ISAIAH CHAPTER 61.
The Lordís Year of Jubilee.
The chapter opens with a powerful description of the office of the Servant of Jehovah, of the Messiah Himself. V. 1. The Spirit of the Lord God, of the all-powerful Ruler, the covenant God, whose name is Jehovah, is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings, a joyful message, the Gospel proclamation, unto the meek, to those subject to spiritual misery; He hath sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted; to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; v. 2. to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, literally, ďa year of good pleasure to Jehovah,Ē and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; v.3. to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty, an ornamental headdress, the groomís turban, for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, of distress and discouragement; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified, the fact that the believers have become partakers of His mercy redounding to His praise. It is the Messiah Himself who is speaking here, for so He interprets the passage in His great sermon at Nazareth, Luke 4, 18-21. It is repeatedly stated in Scripture that the Messiah has the Spirit of Jehovah, that He has been anointed with the Holy Ghost without measure. The anointing on the part of Jehovah, however, concerns not merely an acknowledgment and acceptance of Christís person, but includes the laying of a charge upon Him, giving Him an office to perform. It is Christís prophetic office which here stands out so plainly, His work of bringing the Gospel to poor sinners. That is the essence of His work, to announce the joyful message, the glorious news of salvation, to all men. God has commissioned Him to bind up the broken in heart, the poor, lost, repentant sinners, to proclaim liberation to those who have been taken captive by sin and Satan, to tell those who are bound that they are to be free, that their prison-doors have been opened, to announce that a year, an endless period, of good pleasure and favor of Jehovah has come, a day in which He will avenge His own wrongs and those of His people upon His enemies. For the purpose of His work is to bring comfort and joy to the mourners, to replace the ashes on their head with the turban and tiara of joy, like that worn by a happy bridegroom, to put on the oil of gladness and adornment after the period of deep mourning, when they were in the power of Satan. Where formerly the spirit of distress and uneasiness ruled, the garment of praise to Jehovah shall be donned. All this will result in making the believers trees of righteousness, characterized by the fruits of righteousness in them which are the result of faith. For all this is not their own doing, a matter of self-righteous glorification, but they are the planting of Jehovah, who lives in them, and it is through His favor and mercy that they will be glorified before Him. Such is the office of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Lord. V. 4. And they shall build the old wastes, so that Zion will rise out of its ruins, they shall raise up the former desolations, the places of the Holy Land which lay waste from the time before the Exile, and they shall repair the waste cities, building them up new, the desolations of many generations, the parts of the country which have been a wilderness from ancient times. In this way the true Israelites, the believers, are regarded as the restorers of their Zion. But they are joined by others, as the text shows. V.5. And strangers, members of the Gentile nations who have been converted to the true God, shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vine-dressers, voluntarily providing for the needs of the Church by the work and the time which they devote to the support of the ministry of the Word in its various forms. V. 6. But ye, all the members of the Church of God, shall be named the priests of the Lord, every one of whom has direct access to the Lord, without special intercession; men shall call you the ministers of our God, all of them being active in His service, deeming it an honor to fulfill His will; ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, being supported also by the material help which the former heathen willingly offered, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves, so that honor and distinction would come to the Church because of the conversion and service of these Gentiles. V. 7. For your shame ye shall have double, the disgrace not only being balanced by the honor given them, but the glory being twice as great as the former shame, and for confusion, instead of the infamy which had been heaped upon Israel, the Lordís Zion, they shall rejoice in their portion, the believers once more enjoying the inheritance which is theirs in agreement with the Lordís promises. Therefore in their land they shall possess the double, the twofold mercy of Jehovah, a much greater amount of His mercy than has been revealed heretofore; everlasting joy shall be unto them, this marking the condition of the believersí heart as a consequence of the Lordís blessing. V. 8. For I, the Lord, love judgment, I hate robbery for burnt offering, because Jehovah is a God who loves equity and hates robbery and unrighteousness in every form, and, or ďtherefore,Ē I will direct their work in truth, secure the fruit of their labor, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. The Lordís people, having been replaced into their inheritance, shall never again become a prey of unrighteousness, but Jehovah will place it beyond the oppression of all enemies. V. 9. And their seed, the spiritual children of Israel, the Church of the Lord, shall be known among the Gentiles, regarded with respect, and their offspring among the people, those of the world in general; all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed, the Church receiving this recognition even from the outsiders and from outspoken enemies. And so Israel, the congregation of the redeemed saints, breaks forth into a song of praise to Jehovah, the covenant God. V. 10. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, the Inspiration and Source of all true spiritual joy; my soul shall be joyful in my God, on account of the deliverance which the believers have experienced; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, with the righteousness of the Messiah imputed by faith; He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, so that the believerís sinfulness is no longer visible before the eyes of the holy God, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, winding his turban after the manner of priests, to give expression to his joy, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. Thus the Church, and every member of the Church, is adorned with the beauty of the righteousness of the Lord. V.11. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, causing the seed to sprout and come up, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth, in accordance with the laws of nature fixed by God, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations, so that all men must acknowledge these virtues as existing in the midst of the Church. The God who causes the laws of nature to control the round of the seasons also makes the word of His mercy to come true, so that His salvation is fulfilled.