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.

Promise of God – Psalm 1:1-3

God Delights in Those Who Delight in Him

1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

Powerful Prose

The author of this Psalm uses poetry to indicate that there a three-fold process to spiritual failure when we begin to engage in sin.  These steps will eventually derail any Christian from their walk with God.  But the Psalmist also gives us hope with a promise.

Walking the Walk

The first step in spiritual decline in walking with God is to begin to walk in step with the wicked.  When sin begins to creep into our lives, we veer off the path of righteousness.  The enemy is crafty – they know that if it is a sudden move, people will recognize it and turn from it.  Most people don’t wake up in the morning in agreement with the thought, “You know, I think I’ll just go out and rob a bank and kill everyone there.  It’ll be a load of laughs!”  But when it is slow and gradual, most people won’t even realize it is happening.  We begin to walk in step with the wicked.  Rather than fighting the flow of the world, we begin to turn and walk with it.

This is not to say that we don’t engage with unrepentant sinners – Jesus came to seek and save the lost!  However, we must be sure that when we do so, we don’t start doing the things that they do that we know are contrary to the Word of God.  We engage in humble, compassionate righteousness.  We don’t do what they do to be accepted by them.  We show them God’s way – a better way.

Stop Standing

After we walk with the world, it invites us to stop for a moment to smell the roses.  This second, and even more dangerous step, gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect and enjoy the momentary pleasure (or false relief) that sin provides.  We are no longer walking but stationary in what we are doing.  We aren’t growing anymore, but rather have halted ourselves or have been halted by our circumstances.  And that’s when it becomes even more dangerous.

Sabotaged Sitting

After we have stood and participated, we are now in a sitting position.  We have fully embraced sin, and no longer even desire to move.  Sin has grabbed us and we have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker.  We don’t desire to stand up anymore; we are firmly rooted in our position, and may not even care.  The world, the flesh, and the devil have effectively ensnared us into despair or enslavement to desire, and we do not even think we can get up (or perhaps even want to get up).

Divine Delight

The Psalmist tells us that to avoid all of this, we need to delight in the Word of the Living God.  Delighting in the Word of God is:

  1. Reading the Word
  2. Praying over the Word
  3. Meditating over the Word (filling our mind with the Word of God, and thinking carefully about it with the deliberate intention of understanding its meaning and application in all aspects of our lives)
  4. Living the Word.

When we desire the Word of God more than life itself, the desire to walk, stand, or even sit with the ways of wickedness is overshadowed by the peace that transcends all understanding, and that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus as we strive towards God.

Rooted Righteousness

When we delight in the Word of God, we become rooted like a tree.  The roots grow deep into the Earth, and being so close to the source of Living Water, the tree flourishes regardless of the conditions around it.  And as we flourish, we will bear fruit for God in Gods timing (in season).  We are also called “oaks of righteousness.”  The connotation here is that it is a sturdy, substantial tree that will not be easily moved or swayed from its convictions.  And if God declares it to be so, it must be so; for God cannot lie.

Provident Prosperity

As we become firmly rooted in the Word of God, the Psalmist indicates that we will prosper.  The Word of God is not a prosperity gospel – God is not a cosmic vending machine where you put in a prayer and out pops a blessing.  Rather, the prosperity is spiritual prosperity – experientially knowing the character of God.  We participate in His holy, perfect character, and in doing so, God is able to use us and draw even closer to us.  He will provide for our every need.  We need not worry, for God is sovereign over everything that He has created.   And that is promise that you can take to the bank :).

A Qualifying Question

So let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we walking, standing, sitting, or delighting?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You for Your Word.  Thank You for revealing Yourself through it to me.  Father, guide my heart and my mind as I read Your Word that it would transform my mind to be more in alignment with Yours.  Help me to better understand and apply what You teach me in the Word so that I will be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer of it.  Forgive me of all my sin, Lord God.  Help me to turn from those things that so easily entangle me.  Father, I do not want to walk, stand, or sit in wickedness; help me to turn from any wickedness that I cherish in my heart and help me to walk in Your ways.  Guard my heart with Your peace as I suffer the consequences of sin so that I may continue to walk steadfast in righteousness, even and especially when it causes me great pain and loss.  Change is always painful, but discipline will produce a harvest of righteousness.  Help me to see the light at the end of the tunnel so that I will not faint along the way.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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