“to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.”
Isaiah 61: 2-3
I will continue in this post an application of Isaiah 61, one of my favorite passages from Scripture. I think it is beautiful language as we continue down the text of this passage in Isaiah, even though Jesus only quoted the very first part of it when he was present at the synagogue in Nazareth.
As believers in the covenant, God anoints us to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and His vengeance. In one message, in one statement we have the authority to speak the message that frees and transforms the hearts of men and women, while at the same time, a message that wrecks all that stand against it. In one message God is just and graceful. With one sweep of His arm, he is wrathful and loving.
But God wants us to focus on His grace, while understanding His vengeance and justice. The passage continues focusing on the removal or taking away of something which brings despair for something that brings comfort and pleasure–for such is the favor of God that it brings joy and pleasure (true lasting pleasure) into the hearts of men and women. But above all, the pleasure and grace of God isn’t temporary and limited, like the pleasures and good things of the present world.
Isaiah states that “they will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor” (61: 3b). In this sense, God expresses a desire for true life transformation in the lives of humans. There is a planting, a harvest in the making, in the plans of God. He is preparing the lands and the ground. He is transforming, through us, the world for His present and future glory.
I believe that the binding up of the brokenhearted, the liberty for the captives, and the liberating of those who are bound is not just a limited and temporary state that God wants for us, but a true transformation of our hearts, minds, and actions that we may be beacons, towers, cities set upon hills, and oaks of righteousness that we may display the splendor of the Lord God. Are you a worker in the planting of the fields? Are you seeking future oaks? I can’t say that I have always been consistent in my declaration of the Gospel, but I encourage you to pursue His wisdom, delight in His Spirit, and pursue the transformation of our lives and those of others.