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.

Restoration by God – Psalm 90:13-17

May God Remember and Restore His People In Their Afflictions

13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us-
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Compassion for Crushing

Moses was a man who spent so much time, and time spent so closely with God, came back from his meetings with God with his face glowing.  Moses, in this psalm, implores Almighty God to relent from His affliction upon the people.  They had been afflicted for so long, that a generation of people had lived and died in affliction, only seeing difficulty, and never seeing rest.

Moses cries out and asks that God would have compassion on His people, and relent from His anger.  How much do we do each day, whether in commission or omission, that angers God?  Our affliction is often brought upon us as a character building exercise.  We need to both remember that God is for us, and that we aren’t yet ready.  It is OK to ask God to relent and to show us compassion.  We are but a wisp of smoke, here now, fragile, and quickly dispersed.

Lavish Love

Moses asks that God satisfy us by lavishing His love upon us.  In the Western World, consumerism and competition vie for our efforts to earn more money to buy more things to supposedly satisfy and satiate our desires.  The only real satisfaction we receive is when we are reconciled to God, and we experience His peace through His Love.  It is only then that our restless hearts can be satisfied, and only with the love that He provides.

When we are satisfied by our relationship in God, we are much more able to experience joy in our hearts.  We know in our minds that everything that God says is true.  It is only after experiencing the truth of God’s love, and the truth of His word as it becomes real to us through experience, that we are truly able to tightly grasp our Savior, and cling to Him with joy and contentment.  It is only then that we can set aside the desires to accumulate wealth and power and importance and other things that the world offers.  For it is in the gentle, loving embrace of our Savior and Father and constant Companion that we are able to truly be satisfied.

Reciprocal Response

Moses goes on to ask God to grant us a time of gladness that is in exact proportion to the time that we have spent in affliction.  This may seem a little odd, as most people spend only a short time in affliction.  But ask anyone who has been afflicted with difficulty for more that a decade, and they will tell you how difficult and life-changing it would be to be rid of their affliction, and to receive a commensurate time of gladness following the trial.

Oh, what joy that would be!  To not only be rid of the constant pain that wounds and reminds us of its power in our lives, but that there can come a time of gladness.  For when a person deals with prolonged pain, suffering, and misery (especially misery), it can seem that the time of gladness will not come until the sweet separation of the spirit from the body in death.

Generational Good

Moses asks that God lavish His love and compassion not only onto this generation, but to each successive generation of people as well.  It is very important to parents that their children have every opportunity to thrive and survive, and generational, continual oppression through the wrath and anger of God and cause sane men and women to want to give up hope.  But if their children can continue to receive the bountiful blessing that they have received, even late in life, the pain, suffering, and misery was worth it.

Establish Efforts

One of the ways that Moses asks that God blesses His people is to establish the work of their hands.  Imagine that everything you did, no matter how spectacular or seemingly good, was immediately wasted or produced not real results.  What if everything that you did had no lasting meaning.  It is one of the most discouraging things that can happen to a man is to realize that all of their efforts came to nothing – that everything they did and worked for had no meaning.

While we should all find our meaning in Christ, men are wired to also find meaning in the successful labors of their hands and hearts.  When that comes to nothing, it can have a devastating effect upon people.  Moses therefore asks God to establish the work of God’s people’s hands, that they can look back upon their efforts and see that they did not waste their life and energy in vain.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  How do we cope with constant, unending, unyielding affliction?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, everything that You do is right, and You can do no evil.  Give me strength and courage as I remember Your character, for my affliction in great, and my suffering severe.  Have compassion upon me, Lord, and relent from Your anger towards me.  Though You use these trials to shape and mold my character, I ask that You remember me – act divinely upon my behalf – and restore me as You did Job once my trials have been completed.  Please do not leave me in my affliction without recourse, for I hope to believe that there is relief apart from death.  And once You have finished Your work  in these trials, I ask, Lord God, that You give me as many years of joy and gladness as you have sorrow and misery.  Remember me through all of this, Lord God.  Amen.

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

Blessing of God – Psalm 5:11-12

The Lord Is A Shield About The Righteous

11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
12 Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Royal Refuge

God desires us to seek refuge in Him.  We are to go to God for all of our wants and desires.  It is God who is able to provide us with refuge from all things.  We can seek refuge from God in three ways:

Singing Songs

David was one of the most prolific song writers that we know of in the Bible.  Many of the Psalms were written by him.  David provided us with an example of joyful singing before God in praise and worship.  The Lord enjoys it when we worship Him in song.

Even for those who have not been blessed by God with a voice to sing, we are given a command to make a joyful noise to the Lord.  The Hebrew word eriou is a command and is literally translated “[raise a] shout you!”  Let your heart give praise to God in a shout for all He has done!

Bathed in Blessing

God blesses the righteous, and with the blood of Christ we are declared righteous before Him.  Oh, the many blessings of God!  We are blessed in that we are blessed!  If you ever want to see a short list of some of the most important blessings of God, read Ephesians chapters 1-3.

Sovereign Shield

God is a shield about us and the lifter of our heads.  He desires to gather us like chicks under His wings.  He is our refugeGod is our shieldNo one can snatch us out of His hand.  God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.  Even when we are in the valley of the shadow of death, God is with us.  He shields us from the second death.

There is nothing that God cannot sovereignly shield his people.  Yet we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.  God may use you as a witness to the unbelieving.  If this is the case, do not fear the tribulation that God has appointed you to bear.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question: Am I praising God as I seek refuge in Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are glorious and beautiful beyond description.  You shield us from so much more than we can possibly imagine.  Thank You for your vast and encompassing protection.  Help me, Father, to not forget all that You do in my life.  May my life be a blessing to You.  May Your praise be on my heart and my lips even as I suffer in this life, knowing that You will remove all pain and all tears in Your time.  Help me to endure and to faithful until You call me home.  This I ask and pray in the name of Your Perfect and Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

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