SIXTY ONE : ONE
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.
THE SPIRIT OF THE SOVEREIGN LORD IS ON ME,
Let’s pause here for a moment. Did you read that sentence? Really read it? “The Spirit of the SOVEREIGN LORD is on me.” God’s indwelling Spirit left heaven to come and settle on YOU and the entirety of your existence and identity. God is in you in the form of the Holy Spirit! This is a call to action in itself! If not you, then who? The Spirit is in you and on you and you are therefore capable of the same holy call as any other believer in history, even with an advantage to the prophets of the Old Testament who had not yet received the Holy Spirit that fell after Jesus ascended into heaven! You personally contain inside of you the Spirit of the God of the Universe. This message applies to you.
BECAUSE THE LORD HAS ANOINTED ME TO PREACH GOOD NEWS TO THE POOR,
Anointing means to be rubbed with oil as an act of commission. But God got ahold of it, and now it’s bigger than that. Oil or no oil, when you are anointed by God, you are being covered in His Spirit—which I would prefer to oil any day—and thus receive your divine commission to further the Kingdom.
Jesus was anointed in Matthew 3:16-17. John the Baptist baptizes Him with water (sometimes God calls in substitutes for oil because He is God and He gets to do that) and the heavens open to the voice of God declaring “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” A dove descends on Jesus, and His ministry begins. The apostles were also anointed with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:1-4. This is the moment that their ministry shifts from meekly following Jesus to boldly championing His name because anointing does something in you. It changes you and covers you and completely transforms you from the inside out.
When we are first anointed with the Holy Spirit, it is no different. There is a moment, a mystery, a covering, and thus, a new ministry that never existed before you. Upon being anointed with the Spirit, we can begin doing God’s work—like preaching good news to the poor. We know the good news—that Jesus Christ lived in perfection, died in our place, battled death and Satan, and rose victorious from the grave—but who are the poor? We mustn’t oversimplify this concept to those who are struggling economically, but we also mustn’t disqualify them. I would argue to say that citizens of third world countries may be far richer in fruits of the spirit than we are here, though they still benefit from our generosity to live out healthy and full lives. God calls us to preach His good news to the poor in finances, in spirit, in love, in grace, and in knowledge. Poor means to have less and we are to give those with less the more that we obtain through Christ.
HE HAS SENT ME TO BIND UP THE BROKENHEARTED,
Not only comfort. These hearts we are talking about are broken and the heart is where God’s work begins; they must be made whole. God didn’t say that He sent us to pat on the back the broken hearted, but to get out our needle and thread and bind up their very hearts. How do we do this? The good news! John 14:14 says, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” HE will do it! If we come to Him and ask in His name for healing—even healing that seems impossible—HE WILL DO IT. Lucky you, that takes all the pressure off.
It is important to recognize the significance that this is the second commission after preaching the good news. God says tell them about me, and then heal their deep wounds before you move forward. People who are broken cannot fully step into the freedom and the light of the kingdom of heaven. We can’t neglect the pain of the people and cut straight to the wholeness of heaven because God wants to heal His children. It is time we value the healing of our brothers and sisters as an irreplaceable aspect of God’s plan. He doesn’t capture us in conquest, he covers us in compassion and cures us in community.
TO PROCLAIM FREEDOM FOR THE CAPTIVES,
What are some things that take people captive? There’s guilt, shame, jealousy, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, lies, and the list goes on. But it all boils down to one thing: the enemy. The enemy takes people captive. But in Jesus, there is freedom. The first thing we must truly believe, though, is that we are indeed free. Freedom is laced into the lavish identity of God's people, but how can we know this for certain? In John 18:37, Jesus declares that He is indeed King. He is the good and loving eternal king that all of history since the fall has been eagerly anticipating! We learn in Romans 8:2 that Jesus’ new Law of the Spirit sets us FREE from the laws of sin and death. This means that we are no longer slaves sentenced to ruminating in our failures and shortcomings! Way back in Daniel 6:15, we learn that a king’s law and proclamation cannot be changed, altered, or removed. How is this all connected? We know that Jesus is king, and we know that under his new law we are free from the captivity of sin and we also know that a king cannot change his proclamation once it is made. This means that God gave His children a new and perfect freedom that no one and nothing can change or retract. We are free for eternity! We must proclaim this freedom with conviction and desperation to those in captivity, for it is an everlasting and perfect freedom that cuts the chains holding us to old patterns and habits. It renews our deepest longings and restores our greatest desires and fulfills them with good and pure things (Psalm 103:5).
But proclamation takes courage. To proclaim is to boldly and loudly declare, and this must be the confidence with which we share this freedom with others. When we are set free, this includes liberation from the grips of fear. It is from this place of divine courage that we can make such a proclamation without inhibition.
RELEASE FROM DARKNESS FOR THE PRISONERS
Our sin is the prison that we reside in. The tragedy is that when Jesus died and rose again, He unlocked every cell door of everyone who calls on Him and there are still people living behind bars. Have you established residence in a dark and cold prison cell that is unlocked? If it is sin that takes us captive, then the cell is the acceptance of sin as an inescapable way of life. Jesus frees us from this pattern! The cells are all unlocked! We as followers of Jesus have the opportunity—nay, the responsibility to run down the halls of the prisons people are living in and throw open the cell doors, leading out the unknowingly free children of God into the brightest light of the glory of a God who does not abandon us or treat us as our sins deserve (Psalm 103:10).
In the name of the Most High and Intimate God and through His Holy Spirit anointing, I release you this week to fearlessly preach His good news, lovingly bind up the hearts of His people, confidently proclaim freedom for those in captivity, and joyfully throw open the cell bars for the royal children God wants to set free. As the Holy Spirit settles deeper and deeper into you, may you feel His presence heavily in every arena of your life.
As God is with you, may you be also with Him.