God’s Favor – Isaiah 61:1-3

God Displays His Favor Upon His Son

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,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 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.

Faithfully Fulfilled

God has faithfully fulfilled many of His promises to us already in scripture.  Jesus Christ fulfilled the first part of this scripture.  He has indeed fulfilled it:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

Jesus proclaimed that He was there to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, not to abolish them.  Jesus faithfully fulfilled all that was prophesied about Him, down to the minutest detail.  He perfectly fulfilled all scripture about Himself so that the Father could be glorified and so that God would not be mocked, for He is not a liar like men.

Bind the Brokenhearted

Jesus promises to bind the brokenhearted.  And oh, how many woes await us each day!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

It is a good thing that Jesus has overcome the world!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

God restores what was broken and lost.  Even though there are consequences for our actions, God is able to restore and bring order and peace into chaos and unrest.

Proclaim Parole

God has freed the prisoners!  We were held in a prison of darkness, because we could not see the light.  Jesus is the light of the world.  Now that we have seen the light, we can join Him in displaying the light.  Lies and deceit keep us from seeing the truth.  Jesus IS the truth:

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus doesn’t just model truth; He IS truth.  “The Truth” is a title, not just a reflection of reality.  Jesus is the only accurate model of unvarnished truth that we have.  God has been gracious to proclaim freedom from darkness by sending The Truth into the world.  Now that The Truth has come, we are without excuse.

Value and Vengeance

God has pronounced His favor upon us.  By sending His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for our sins as He was tortured and crucified, He has given us great mercy and grace – great favor.  He has done so much more than we can imagine!  We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing!  We are more than conquerors in Christ!  No weapon formed against us will prosper, and we will refute every tongue that accuses us, since this is our heritage and vindication from God!  Regardless of our circumstances, we have been greatly blessed!

But there is a flip-side to this.  For those who refuse to accept the Lord’s favor – His mercy and grace, there will be a terrible day of vengeance.  God, after doing everything that He could possibly do to win His image-bearers back over to Himself after His enemies try to drag them away, will eventually need to show the next portion of His character – JUSTICE.  God is a perfectly just God, and He will rule and reign in righteousness.  God cannot abide evil (rebellion against Himself), and He will, after exhausting every effort, bring forth the penalty for disobedience to a perfect and holy God – first, physical death, and finally, eternal separation from Him – complete spiritual death.

Comfort and Console

God greatly desires to comfort and console those who are grieving over their sin.  He will give us oil of joy instead of mourning and a crown of beauty instead of ashes (used by the culture at that time to show great anguish in grief, mourning, and sorrow).  God has provided us, though the sacrifice of the perfect lamb of God, the promised Holy Spirit as our down-deposit for our inheritance.  We have Him to console us, to comfort us, and to guide us.

Towering Trees

God sees us through the robes of righteousness of Christ that have been imputed to us (legally declared to be ours).  As such, He sees us as Oaks of Righteousness.  He sees the righteousness of Christ rather than our filthy rags.  Just like a bank account, we may not see the money, but it is there, registered in our name.  Given the vast wealth of righteousness that is afforded to us through Christ, should we not then incorporate more and more of it into how we live?  Should we not display this immeasurable (spiritual) wealth just as we show off our homes, cars, jewelry, and other items that we seem to hold dear and treasure?

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Do I take the time to try to grasp just how truly rich I am in Christ?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your generosity is beyond my comprehension.  You have given us uncountable wealth in Your Son, Jesus Christ, through His sacrifice for us.  Help me to better grasp just how far and wide Your love is for me.  Help me to internalize it, and to rejoice in it, as the cares of this world continually claw at me to drag me down to its depths.  Give me a right understanding of Your word, that I may embrace it more and more each day.  Help me to display to the world Your righteousness, for You have declared me to be an Oak of Righteousness.  Thank You for this and for all things, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes:

*The word used elsewhere in the scripture for the Gospel means “Good News”.

**During the year of Jubilee, the captives were set free, and land was supposed to be returned to its rightful owners.  Jesus may very well have been declaring that particular year a year Jubilee as God was freeing the captives.

