THE BOOK OF ISAIAH
The Spirit-filled Servant and the Kingdom of God
Isaiah 61-62 SCC 2/9/14
It was a portion of this passage that Jesus read in the Synagogue (in Luke 4) and reported fulfilled in their hearing. So no matter what the actual historical application might have been for the speaker the ultimate and fullest meaning is that the Holy Spirit anointed Jesus to declare the Good News.
(1) The Good News in the historical setting was release from the bondage of the exile to full and free service of the Lord once again, a jubilee-like experience;
(2) but in the New Testament that bondage is sin and death, and the deliverance is spiritual and eternal as well as physical. Once again the New Testament captures the spirit as well as the letter of the Old Testament passage; but it takes it to its divinely intended and ultimate fulfillment.
God’s servants are appointed by God’s Spirit to proclaim God’s message 61:1
A. They are anointed by God
Verse 1: bases the oracle on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For the Spirit to be upon the speaker clearly meant that the speaker was controlled by the Spirit. His message was the message of God breathed out by the Holy Spirit through the person. In the historical context the meaning is that the prophet is empowered and enabled by the presence of the Holy Spirit. His possession of the Spirit is a result of God anointing Him for His mission. He would need divine enablement by the Spirit to fulfill it.
B. They are anointed by God to proclaim good news
The mission of the Anointed One would be to announce good news to distressed and afflicted people the hope of Israel that is in view, specifically deliverance from Babylon and deliverance from sin.
NB: So the work of God can only be done in the power of God. Any work God accomplishes thru his servants is ultimately spiritual work done thru them by means of the Holy Spirit. We do not manufacture the work of God in people’s lives.
The proclamation of the Word of God transforms the lives of those who believe 61:1b-3
Here is the outcome of God’s powerful work thru his servants:
(1) The good news is that there is hope for the hopeless: it means He would mend the hearts of those so broken by life that they despair of having any hope. Imagine that.
(2) The good news is that there is liberty from bondage: it means the Anointed One would liberate those so enslaved that they could not break free. Captives are in bondage to another person, and prisoners are bound to a place. This bondage is broken.
Verse 2: (3) The good news is that there is grace for the debtor: proclaiming good news means He would bring God’s favor which would last much longer than His vengeance. A prolonged time of blessing is in view and a short time of punishment for oppressors. When Jesus Christ read this passage in the Nazareth synagogue and claimed that He fulfilled it, He stopped reading after “the favorable year of the Lord” and did not read “and the day of vengeance of our God”. He meant that He was the Anointed One of whom Isaiah spoke and that He had come to bring salvation. The day of salvation had begun. However, the day of vengeance would not begin until later, specifically at the end of the Tribulation when He will bring judgment.
Verse 3: (4) The good news is that there is joy in place of sorrow: announcing good news means the Anointed One would comfort those who mourn because they believe their sins have doomed them. God would accept them in spite of their sin because of the Servant’s work. There is organic life in the people (oil, oaks, planting). They would become like large trees, flourishing in righteousness by demonstrating the saving and enabling grace of God and so glorifying Him.
NB: So this powerful transforming work is so powerful that people’s lives are radically altered and changed. Life perspective shifts and reorients one’s view of life.
God’s program of redemption fits us for service 61:4-11
We have been blessed with reconciliation 4-5
Verse 4: predicts that they will rebuild the ruined and devastated places; those who formerly mourned in Israel because of their downtrodden and depraved conditions would rebuild their land, which others had destroyed. These destructions had come on Israel because of her sins. God predicted that the cities that opposed His people would suffer destruction and never rise again. But the cities and land of His people, though terribly destroyed throughout history, would be rebuilt (in the Millennium) when the Lord returns to establish his reign.
Verse 5: tells how foreigners will serve them in the ordinary work; Flocks and crops would again flourish in the Promised Land, and the Israelites would be so blessed that their former Gentile oppressors would serve even Israelite farmers.
We have been made a kingdom of priests 6-9
Verse 6: focuses on their spiritual service. They will be called “priests of God” and named “ministers of God.” 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 God will yet save Israel 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 8: Israel could count on these promises because of who the Lord is: a lover of justice (faithful to His promises to Israel) and a hater of robbery (Israel’s enemies taking what did not belong to them). God would give Israel her inheritance and would make a new, everlasting covenant with her.
Verse 9: The physical seed of Abraham would continue to exist and to be identifiable as Israel, as God promised the patriarch and his descendants. Furthermore, Israel would be a witness to the rest of the earth’s population. So all the earth would be able to worship and praise the Lord—priesthood!
We have every reason to praise 10-11
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 outcome. He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, and arrayed me with the robe of righteousness. God has given believers righteousness and salvation. The Lord will have clothed her in garments of salvation and wrapped her in a robe of righteousness, like a bride for her wedding day.
Verse 11: 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.
NB: So God has reconciled us to himself making is fit to represent ourselves before Him. One day we will do so forever. God has made us fit for this and we praise him even now and forever for what he has done.
1. When it comes to service in God’s Kingdom, it requires Gods powerful work to change anyone’s heart and life. We can only choose to participate in prayer, faith, and proclamation.
2. Since He is doing these things thru us an 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.
3. 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. So 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.
1. Just get involved in what God is doing and don’t worry about the outcome.
2. Stay hopeful, joyful, and righteous every single day of your life.
3. Keep your head with the knowledge that God’s plan includes everything going on til it ends in newness.