For one of my classes, we have to choose a few verses each week to read. We read them in Spanish, give a brief explanation of what they mean, and then explain why they are important to us. This week, I decided to look at the first three verses of Isaiah 61, the chosen verses that represent Hope61.
I can't tell you how many times I've read over these verses with out really reading them. Until tonight. Picture after picture kept leaping off of the page and striking me in the heart. Beautiful word pictures that demonstrate what God can do for the broken. The unlovely. The unloved. I understand like never before why these verses are were chosen to represent what we do. I want to share these word pictures with you as well.
"The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor."
God called me to serve Him as a missionary when I was 21 years old. Not many years later, He called me to go to Mexico and tell the people there about Him. Recently, I believe He's added yet another calling. I am to tell those who have been exploited or used by others about their value and worth in Him. About how they can have a new life in Christ.
"He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,"
This was the first of the word pictures to strike me, and it literally gave me chills. Imagine a beautiful vase. Now, imagine how that vase looks after it's been dropped. It's shattered. Pieces perhaps missing. No longer beautiful, right? With glue, it can sometimes be made new again. Not the same as it was before. But more beautiful. Especially when you put a light inside of it and see the light emanating from the cracks and chips of the vase. Beautiful. God's Word alone can heal a broken heart. With the good news of the Gospel message, we can "bind up the brokenhearted". Heal their wounds. Heal their very hearts.
"to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,"
Freedom to those enslaved. Praise Jesus! But the only way they are going to have release from the darkness of their internal prisons is to become renewed. To accept Jesus as Savior and allow Him to renew them from the inside out.
"to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God,"
This is a reminder to me that God is in control. Terrible, evil things happen every second of the day. But He has not abandoned us. He is a just God who hates evil even more than I do. Who hates injustice even more than I do. As Gary Haugen stated in his book "The Good News About Injustice", justice is not just a "cause" with God. It is His very character. His very Being. He will see that those who perpetrate these evil deeds are brought to justice. They will have to stand before Him and confess their deeds just like the rest of us.
"to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--"
The only comfort for those who have been broken, used, abused, etc. is Jesus.
"to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."
This is a beautiful picture to me. Imagine someone in the ugliest rags. Filthy. Hair matted. Stinky. Now imagine they've been cleaned. Arrayed in fresh, lovely garments. Instead of matted, stinky, ashen hair, they wear a crown. The life of someone who has been exploited is not pretty. They've gone through terrible things we can never even imagine. They bear scars we will never see. But through the redeeming grace of God, these lives can be transformed. Turned into something beautiful!
"They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."
This one is the most powerful picture to me of all. My husband tells me that of all the domestic woods (not counting the exotics), oak is one of the most prized among woodworkers for its sturdiness, value, and beauty. Oak trees withstand at times great tempests. As do the exploited. A soul reborn, renewed through Christ Jesus is as the sturdy oak. Unmovable. Possessing great beauty and value to its Carpenter. These transformed lives become a living testament to what the saving grace of Jesus can do in a person's life.
They are living, walking, breathing displays of His splendor.