Isaiah 61 is a rather dense chapter, but it’s overflowing with jubilant imagery. This piece of prophecy offers a new picture of joy and celebration on the backdrop of pain and suffering. Centuries after they were written, these same words were spoken by Jesus as he launched his ministry on earth. Jesus claimed to be the prophet of whom Isaiah spoke, a prophet who would bring “good news of great joy.”
2. READ ISAIAH 61:1-11
As you read through this passage, picture the faces of prisoners in exile being set free. Imagine ruined cities being rebuilt. Envision the rejoicing as men, women, and children as they celebrate their new life robed in brand new clothing.
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,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
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 splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
And you will be called priests of the Lord,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours.
“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.
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.”
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.
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.
Advent is a season of anticipated joy. During Advent, we look forward to the joy of celebrations. We look forward to being with friends and family. We look forward the festive foods and beverages. We anticipate joy to come. As you prepare for Christmas, think through what you would like to celebrate.
By Yvonne Biel