cover the land, because righteous people will be there serving the LORD. This is more than the dream of a prophet; it is a vision of the future—yet to be fully realized, needless to say.
The passage can be treated on two levels, one for historical Israel and the restoration from the exile for part of it, and the eschatological sense for the other part. Jesus in His first advent announces the fulfillment of it, but as with so many of the prophecies there is a partial fulfillment at the first advent, the rest awaiting the second advent.
But the passage can easily be used for today, for the NT applies it this way. The Messiah has done it—and is doing these things—for us: our response should be to live righteously, joyfully and hopefully as those who have been given sight, set free from bondage, received the LORD’s favor. But just as the Spirit anointed the messenger (the prophet first, and then Jesus) to announce this to those in sin, so the Spirit has anointed us as John tells us, making us a kingdom of priests as Peter reminds us, so that we too can proclaim good news to the world. This we do while waiting for the culmination of God’s program for the ages, which will see that great day of vengeance when He comes to set everything right and make all things new.
(Adapted from URL:https://bible.org/seriespage/spirit-filled-servant-and-kingdom-god-isaiah-611-11)
A few years ago I went on an outing to a retreat center. Among the many activities was horseback riding. One of the wranglers told me two things about horses. First, he said horses can live 50 years or more. Domesticated horses live longer and healthier lives than wild ones because of care. Second, horses thrive when they have work to do. We are similar. As we place ourselves in the hand of God, under His care and control, we live better: we are blessed. Whether our years be many or few, they are of higher quality. In turn, living under the control and care of God comes with a mandate to take Christ to the world (see Matthew 28:19, 20).
Come Back to God - God called Isaiah to prophesy to the Israelites, to draw them back to God. Though the prophet warned the people of the coming consequences, they did not repent. Isaiah spoke out during a time when Jerusalem flourished physically but stood spiritually bankrupt. God committed Himself to make sure His people eventually changed to have right standing before Him. Therefore, God used Israel's enemies, Assyria and Babylon, as His cleansing tools. Both Israel and Judah were sent into exile. The second half of the Book of Isaiah records the Lord's encouragement to the exiles, saying that their time in captivity would end and restoration would come. After 70 years in exile in Babylon, God allowed the people to return to Jerusalem to rebuild their city and temple. God planned to guide them into prosperity, happiness, and genuine worship of Him.
Sing God's Song - While God intended to bless the remnant that returned to Jerusalem, His promise of blessing and restoration also extended to future generations. The song of joy and celebration could be sung in Jerusalem when the remnant returned, but it also looks forward to a time when Messiah comes and all the nations worship Him. Either interpretation rejoices in the fact that God is exalted.
A New Name - Whether the song refers to the returned exiles or to a future restoration, all praise will go to God, and He will rename His people; they will no longer be called forsaken and desolate. Instead, the restored people will be referred to as His delight. Their nation shall have dominion and continue to exist. God's ultimate desire is to have this kind of relationship not only with His chosen people but with all people. God is a lover of justice and desires for all of humanity to hate unfair treatment of anyone at any time in any culture. This is a reason to praise God and rejoice.