The Living Word Bible study for Sunday, December 17, 2017 (wk50)
Mon, Dec 11: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Tue, Dec 12: Psalm 126, Luke 1:46-55
Wed, Dec 13: John 1: 6-8, 19-28
Thur, Dec 14: 1 Thess 5:16-24
Fri, Dec 15: The emerging message
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
Anointed by the Spirit of praise and joy to rebuild, restore and renew.
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
- The anointing of the Spirit is an anointing as both kingly authority – proclamations are what kings do – and as a divine servant, with concern for prisoners and the poor and practical involvement with those who are destitute. This brings together Isaiah’s earlier prophecies of a king to arise, and also the suffering servant of the Lord. Isaiah spells out Jesus Christ in all but name.
2-3 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour…
- This is a well-known passage. Why? Because Jesus applied it to Himself. Following His encounter with the Holy Spirit in baptism and testing in the wilderness, and soon after the start of His public ministry, Jesus attended the regular synagogue worship in Nazareth, in the synagogue He had known from childhood. Synagogue worship was relatively free, with ministry shared. He stood up to read Scripture and was handed the Isaiah scroll. He read the beginning of Isaiah 61 (above) and then said, to the amazement of His hearers, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” Luke 4:16-21.
- Jesus, in His reading of this, ended as above “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”. He saw His call as divided into two visitations, the first to bring salvation and freedom and favour with God, which we now understand as His human sinless life and giving up that life on the Cross. The second includes the judgment and realised kingdom of God, which fits with the Second Coming.
…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 splendour.
- “The oil… and a garment…” is a picture of something applied and put on, an impartation. The language of anointing and oil is often used symbolically of the Holy Spirit. So this is describing an impartation which brings dramatic change to those receiving it from mourning and despair, to joy and praise. Without Jesus this life is a slow dying with a grim outcome. Receiving new life and eternal life in a new spiritual birth is coming alive in Christ with a release into the Holy Spirit’s expression of joy and praise.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
- The immediate meaning of this for the original hearers is about coming out of exile and rebuilding the ruins, as documented by Ezra and Nehemiah. Isaiah saw this restoration, but also a restoration of God that affects every age. For us, the impartation of the Holy Spirit and the life of the Spirit is about being empowered as God’s agents of restoration and transformation. Those who demonstrate the Life of the Spirit are those who will, simply through their lives, bring renewal of church and also society, ministering in Word and Spirit and in engagement with the world that doesn’t necessarily own Christian beliefs or values.
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8 “For I, the Lord, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward My people and make an everlasting covenant with them.
- The community of the people of God are covenanted (for us, under the New Covenant in Jesus) to imitate and display the character of God, who stands for justice and is set against wrongdoing, Micah 6:8; Isaiah 35:15.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed.”
- The people of God are those who represent and uphold God’s values.
10 I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
- Clothed with salvation, arrayed in a robe of righteousness is a description of how righteousness with God is put on us as part of the faith relationship; we have to come to the point of realising that we cannot earn or achieve any of that righteousness. The theological term is “imputed”, meaning it is assigned or attributed to us through our new standing in Christ Jesus. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”, 2 Cor. 5:21. Both of these verses are major statements of how God sees us in this spiritual transformation. This is the heart of the New Covenant for those who give their lives to Jesus. In Christ Jesus, as people of new creation with a new nature, we become — and are the demonstration of — what God’s righteousness looks like.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.
- A supernaturally natural process whereby the kingdom of God would start to be apparent, not just to the Jewish nation but to nations beyond, Isaiah 49:6 . From the start of Jesus’ ministry his message emphasised the kingdom of God, e.g. Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” He said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Isaiah foresees a Holy Spirit anointed ministry, the characteristic of which is freeing and transforming of people, vv. 1-2, communities, v.4 and values, vv.8-9. This is a broad-brushstroke picture of what the ministry of Jesus the Messiah would look like.
The same Holy Spirit is the enabler of the purposes of God in bringing to bear His kingdom order in all the dimensions of spiritual salvation, physical and emotional healing and deliverance from oppression, as demonstrated by Jesus.
The same Holy Spirit empowers the same purposes of God in us, giving us a growing revelation of how we are to continue Jesus’ ministry, and building our confidence in it.
The same Holy Spirit transforms how we see ourselves. The revelation of how God sees us “clothed” in Christ Jesus transforms our confidence from tentative prayer requests to declaring in faith and spiritual authority what we know God has already said.
1. If Jesus took this passage (the first two sentences at least) and applied it to Himself, how might it apply to us?
2. How does the Sovereign Lord “make righteousness and praise spring up” before others, today?
Also published on Medium.