Hope in God -2 Kings 4:11-17

Even When It Seems Most Bleak, God Can Find A Way

11 One day when Elisha came, he went up to his room and lay down there. 12 He said to his servant Gehazi, “Call the Shunammite.” So he called her, and she stood before him. 13 Elisha said to him, “Tell her, ‘You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?'”

She replied, “I have a home among my own people.”

14 “What can be done for her?” Elisha asked.

Gehazi said, “She has no son, and her husband is old.”

15 Then Elisha said, “Call her.” So he called her, and she stood in the doorway. 16 “About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.”

“No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!”

17 But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.

A Hospitable Host

The Shunammite woman was a hospitable host.  Every time Elijah the prophet and Gehazi  his servant stopped by, she encouraged them to eat at her house.  Hospitality was encouraged at that time, and she had the gift.  Eventually, she convinced her husband to build a room on her roof so that when Elijah and Gehazi stopped by, they would have a place to stay.  Elijah, after a period of time, summoned the Shunammite woman before him and asked her if there was something that could be done for her.  She was very humble, and indicated that she had a home among her people.  Although scripture doesn’t directly say so, it would appear that she was then dismissed.

A Particular Problem

Then Elisha probed further, and asked his servant Gehazi what could be done for her.  Gehazi indicated that she had no son.  Elijah would have known this, being a prophet of God.  With her husband being old, and with no son (a male heir to inherit the property of her husband), she would not have had any protection as a widow once her husband died.  This is a very serious issue for her in the culture during her life.

The Prophet Pronounces

Elijah then summoned the Shunammite woman back, and pronounced that she would, by this time next year, have a son in her arms.  Elijah’s walk with God was so close, that he was able to make this pronouncement, and be assured that it would come to pass.  What appears to be impossible to us is very possible to God.  He is able to do anything He desires to bring about His plans and bring glory to his name.

Distraught in Disbelief

One of the most difficult things to behold is a person, who has gone for so long without something that they desperately need, has given up hope on ever having that need fulfilled.  Whether it is healing from a sickness that has plagued us for decades, finding a spouse, being barren, or any other number of difficult circumstances, it is still hard to watch when the person who has given up hope is given that hope again.  They will often enter into denial.  They fear that if they allow this hope into their hearts, and for some reason it fails, it may finally break their spirit.  They have prepared themselves for their current circumstances, and are unwilling to change, because they are certain in their hearts that God has sovereignly appointed them to suffer with this continual need without the possibility of fulfillment.

The Shunammite woman was no exception.  When told she would have a son, she became distraught and reproved Elijah, a prophet of God, urging him passionately that it is wrong for him to mislead (LIE to) her about this.  She had already prepared herself for the coming trials of being an abandoned widow once her husband died.  She was also concerned for Elijah, for she certainly did not want to see him defile himself with what she believed to be something that was impossible in her own mind to occur – the opportunity to have a son and heir.

The Father is Faithful

But God is faithful.  And at the appointed time, just as Elijah predicted, the Shunammite woman gave birth to a son an heir.  For it is God who opens wombs and closes wombs.  No matter how difficult, God is able to make His will done.  The sun has stopped in its tracks; storms have arisen on the seasearthquakes have opened jails – Nothing is impossible with God.  And God, being perfect and complete in His nature, will ensure that everything He has purposed will come to pass.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I willing to have hope again after terrible loss or disappointment?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for the hope that You have given me through the blood of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Help me, Father, to have my heart prepared for anything that You may be willing to do in my life.  Help me to be open to hope again where it has been dashed on the jagged rocks of life repeatedly and with great pain, loss, and sorrow.  Give me strength to trust again, and to allow myself to believe that You may want to bless me in that great pit of anger, despair, and pain.  Guard my heart against bitterness for shattered dreams and expectations, and place within me the seeds of hope and trust that You desire to heal these areas of my life.  Please, Lord God, do not ask me to have hope where You have no interest or desire to fulfill some desire that I may have.  Desire that is put off for too long grows into disappointment.  But when You tell me directly that You will do something, regardless of my past circumstances, give me to the courage to believe Your word and to endure all that is necessary to bring it about, for You cannot lie.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?