SIXTY ONE : TWO
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, because the Lord has anointed me…” (Isaiah 61:1)
TO PROCLAIM THE YEAR OF THE LORD’S FAVOR
In Luke 4:19, Jesus reads from a scroll containing this particular verse before stating that “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” This clears up the mystery of what specifically is being spoken about in this verse. The year of the Lord’s favor refers to the coming of Jesus to save God’s people from the grip of death. We are told to proclaim this great news, the news of the Lord’s favor on us through His son!
AND THE DAY OF THE VENGEANCE OF OUR GOD,
Being that Jesus stops reading the scroll before this phrase, we can assume two things: one is that this particular scripture had not yet been fulfilled and, if that is the case, the second thing that we can assume is that the day it is referencing is the day when Jesus returns. On that day, God will sort through all humankind, determining who chose Him and His son and will live eternally in heaven and who chose death and destruction in hell.
That is a dark message, and not an easy one to deliver. As a matter of fact, for me, it is simply easier to skirt around while focusing on the joy and love contained in the Bible. I hear testimonies from people who were hurt by followers of God who chose only to proclaim the day of vengeance and those who receive only this second half of the gospel message are thus damaged by an unrighteous and destructive fear of God. The Day of Vengeance without the Year of Favor is quite a dismal and hopeless message. But joining those two phrases is an important conjunction: and. We must proclaim His favor and His vengeance. The two are written into one sentence! Neither is to be preached independent of the other lest we leave out a vital kingdom truth! There is salvation for those who believe through Jesus Christ and there is damnation for those who do not. We are to honestly and lovingly share the proclamation of both.
I write this truth in terror. I am not a person with a “fire and brimstone” perspective. I fear driving people away from God—as I have witnessed far too many heart-breaking times—by telling them of the wrath of God. But this is the fear of man getting in the way of the fear of God. There must be balance in how we proclaim these truths, but the reason we scare people away with them is because we attempt to make the proclamation ourselves rather than letting God do it through us. He knows the way into every person’s heart; it’s us who screw it up. When we feel incapable of proclaiming this message, we must lean into the promise of our identity stated in the previous verse: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me because the Lord has anointed me”. Through the anointing of the Spirit in us, we become capable of any God-sized obedience He commands of us—including the seemingly impossible.
TO COMFORT ALL WHO MOURN,
While this seems to be a massive shift in commands, I assure you that it is not. The commission to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of His vengeance is wedged between the command to gently, boldly, softly, and courageously love people. We are to speak out the bold truth of the Bible, but before we do and immediately after, we are to reveal the truth through action. We are to share Jesus first through our loving action—binding the broken hearted, freeing the captives, releasing the prisoners. Only then are we to share Jesus through words by proclaiming the Biblical truths revealed to us. After this, we are to do the hard thing of remaining with those we have shared with. Not just love, truth, abandonment, but love, truth, and more crazy love.
And maybe comforting those who mourn is placed intentionally after we share with them these hard kingdom truths because mourning is a byproduct of meeting Jesus for the first time. We mourn for our old life, our life before God. We mourn for our sins and we mourn for those who don’t yet know Christ. We mourn for the gone days where Jesus wasn’t included. And our job as believers is to bestow comfort. To share joy. To encourage new believers that in Christ, they are “a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The commission of Isaiah 61:2 is to share of the salvation we receive through the Year of the Lord’s Favor, the joy that all believers receive on the Day of Vengeance as they are welcomed into heaven, and the love that we must display through our actions in order to make new disciples. Our Jesus revealed the truth through action. We are to do the same.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I bless you this week to share the truths displayed for us in Isaiah 61:2. I pray that the anointing of the Spirit cloaks you in the courage to boldly and biblically share the joy of knowing Jesus Christ and the pain of denying Him, always following these truths with deep and holy love.
May God remain in you, as you also remain in Him.