SIXTY ONE : EIGHT
DEEPLY DISCOVERING THE DECLARATION OF ISAIAH 61
There isn’t a way I could ever decide on my most favorite verse in the Bible, but there are without a doubt some that rock me more significantly than others. Isaiah 61 is my daily declaration, the passage I feel most like my intimate Father crafted just for me. Recently He whispered in my ear as I read it to myself that He wanted me to break the passage down into bite-sized pieces and share it in this easier-to-chew form with the rest of the world. I immediately said “no thanks” (politely, I should add). I am not a Bible scholar and am therefore underqualified for any assignment to further explain this profound book. Then He led me straight to 1 John 2:27: “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.” Now, I don’t believe this means that we don’t need Bible scholars and educated pastors to help guide us and make us understand, because we do. I believe this verse is in this book to clarify to us that after we accept Jesus Christ and rely solely on His Spirit, should He call us to a task, we needn’t fear whether or not we know all there is to know because He knows all there is to know and will share it with us. As a matter of fact, I could do an entire separate series discussing all the underqualified believers that He uses. It’s kind of His style.
So here we are. This eleven(ish) week study will break down the verses of the bold and brilliant declaration that is Isaiah 61. I am praying for clarity, understanding, and inexplicable Holy Spirit guidance so that together, we can uncover the truth about who we are called to be once we receive the Holy Spirit.
FOR I, THE LORD, LOVE JUSTICE; I HATE ROBBERY AND INIQUITY.
Let us begin with a shocking revelation: God hates stuff. Whoa.
It is easy for us to decide that something is wrong before fully examining it. The Bible actually declares all over the place that God is capable of emotions that we have deemed inherently wrong, like jealousy, anger and, yes, hatred. But that same God that experiences those emotions is completely incapable of sin. And, on top of that, God created every feeling we experience and these are real emotions that we feel all the time! But there is one activity that Satan introduced all on his own: lying. In fact, he is the father of lies. And one of his great lies was perverting the righteous emotions of the kingdom of heaven.
It is fitting that just after we learn of our extravagant inheritance, God lets us know that He hates robbery. Because robbing someone of their heavenly inheritance is robbing from God. Part of our Kingdom inheritance are the spiritual gifts bestowed upon us. These gifts can be stolen in so many ways, but the best way I can imagine it is this: There is a small flame in each of us that is the Holy Spirit burning. As we come to know God better, our flame grows and grows into a wildfire, our spiritual gifts developing into massive declarations of heaven. When we steal the flame from a believer, we rob them of their inheritance and their kingdom purpose. When we allow people to believe that they are incapable, undeserving, or invaluable to God, we rob from the Father the child whose heart burned for Him and we rob from the world the light and heat of the kingdom of heaven.
And while God hates robbery and He hates iniquity, we must be careful to observe that He does not hate robbers or those who harbor iniquity. This is where we sin. We sin when we allow our hatred to be directed at things God loves, most specifically His children. And boy oh boy does He love His children, including the ones who don’t love Him in return.
And as much as God hate evil, God loves justice. Not perverted justice or selfish justice or justice as we believe it, but perfect justice. And the beauty of this heavenly justice is that it does not only go one way. When it is true and perfect, justice is less about punishing wrongdoers and more about compensating those who have been wronged. We receive back what had been taken from us through the injustice. We are brought back to right standing. We are healed. That is the justice of heaven; not that evil would burn, but that good would be allowed to shine again.
IN MY FAITHFULNESS I WILL REWARD THEM AND MAKE AN EVERLASTING COVENANT WITH THEM.
The tie between God’s faithfulness and His covenant with us, His people, is immeasurably important. His faithfulness is unwavering and perfect and in it, He covenants with us. A covenant is a promise agreed upon by both parties—a contract, if you will—where both commit to certain standards. God commits to being faithful. To rewarding us. To crown us and protect us and love us and save us and the list goes on and on. And we promise to obey. That’s it. We obey. We wake up every single day and we say yes to God and the inheritance He has given us. He does the rest. And in return for our faithfulness to this covenant, we receive His faithfulness. His goodness. His love. This is what it is to covenant with God: we say yes, He does the rest. It isn’t fair—as a matter of fact, it is wildly disproportionate—but that is who God is. He is a Father who delights in pouring out lavish rewards on His kids in return for their obedience, their response to His love and His gifting.
This week, may you have the courage and diligence to obey the call of Christ and choose into your covenant relationship with Him daily. As you choose Him, may you be hyper-aware of the justice He pours out over your life.
In all things, seek out His presence.