And so today we dig a bit deeper into verses four through seven of Isaiah 61…Good stuff here, friends. How is Lectio working out for you? This slow process is truly one that will reveal what God wants to tell you if you silence yourself and do it. I was resistant for a long time but when I finally decided to try it out, I was speechless. That’s a big thing for me.
You can read three versions we studied this week here, but for the sake of brevity (and everyone says “Amen, Word Girl!), let’s go with the NLT version:
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has appointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to announce that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
2 He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
3 To all who mourn in Israel, he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins, repairing cities long ago destroyed. They will revive them, though they have been empty for many generations.
5 Foreigners will be your servants. They will feed your flocks and plow your fields and tend your vineyards.
6 You will be called priests of the LORD, ministers of our God. You will be fed with the treasures of the nations and will boast in their riches.
7 Instead of shame and dishonor, you will inherit a double portion of prosperity and everlasting joy.
Verses one through three focus on what His son, who had yet to come at the writing of this chapter, would do to prepare us to be able to be called the “priests” He mentions in verse six.
Strong and graceful oaks do not become strong and graceful by just sitting in the soil.
They become strong and graceful by the testing of the strength of their roots. Without strong roots, they cannot be graceful because if they aren’t anchored firmly into the ground, then there’s no graceful – just a falling down.
To deepen our roots, we have to accept that Jesus will comfort the brokenhearted, release captives, free prisoners, give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, and praise instead of despair.
When I first read this years ago, I thought “How nice for those who are in prison.” Seriously.
But the “higher up and deeper in” I got, I realized that the captive, the prisoner, and the brokenhearted was none other than myself.
Jesus came to do all of that for me. And you.
Doesn’t that just take your breath away?
He binds up our broken hearts, releases captives, frees prisoners, gives beauty for ashes, replaces mourning with joy, and despair with praise.
He revives us. Brings us back to life.
But He doesn’t expect us to just go on with our lives after saying a quick “thank you very much.”
We see this in verses four through seven because THEN He reveals what He desires the redeemed to actually DO.
Revive the cities that have been dead for many generations. Minister to others through our testimonies but giving the glory to God.
In the Old Testament days, God-ordained priests were liasons between God and His people. They shared God’s word with others and brought concerns and sins to God from the people.
Jesus changed all of that.
Verse six confirms that all believers are priests of the Lord that can 1) Read God’s word and seek to understand, 2) Confess their sin directly to God, and 3) Minister to others ALL BY THEMSELVES.
And so through our brokenness that earned us freedom, joy, praise, and a crown of beauty, we can rebuild.
Ourselves and others.
Through only Him.
Other verses on rebuilding:
For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19 (NLT)
And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests.[a] Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. – 1 Peter 2:5 (NLT)
He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. – Titus 3:5 (NLT)
The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes. – Isaiah 58:11-12 (NLT)
Would you add any other verses? What do you think about what you have read this week? Please share in the comment section so others can learn through you as well!