Isaiah 61:1. The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
You know who it is that speaks these words, our Lord Jesus himself.
Isaiah 61:1-2. Because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto 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 acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
The Divine Messiah comes to usher in the true jubilee, the blessed day in which the poor shall have the gospel preached unto them, and in which the broken-hearted shall find their brokenness healed. He comes to bring the captive ones back from the Babylon of sin, and to deliver from prison those who, because of their transgressions, are bound with fetters; in a word, he comes to proclaim that now is the accepted time, now is the day of grace, now is the year of jubilee. As for the adversaries of his people, unto them it shall be “the day of vengeance of our God,” for the Lord will deal out to them, measure for measure, as they have dealt unto his oppressed and persecuted people.
Isaiah 61:3. To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty —
Or, “a coronet” —
Isaiah 61:3. For ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
When Jesus comes, he brings all things with him, for he is all things to his people, and they find their all in him. There is no sorrow at his coming to those who receive him; it is gladness, gladness repeated, and gladness multiplied. Not only doth joy come in one form, but in many, as the verses of this chapter so sweetly remind us, and that which comes is permanent, making those that receive it to be like long-standing trees, for they shall outlive their sorrows, and prove that they were planted of God for his own glory.
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.
Truly, God’s living Church today shall do all this. The Jewish Church became a waste, and God’s glory seemed to be trodden under the foot of his foes; but the true children of the promise, they who are counted for the seed, even as many as believe, who are thus the seed of believing Abraham, shall build up all these wastes, and happy shall they be in such joyous service.
Isaiah 61:5-6. And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your ploughmen and your vine-dressers. But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.
Because of the sin of his people, the aliens and the foreigners trample upon them; but if you and I are truly of the holy seed, having living faith in Christ, we shall look upon the whole race of men as enduring all their care and toil on our behalf. They shall be our ploughmen and our vine-dressers; but we shall be the ministers of God, the priests of the Lord, making use of every new invention, — travelling by steam, speaking by telephone, —using everything for God’s glory, letting men invent all they can, and we ourselves turning all things to account for the honour and glory of our God.
I know that there is another fulfilment of this test for God’s ancient people, but this also is a fulfilment of it to us who are his spiritual people, his real children, born according to the promise.
Isaiah 61:7. For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion:
That is a sweet state of heart for any of us to be in, — to rejoice in our portion. Oh, what a wonderful portion we have to rejoice in! How blessed is the lot of God’s chosen people! However small a part of our portion may be visible to the eye here below, yet we can sing, —
“All things are ours; the gift of God,
The purchase of a Saviour’s blood;
While the good Spirit shows us how
To use and to improve them too.”
Instead of confusion such as once was the lot of the righteous, “they shall rejoice in their portion;”
Isaiah 61:7. Therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them.
Here is another choice expression: “everlasting joy.” Theirs is not a transient joy, like the mirth of fools, which is as the crackling of thorns under a pot, but “everlasting joy shall be unto them.”
Isaiah 61:8. For I the LORD love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
That is why they have everlasting joy. There would be no everlasting joy if it were not for the everlasting covenant. Those gentlemen who want to cut that word “everlasting” out of our Bibles will find that it will be a very long while before we shall agree to be despoiled of it; nay, we shall never consent to give it up. We shall always rejoice that we have God’s everlasting love, and an everlasting covenant, and therefore that we shall have everlasting joy.
Isaiah 61:9. And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles,
They shall be discerned and distinguished. Just as surely as you may know a Jew anywhere in the world today, so shall men know the people of God. Though they wear no peculiar garb, yet their speech shall betray them. There shall be a something about them which shall bear testimony to the fact that “they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed.” “Their seed shall be known among the Gentiles,” —
Isaiah 61:9-10. And their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the LORD hath blessed. I will greatly rejoice —
Not a little, for he is a great God, so “I will greatly rejoice” in him. “The Lord hath done great things for us,” let us therefore greatly rejoice in him. “I will greatly rejoice” —
Isaiah 61:10. In the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God;
Not only shall my lips be full of joy, but my inmost nature, the very essence of my being, “my soul shall be joyful in my God.” “In my God.” That is a stage higher than saying, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord.” We do greatly rejoice in the Lord, but our very soul is joyful when we can each one call him, “my God.” That is a possession that the richest among you may well envy if you have it not.
Isaiah 61:10. 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 ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
The loveliest sight in the world is one of God’s people. We sometimes sing, and sadly sing, concerning this earth, —
“Where every prospect pleases,
And only man is vile.”
But there is another side to that picture, for when the “man” is a true child of God, we can say, —
“Though every prospect pleases,
Yet man outshines them all.”
Well did the psalmist sing, “Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” Angels do homage to the renewed man; for the promise is, “They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” You who are children of God need not wish to change places even with an archangel, for you are brother to him who sits upon the throne of God; you wear a nature that is akin to that of the Only-begotten, indeed, it is the self-same nature as his. Glory, then, in this great truth, that you are covered with the robe of righteousness, decked with ornaments, like a bridegroom, and adorned with jewels, like a bride.
Isaiah 61:11. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth 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.
They are sown in the earth at present; but, as the seeds come up in the springtime beneath the genial showers and the shining of the sun, so righteousness and praise shall in due time come up in a golden harvest on every hill and valley of this poor sinful world. Hasten it, O Lord, hasten it in thine own good time! Amen.